Ever young

We are an ever-young people whose past is ever present and that is how we are privileged to celebrate 70 years of our own country's independence.

Rabbi Berel Wein, | updated: 09:58

Rabbi Berel Wein
Rabbi Berel Wein
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One of the great impossibilities of the human condition is to be blessed with old age and many years and yet somehow to remain an essentially young and energetic person in mind, body and spirit. This is not only true in the case of individual people, but it applies to even nations and empires. Age takes its toll in a universal and indiscriminate fashion.

Just look at Europe today. It is old and listless, devoid of energy, leadership, moral and political purpose and will. It resembles the passing of the Roman Empire in the fifth century of the Common Era. Its espousal of multiculturalism and open borders has brought it to the brink of irrelevance in world affairs. All sense that its time has passed, after the havoc it wrought on the world in the last century, just ended.  

Well, no one remains forever young and centuries of hatred and wars certainly wear down all nations… and even continents. Despite Putin’s aggressive posturing, Russia is no longer considered to be a superpower. Its economy is a wreck and its population is constantly declining. It too is old and tired.

Too much innocent blood has soaked its soil over the centuries. The wheels of history certainly do grind exceedingly fine. In fact, the status and future of even younger countries is in doubt as unforeseen events continually upset expert opinions and predictions. It certainly seems that one of the inexorable rules of history - the demise of empires and powers-  is taking place in our times as well.

Now, my distinguished and loyal readers, as you undoubtedly can see, if you have read many of my previous articles and comments, there is an exception to this narrative of history. That exception is naturally the Jewish people and its history. We were freed from Egyptian bondage 3330 years ago, but that event has been preserved and is fresh on our minds and daily lives as though it just occurred.

Jews have created an empire of memory and mind. Such an empire is resistant to changing circumstances and even to the passage of time itself.  It is the disappearance of memory that heralds the eventual disappearance of national power and pride and casts down the once mighty into irrelevance. Without ordered ritual, repeated regularly from one generation to the next, memory will fade and eventually evaporate into the thin air of human history.

Keeping alive a memory for over thirty-three centuries is nothing short of miraculous. It alone attests to the eternity of a people and a Torah that knows no limit of time, location, or circumstance.

The Torah teaches us that the redemption of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage occurred in the month of springtime, the time of physical  and emotional renewal. It is noteworthy that the Torah states: “today you are leaving in the month of springtime.” “Leaving” is in the present tense. It should have stated: “today you have left Egypt in the month of springtime.”   The Torah is emphasizing that Jews should never view past events boring history but rather as the commentary and explanation to otherwise mysterious current events. We are an ever-young people whose past is ever present.

This is the reason that our generation is privileged to celebrate seventy years of the State of Israel, which tens of previous generations could barely imagine. It is an experience that all our ancestors are commemorating with us.  An ever-young people makes memory fresh and current. It is the promise of the mission of the prophet Elijah to bind together all the many generations of Jewish families into one seamless and eternal whole.   We should be proud of being an ever-young people.






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