web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Nechama of Three And Seven

YU-071213

The Rambam is not necessarily describing someone who does עבירות. Rather, even if he is personally observant, by choosing to cut his connection and empathy with the Jewish People he writes himself out of their story; and once he stands outside that story, he is lost.

Conversely, when a non-Jew wishes to convert to Judaism, the Rambam writes that we tell him the following:

“כיצד מקבלין גירי הצדק כשיבוא אחד להתגייר מן העכו”ם ויבדקו אחריו ולא ימצאו עילה, אומרים לו מה ראית שבאת להתגייר, אי אתה יודע שישראל בזמן הזה דוויים ודחופים ומסוחפין ומטורפין ויסורין באין עליהן, אם אמר אני יודע ואיני כדאי מקבלין אותו מיד (הלכות איסורי ביאה פרק יד הלכה א).

How do we accept a convert? … We say to him: Why do you wish to convert? Don’t you know that Israel in these times are suffering, oppressed, downtrodden, and troubles afflict them? If he responds: Yes, I know, and I am not worthy in sharing in that burden, we accept him immediately.”

A גר is not just accepting a set of rules. He is attaching himself to Jewish history and must recognize that becoming part of that history – with all its difficulties – is a gift. יודע אני ואיני כדאי – I know, and I don’t deserve it.

The model גר צדק is Rut. When Naomi tried to dissuade her, to send her back to Moav, she responded: “עמך עמי, ואלקיך אלקי“. With these words she expressed two commitments: One to the Jewish people, and one to the Jewish G-d. And every גר צדק must likewise make these two commitments: Through קבלת המצוות he says, along with Rut: אלקיך אלקי; and by saying יודע אני ואיני כדאי, I am not worthy to share the burden of Jewish history, he says, along with her, עמך עמי.

To be a Jew doesn’t mean only to do מצות and avoid doing עבירות. To be a Jew means to live beyond our particular small lives; it means to live with an abiding sense that my individual story is part of a larger story. It means to be held in the grip of history and destiny; and to share that history and destiny with every other Jew. It means to carry the freight of our shared past, to share in the burden of our collective present, and to be responsible towards our united future.

כל המתאבל על ירושלים זוכה ורואה בנחמתה. To mourn for ירושלים means to feel our collective loss as a personal loss, and our national degradation as a personal degradation. It means to attach oneself to Jewish history, by saying: יודע אני ואיני כדאי, I know it is hard, and I am not worthy of the privilege of sharing that hardship.

By identifying with the Jewish past, we become part of the Jewish future, because the two are connected. It’s all one story, with many different chapters, but one Author, and one connected narrative.

I once heard a stunning observation: We end קינות with אלי ציון, a song of mourning for ציון. The melody is very old – as old, perhaps, as the קינה itself. That same melody occurs in another place in davening, in the חזרת הש”ץ of יום טוב: בנה ביתך כבתחילה וכונן מקדשך על מכונו. Our tragic past and our triumphant future are part of the same melody.

As we pass from שבת חזון through תשעה באב to שבת נחמו, and as we go from the three weeks of mourning to the seven weeks of comfort, let us use this time to root ourselves in the past of our people, and thereby prepare ourselves to share in its future. Let us not forget what a privilege it is to be part of this unique history, with all of its pain, saying - יודע אני ואיני כדאי. Let us be attuned to the sweep and grandeur of the chords that bind אלי ציון to בנה ביתך כבתחילה, and may we soon hear their triumphant crescendo, בביאת גואל צדק בב”א.

About the Author: Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman serves as Rosh Yeshiva and holds the Rabbi Henry H. Guterman Chair in Talmud at YU-affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Nechama of Three And Seven”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colin H. Kahl, VP Joe Biden's new national security adviser.
Biden’s New NSA Chief Mocked Israeli Nuke Fears
Latest Judaism Stories
Duxvielfalt_2011

Contrary to popular belief, the Talmud never explicitly limits the ban on footwear to leather shoes.

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

So we work, but one day in seven we also rest and spend more time than usual with family and friends. In shul we reestablish our links with the community. Through the festivals we relive the history of our people, and cure ourselves of the narrow sense of living for the moment. On Rosh Hashanah […]

But then I began to think about it and I realized the corresponding Hebrew date to 9/11 was the twenty-third of Elul, and that also added up to eleven, since Elul is the sixth month of the Jewish calendar year and six plus two plus three equals eleven. I turned to the portion of the […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

More Articles from Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman
YU-071213

תשעה באב always falls between the parshiyot of Devarim and V’etchanan. This is very appropriate, because in the parsha of Devarim we read of חטא המרגלים, and the gratuitous crying which prompted the Almighty to say that He would one day give us good reason to cry; while the parsha of V’etchanan which contains within it the passage of כי תוליד בנים ובני בנים, which we read on תשעה באב – speaks of exile, teshuvah, and redemption.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-nechama-of-three-and-seven/2013/07/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: