I am jealous of atheists because they are able to believe the unbelievable. And I, in my simplicity, cannot reach that state of belief.
To be satisfied is one of the greatest blessings that can ever be bestowed upon human beings. The Torah teaches us that when the People of Israel live in accordance with the requirements of the Torah, what will matter is not what a person “has” but what a person “is.”
The real struggle for moral liberty started the day after the exodus from Egypt. The first day was a given; it was the day of God, not of the people. It was the day of passivity and complete surrender. Only the next day did the spiritual labor of the human being begin, and that is therefore the first day of our spiritual elevation.
We Jews are messengers, but we have forgotten the message. It is our obligation to rediscover it and advance it into eternity. Our task is to be more than human, more than good, and more than pious, to surpass all these and once again become God’s stake in the future.
The founding of the State of Israel, then, is not the beginning of the marriage between the land and the Jewish people, but rather a reaffirmation of the marriage commitment that took place thousands of years ago between God and Abraham. The marriage was created to give birth to a wellspring of religious and moral teachings that will suffuse humankind with the knowledge that life is holy and that God awaits people’s response to His call in order to redeem His world.
Rabbi Yochanan taught us that Jews can survive without Israel, as long as there is Torah, the portable homeland of the Jewish people. But Jews will not survive solely because of the existence of Israel—however powerful it may be—if Israel does not incorporate a large percentage of Jewish traditional resources.
Why do we use karpas—a green vegetable—dipped in salt water at the beginning of the Seder? Could it have something to do with the other meaning of karpas—fine woolen cloth? There is a lesson here, hidden in plain sight, about causality and Divine Providence.
When we read the text on the Seder night, we should be aware that it only provides the opening words. The real Haggada has no text. It is not to be read, but is rather to be heard. And, just as with the Torah, we have not even begun to understand its full meaning. We are simply perpetual beginners.
Radical change has taken place in the Jewish world after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. We have been shown that it is impossible for all of us to stay outside of history. The Holocaust has taught us that we cannot survive without entering history. To argue that our yeshiva students are the ones who really defend us against our enemies, and that we do not need soldiers, is an escape from reality.
Judaism is about an upheaval in the soul and the need to break with all sorts of idols. It is about living with spiritual trepidation in which man realizes that he was created from dust but has the ability to reach Heaven. Whether or not man succeeds will depend on his willingness to stand in awe.