Rosh HaShanna: time to talk about G-d
Tuvia BrodieTuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name...
Here’s a story few want to hear: the Jewish nation is G-d’s beloved.
Who wants to hear that? Muslims don’t. All they want to hear is ‘Islam-will-rule’. They want to conquer ‘Occupied Palestine’ (modern Israel). They want to make Jerusalem Islamic.
Christian leaders aren’t interested, either. Some have recently declared that the G-d of Israel is irrelevant. Others have declared that Jews are no longer G-d’s Chosen.
Even Jews aren’t interested. Why should Jews tell the world they are G-d’s beloved? That would be terrible. It would mean that Jews are different from everyone else.
G-d forbid Jews should be different.
Like it or not, G-d chose the Jewish nation. He gave us purpose. We are to sing His praise. We are to show the way to peace and justice.
It’s a simple Choice. It’s a simple Purpose.
But in our Biblical history, Jews rejected ‘simple’. They had a better idea: let’s be like everyone else!
They turned against G-d. They chose idols. Why worship the invisible when you could kiss a stone?
That’s what everyone else did. Why shouldn’t the Jews? Keeping up with the Joneses was far more exciting than the G-d of Israel.
Idol worship must have seemed a good idea because it lasted a long time. But it didn’t work out. As result of those idols, the Jewish people were vomited from their land, scattered and then persecuted for nearly 2,000 years.
The Idols failed. They were as stupid as stone.
All of this was predicted centuries before it happened. It was recorded in a public record called Tanach (the Jewish Bible). In that public record, G-d made two promises: first, He would punish the Jews for their sins; and second, He would not abandon his beloved.
That’s exactly what’s happened. Yes, the Jews were exiled from Israel. But then, more than 1,700 years later, beginning in the early 1800’s, G-d initiated the fulfilment of His second promise: Jews began to return.
G-d had not forgotten.
After World War Two, the doors which guarded the gateway to Israel burst open. G-d’s promises showered onto the land. The desert bloomed. The economy became strong. Israel rose like a lion before its enemies.
The land filled with milk and honey. Cities grew. Jerusalem once again became the Jewish capital of the Jewish people.
It wasn’t easy. Many in Israel didn’t appreciate G-d. But the record of His promises-becoming-reality has become increasingly obvious since Israel became a modern State. Israel, once weary of G-d, now turns to Him. Today, 69 per cent of Israeli Jews light Shabbat candles. Most eat kosher food and observe Passover dietary rules. Religious Jews—including all labelled as ‘religious’-- will soon represent 30 per cent of Israel’s Jewish population, with an equal number sympathetic to ‘religion’.
Listen, Israel. G-d has chosen you. He made you. He has punished you for your sins. He has revived you.
Look around: Jerusalem is Jewish. Torah has returned to Israel. More Jews now sing to G-d and live by His rules than at any time in the past 2,000 years.
We have returned. G-d makes us distinctive, just as He promised.
Here’s a secret you should remember: we have a Destiny that includes a challenge. The great Gaon of Vilna, Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer (1720-1797), has written that, as we move closer to our Destiny, there will be ‘a time of trouble for Jacob’ (Rabbi Hillel Shaklover, The Voice of the Turtledove, distributed by M. Pomeranz Bookseller, Jerusalem, limited edition, no date, p.6). We will see ‘troubles’--from Yishmael (the Arab), Edom (the nations of Christianity) and from Jews (Rabbi Nachman Kahana, With All Your Might, TCF Publications, Jerusalem, 2009, pp. 584-5, 608-611, 622-625). These troubles are part of our Tanach script. They now unfold as foretold.
These troubles are real. They exist for a purpose. They drive us to our future.
Our challenge is to understand this path to Destiny. Our challenge is to remember that these troubles are for us, to refine what is coarse and to clarify what is clouded.
Today, we live with Arab attacks, international scorn and pressure to surrender land to those who hate us. We are dehumanized and demonized. Through these troubles, our entire nation—including leadership--will learn that it is the G-d of Israel who controls our Destiny, not the UN, the Palestinian Authority or Barack Obama.
But nothing happens if we say nothing. We must speak out.
The Arab speaks. He calls for a third Intifada. He calls for our destruction. The Palestinian Authority calls for Jerusalem to be its capital. Muslim clerics promise that their god will rule from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
With Rosh Hashanna beginning this week, perhaps it’s time for us to talk, too. We should talk about our G-d--and His promises.