Thursday, August 31, 2017

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman

This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated in memory of Elka bas Zisel OBM

Dedicated in memory of Leah bas Rochel OBM

Dear Friend,                                                                                                                                               

We are currently in the Hebrew month of Elul, just a few weeks away from Rosh Hashanah and the High Holidays – a time of reflection, introspection and taking on new resolutions with which to enhance our lives, spiritually and meaningfully. 

Cheder Chabad of Monsey hopes that these weekly Torah thoughts will help inspire to achieve those goals. All the students, staff and administration of Cheder Chabad of Monsey wish you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. May this year be the year of the full and complete redemption with the coming of our righteous Moshiach - NOW! 

It has been called “the world’s longest hatred.” It continues to rear its ugly head across countries and continents. Whether it manifests in the crude bigotry of the lower crass or the snide subtleties of the upper crust, anti-Semitism is a fact of life.

Of course, we all wish it would finally go away. We even had reason to hope that after Auschwitz, it really would. Who among us doesn’t want to feel accepted and appreciated? But there is a strong argument to suggest that, in a perverse sort of way, anti-Semitism has been good for the Jews. 

Without the constant reminders and threats to our existence, we Jews would have been lulled into a peaceful and passive state of national amnesia. Secure in our comfort zones, we might have lost much of our unique identity.

History records that under regimes that persecuted us, we remained steadfastly Jewish; whereas under more enlightened, liberal forms of government, we gradually embraced a welcoming but dominant culture, forfeiting much of our own.

Towards the end of this week's Torah reading of Ki Teitzei (Devorim [Deuteronomy] 21:10-25:19).we read of the commandment to remember the unprovoked attack by the nation of Amalek against the Israelites when they left Egypt. The command comes in the form of the word zachor—“Remember”—at the beginning of the section. The final words are lo tishkach—“you shall not forget.” But why the need for both expressions? And what difference is there between “remembering” and “not forgetting”? Surely one is superfluous?

Commentaries suggest that “remember” is a command to the Jewish people, while “do not forget” would seem to be a more of a prediction—i.e., they will not let you forget! Should you ever lapse into a false sense of security and forget your Jewishness, the anti-Semites of the world will be there to remind you who you are—“a people that dwells alone” (Numbers 23:9).

Everything has a purpose in creation. There is nothing superfluous in G‑d’s world. So what is the purpose of an anti-Semite? Just that—to remind Jews that they are Jewish!

But why wait for the Amalekites of this world to remind us? Do we want or need their taunting? Rather, let us be proactively Jewish, positively Jewish and Jewishly positive. You can sing the old Yiddish song one of two ways. Either it is Oy, es iz gut tzu zein a yid (“Oh, it is good to be a Jew . . .”) or Oy, es iz shver tzu zein a yid (“Oy, it is hard to be a Jew . . .”). There are a million good reasons, positive reasons, to be proudly Jewish. If seventy years ago being Jewish carried a death sentence, today it is a life sentence, promising a meaningful and blessed life. And when we decide to live proud, committed Jewish lives, we make a fascinating discovery: when we respect ourselves, the world respects us too. And that applies across the board, from the individual Jew to the collective Jewish community.

Judaism is a boon, not a burden. We should be staunch about our heritage. It is a badge of honor to wear with noble pride. If you don’t know why, go and study—but that’s for another discussion.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

If you would like to dedicate the weekly Parsha Perspective in honor or memory of a person or occasion, please contact Rabbi Shusterman at yshusterman@chedermonsey.org

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