State and Religion

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Many of my Christian friends call themselves “two day Christians”, meaning that they attend services at their church only on Christmas and Easter. Are we “two day Jews” or can we practice our religious beliefs for the entire year, even if we do not go to Synagogue?!

Judaism, in my eyes, is a nationality, not a religion. The first one to name us a nation was the Pharaoh in Egypt: “Behold! The People, the Children of Israel, are now numerous and stronger than we” (Exodus 1, 9). Being a nation, not a religion, we cannot afford to separate state and religion, for us it is one and the same.

In the coming High Holydays, the main theme is that we are announcing to the world that Hashem is the King of the Universe, and we are His People. Rabbi Nachman of Breslow phrased this idea in very short and concise words: “EIN MELECH B’LO AM” – there is no king without a people (or nation). And in the poem that we all sing, Adon Olam: “at the time when His will brought all into being – then as ‘King’ was His name proclaimed”; this line is taken from Maimonides explanation of the Thirteen Fundamentals of Faith.

The last point I wish to make is this. Every person is a small world! In the Talmud we find that anyone who saves even one person, he or she are likened to the Creator, since they saved a whole world. When we hear on the news or read the newspaper, do we look at every catastrophe and shrug it off as another freak accident, another bad thing that just happened because there is evil in the world?! Or, can we perhaps seek G-d’s guidance in understanding what His will is for us. When we hear that a snake killed two very young kids very close to our home, our reaction should be, I believe, to pray to Hashem and become closer to Him and to each other. Maybe we can balance these horrendous and hurtful accidents and intentional wrongdoings, with our good actions, prayers and loving-kindness.

Smash All The Babies (6/19/13)

A very interesting and positive look at a quite controversial verse in Psalm 137

THE RIVER WALK

psalm-1379-smash-all-the-babies

Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks! (Psalm 137:9)

Read: 1Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 17:16

Relate: Before I begin to write any post, I will always spend some time in prayer and then reading that portion of the Bible that is part of the Bibile reading plan. It is a devotional for me long before I write it out as a devotion for the world. Sometimes immediately a verse jumps out to me and as soon as I’m done reading I will go right back to it. Other times there will be a theme running through both the Old Testament and New Testament readings and I will work off that theme. [2015 addition: On occasion, like today, I will simply go back to a post from a previous year dealing with that same scripture.] As I was reading today I was thinking…

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Kindness to Strangers – Bridge to Unity 2013

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Reprinted with permission from the author:“…I say to Him, ‘God is it okay to luff strangers?’ And God says to me, ‘Yitzak, vat is dis strangers? You make strangers. I don’t make strangers.'” Kitchen Table Wisdom

Rachel Naomi Remen interviewed a Holocaust survivor, Yitzak, at a retreat for people with cancer, for her book Kitchen Table Wisdom. Initially uncomfortable being vulnerable with a group of strangers, Yitzak tells Rachel at their last meeting that he took up the matter with God and asked God what this retreat was about. Rachel wanted to know what God said in response to Yitzak. The result is the quote above. To Yitzak, the fellow cancer sufferers were strangers. To God, no one is a stranger.

Remen tenderly describes how Yitzak’s youth made him close his heart. She, as a physician and a fine listener, found a way to open it. In essence, what Yitzak came to terms with is that a stranger is a human construct, not a divine one. We decide to make people close to us or to make them distant. We decide who to let into our world and who to keep away. Sometimes, a stranger is just someone you haven’t said hello to yet. (By Erica Brown)

This evening, juggling at least 3 other events I want to be at, we will be expressing our love to people we sometimes think of as strangers.

In last year’s event, the very first ever for Fredericton, over 35 different communities and religions were represented!

Thank you, Janice Ryan, Kevin Bourque, Dr.s Will & Debbie Van den Hoonaard for making this happen