GOOD MORNING! Last week I mentioned the Miami multi-millionaire who is creating a foundation to find atheist solutions to the problems of society because he blames the evils of society upon religions. I once approached a private Jewish foundation to request funding for Aish HaTorah. The director of the foundation informed me that they give only to help the poor, for education and for medical needs. I responded, "That's exactly why you should invest in Aish HaTorah!"
The Foundation director looked at me puzzled. "Rabbi, I said that we fund to help the poor, for education and for medical needs; we don't fund religious education."
I replied, "I understand. If a person cares about medical needs and has sufficient money, he can cover the costs of an operation. If he has lots more money, he can create a hospital. But how many hospitals can one fund create? The whole reason your foundation exists altogether is because your founder was raised in the Jewish tradition of Tikun Olom, the religious obligation to fix and perfect the world. If you truly care about the condition of mankind, you will want to invest in Aish HaTorah and similar organizations that are inculcating a responsibility for this world and all of mankind. Then you will be creating many more individuals like the founder of your foundation who will each go on to build hospitals, feed the poor and educate the masses."
In addition to taking personal responsibility to fix the world, the Jewish people have helped civilize the world through living its values. Ask yourself two questions: (1) What are the values that I and the world hold dear that are necessary for a utopian society? (2) Where did these values come from? Below is the list of values that most people compile:
- 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!
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.)
Paul Johnson, a Christian historian, writes in his book, "The History of the Jews", (New York: Harper & Row, 1987):
"One way of summing up 4,000 years of Jewish history is to ask ourselves what would have happened to the human race if the Jewish people would not have come into being. Certainly the world without the Jews would have been a radically different place. Humanity might have eventually stumbled upon all the Jewish insights. But we cannot be sure.
"To [the Jews] we owe the idea of equality before the law; of the sanctity of life, of collective conscience and of social responsibility; of peace and love, and many other items which constitute the basic moral furniture of the human mind.... It is almost beyond our capacity to imagine how the world would have fared if they had never emerged."
If you are fascinated to learn more about the impact of the Jewish people on humanity, go to http://www.aish.com/seminars/worldperfect/index.htm to enjoy the online interactive multi-media seminar!
Portion of the Week
This is the Torah portion containing the giving of the Ten Commandments. Did you know that there are differences in the Ten Commandments as stated here (Exodus 20:1-14) and related later in Deuteronomy 5:6-18? (Suggestion: have your children find the differences as a game at the Shabbat table during dinner).
Moses' father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro or Yisro in the Hebrew) joins the Jewish people in the desert, advises Moses on the best way to serve and judge the people -- by appointing a hierarchy of intermediaries -- and then returns home to Midian. The Ten Commandments are given, the first two were heard directly from God by every Jew and then the people begged Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience was too intense.
The portion concludes with the Almighty telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people not to make any images of God. They were then commanded to make an earthen altar; and eventually to make a stone altar, but without the use of a sword or metal tool.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "And Moshe went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down, and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare" (Exodus 18:7). Moshe's wife and sons were also coming to him. Why does Moshe make a point out of greeting his father-in-law first?
Comments Rabbi Naftoli Tzvi Berlin in Haamek Dovor, Moshe greeted his father-in-law first because of the obligation to honor one's in-laws. The Pele Yoatz writes that a son-in-law (or daughter-in-law) should appreciate the fact that his parents-in-law spent much time and effort in raising their child who is now his wife (or her husband). In gratitude, a person should always treat his in-laws with the proper respect!
PIRKE AVOT 1:2
"The world stands on three things: Torah, Prayer and Deeds of Loving Kindness." -- Shimon HaTzadik (Shimon the Righteous)
CANDLE LIGHTING - February 1:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:43 Hong Kong 5:54 Honolulu 6:04
J'Burg 6:41 London 4:33 Los Angeles 5:05
Melbourne 8:15 Miami 5:47 Moscow 4:45
New York 4:56 Singapore 7:02
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Thoughtfulness is to friendship
as sunshine is to a flower.
With Special Thanks to