On Saturday night we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. I will admit that before my trip to Israel, I knew very little about this holiday. It is now one of my favorites. There is a real joy in walking from building to building in the Chood, sitting in on classes and lectures and discussions. Digging deep into the study of Torah and walking away with valuable life lessons… and cheesecake!
Shavuot marks the “all-important wheat harvest in the Land of Israel (Exodus 34:22); and it commemorates the anniversary of the day G-d gave the Torah to the entire nation of Israel assembled at Mount Sinai.”
For me, and I have written about this before, so I’ll try to take a bit of a different angle on it… Half is that G-d chose the Children Of Israel, but the other half is that they CHOSE HIM BACK. There is a double-edged sword in being the “Chosen People.” It causes others to mock us… ridicule us… and judge us. It makes others feel inferior, and thus attack us out of anger or jealousy.
Hashem made the offer to the entire world, but it was the Jews who chose to be in a covenant with God… to be a “Light Unto The Nations.” And being chosen and choosing is not an easy task. Jews are supposed to follow 613 Mitzvot/Commandments.
“You alone have I singled out of all the families of the earth. That is why I call you to account for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2).”
The Torah talks about the struggles Jews will face… being small in numbers and facing many enemies. “It is not because you are numerous that God chose you, indeed you are the smallest of people” (Deuteronomy 7:7).
Look at history and how many sought to wipe us out… The Spanish Inquisition, Pogroms in Russia, and of course, the horrific Holocaust. And yet we remain. Being chosen has brought out hate and lies… We are blamed for having too much power and running the world, or at least the financials of the world… and in the same breath blamed for being too weak and inferior. (The Nazis tried to have it both ways with us).
We were blamed for the rise of Communism AND Capitalism. Again, there is no logic, but this is also proof that there is no logic at all when it comes to anti-Semitism.’
Less than a month ago Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Russian minorities such as Jews or Tatars were behind the “alleged meddling” of the 2016 US presidential election. Anti-Semitism and a hatred of Israel (usually the same thing) is alive and well and must be watched and fought against.
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forged document, is based on the idea that the “Chosen People” were attempting an international conspiracy and wanting to rule the world. So are we too powerful or too weak? Too greedy or too willing to give all their equal share? The fact that anti-Semitism morphs with the times and is constantly changing… proves that it is not true and is an irrational thing. Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks piece on this is a must read!
While watching the news the other night, I heard a Pastor say something untrue and troubling… He implied that ALL religions believe their way is the “one and only way to the true and living G-d.”
But this is actually what separates Judaism from other religions. We do NOT believe that Judaism is the only way. We do NOT say that non-believers are going to “Hell.” Moses refers to the “God of the spirits of all flesh” (Numbers 27:16)
The proof is that anyone… ANYONE… who follows the Seven Noahide Laws will go onto the next world… The World To Come…
- Not to worship idols.
- Not to curse God.
- To establish courts of justice.
- Not to commit murder.
- Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality.
- Not to steal.
- Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
For me, it is quite simple… CHOOSE TO ALWAYS DO THE RIGHT THING. While the results may vary, having GOOD INTENTIONS and ALWAYS TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING is a pretty easy guide to life and living.
We all have Free Will, so CHOOSE to do as many good things as you can… and know that while every action has a reaction and consequence, we do have CHOICES.
So yes, Hashem CHOSE the Children Of Israel. Our CHOOSING Hashem back does not mean we are better than anyone else… It does mean we have more responsibility to do the RIGHT THING… to live with purpose and fulfillment… to be the Light Unto The Nations. Too many in this world are trying to snuff out that light. We need to speak to truth, be that beacon. and stand up for what is right and just. This is the CHOICE.
Have a great and meaningful Shavuot. Be open… receive… and CHOOSE!