It is well known that the institution of Shabbat is one of the best inventions God ever came up with. It no doubt qualifies Him to receive the Nobel Prize for innovative thinking, and the venerable judges in Sweden should sincerely consider bestowing this honor on the Lord of the Universe.
Shabbat is serious business, not only because of its halachic requirements but also because of its magnificent and majestic message. To violate it is not just a transgression but a tragedy.
In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem the leaders of the Jewish people despaired. But the ordinary Jews did not. Despite the total collapse of Jewish life, they opted for the impossible. They not to listen to their leaders, but continued building the nation of Israel, as they had previously been taught by the very sages who now despaired. Sometimes, the simple man has more faith in the Jewish future than the greatest Talmudic scholar.
You, dear readers, must forgive me for asking this question, but: Have we Jews gone mad? Kotel mad? Have we lost it? Are we Jews, who represent the best brains in the world, incapable of solving a minor – albeit pressing – problem in our long history of unprecedented upheavals and unparalleled challenges?
Once upon a time, in a large, gloomy palace high on a mountain, where the night wind howled outside its massive walls, there lived a king—a real one. He had a beard as long as a silver waterfall and a voice that boomed like thunder. A king needs no more.
As we are daily confronted with a steady increase in the number of Jews who have not only left the fold but are actively involved in anti-Jewish activity inside and outside Israel, it would perhaps be meaningful to study an episode in the life of a biblical non-Jew who decided to join the Jewish people at all costs.
On Yom Hashoa one can virtually smell the blood of the six million Jews killed, including one and a half million children. Walking through Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I see the faces of many of them, and it is not difficult to imagine that these children could have been mine. After all, I missed the Holocaust by a hair’s breadth.
Jews in earlier centuries were never seriously involved in sport, though. This is most likely due to the historical conditions of Second Temple period. With Alexander the Great’s conquest of the land of Israel in the 4th century BCE, Hellenist culture began to infiltrate the Jewish way of life. In fact, it was the attempts by Antiochus Epiphanes to Hellenize Judea that led to a declaration of war on the part of the Maccabees.
The Talmud discusses the identity of a Gavra Rabba, an exceptionally great person or Torah sage. It quotes a most remarkable observation made by the well-known Sage Rava, who states: “How foolish are some people who stand up [out of respect] for a Sefer Torah but do not stand up for a Gavra Rabba” (1).
The anti-Semitic world has a hard time with us Jews, and we should feel some pity for all those who work relentlessly to give us a bad name. They boycott us in academia, journalism, European governments, the market place, or just in the streets of daily life. But let’s be honest. Aren’t they right? Are we not truly a nuisance?