JWR Outlook

Jewish World Review August 8, 2003 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5763

Mission men

By Rabbi Berel Wein

http://www.jewishworldreview.com | The basic tenet of all of Jewish life, history, culture and civilization appears in this week's Torah reading: "Hear O Israel the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one."

Jews have lived by this credo, died with these words on their lips and in their souls and sustained themselves through all times of adversity by the knowledge and faith of G-d's existence and relationship to Israel represented by these simple words, known as the Sh'ma.

Throughout Jewish history, as Moses himself attests to in Dvarim (Deuteronomy), there have been differing shades of Torah piety and observance amongst Jews.

Again, as Moses points out in his words of challenge, there have been occasions when Jews, many Jews, who willfully ignored or betrayed G-d's commandments and assignments. But, even when Jews in the Biblical and later Greco-Roman eras succumbed to the local practices of social idolatry then prevalent, they remembered and in their heart of hearts believed that "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one." The Jews were the ones who pioneered in human society the belief in the existence of an unseen, omniscient, omnipotent, personally interrelated G-d of justice, compassion and eternity.

In short, the Jews were not only the "people of the Book," they were more importantly the people of a monotheistic and universal G-d.

Donate to JWR

The ravages of nineteenth and twentieth century secularism gutted this core belief of Judaism for many Jews.

Blinded by the false light of the promise of a better world, vast numbers of Jews forsook "the L-rd is our G-d" for new slogans, Marxist, secularist, Bundist, nationalist and assimilationist in their outlook. But, now at the end of the bloodiest century in human history, when all of the ideologies and empires that began this century as all-powerful and progressive now lie in the ashbin of history, all of these slogans and certainties are mockingly hollow.

New "Judaisms" have arisen that somehow attempt to preserve the Jewish people --- Jewish history and purpose, without a belief in the divinity of the Torah and G-d of Israel. Thus, the "new" types of Judaism have abandoned "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one." Whether a Jewish society can long survive without the Sh'ma as its basic credo is certainly the basic question of our modern world.

All of Jewish history indicates that such a secular, non-observant, assimilationist form of Jewish life will lead only to the extinction of Jewish civilization that the proponents of "secular Judaism" are attempting to preserve.

And that is the source of much of the divisive wrangling that the Jewish world is currently witnessing.

Every Jew, every human being, should consider what the purpose of life is. This basic question is the one that modern man, now so technologically and educationally advanced, must answer satisfactorily in order for life and society to progress.

The words of the Torah, "the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is uniquely one" is certainly the basis for the future of Israel.

Appreciate this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein is one of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the Destiny Foundation. He has authored over 650 tapes, books and videos which you can purchase at RabbiWein.com. Comment by clicking here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).


08/07/03: Mourning and morning
07/25/03: Lessons from the road and by the way
07/11/03: An ugly reality only the most enlightened refuse to concede
07/03/03: Time to make what ‘should be’ into what ‘must be’
05/30/03: The Incredible Shrinking People
05/23/03: To be a Jew
05/03/03: Want to be holy? Do something about it
04/11/03: You are what you speak
04/04/03: No escape
03/21/03: "Just do it" leadership and spirituality
03/07/03: Accountability to the spirit --- and man
02/21/03: Golden Calf still with us --- except it has multiplied
02/07/03: How to turn wealth into glory
01/31/03: When the legal standard is not enough
01/02/03: How to be stubborn
12/13/02: Weakening Jewry in an effort to fortify it
12/06/02: Chanukah: Be politically incorrect --- and be proud doing so
11/01/02: Hebron: The struggle for the Holy Land in micro
10/04/02: The book of "Bereishis" ( Genesis): The book of mankind
09/24/02: Chol Hamoed: transforming the mundane into the holy
08/19/02: From tragedy to consolation
07/12/02: The Sabbath of Stark Vision
06/07/02: "Challah": More than a mundane mouthful
03/08/02: The Havdala ceremony
01/04/02: Meditation and isolation
12/12/01: What celebrating Chanukah says about the state of Jewry
11/29/01: Requisite for a great scholar: Acknowledging -- and admitting -- one's limits
09/28/01: On forgiveness
09/07/01: Comfort and consolation
08/17/01: As the Jewish year draws to a close
07/13/01: The Three Weeks
07/06/01: Seventeenth of Tammuz
06/20/01: Worthy word books
06/01/01: The best (spiritual) summer reading
05/23/01: Shavous: Cheesecake, blintzes and flowers
04/03/01: Pre-Passover cleaning: A man's perspective
03/23/01:The Bible as fiction
03/08/01: A Purim fable
02/22/01: Why history
12/01/00: Those stubborn Jews
09/29/00: Of gifts and judgements
08/25/00: Diversity and unity
08/18/00: On Wagner and Chacham Ovadia
07/12/00: The return of a Torah scroll and confronting painful memories
06/27/00: Single issue fanatics
05/22/00: Strength and Weakness
04/04/00: The message of spring
04/25/00: Ritual's role
03/09/00: The hubris trap
02/28/00: Denial
02/17/00: The individual and the state
02/04/00: Going it alone
01/27/00: Hang together or hang alone
01/11/00: Hope and good sense: A Jewish recipe for survival
12/06/99: Trendy vs. tenacious
11/15/99: Legacies and remembrances
11/08/99: The joy -- and responsibility -- of being a grandparent
10/28/99: Imperfect solutions
10/21/99: 'Holy loafers'
10/07/99: Earthquakes --- 'natural' and otherwise
09/28/99: Beauty
09/17/99: Blessing the children
09/10/99: A good year

© 2002, Rabbi Berel Wein