7 min read
GOOD MORNING! Have you ever noticed that there is something unique about Jewish history? No nation has survived such persistent persecution and survived the millennia. For that matter, most nations which have not been persecuted have not survived the millennia! Not only have the Jewish people survived, but they have impacted the course of history and the values of the world like no other people!
For a nation to survive there are essential necessary factors: a large population, a country where that population stays together, a common history, a common language. Not only has the Jewish people survived contrary to these requirements -- but our existence, our uniqueness and our impact are prophesied in the Torah!
In this and the next two editions, I am going to share with you 7 fascinating Torah prophecies about the Jewish people. In this edition are prophecies relating to our survival. We will then explore prophecies regarding our impact on the world.
1. ETERNAL NATION -- most nations rise and fall through history, yet:
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be an eternal nation: "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and your descendants after you, throughout the generations. An eternal covenant to be your God, and the God of your descendants after you" (Genesis 17-7). This promise is repeated many times throughout the Torah (Leviticus 26:43, Deuteronomy 4:26-27, Deut. 28:63-64).
We survive to this day while it is fair to say that most people have never heard of the Hittites, Emorites, Perizzites, Jebusites or Girgashites who were our contemporaries.
2. FEW IN NUMBER -- for a nation to survive, it needs large numbers, yet:
The Torah tells us, "And you shall remain few in number among the nations to which God shall lead you" (Devarim 4:27).
To every other people, a small population spells extinction. We know from the records that the Romans kept about 2,000 years ago, there were between 8 -10 million Jews living in the world. How many Jews do demographers say should be in the world today?
If in the same period of time, the Chinese went from a population of 30 million to over 1 billion people, there should be approximately 500 million Jews alive in the world today. After the Chinese and the Indians, the third largest ethnic group on the planet earth should be the Jews! There are virtually no more Jews in the world today than there were 2,000 years ago and yet throughout all this time, the Jews remained a distinct people.
3. EXILE & DISPERSION -- for a nation to survive, its people need to stay together, yet:
The Torah prophecy informs us, "And you, I will scatter among the nations, at the point of My drawn sword, leaving your country desolate and your cities in ruins" (Leviticus 26:33).
The dispersion of the Jewish People to the four corners of the globe is a completely unique phenomenon in human history. (There are other dispersions of people from one land to another). Jews have wandered and settled in almost every land on earth -- while somehow managing to maintain their distinct national identity.
Multiple exiles are unheard of, since after the first one the people generally disappear -- they simply become assimilated among other peoples. In human history, multiple exiles and dispersion are unique only to the Jewish people.
4. ANTI-SEMITISM -- for a nation to survive, it needs to have no internal or external threats -- or the strength to defeat them, yet the Torah prophesies regarding the Jewish experience amongst their host nations:
"And among those nations you will not be tranquil, there will be no rest for your foot. There God will give you a trembling heart, longing of eyes and suffering of soul. You will live in constant suspense. Day and night, you will be terrified, never sure of your existence. In the morning you will say, 'If only it were night,' and in the evening you will say, 'If only it were morning!' Such will be the dread that your heart will feel and the sights that your eyes will see" (Deut. 28:65-67).
No other form of racial hatred comes close to anti-Semitism in its virulence, its intensity and its irrationality. If we look at the history of anti-Semitism, we see one unceasing chain of slaughter, pogroms, pillaging, expulsion and genocide. And yet not only have we survived, but our history has been prophesied!
Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11 - 34:35
The Torah portion includes: instructions for taking a census (by each person donating a half shekel); instructions to make the Washstand, Anointing Oil, and The Incense for the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary; appointing Betzalel and Oholiab to head up the architects and craftsmen for the Mishkan; a special commandment forbidding the building of the Mishkan on Shabbat (people might have thought that they would be allowed to violate the Shabbat to do a mitzvah ...). "The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath an eternal covenant for their generations."
The Torah portion continues with the infamous story of the Golden Calf. The people wrongly calculated that Moses was late in coming down from Mt. Sinai and the people were already seeking a replacement for him by making the Golden Calf (there is a big lesson in patience for us here). Moses sees them dancing around the calf and expressing anger he breaks the Two Tablets; he then punishes the 3,000 wrongdoers (less than .1% of the 3 million people), pleads to God not to wipe out the people, requests to see the Divine Glory, and receives the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments.
* * *
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Moshe is on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. The Almighty relates to him all that has happened in the creating of the golden calf and with the worshipping of it. Then the Almighty concludes with this final verse in summation as to why He wants to annihilate the Jewish people:
"... I have seen this people and they are a stiff-necked people' " (Exodus 32:9).
What is it that makes our stiff-neckedness the "final straw" for the Almighty?
Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm explains that the main fault of the Jewish people was that they were stiff-necked. That is, they lacked the flexibility to admit that they made a mistake. When someone is flexible, even if he makes many mistakes he will regret them and will change. However, if a person is inflexible, when he makes a mistake, he will not repent and improve.
It is important to be flexible to improve oneself. There is also a time to be inflexible when upholding values and maintaining one's honesty and integrity.
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