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A Heritage for the Future, Rav B. Horovitz

A Heritage for the Future

by Rav B. Horovitz

Can Judaism, a national civilization with its roots in the past, relate to the future of mankind?

Old rags or wood lose their value as time progresses. However, a work of art produced a few centuries ago, is an antique. If it has existed for a few thousand years as an object of beauty, it is priceless. The more generations that have appreciated its beauty, the more valuable it becomes.

Judaism is such an antique. It is a civilization based upon the Bible, the Oral traditions and their pragmatic expression in the way of life of the Jewish People. Its beauty and wisdom have been appreciated by generations of human beings. It has been a source of religious and moral inspiration for millions.

The Hebrew of the Bible includes an unusual grammatical phenomenon: the past tense is transformed into the future and the future into the past by means of the connecting letter, Vav (and). As a pictograph, it is a connecting hook. In the flow of time, the past contains the seeds of the future. We can know the fruits through the roots. This is the power of Divine Prophecy as shown in the whole of the Bible.

The civilization revealed by G-d in the past gives the inspiration and understanding of how to produce the Utopian future. If we want to understand what is written in the Bible concerning the past, we have to relate it to the hopes of the future.

The first Hebrew verse taught to Jewish children is, “The Torah (teaching), which Moses commanded to us, is a heritage (Morasha) for the community of Jacob.” (Deut. 33:4) The usual word for heritage, “Yerusha”, is an heirloom one receives from his parents. Morasha” (a causative form), means that which a person causes to be inherited by his children. The Torah, inherited from the past, has to be passed on to the future. The children should regard it not only as received by tradition, and look backwards, but as something which they should use to build the future.

The only other instance where ‘Morasha’ is found in the Pentateuch is when G-d promised that he would rescue Israel from the enslavement of Egypt, “I will take you unto Me for a people and I will become for you as G-d, and you will know that I am the L-rd your G-d who took you from under the burdens of Egypt. And I will bring you to the land concerning which I have lifted up My hand in oath to give it to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, and I am giving it unto you as a heritage (Morasha), I am the L-rd.” (Exodus 6:7)

So G-d gave a second heirloom to Israel — the land to which Israel has an uninterrupted claim of inheritance. But our claim is not just because we received it from the past, it is a ‘Morasha’ which we should pass on to our children, wherein they should build a perfect future society. The use of this keyword in the Bible shows the relationship between land and Torah. The purpose of the land and our claim upon it is not only because of the past, or the physical possession of the land by the people of Israel. Rather, the purpose is, like the Torah, to build there a social and spiritual civilization which will be a model for the nations.

G-d said to Abraham, “Go for yourself to the land... where I will make you into a great nation; I will bless you; you will be a source of blessing; I will bless all those who bless you, but those who curse you will I curse, and through you will be blessed all of the families of earth.” (Genesis 12: 1-2).

This is the universal mission of the People of Israel: to bring blessing, constant peace and happiness to all mankind. Abraham and his descendents were to walk a path of segregation, to bring about universal justice and peace.

We, today, are in the midst of this process. Those groups of mankind who have adopted “the way of the L-rd to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis 18:19) have gained spiritual and moral blessing. All those who have opposed it have found their lives to be empty.

When G-d gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, which would separate him and his descendents from other human beings, the L-rd said to Abraham, “. . .behold this is My covenant with you. You will become a father of a multitude of nations and your name will no longer be called “Abram,” but your name will become “Abraham,” for I have appointed you to become the father (teacher) of a multitude of nations.” (Gen. 17:4-5) This sign of separation of Abraham and his descendents is in order to become the educators of all mankind.

“And now if you will listen earnestly to My voice and observe My covenant, you should be unto Me a treasure from all the nations, for the whole earth should become mine. You should be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4-5) The special relationship of a treasure’ which G-d has established with Israel before the Sinaitic Revelation was so that “the whole earth would ultimately come unto Me.” As the priests lead the nation to G-d, so the kingdom of priests, as a holy nation, should act as a representative of G-d on earth and help all the nations to come near to Him.

