If you ever go to the Jaffa flea market in the afternoon, you will be treated to a unique experience. At a designated moment, the peddlers stop hawking their wares, the shoppers stop inspecting the merchandise heaped in piles on the sidewalks, and all gather for an open-air Minchah session.
I love this marketplace prayer. It has a special grace. I always prefer to pray with working people who stop in the middle of their toil to praise G-d than to pray in a synagogue. When the Torah becomes our national way of life, a culture that bursts forth far from the walls of the study hall, it carries the whisper of redemption on its wings.
The Scroll of Ruth that we reading on Shavuot is the story of the Jewish people living their Torah culture in their Land. Boaz is not a rosh yeshiva or a famous rabbi. He is a Jew who works his land. The working people in the Scroll of Ruth remain in their Land despite the famine and abandonment by their leaders. They conduct themselves according to the cultural code of faith and loving kindness that they absorbed from the Torah and that is part of their lives.
That is also our goal – to turn our Torah into our culture.
“You know,” said one of the senior managers of the Knesset channel after I finished an interview there, “all sorts of religious MKs come through our studio. I am secular. I try to understand them, but I just can’t. You are the only person with a kippah on his head that I can understand.”
I don’t think he meant that religious MKs are not expressing themselves with enough eloquence. I think he sensed the connection that Zehut makes between Judaism and reality.
The Scroll of Ruth teaches us that this authentic connection bears the secret of redemption. May we merit to bring it soon!
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We are watching history unfold. President Trump is leading the world on a series of strategic changes that are truly momentous. Prime Minister Netanyahu, a brilliant tactician, knows how to work with him – and simultaneously with Putin – admirably. When it comes to tactics, nobody does it better than Netanyahu.
The truly amazing events of last week reminded me of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Shamir. In my eyes, Shamir was the best rightist prime minister that Israel has had to date. But at the start of the First Gulf War, Shamir acquiesced to President Bush’s request not to retaliate against Iraq’s Scud missiles raining down on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Israel’s security was left to the U.S. and England. The Left praised Shamir for his restraint and pragmatism.
And in return, we got the Oslo Accords, a deal that revived the Palestinian Liberation Organization after it had all but died. Why? Because any state that must be defended by others will always have to pay a steep diplomatic price.
We salute the IDF and Prime Minister Netanyahu for their decisive roles in the events of the past week. But we must embark upon a strategy of triumph. If we do not do so, President Trump will want to make “peace.” We already know that the deal being considered involves the internationalization of Jerusalem. Western Jerusalem to the Jews, the Holy Basin internationalized, and eastern Jerusalem to the Arabs.
Israel had better formulate its strategy now while the golden opportunity is at our doorstep.