It is amazing that this tiny nation, the Jewish people, should have survived at all. Yet it has not only survived, but has had the most profound impact on civilization. The six pillars of a perfect world come from the Jewish people. The world was a radically different place, ethically and morally, thousands and even hundreds of years ago. The cornerstone of the utopian vision that mankind has overwhelmingly accepted, comes from the Jewish people.
Ironically, today many Jews think that Judaism is irrelevant.
Yet look at what the Jews have given to the world! Jews need to realize they have much to be proud of: the power of Judaism to impact the world with values that comprise the bedrock of civilization. Pride is not arrogance. Pride is justifiable self-respect.
But pride in the past is not enough. It is not yet a perfect world, and there is still much to be done. Judaism teaches us that you don't have to be a Moses or the Messiah to make a difference. Every person is unique; we all have our unique contribution to making the world a better place.
There was once a poster of a homely, little boy. Underneath the picture was written: "I know I'm not junk, because God doesn't make junk." None of us are simply tourists on this planet. Everyone plays an active role.
Maximize your potential and place your unique signature upon the world.
The Light of Torah
Judaism stresses education as the essential tool for gaining the ability to take responsibility for the world. You can’t represent the Jewish people unless you know what the Jewish people represent. Ignorance is our biggest enemy. Ignorance causes not only assimilation, but an inability to fulfill the Jewish mission.
The Torah provides this education, instructing how to become a model for the world, a "light unto the nations." Learning Torah puts you on that path.
The root cause of the world's problems is a lack of values. If the world were full of people who believed and lived by the value of life, peace and harmony, justice and equality, education, family, social responsibility and love, just think of how different the world would be! Be a light by living for the values you stand for. Then, each and every one of us can serve as a model for our fellow human beings.
No matter how much we improve ourselves and grow toward our own potential, we cannot change the world by ourselves. We must realize that every Jew is part of a whole, responsible one for another. Every Jew is a piece of an incredibly powerful puzzle that together creates an entity, the Jewish people. Tikun Olam, perfecting the world, is a collective project, too big to do alone.
An Israeli folk song says: "Each of us is one small light but together we shine bright." As a "light unto the nations," the Jewish people can shine forth with the beauty of Jewish ideas and values. When that happens, the whole world will say: "That's the way we want to be."
Yet without mutual respect and Jewish unity, it is impossible to achieve this goal.
Building a New Reality
All this sounds like an impossible dream. But remember how Abraham, standing alone against a hostile world, changed the world.
The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion, made an amazing statement: "A Jew who does not believe in miracles is not a realist."
If history teaches us anything about the Jewish people, it teaches that anything is possible.
When the Jewish people will come together, committed to their values, that will achieve the beautiful messianic vision that we have been striving for the past 4,000 years.
The prophet Micah described his vision of what the world will look like when all humanity is united in peace, brotherhood and love:
And the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and people shall flow to it. And many nations shall say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion will go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He shall judge between many people and shall decide concerning mighty nations from far off, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. But they shall sit, every man under his vine and under his fig tree. And none shall make them afraid, for the mouth of Lord of Hosts has spoken. (Micah 4:1-4)
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