And you shall choose life

Within the twilight of a pandemic and in the wake of unhindered violence, we stand at the crossroads as a nation with two paths before us.

Tags: Torah
Yshai Amichai ,

Jerusalem
Jerusalem
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Within the twilight of a pandemic and in the wake of unhindered violence, we stand at the crossroads as a nation with two paths laid out before us. The first path is a familiar but treacherous one. It appears clear and safe from the outset but is full of potholes and sudden drops. It unexpectedly twists and turns at sharp angles and is entirely circuitous. It is a path prone to accidents, with traps and ambushes, and in the end, it leads back to where it started.

The second path is unfamiliar and untraveled. There are clear signposts on it stating that it is secure and protected, but its entrance is covered in a dense fog. It is professed to be a smooth and direct route, but that cannot be seen beyond the fog. Towards evening the fog begins to clear but then dew settles upon the ground. The sky is lit up by what appears to be flames of fire, and they light up the landscape. A great and elevated city can be seen upon the horizon, but the ground remains unseen beneath the dew. It seems as if the route is open and leads straight towards it, but it could also drop down into a bottomless pit or swerve into the darkness, one cannot be certain. What do you do?

Throughout our history as a nation we’ve been taking the circuitous route. It seems as if our wanderings through the desert have never truly ended, since we always end up right back where we started. At first we were greeted with miracles and eventually made our way to Zion and the House of God, but then all our successes quickly faded and the ground seemingly crumbled beneath our feet until we tumbled far way. We got up again and made our way to Zion, but it was not the same. No longer was the red carpet spread out before us and the towers of Zion were guarded by foreigners. Even the House of God strikingly lacked His Presence and we felt like strangers in our own Land. For a time we were able to drive out our foreign overlords, but their spirit dwelled upon us. We had one foot in the Land and the other wandered through the desert, with our body splintered up above. We did make an effort, but in spirit we were lost. The foreign guards returned and eventually they drove us out.

Even in the timeframe of a nation, all that seemingly transpired lifetimes away. For since then our story has been entirely different, and seemingly without hope. A landless existence, wandering without purpose from calamity to calamity, incrementally only getting worse. We have consistently taken the first and familiar path, one that travels through infernos; it is a path of death. It’s time we try the second path, the choice that goes like this:

“See, I have set before you today the life and the good, and the death and the evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His Ways, and to keep His Commandments and His Laws and His Ordinances; then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord you God will Bless you in the Land to which you go to possess it. But if your heart will turn away and you will not listen, but will be drawn away and worship other gods and serve them: I declare unto you this day, that you shall surely perish; you will not prolong your days upon the Land for which you cross the Jordan to go there to possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, and you shall choose life, that you may live, you and your children; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His Voice, and to cleave unto Him; for that is your life and the length of your days; that you may dwell in the Land which the Lord Swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to Give them.” (Deuteronomy 30: 15-20).

Israel is a nation whose very existence is tied to God. We are the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who were prophets of God. God literally Took us out of Egypt and Made us a nation before Him on Mount Sinai, a nation of God. He Gave us the Torah, which records our Covenant with Him and entirely defines us as a nation, the way DNA defines the traits of a person. The Torah is our complete and eternal Constitution. We cannot be anything else, for then we would not be Israel. And yet, throughout our history, we have professed to be something else. We have attempted to be like the Egyptians, the Canaanites, the Arameans, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Spanish, the French, the Austrians, the Russians, the Germans, the British and the Americans. We have attempted to be like everyone else, and that hasn’t exactly worked out, so long as we retain our national aspirations and our national identity, we cannot be anything but Israel.

By the Grace of God and by the Miracle of His Doing, we live as a sovereign nation in the Land of Israel and we call ourselves Israel, yet we are not Israel, at least not in spirit. We have the body and the DNA, but our traits and our actions do not align with them, for we do not live in accordance with our Constitution. We do not keep our Covenant with God as a nation. We have dreamt of this moment for millennia, to only be given the opportunity to redeem ourselves as a nation, and to live as we were meant to live in the Land of the Living, yet we are failing. We stand upon the Holy Ground as our ancestors have only dreamt about, as a great and mighty army, yet we fight endless battles without purpose. We came here fleeing from death, hoping to defend ourselves better together as a nation, but nations unite menacingly against us. We picked some place to run to in order to emulate other nations and turn our backs on God. We need to step back and think for a moment and wonder: Does a man grow leaves on his arms like a tree or feathers on his back like a bird? How could he? It sounds completely absurd. And yet Israel is a liberal democracy that separates God from state and government.

There is a solution to all our problems, and we have the Instructions printed out and readily accessible in our own homes, and yet we do not notice. We keep it behind closed curtains and closed doors in our prayer houses, and we bring it out from time to time with much joy and fanfare, to read from it and marvel, but to little effect. It is all written very clearly and artfully in the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, our Instructions as a nation. Perhaps most people don’t understand it, but we do not lack wise men and we are the people of this Book. Perhaps most people do not want to listen, but they’ll do anything to save their lives. I have organized the Instructions in a clear and legal manner, to be read as the Constitution of Israel, as it was meant to be. It is time we look upon the second path and head out towards it as a nation. It is time we choose life.

Yshai Amichai is a father of six and the author of the Hebrew book, “The Constitution of Israel” ("חוקת ישראל"), and the English book, “The Upright One,” both of which will be made available to the public soon. You may contact him by email: yshaia@gmail.com



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