Friday, January 2, 2009

Weekly E*Torah - Parshas Vayigash

By Rabbi Avrohom Altein

An Upside-Down World

This coming Tuesday will be a Fast Day. On this day (10th of Teves) the army of Babylon laid siege around the city of Jerusalem. This led to the eventual capture of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple and the dispersion of Jews into Exile. We mourn the long chain of Jewish suffering through so many generations and we pray for the complete and Final Redemption.

There is a famous Yiddish dictum that when a sick person realizes that he is sick, that itself is half the cure. When we recognize that something is wrong, we will seek out a solution. A sick person will visit a physician. But when a sick person deludes himself into thinking all is well, he is in serious trouble.
It is most important that we Jews recognize that we live in a state of Exile and that this is not a healthy situation, not the kind of life that Jews were meant to live.

The Torah intended that Jews would be "a light to the nations," a model and inspiration of spirituality and ethics to the entire world. Jews were to all live in Israel, the Holy Land, and the Torah would be their guidebook in setting their direction in life.

We can help make this noble goal a step closer by implementing some changes to our own lifestyle. That means striving to keep more Mitzvot, study more Torah and feel proud to be Jewish. Let the ethics of our Torah be our yardstick for what is right or wrong. We should not be seeking the approval of the outside world for what we do, because when it comes to Jews, the world's values are twisted and warped.

One has to only look at the sorry state and upside-down values of the world that we live in, to realize that it is not healthy. Israel has suffered eight long years an unending barrage of missiles aimed at innocent men, women and children. The terrorists openly state that they consider every living Jew their enemy and would kill us all.

During the many years that Israel was quiet about the daily threat to Jewish lives, there was not a single protest by world leaders against the Hamas onslaught. But the moment that the Israeli army rose to defend Jewish lives, the world leaders and media are suddenly shocked by the "disproportionate amount of force."

One has to be quite a slow thinker not to recognize that we are in a deep Exile. The Redemption must begin from within, from Jews standing up for themselves with pride and for what Judaism represents.

Weekly Smile
Justice for Jews

During the reign of the Russian Czars, Jews were subject to a perverted system of justice. Once, as a Jewish man walked the street, an anti-Semite threw a rock at his head. The Jew ducked just in time and instead of hitting the Jew, the rock smashed a store window.

The court fined the Jew and ordered him to pay for the broken window. It was the Jew's fault that the window broke because if he had not ducked the window would be whole.

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