The Decalogue was received by Israel, but has influenced the whole earth. You who cling to the L-rd your G-d, are totally alive today. Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments as the Lord my G-d has commanded me to fulfil them in the midst of the land which you are coming to inherit. And you should observe and fulfil them, for it is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who, when they will hear all these statutes they will say, ‘this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For where is there a great nation that has G-d near unto it as the Lord our G-d is, whenever we call upon Him? And who is a great nation that has righteous statutes and judgments, as all of this Torah which I am placing before you today?” (Deut. 4:4-8) Here in the desert the small unknown people were given the prediction, which must have seemed incredible at that time that Israel would ultimately impress the other nations by the great wisdom of its social laws, and the statutes which discipline the self, and govern man’s relationship to G-d and nature.

At the consecration of the first Temple, King Solomon prayed: “.. . also the Gentile who is not from Your people Israel and comes from a far-away land for the sake of Your name, for they will hear Your great name, Your strong hand and Your outstretched arm, he will come and pray towards this house. You should listen from the heavens, the place of  Your habitation, and do according to all that the Gentile calls unto You, so that all the peoples of the earth will know Your name, to fear You like Your people Israel and to know that Your name is called upon this house which I have built.” (I Kings 8:41-43)

The Torah could solve the religious, moral, social, economic, political and international problems of today.

We must do our part in fighting against atheism, irreligion and materialism by declaring, and living according to, the Will of the Personal Ethical G-d of the Bible.

In the present atmosphere of international tension and mistrust, which threatens man’s survival, we must affirm the prophetic vision of universal permanent peace, based upon trust in the Personal G-d of Israel, and the fulfillment of the international Code of the Torah.

The two opposing ideological and economic systems of East and West, which have split mankind, find their compromising meeting-point in the system of the Torah, which combines the good elements of both capitalism and communism, while avoiding the bad elements. It teaches that the resources of the earth are loaned to the individual, to be used for the purpose of developing social righteousness.

The phenomenal upsurgence of scientific civilization has made the human dilemma acute: How can one ensure that man will not abuse the powerful forces of nature that are now at his disposal? The Divine Revelation replies by introducing a pattern of life that will discipline man to build up, and not destroy, G-d’s world.

The present-day social ferment, insecurity. fragmentation, confusion and delinquency, especiallv among youth, can only be removed by applying the Divine Science of Man, which is high yet simple, stable yet dynamic, and provides guidance for all circumstances. The great issue of our time, and the issue that is least regarded is how there can be produced throughout the world “a common habit of daily life which will lead to high ethical standards.” (MacMurray) This is outlined in the Judaic tradition, and is the only way of solving the grave economic and political problems of today.

The further evolution of mankind towards greater perfection may be achieved by adopting the Torah as the guide for greater unity of life based on the Unity of G-d; and the development of all human faculties through the service of G-d.

It shall be at the end of days, (the purpose towards which all history flows) the mountain of the house of the L-rd will be established as the top of the mountains, and lifted up above the hills, and all the nations will flow unto it. (The stream of human life frequently descends to low levels, especially in recent times; ultimately, it will flow upwards to the mountain of the L-rd.) Then many nations will go and they will say, let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd, to the house of the G-d of Jacob. And He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for out of Zion (a signpost giving direction) shall go forth the Torah (teaching) and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He.shall judge between the nations and he will reprove (prove the truth to) many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. (If man would invest the talents and energy with which he is preparing for nuclear explosions into better exploitation of the earth’s natural resources. the billions produced by the population explosion could be fed.)

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and neither shall the learn war any more (education for peace).” (Isaiah 2:2-4).

The Torah is the pattern of life that can bring peace and happiness to man, “Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace. “(Proverbs 3:17)

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