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Volume 8 Issue 4   September 2014Elul 5774

 

"Even a Non-Jew"

Blessing Requires...

What's Israel?

Conscious Servants' "Gladness and Full Heart

 

"Even a Non-Jew"

“How do we know that even a non-Jew, if he obeys the Law of God, will thereby attain the same spiritual communion with God as Israel’s very High Priest? Scripture says (Leviticus 18:5), “which if a man do, he shall live by them” – not priest, Levite or Israelite, but man.”
(Rabbi Meir, Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a)

“My ordinances you shall do, and My statutes you shall keep, to walk in them: I am HaShem your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes, and My ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them: I am HaShem.”
(Leviticus 18:4-5)

Clearly, the Torah's speaking here of cosmic deeds of righteousness of myriad kinds, performed on myriad levels, by human beings of every condition, nation, class, and individual level of consciousness.

Two points to make about this:

1) painstaking conformity to detailed ordinances and statutes is not the Plan here, except for a tiny fraction of humanity;

2) everybody can choose to serve HaShem in some fashion, and expect to both generate and receive Divine blessings – in fact, infinite blessings.

Incidentally, defending those who do painstakingly perform every ordinance and statute of the Torah which can currently be performed: they help elevate the world to the level where precise convergence with God’s holy Will as He’s expressed it in such statutes won’t be exceptional but, simply, natural and normal.

(And, please God, let us finally get past the ridiculous curses of ancient Rome and Greece – going back, in fact, all the way to Moses (See Korach, Numbers 16) – libeling God’s wise, holy Way as cruelly burdensome!)

How does one serve God? O man, He has told us what is good (Micah 6:8). We underscored this principle in the last Cov Con. He - HaShem - blesses those who bless Israel.

“Blessing requires knowledge and loving understanding of the […] cause to be blessed.” – J.H. Hertz, commentary to Numbers 6:23 (Hertz Torah/chumash, by Soncino), p. 594.

Further, it requires “readiness for sacrifice and prayerfulness.” (Id., p. 595.) “Unless the blessing is to prove a blight, he that blesses must be quite ‘sober’ – the fanatic or he whose judgment is beclouded by hatred or prejudice can never truly bless anyone.” (Id.).

Finally, it must be rational. “As far as the Jew is concerned, every measure on his behalf must be […] translatable into Hebrew terms, and in line with Jewish history and Jewish ideals.” (Id.)

(Reading over those paragraphs….We try not to ferplutz God's Way, making what should be simple and straightforward seem impractical, un-doable, over-complicated … Heaven forbid. The conscious servant always recognizes that "the word [of HaShem] is very near unto you, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that you may do it." - Deuteronomy 30:14)

Two more things:

1) Speaking of Israel, which sounds, God forbid, like we’re merely talking nationalism, not referring to a revolutionary cosmic movement in human evolution but just a collective, like any nation, of sin-prone human beings: to bless Israel means blessing the human beings, naturally, but, mainly, blessing the movement; the world-historical holiness movement of making people more conscious of God’s Name.

The Torah itself ensures this: Israel’s no normal nation; based on the famous Torah principle of matrilineal descent (a Jew is a Jew based solely upon one’s mother’s Jewishness, or upon one’s personal conversion-commitment to Judaism), Israel has a self-purging dynamic. If one generation rejects Judaism, God forbid, its successors probably won’t regard themselves as Jews; Jewish mothers who, God forbid, reject Judaism for their children –we think of the late Lauren Bacall’s children (with Humphrey Bogart and Jason Robards), for instance, or the mothers of famous atheists Bill Maher and the late Chris Hitchens, who all raised their children as Christians – those children are most unlikely to regard themselves as Jews.

The way this works is that very few Jews are ever more than a few generations removed from pious fathers, uncles, brothers, etc., clad in ritual fringes and tefillin (phylacteries), who pray almost every morning of their adult lives:“May You be blessed, our Rock, our King and our Redeemer, Creator of holy ones; may Your Name be praised forever….” (Hebrew Prayerbook, “Tisbarach,”  preceeding the “Shema.”)

2) What happens when one blesses Israel? That’s a cosmic thing, with infinite consequences, but at least one reward HaShem grants His more conscious servants is the gift of “simcha u’tuv ley’vov” - gladness (or happiness) and “a full heart” (See Deuteronomy 28:47).

This can’t be emphasized enough. It’s not a pie-in-the-sky thing, either. Happiness, gladness and a full heart involve a kind of consciousness, a philosophy and manner of living that’s very noticeable in this world. People can see this even in ourselves; we see it in our partners, in the community at large, and out among humanity.

“Serve HaShem with gladness!” (Psalms 100:2)

.
From the service of HaShem comes greater consciousness. From greater consciousness comes urgent eagerness to please Him – as one might want to please a wonderful, kindly, justice-loving Father – great humility, and, finally (all things being equal), a deep pervasive sense of receiving blessing, of being blessed by God.

One who tries to go through life as a conscious servant of HaShem may not, depending on one’s mission, live that easy a life. One's mere aspiration to live more consciously may not be that successful. Yet, all things being equal, it should be quite a happy life – and infinitely happier than it might be without conscious service to HaShem!

“ Let the heart of them rejoice that seek HaShem.”
(1Chronicles 16:10)

 

By Michael Dallen


 

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We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name. Amen.

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