Jul 8, 2010

Jews are Great

I read a Chizuk message that said:

We are far from perfect. We sin, we fall, we fail.
And we come to Hashem with requests for life, health, zivugim, etc. and when we are ready to show what we are giving in exchange, we open our palm and discover - nothing!
What do we have to 'pay' for these gifts?
Our palm lies open, and empty.
We lower our eyes in embarrassment. We are asking for a free handout.
Not only do I not deserve the kings good, but quite the opposite; I deserve to be punished for all the times I accidentally failed you! Yet you treat me with kindness anyway. I have no way to ever repay you for all you give me, king. But I can promise to always try."

We can't ever deserve Hakadosh Baruch Hu's chesed.

Hashem doesn't expect us to, as He knows it's impossible.

It's probably because I have fallen prey to the Entitlement Generation's sentiments but I don't relate very well to the ideas presented above.  I find it amazing that after all G-d put us through we, the Jewish people, are still hanging in there, doing mitzvos. 

Over the past 250 years or so, Hashem inflicted us with pogroms, government persecution such as unfair debilitating taxes, abduction of Jewish children to serve in the Czar's army, abduction of Jewish children in Moslem countries when they were orphaned or unmarried, socialism, communism, the development of modern scientific thought, World Wars, the Blue Laws in America and on and on.  And when it comes Pesach and I think of all the Jews, all over the world, with and without a Jewish education, who are celebrating a seder, and come September, all the Jews who attend shul, who fast on Yom Kippur.  Those who light Chanuka Menorahs, who support Jewish education when they themselves are not even religious. The newly religious who may be the first in their family for several generations to be shomer Shabbos.  Those who kasher their kitchens.  The Jews who have received a proper Jewish education who stick proudly to Jewish observance despite the fact that the outside world is very tempting and they are a tiny minority within the Jewish people.

Hilchos Shabbos.  Hilchos Shemiras Ha'Lashon.  Hilchos Talmud Torah.  Love and Fear of Hashem.  Do not stray after your hearts and eyes.  Eliminate anger.  Be exceedingly humble.  Fargin others.  The chesed that is done.  Opening up homes, hearts, wallets.  Attending shiurim.  Listening to shiurim in cars, on phones, on mp3 players.  All the obligations.  The exhortations to grow spiritually.  To cultivate good middos.  To be grateful.  To make good use of our time.  To love every Jew.  It's a very, very tall order.

I like Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev's approach.  He addressed G-d and said: If You placed Olam Haba and Gan Eden and (l'havdil) Gehinnom right in front of us, and You put the enticements of the world into a sefer, then surely no Jew would sin.  But now that You put all the enticements of the world right in front of us and You put Gan Eden etc. in a sefer, well, it's not surprising ....


  1. Hashem gave us a Torah that was itself a challenge to keep and then it became more challenging when we were exiled from our land. Trying to keep Torah and mitzvahs in countries that are not ours and in which we are a tiny minority is an enormous challenge.
    Still, I am happy to be part of a people who isn't raising suicide bombers or telling its young to join religious orders that don't allow marriage. The idolatrous religions that existed before the Torah was given involved human sacrifice so the Torah rescued us from falling into that.
    Because the goyim have taken the basic ideas of the Torah and then stated that the mitzvahs were no longer necessary and made a whole religion out of that, this has prevailed in America and the Reform movement and eventually the Conservative movement based their ideas on that.
    Those of us who still adhere to the Torah are trying to achieve what seems to be an enormous and even impossible task. We are trying to raise generations of Torah Jews in a bad economy that does not bode well for organizations that depend on donations. Chinuch has become oppressively expensive and is in danger of becoming unavailable to some. It is harder economically and emotionally to raise large families in today's American society and in EY the secular society is cutting the funds to the heredim. We as frum American Jews also want to observe our mitzvahs in comfort and this too adds to the cost when meanwhile, we are not educating our young to be highly paid professionals. We have to take stock of our priorities before we end up with a community that cannot sustain itself.