Agents of the Hebrew Revolution
Servants of HaShem
The Book of Shevat
Next issue: Judges/Servants of HaShem
Servants of HaShem
You can learn a lot from biography, especially from those who, like Abraham, “listen to God’s voice.”
Amar’e Stoudemire’s Jewish journey, from young scholar to aspiring ‘saint’
Kids all over Israel come to bask in the glow and learn from this young athlete. Besides sports, he’s also determined to give them the chance to avail themselves of ongoing Torah-learning.
In other words, here’s a dedicated Jew – a Jew-by-choice, a Black Jew - with the insanely clever idea of offering good information in a good way to a promising audience.
Just one suggestion. Reb Stoudemire speaks of helping the kids learn mussar – lessons in personal ethical conduct.
How about this? Help the kids look at the larger picture, the way the world works:
How Israel serves God and man as God’s “eldest son,” for instance... How the Torah is a unified system for all humanity... How Judaism is sanity and optimism, against the mythic cosmological false “gods,” vicious ideals, and hollow elemental conceptions of mankind... How the Noachide Laws complement the ordinances and statutes of the Torah, AND how the whole system is supposed to work together, towards the next stages of human history… How Judaism involves a revolutionary understanding of God, and the fundamental nature of all existence; How God asks only that we “listen to [His] voice”. . . That HaShem is just, and His way perfect, and that He delights in us when we follow His voice “to do justice, and love performing loving-kindness, to walk “humbly” – thoughtfully, sensitively, creatively, devotedly – with Him.
Two different men, below, both Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from their obits.
Andrew Brooks, Who Developed a Coronavirus Spit Test, Dies at 51
Larry King, Breezy Interviewer of the Famous and Infamous, Dies at 87
Part of the proof of God’s existence is the Jewish People themselves, “the people I formed for Myself to declare My praise" (Isaiah 43:21)
(“I love being Jewish, am proud of my Jewishness, and I love Israel,” King told The Jerusalem Post’s David Brinn in 2017.)
The two guys here are supposed to be part of God’s praise. God promises Abraham that his descendants will bring the whole world blessing (Genesis 28:14), justice and judgment and the Way of HaShem (Genesis 18:19), while the world will somehow come to bless themselves by these Hebrews (Genesis 22:18).
This is how the world manages to keep oblivious to the miracle here.
People read obits to learn about the people in them and one thing to know about anyone is the nation and culture of origin. Which cultures produce which people? These men came from a people who were persecuted, raped, tortured and demeaned for being Jews. Yet they, descendants of Abraham, are part of a great, eternal, civilizing movement - and the claim is, that the miracle of Abraham and his descendants, and the blessings they bring, continues.
Incidentally, obviously, neither of these two gentlemen were Torah scholars. But, it should be obvious, you don't have to be a Torah scholar, necessarily, to advance the cause of God in the world. This is how the Hebrew Revolution works.
The Book of Joshua
What happens once Moses dies and the People of Israel enter Cana’an?
Joshua, Moses’ successor, is like a George Washington of a general who leads the people to their first victories against the forces that oppose them. Then Joshua dies.
You’d like Joshua to set up a giant publishing organization, to get Moses’ Books copied and re-copied and distributed and taught….
At a great old age, Joshua gives a remarkable, extremely low-key last address. “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD,” he says. He’s a profoundly holy man – an almost unimaginably holy man - and he struggles to do the best he can, but he’s the man he is. He’s no Shakespeare, nor Abraham Lincoln, and certainly not Moses. God chooses His servants from who’s available. As for the miracle of God’s Love, and the Way of God, love of truth, holiness and justice, and the Torah as THE path of moral sanitity… Joshua puts it all squarely in the negative: “avoid idolatry.” (Joshua 24).
Not to mock God’s holy general but you see, after a start like that, that institutionalizing the Hebrew Revolution – making the inheritance of Sinai completely operational, to commit the whole population of Israel to the Torah’s teachings, its study, practice and devout contemplation, from here to eternity – is going to be a slog.
Next Issue: Judges
We saw in our little talk on Saul recently (December 2020, "Saul was a Jerk," Vol 15:2) that people have very different ideas about the lessons to be learned from the sagas and stories of the Bible. In fact, Orthodox Israel generally skips over most of Scripture.
Besides the Five Books - the Written Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy - that we read through each year, every week, we read a small portion from another Scriptural book, reflecting some topic in the regular Torah reading. Besides that, lots of Psalms are incorporated in the Prayerbook/Siddur. Also, in the course of the year: in early Summer, we read the Book of Ruth; in the Fall, Ecclesiastes and Jonah; in the Spring, the Book of Esther, in the Summer, on tisha b'av (the Ninth of Ave), Lamentations. On Friday evenings, there’s the Song of Songs, and many read “Aishes Chayil,” "A Woman of Valor," which is most of the last chapter of Proverbs… but that’s about it. The rest – the histories, most of the Prophets, Job, etc., are … just there.
There’s a lot for inquiring Jews and Noachide to take from that Scripture.
Next issue, we plan to focus on several parts of it. We touched on Joshua, this time. Stay tuned for some interesting learning on Judges, Samuel and Kings.
By Michael Dallen
Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy upon us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to lister, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah’s teachings with love.”
- Siddur/Prayerbook, morning prayer, before the Shema