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Think about this. Long before the West, the Chinese had invented ink, paper, printing, porcelain manufacture, the compass, gunpowder, and many other technologies.
But they failed to develop a scientific revolution, an industrial revolution, a market economy, and a free society. Why did they get so far and then stop?
The historian Christopher Dawson argued that it was the religion of the West that made the difference. Alone among the civilizations of the world, Europe “has been continually shaken and transformed by an energy of spiritual unrest.” He attributed this to the fact that “its religious ideal has not been the worship of timeless and changeless perfection but a spirit that strives to incorporate itself in humanity and to change the world.”
“To change the world” is the key phrase. The idea that together with God we can change the world and make history – and not just be made by it – was born when God told Moses that he and his contemporaries were about to see an aspect of God no one had ever seen before.
I still find that a spine-tingling moment when each year we read Va’eira and recall the moment history was born, the moment God entered history and taught us for all time that slavery, oppression and injustice are not written into the fabric of the cosmos and engraved into the human condition. Things can be different because we can be different – because God has shown us how.
Adapted from “Covenant & Conversation,” a collection of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s parshiyot hashavua essays, published by Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers Jerusalem (www.korenpub.com), in conjunction with the Orthodox Union.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth since 1991, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Koren Sacks Rosh HaShana Mahzor” (Koren Publishers Jerusalem).Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
About the Author: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth, is the author of many books of Jewish thought, most recently “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning.”
Without vast preparation, one cannot even think of going to outer space.
Anyone can appear spiritual and holy when he is davening or learning Torah.
The book of Bereishit keeps Halacha under control. It restricts and regulates it, and ensures that it will not wreak havoc.
While my husband and I are all for learning, I feel this entire mindset about full-time learning needs to be re-examined, especially given the uncertain economic times in which we live.
Precisely because she came from the house of wicked people and wasn’t negatively influenced, she was considered greater than if she had been born into a house of holy people.
Question: If a person was ill on Shabbos and unable to go to shul to hear Keri’at haTorah, must he have someone read it to him in shul upon his recovery?
He’s A Communist!
‘If He Calls Someone A Rasha…’
(Bava Metzia 71a)
I had heard about these cousins a lot through the years. They lived together in Manhattan.
The right to a refund or to the return of the purchase price or the item, as the case may be, is subject to a time limit.
If someone remembers during Minchah that he did not recite ya’aleh veyavo during Shacharis, he must similarly daven Shemoneh Esrei twice during Minchah.
David ordered a bus. He divided the cost among the fifty friends and wrote on the sign that each person would have to pay $32.
All Toledot – Relationships – begin with our relationship with ourselves.
On the one hand, we see that Rivkah was right about Ya’akov’s potential. On the other hand, we will never be sure who was right about Esav.
Neither Abraham nor Sarah had an easy life. They faced trials testing their faith, yet Rashi says Sarah’s years were equal in goodness and the Torah says Abraham had been blessed with everything-Why?
The most influential man who ever lived, does not appear on any list I have seen of the hundred most influential men in history. He ruled no empire, commanded no army, His name, of course, is Abraham
Sukkot is the most universalistic of all festivals. At the same time, however, it is the most particularist of festivals. When we sit in the sukkah, we recall Jewish history
The heart of Sukkot is to know that life is full of risk and yet to affirm it, to sense the full insecurity of the human situation and yet to rejoice in it. Chag Sameach!
The last two commands of the Torah, mentioned in this week’s parsha-Hakhel and the command to write, or at take part in writing, a Sefer Torah-are about renewal, first collective, then individual.
We are what we remember, and the first-fruits declaration was a way of ensuring that Jews would never forget.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/when-history-was-born/2012/01/20/
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