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עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

A vision for the Jewish people

Posted by rabbiart on November 11, 2012

Waiting in Ben Gurion airport for our flight home I bought three books. Two were pulp fiction: one was significant. It is Future Tense: A vision for Jews and  and Judaism in the global culture by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. In his intro he writes that Jews must go back to first principles and inquire again into the purpose of our people. He goes on to say that the first step is for us to abandon the linked notions of victimhood and a life informed by fear. Rather, we should live lives of faith but not, he says as lonely men of faith.

Elsewhere he references the work of Chabad and wonders why the Rebbi (his inspiration for becoming a Rabbi) chose to send emissaries all over the earth to wherever Jews are found. He says that “if the Nazis had hunted down every Jew out of hate, he would send his disciples to search out every Jew in love.

Upon reading this passage I was reminded of a story told to me by our friend Ilana Meallem. She had gone somewhere and was confronted by a man who attempted to choke her. With his hands still around her neck she said to him “it’s OK, I love you”. He released her and broke into tears.

The Arava Institute is one place, certainly not the only one in Israel, where members of societies at war with each other are choosing to put aside fear and hatred and act out of hope and faith.

Again, this is the dual storytelling of the Torah. What is and what ought to be. Avraham Avinu is the original man of faith. Rabbi Sacks writes eloquently how we – the Jewish people – need to find and reclaim our original story. To choose life, to live in hope and become again a light into the nations.

I think this is why the Arava, Alyn hospital, machsom watch and similar organizations in Israel are so important. They are living the Torah’s story of who we are supposed to be and become.

In our parshah this week we see the (potential) consequences of living in fear. The famine comes round again. Isaac and family take refuge in Gerar where there is food. He says that Rivkah is his sister and not his wife. Avimelech sees them “sporting” and inquires why Isaac has misled his people, because one of them might have attempted to have sex with her, thereby committing a great sin. Avimelech offers explicit protection by proclaiming to his people that no one should mess with Isaac and Rivkah. Immediately Isaac grows in prosperity one hundredfold. His prosperity is so great that now fear’s cousin jealously tears its ugly head. The cycle continues once more.

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