Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Va'eschanan

Basic Tenet of Jewish Life

The basic tenet of all of Jewish life, history, culture and civilization appears in this week's Torah reading: "Hear O Israel the Lord is our God, the Lord 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 God's existence and relationship to Israel represented by the simple words of the sh'ma. Throughout Jewish history, as Moses himself attests to in this Book Dvarim, there have been differing shades of Torah piety and observance amongst Jews. Again, as Moses points out in his words of challenge to the Jews, there have been occasions when Jews, many Jews, who willfully ignored or betrayed God'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 Lord is our God, the Lord is uniquely one.' The Jews were the ones who pioneered in human society the belief in the existence of an unseen, omniscent, omnipotent, personally interralated God 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 God.

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 Lord is our God" for new slogans, Marxist, secularist, Bundist, nationalist and assimilationist in their outlook. But, now at the end of the bloodiest century in humanhistory, when all of the ideologies and empires that began this century as all-powerful and progressive now lie in the ash bin of history, all of these slogans and certainties are mockingly hollow. There have therefore arisen new "Judaisms" that somehow attempt to preserve the Jewish people. Jewish history and purpose, without a belief in the divinity of the Torah and God of Israel. Thus the "new" types of Judaism have abandoned "the Lord is our God, the Lord 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 extiction 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 satisfactorially in order for life and society to progress. The words of the Torah, "the Lord is our God, the Lord is uniquely one" is certainly the basis for the future of Israel.

Shabat Shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Berel Wein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Shared Responsibility
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Two Paradigms of Thankful Individuals
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759

Every Last Drop
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

ArtScroll

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Vayeitzei
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Lighting Up the Streets
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

The Light of Torah
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Thanks a Lot!
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Analyzing The Imagery of A Familiar Chanukah Poem
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

Living Lessons
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Challenges Ahead
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

What’s a Meta-phor?
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

Yosef and Chanukah
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5757

> Twin Peaks
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

A Matter of Honour
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Fourteen Sleepless Years
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

Taking A Stand - Making A Difference
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information