Passover (first day)(Exodus 12:21-51)
Passover (first day) 5769
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GOOD MORNING! I hope you are enjoying a wonderful Pesach! You can enhance your experience with some of the articles on aish.com or some of the free mp3 downloads on aishaudio.com!
There are 7 classical categories of evidence why we, the Jewish people, believe that the Almighty actually gave us the Torah starting at Mt. Sinai and during the 40 years in the desert. Lawrence Kelemen put together a nice presentation in Permission to Receive (he also wrote Permission to Believe, categories of evidence for the existence of God). Both are available from your local Jewish book store, by calling toll-free 877-758-3242 or from judaicaenterprises.com.
The following think piece can be categorized under both the Historical Category and the Prophesy Category (a Divine prediction that goes counter to the rules of history, sociology and anthropology). The prediction from the Torah in the article below and its historical verification is one thing that makes Judaism absolutely unique in the history of the world!
Q & A: WHAT MAKES JUDAISM UNIQUE?
Judaism, and only Judaism, claims to be rooted in a national historical event experienced by an entire nation - that the Almighty spoke to the whole Jewish people at Mt. Sinai. The intellectual bedrock of Jewish belief never rests on one man's claim to divinity or revelation, nor that of a small band of witnesses. Jewish commitment to Judaism is ultimately rooted in the idea that while national historical events may be open to reinterpretation, they can never be either fabricated or erased.
In Deuteronomy 4:32-34, Moshe, at the end of the 40 years in the desert, tells the Jewish people from that time forward -including those seeking meaning and spirituality in every sort of religion, ideology and "ism":
"Please investigate world history back to its earliest times, and see if an event of this magnitude has ever taken place or if such an event has ever been heard of.... Has an entire nation ever heard God speak or has God ever brought one nation out from amidst another nation as God has done for you in Egypt?"
The Vietnam War, like the Kennedy assassination, will be debated for years to come. However, there is one idea that will never take hold - that these events never happened at all. No conspiracy theory is big enough to invent events of such national consequence in which so many people were involved. Similarly, though the leaders of the Soviet Union would paint Stalin in a variety of shades from savior to demon, there are two things they could never do. Deny him or invent him. The national events which had Stalin at their helm were simply too big to hide and too far reaching to have been fabricated.
But Moses went even one step further. Consider his words carefully:
"...if an event of this magnitude has ever taken place or if such an event has ever been heard of."
Over 3,000 years ago Moses predicted the unpredictable. When he prophesied that no such event would "ever be heard of," what he was saying was this: Though the Jewish people will always stake its spiritual claim in the soil of history, no other people or religion will ever even attempt to do the same. And historical hindsight bears out this confident vision of Moses. For, in fact, no other religion has ever attempted to mount the stage of world history by staking its claim on the veracity of a national historic event.
And just how did Moses know that this would be the case? The answer is this: Though dreams, visions, and personal revelations can easily be claimed by any individual or committee seeking to found a religion, you just can't claim that a national historical event happened if it didn't.
Moses knew prophetically what logic likewise dictates. If the Jews were smart enough to come up with a story of national redemption and revelation, then eventually some other group would also invent its own equally compelling story. Only one thing - we didn't and they couldn't.
-- adapted from Passover Survival Kit by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf
Torah Portion of the Week
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach (Shabbat of the intermediate Days of Passover)
(We also read Shir HaShirim, King Solomon's Song of Songs.)
Moses pleads with the Almighty not to send an angel in His place, but to accompany the Jewish people Himself through the trek in the wilderness even though they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Moses asks the Almighty to reveal how He interacts with the universe (it is a mystical interchange). Then the Almighty commands Moses to carve two stone tablets and to ascend Mt. Sinai so that He can engrave the replacement tablets for the set that Moses broke at the transgression with the Golden Calf.
The Almighty reveals his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:5) which we repeat on Yom Kippur and other times of seeking the Almighty's mercy. Moses asks the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. The Almighty renews the Covenant with the Jewish people, commanding us not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, not make molten gods, to observe the Festival of Matzos, laws of first born issue, to keep the Shabbat, celebrate Shavuot and Sukkot, and ends with assorted laws of offerings.
In this week's Torah portion Moshe asks the Almighty: "Show me now Your glory." Moses wanted the Almighty to reveal to him Divine providence - how the Almighty interacts with the world and why He does what He does. The Almighty responds, "... you will see My back, but My face may not be seen" (Exodus 33:18-23). What does this mean?
The Almighty told Moses - and us, "You can only understand My divine plan in retrospect, however while events happen you will not be able to understand My plan." When we make Kiddush for Shabbat we mention not only that the Almighty created the world but that He took us out of Egypt. Taking the Jewish people out of Egypt demonstrates that the Almighty controls history and has a plan.
We see this idea demonstrated in the story of Joseph - the brothers come to Egypt, Joseph accuses them as spies, has them dine with him, keeps Shimon until they bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt and so forth until he reveals himself with the words, "I am Joseph..." At that point, everything that had happened to them became clear. Likewise, with the ultimate coming of Mashiach, the history of the Jewish people will clearly demonstrate the Almighty's plan.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 9:
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
A person is only as happy
as his unhappiest child.
In Loving Memory of