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A Nation Of Opposites

Following (in italics) is an excerpt from a Jewish prayer that we say on special Holidays:

You have chosen us from among all the nations
(What about those two hundred and ten years of slavery in Egypt?)
You loved us
(The First Temple was destroyed)
and favored us.
(The Second Temple was also destroyed)
You have exalted us above all people
(Don’t forget about the Crusades)
You have sanctified us with Your commandments.
(And the Spanish Inquisition)
You drew us near to Your service
(We suffered through the pogroms of Europe and Russia)
and proclaimed Your Great and Holy Name upon us.
(And survived the Holocaust)

We have been reciting this prayer for over two thousand years.  It was composed by the Men of the Great Assembly (those who formed the link between the last of the Jewish Prophets and the first of the Talmudic scholars) during the time of the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Admittedly, it is hard to understand in light of history, but then again, we have always been a nation of opposites.

Consider this: Several weeks ago on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we commemerated the destruction of 6,000,000 Jews at the hands of the Germans. This week, we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim (The Day of Jerusalem), commemorating our victory during the 1967 War when we took control over the Holy City of Jerusalem after 2,000 years of living in exile. First we mourn and then we dance.

The most striking “opposite” of our existence is that we are likely the smallest nation in the world, comprising less than 0.2% of the world’s population and yet we are regarded as the most powerful, influential nation on Earth.

We have been hated because we are communists and because we are capitalists. (Make sense?)

People don’t like us because we stay stubbornly by ourselves and when we have assimilated, we are accused of polluting their superior race (as in Germany).

We have a chosen people mentality and many of us have inferiority complexes.

We are members of a nation that has been persecuted and killed by nations that no longer exist. The mightiest empires have fallen and the Jewish nation has survived. (It should be the opposite).

There is a reason for all of this.

The Bible has charged us with the responsibility for Tikkun Olam - repairing the world. We haven’t completed our job thus the world is not quite perfect yet.

Today when we see the rest of the world falling into selfishness, violence and hatred, let’s do the opposite. Let’s bring the message of God into the world by living the way we have been told to. That is by loving our fellow man, seeking justice and doing kindness to others.

Now that’s an opposite we can ALL live with.

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Comments icon May 7, 2010


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