I stayed by my "grandrav" for Shabbos, which was really good. We talked a lot about all kinds of topics having to do with Torah and the Jewish community — geographically, philosophically, religiously, socially, as well as unfortunately some politics too. I also saw another learnèd friend of mine over there too, which was cool.
Anyway, some of these discussions got me thinking.
I know many people who want to go out and change the world. Some of them are still just dreaming
. Some of them are laying plans
. And others, H' yishmereim veyatzlihheim
, are already out there, taking charge
and changing the world for the better.
I have one particular wound in the Jewish communal body that I want to sew up. One particular tumor that I, personally, need to see excised. There are way too many people out there who think that being Jewish is about being superior to the rest of the world. About us being important and everyone else being shit. About six billion living breathing human beings, created in the image of God, having the sole purpose of servicing us
, being used and abused?
That's not what being mamlekhet kohanim vegoy qadosh
— a kingdom of priests and a holy nation — is about. Zarim
, aren't there to be utilized and abused by priests. Everyone knows that. Maybe in some theocratic feudal society, where the religious functionaries are in charge, and everybody else is a serf... but not in Yisra’eil! Kohanim
are there to serve the zarim
; priests — and rabbis, teachers, leaders, anyone with a communal job — are there to serve the people, not the other way around!
As my brother condensed into a convenient-sized soundbyte,אהבת ישראל
cannot be based on
שנאת הבריותYou cannot create Jewish pride, attachment to Judaism, or concern for other Jews, by teaching hatred or contempt for the rest of the human race.
You cannot save your community by mutilating your soul.
Being Jewish is not about being 'special' or 'better' than everyone else. It's not about being good while everyone else is evil. It's not about having some kind of right, or dream, of using other people like tools. If you think you're that kind of 'special', you're not special at all. You're just another two-bit egotist, like all the rest.
Being Jewish is about having a contract with God. It's about inspiring the world. It's about being moral, caring, and productive. It's about being a mensch.
If you think that being Jewish means that only you
matter, and that the rest of God's children are there to be used by you, you're not just using other human beings — you're using God
, using Haqódesh Barukh Hu’ for your own self-aggrandizement and self-inflation. We have two terms for that. One is מעילה. The other is חילול השם. The first can be atoned for. The second cannot.
It says in the Babylonian Talmud masekhet Yevamot
79a that this nation has three identifying characteristics — those who are merciful, those who have a sense of shame, and those who do acts of kindness
. What the heck ever happened to that?