GOOD MORNING! This week we shall conclude the 7 Wonders of Jewish History! A quick review:
- The Jewish people are an eternal nation.
- The Jewish people shall survive though we are exiled and dispersed around the world.
- The Jewish people shall survive though we are few in number.
- The Jewish people shall survive though we are persecuted and killed in every generation.
- The Jewish people will be a Light Unto the Nations.
- There is an interdependence of the land of Israel with the Jewish people -- it will be barren except when the Jewish people are there.
- The Jewish people will return to the land of Israel.
7. RETURN FROM EXILE
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be exiled from the land and that they would return to the land:
And it shall come to pass when these things shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have placed before you, you will take it to heart amongst all of the nations where God has scattered you; you will return to the Lord your God and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then the Almighty will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you; and He will return and gather you from among all of the nations where he has dispersed you. If your dispersed ones will be even at the ends of the heavens, from there God Almighty will gather you and from there He will take you. And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)
No other people has ever gone into exile and survived for thousands of years to come back to re-establish a national homeland. The return of the Jews from exile to the land of Israel was nothing short of a miracle.
When we look at Jewish history, we see a history where the Jewish people have defied the laws of nature and the laws of history! We have survived and impacted this world though we have been thrown out of our land not once, but twice! We have impacted the world perhaps more than any other people in history -- the concepts of the value of human life, universal education, justice and equality, the importance of and goal of world peace (as opposed to glorifying war), the importance of a strong stable family as a basis for a moral foundation for society, individual and national responsibility for the world -- though we were beaten, killed and exiled from one nation to the other. Though few in number and spread to the four corners of the earth, we survived as a people, never assimilating into anonymity. Even our land, the Land of Israel, defied the laws of nature, only fertile when the Jewish people inhabited it.
Coincidence? Good luck? A roll of the dice? Perhaps --except that each and every phenomena was prophesied and predicted in the Torah hundreds and thousands of years before the events. Does it make you think that perhaps something is going on here? That perhaps there is a special relationship between the Almighty and the Jewish people?
The Almighty, the Jewish people and the Torah are intertwined. In the past 3,300 years there have been effort after effort --from within as well as from without -- to redefine and redirect our people. Each and every one has failed. If you wonder why, then perhaps the time has come to read the Torah and find out (I highly recommend the Artscroll Stone edition of the Torah) -- and perhaps also Permission to Receive and Permission to Believe by Kelemen (all are available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242). The Torah is not only our heritage, it is the game plan for the Jewish people and the world.
Portion of the Week
In last week's Torah portion, Pinchas acted to stop a public display of immorality. He thus stemmed the plague of retribution which was killing the multitudes. He is rewarded by being made a Cohen -- by Divine decree.
The Almighty commands Moshe to attack the Midianites in retribution for the licentious plot the Midianites perpetrated upon the Israelites. A new census is taken of the Jewish people revealing that there are 601,730 available for army duty. God directs the division of the Land of Israel amongst the tribes. The Levites are tallied. The daughters of Tzelafchad come forward to petition Moshe regarding their right of inheritance. Moshe inquires of the Almighty Who answers in their favor.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah relates Moshe's request to the Almighty upon finding out that he was to die soon, "Let God, the God of spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation" (Numbers 27:16). What is the essence of a true Jewish leader?
The Midrash Bamidbar Rabbah (21:15 cited by Rashi) goes into further detail in the conversation between Moshe and the Almighty. Says Moshe, "You know that the mind of one individual is not similar to that of another. Appoint a leader over the congregation who will be able to deal with every individual according to his own mind." The Midrash states the following adage: "Just as each and every person's face is different, so too are their hearts (the way they think and feel). For this reason Moshe requested that God choose a leader who would be capable of dealing with every person according to his individual mentality.
Feuds and fights are begun by differences of opinion and a lack of tolerance for the other fellow's views. Rav Mendel of Kotzk offered guidance in avoiding this trap by focusing on a corollary to the above Midrash. No one is ever disturbed by the fact that others do not have an exact replica of his own facial features. In fact, variety and individuality have a host of benefits. In the same vein, we should accept that no two people will ever agree on all matters. In this manner, we can be more understanding of others and avoid fights over disagreements.
CANDLE LIGHTING - July 13:
(or go to candlelighting.org)
Guatemala 6:17 Hong Kong 6:52 Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:13 London 8:55 Los Angeles 7:58
Melbourne 5:00 Miami 7:57 Moscow 8:49
New York 8:09 Singapore 6:58
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
It's difficult to keep an open mind
and an open mouth
at the same time.
Dedicated in Honor of