GOOD MORNING! Recently my friend and one of my co-directors of the Jerusalem Fund, Richard Boruch Rabinowitz, was talking with John Kluge, billionaire head of Metromedia Corporation. The conversation took place after Mr. Kluge gave a $1 million gift for Aish HaTorah's World Outreach Center being built overlooking the Western Wall. (If you would like to be a part of perhaps the most important and spectacular project to ensure the Jewish future, please call me at 305-535-2474 or write me at email@example.com) Richard asked Mr. Kluge a fascinating question: "Why did you give such a generous contribution in light of the fact that you aren't Jewish?"
Mr. Kluge smiled and said, "Last year I turned 80 years old. At my birthday party I realized that 85% of my friends are Jews. I have always admired the Jewish people and their contributions to humanity, to civilizing the world. What Aish HaTorah is doing to reconnect Jews with their heritage, to strengthen their roots, to educate them of their values is enabling the Jewish people to continue to be able to play their incredibly valuable role in history." What is it that the Jewish people have contributed to humanity and to civilizing the world?
We in the modern world adhere to 6 values as absolutes for building a perfect world:
- Value of Life -- People have the right to life, and to live with a certain basic dignity and rights.
- World Peace -- On all levels, communally and globally, people and nations should co-exist in peace and harmony with mutual respect.
- Justice and Equality -- All people, regardless of race, sex, or social status, have the right to be treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law.
- Education -- Everyone has the right to be functionally literate as a basic tool for personal advancement and the ability to attain knowledge.
- Family -- A strong, stable family structure is necessary for the moral foundation for society.
- Social Responsibility -- Individually and nationally, we are responsible for each other. This includes responsibility for: disease, poverty, famine, crime, and drugs, as well as environmental problems and animal rights.
Where do these values come from? Most people would say Greece or Rome. Would you be surprised to find out that they are wrong? These are Jewish values that the world learned from us!
Aish HaTorah has just premiered its latest seminar WorldPerfect -- The Jewish Impact on Civilization. It is a real eye- opener and a tremendous primer for Jewish pride. (On May 16th the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, one of many Federations who partner with Aish HaTorah, is presenting WorldPerfect to the community. The seminar is being hosted by Joel Grey of Cabaret and Chicago fame.) The seminar is available on line at www.aish.edu, you can purchase it online via the website or by calling 800-864-2373 for $9 including shipping -- or you can arrange to bring this and other Discovery Seminars to your community by calling Discovery at 718-376-2775.
Now, if you are thinking "the good rabbi is exaggerating a 'bit' about the Jewish influence on civilizing humanity," I bring to my support John Adams, Second President of the United States! Writes Mr. Adams, "... I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.... They are the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their Empire were but a bauble in comparison of the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the Globe and have influenced the affairs of Mankind more, and more happily than any other Nation, ancient or modern." (from a letter to F.A. Van der Kemp, 1808. Pennsylvania Historical Society.)
Concludes the WorldPerfect seminar : "Today many Jews think that Judaism is irrelevant. Just look at what the Jews have given to the world! Today Jews need to realize that they have much to be proud of. Pride is not arrogance. Pride is justifiable self- respect. The power of Judaism to impact the world with values that comprise the bedrock of civilization should be a source of Jewish Pride.
"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 own special way of 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 G- d 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."
Portion of the Week
In the second year of travel in the desert, Moshe and Aharon were commanded by the Almighty to count all male Israelites between 20 and 60. There were 603,550 available for military service. The tribe of Levi was exempt because of their special duties as religious leaders. (It is probably from here that countries give divinity deferments to clergy and divinity students.)
The twelve tribes were directed regarding the formation (three tribes were on each side of the Portable Sanctuary) in which they were to camp and travel.
The 22,300 Levites were commanded in the Sanctuary service. The family of Gershon was to transport the coverings of the Sanctuary. The family of Kehos carried the Ark, Table, Menorah and Altars. The family of Merari transported the boards, pillars, bolts and sockets.
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In regards to testing for marital fidelity, the Torah states, "And the Cohen shall write these curses on a scroll and he shall erase them into the water of bitterness" (Numbers 5:23). It is forbidden to erase G-d's name. Why is it permitted here?
When the Beit HaMikdosh, the Temple, was in existence in Jerusalem, a woman who was suspected of infidelity had a means of proving her innocence. She would come to the Temple where a Cohen would give her a special drink in which was placed this section of the Torah with G-d's name. If she was guilty, she would miraculously die from it. If she was free from guilt, she would benefit from the potion and her innocence would be proven beyond any doubt.
It is permissible here to erase G-d's name to teach us that just as G-d is willing to "forgo his honor," likewise we must forgo our honor to resolve arguments between husbands and wives; husbands and wives should also overlook slights to their honor in order to facilitate having a peaceful atmosphere in their home.