The Universal Sukkah

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12 Responses

  1. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Whatever it is that we are supposed to share with the rest of the world, it won’t happen by our maintaining an attitude of us versus them. Such an attitude does not make Hashem and His Torah any dearer to the world.

    How much more so here in Israel where the “world” are also our fellow Jews.

    Thanks so much for this wonderful message.

    Moadim L’Simcha

  2. Bob Miller says:

    “…some of us continue to believe that we can live lives completely isolated from the world around.”

    Are such people really certain that this is possible, or are they somewhat uncertain, but terrified that no other remedy seems to exist to block or nullify bad inputs from their surroundings?

    We need to understand that on some level, at least, our mission is to overcome and transform, not to be sealed off for our 120 years.

  3. Miriam says:

    “Derech eretz kadma l’Torah” – first the physical needs, then we can build Torah.

    And in every way – Hashem only “decides” to stay with us for Shmini Atzeret after we have fulfilled the 70 korbonos of Sukkos.

  4. Raymond says:

    We Jews reaching out to the gentile world should only be done with the utmost caution, and only by those who are so solidly grounded in their Jewish belief and practice, that active interaction with the larger world will not swallow them up and thus compromise their Jewish values. Since most Jews are not of that sufficient inner spiritual strength, however, I think it is best to be a light unto the nations through personal example, by living the kind of Jewish life that is worthy of admiration. One can also answer questions about Judaism posed by sincerely inquiring gentiles, but there is little to be gained by engaging in any kind of debate that pits Judaism against any other system of belief.

  5. Miriam says:

    “To be part of this great society which allows us the freedom to live and act apart, we are expected to care, to contribute, to pay attention to norms of conduct practiced by others, including the way we shovel our snow, tend to our lawns, and greet people on our block.”

    Raymond writes: We Jews reaching out to the gentile world should only be done with the utmost caution…

    That’s the extreme justification that takes us down the wrong path in the first place. Those within the fold who fear that just saying hello to a non-Jew makes us a prime target for leaving Torah ch”v are doing us all a disservice. First they insult the majority of us who know the difference between cordiality and fraternization, and worse they push an educational approach that preaches that any contact is “bad,” without providing any tools for those who later do go into a mixed environment for work or other purposes.

    Rather, we should teach the traditional sources which draw a clear distinction between Jews and non-Jews (and religious vs. non-religious attitudes) that form the basis for those tools, not dumb the whole thing down to black and white. The bad-vs.-good approach only plays into the political correctness that makes everyone reluctant to admit any differences between people lest it be perceived as insulting.

  6. chardal says:

    I think that this idea was most beautifully presented by Rav Kook Zt”l in his speech during the inauguration of Hebrew University:

    “Two tendencies characterize Jewish spirituality. One tendency is internal and entirely sacred; it serves to deepen the spirit and to strengthen the light of Torah within. Such has been the purpose of all Torah institutions from earliest times, especially the fortresses of Israel’s soul – the yeshivot. This includes all the yeshivot that ever existed, presently exist, and will exist in order to glorify Torah in its fullest sense. This spiritual tendency is fully confident and assured. ‘Those who love Your Torah enjoy well-being; they encounter no adversity’ (Psalm 119:165). Despite such confidence, Rabbi Nehunya ben Haqanah, upon entering the house of study, used to pray that nothing go awry with his presentation and that is not lead to error.

    The second tendency characterizing Jewish spirituality served not only to deepen the sacredness of Torah within, but also as a means for the propagation and absorption of ideas. It served to propagate Jewish ideas and values from the private domain of Judaism into the public arena of the universe at large. For this purpose we have been established as a light unto the nations. It also served to absorb the general knowledge derived by the collective effort of all of humanity, by adapting the good and useful aspects of general knowledge to our storehouse of a purified way of living. Ultimately, this absorption too serves as a means of a moderated propagation to the world at large. Toward the attainment of this end, the Hebrew University can serve as a great and worthy instrument.

    Here, dear friends, there is room for fear. From earliest times, we have experienced the transfer of the most sublime and holy concepts from the Jewish domain to the general arena. An example of propagation was the translation of the Torah into Greek. Two very different Jewish responses to this event emerged. In the land of Israel, Jews were frightened – their world darkened. In contrast, Greek Jewry rejoiced. There were also instances of absorption. Various cultural influences, such as Greek culture and other foreign cultures that Jews confronted throughout their history, penetrated into our inner being. Here too, many Jewish circles responded to absorption with fear, while other Jews rejoiced.

    When we look back on the previous generations, and reckon with hindsight, we realize that neither the fear nor the rejoicing was in vain. We gained in some areas and lost in others in our confrontation with foreign cultures. This much is clear: Regarding those circles that welcomed absorption and propagation joyously, with unmitigated optimism and with no trepidation, very few of their descendants remain with us today, participating in our difficult and holy task of rebuilding our land and resuscitating our people. For the vast majority of them have assimilated among the nations; they found themselves caught up in the waves of the ‘wealth of the sea’ and the ‘riches of the nations’ that have come to us.

    Only from those who resided securely in our innermost fortresses, in the tents of Torah, enmeshed in the sanctity of the law, did emerge the truly creative Jews – that great portion of our nation who are loyal to its flag – who work tirelessly to build our great edifice. Among these were many who propagated and absorbed. They exported and imported ideas and values on the spiritual highway that mediates between Israel and the nations. Their attitude, however, toward this undertaking was never one of rejoicing only. Fear accompanied their joy as they confronted the vision of the ‘wealth of the sea’ belonging to the ‘riches of the nations.'”

  7. Raymond says:

    Miriam, as ultra-Orthodox as you apparently think I sounded above, I happen to be secular. I said what I said based on extensive personal experience interacting with the gentile world. If what I said happened to coincide with the position taken by the ultra-Orthodox world, all I can say is, that I am glad that something taught to me during my years attending Orthodox Jewish schools, have had at least some positive impact on me.

    Benjamin Disraeli, the great Jewish-born, 19th century Prime Minister of Great Britain, when heckled in the British Parliament because of his Jewish background, famously responded, “Yes, I am a Jew, and when the ancestors of the honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were Priests in the Temple of Solomon.”

  8. Bob Miller says:

    I’ve always wondered why Disraeli, knowing this, refrained from living as a Jew. So what if the ex-savages offered him some material advantages?

  9. Ori says:

    Bob Miller: I’ve always wondered why Disraeli, knowing this, refrained from living as a Jew.

    Ori: For the same reason that a contemporary German, knowing that Rome used to rule the world, wouldn’t be interested in living as an Italian. Or a contemporary Frenchman, knowing civilization started in Mesopotamia and Egypt, wouldn’t be interested in becoming an Arab.

    Having been great at a certain period in history does not make the descendants great centuries later. Disraeli may or may not have believed that Jews in Solomon’s time were divinely guided. If so, he may or may not have believed they lost this divine guidance by rejecting Jesus (he was born as a Jew, but raised IIRC Christian). His Judaism was a matter of history and ancestry.

  10. Raymond says:

    I very, very seriously doubt that Benjamin Disraeli thought that his fellow Jews lost any of their spiritual superiority as time passed by. When he made that comment, it is obvious that his Jewishness was breaking through whatever Christianity he had been raised with.

    Furthermore, Disraeli’s comment applies not only in the times of King Solomon’s Temple; think, for example, of the so-called Dark Ages. It may have been the Dark Ages of Europe, but it certainly was not the case for religious Jews, who were producing some of the greatest Torah scholars the world has ever known, precisely during that so-called Dark period in human history. And even in the 20th century, while Europe and the Soviet Union busied themselves with murdering millions of Jews, the Jews who managed to escape all that made all kinds of scientific discoveries, won a disproportionate number of Nobel prizes, produced so many great Torah giants, and managed to carve out a little, civilized, Jewish democracy called Israel, right in the heart of the most brutally savage area on the face of the Earth. Not too shabby for a people who are constantly forced to spend so much of their time running away from too many of their gentile neighbors who want them all dead.

  11. Steve Brizel says:

    The seforim of R Chanoch ZL are a wonderful fusion of Halacha, Agaddah, Musar and Chasidus. I first saw these seforim in our children’s apartment in Yerushalayim, started going through the volume on Channukah and tnen purchased the entire set , each of which is entitled a Kuntres Etzos with respect to particular aspects of the Yamim Noraim, Shalosh Regalim , Channukah and Purim.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    Slight Correction-R Chanoch ZL has one sefer which is a Kuntres Etzos on various aspects of the Yamim Noraim and other volumes, in the same style on the Shalosh Regalim, Channukah and Purim.

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