Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.
I’m wrapping up my trip to the U.S., a visit that for the first time in many years happened to coincide with Christmas.
In Israel, December 25 is a regular workday – the banks are open and the post office and businesses all operate as usual.
But here it is a national holiday, and wherever you go at this time of year you hear the words “ ‘Tis the season to be jolly…”
As a songwriter I always find a reason to sing along with what I’m hearing, and I actually have my own reasons to be jolly.
Americans are blessed to live in a God-believing country. And what makes me jolly in this country is that whereas believing Christians declare that “the only way to God is through Him, who was born of God and is His intermediary,” I, as a Jew, know I have the ability to go directly to God and that I am His son, as is declared a number of times in our holy Torah.
My grandfather, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, once told me that Christianity is perfectly permissible for non-Jews. “God is busy in His many worlds, and so here on earth he appointed an intermediating minister, so to speak,” he explained. “But we Jews are not permitted to believe [in an intermediary] because we know we go directly to God.”
And so I sing, “ ‘Tis the season to be jolly, knowing I am a son of God, and with my prayer I can change this world.”
We’ve been reading in the Torah how Joseph the viceroy, second in command only to Pharaoh, brought his father, Yaakov Avinu, to a private meeting with the king. Twice, the verses state, Yaakov gave a blessing to Pharaoh.
Rashi points out that the first was basically “Shalom Aleichem,” the basic blessing made by one person to another.
Yaakov’s second blessing, however, put an end to the great hunger in that land. Yes, that hunger, which after only two years had forced people to sell their animals, their lands – even themselves – to the state in exchange for sustenance, was supposed to last five more years.
Our sages tell us Yaakov blessed Pharaoh so that whenever the king would approach the Nile, its water would rise, overflow, and come toward his feet.
This was amazing because in Egypt the water’s overflow was equivalent to rain. And so with the land watered, the hunger would now come to an end.
Pharaoh had his dream come true. This is the same Pharaoh who would relieve himself daily in the Nile so that no one would see him in need of a men’s room. This was the same Pharaoh who in his famous dream saw himself standing on the waters of the Nile (without getting wet).
Now all of Egypt would believe him to be a deity and that the only way to God was through him.
But why would Yaakov assist Pharaoh in creating this deception, causing the people to believe the king was a deity? Don’t we have a halachic rule of not placing a stumbling block in the path of the blind?
The answer, I believe, is that Yaakov was living in a society where the lamb was a deity. He turned Pharaoh into a deity – a human lamb, so to speak – with the power of speech who could, if he so chose, be honest and declare publicly that the blessing of Yaakov was what caused the waters of the Nile to overflow and, in effect, end the hunger. Yaakov was hoping to thus weaken belief in the lamb and strengthen belief in the power of man’s direct prayers to the Lord.
Yaakov tried but failed. The famine ended but Pharaoh did not nullify belief in the lamb; indeed, the Jews sacrificed the Pesach lamb two hundred years later, in effect slaughtering the Egyptian deity on the eve of their exodus.
About 1,200 years later a Jewish man was born who was declared to be God’s Lamb who died for our sins. Christians believe the only way to God is through him. My reason to be jolly, as stated above, is that I am a descendant of Yaakov who went directly to God, needing no intermediary.
About the Author: Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Jewish Press column appears the third issue of each month.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.
He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.
Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.
Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.
Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed
Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.
Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?
To defeat parasites-the hosts of terrorists-we need to deny them new people, potential terrorists
Combating Amalek doesn’t mean all who disagree with you is evil-rather whom to follow and to oppose
Desperate people take what they can, seizing opportunity to advance their main goal; the Arabs don’t
There was a glaring void in the President’s State of the Union speech: Israel.
Let’s focus not on becoming an ATM for that little bundle of joy, but on what you can save in taxes.
Since the passing of the Governance bill legislation on March 11, 2014, new alignments have become to appear in Israeli politics.
Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.
Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?
While the phrase “Let It Be” implies doing nothing, “Lu Yehi” implies working toward a goal.
An Israeli company should make “Arafat’s Dead Sea Tonic” with this warning: “may cause severe vomiting or even death.”
“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.
Boundless love was something Rav Kook had for the nation of Israel. Just as one cannot question the boundless love of Hashem for Israel, one cannot question the boundless love of a Torah giant for his people.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/dov-shurin-columns/my-reasons-to-be-jolly/2012/12/26/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: