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Sunday, April 5, 2020

We Are People OF Our History: Take a Look At Passover

Nadene Goldfoot
Eating matzos during 8 days of Passover; no regular bread
this is unleavened;  flour and water only.

Here we see Jewish children under 6 at a special dinner called a Seder
designed as a teaching lesson about the Exodus.  At the table is a textbook called a Haggadah that tells the story.  The food you see plays a part that reminds us of certain events and facts.  We will recite these facts.  Our youngest child is to ask 4 questions about it:  Why is this night different? Why do we eat bitter herbs on this night?  Why do we dip the herbs twice when we never do this?  Why, tonight, do we all recline when we sat up straight?
We learn that there are 4 types of children:  an intelligent one, a wicked one, a simple one and one still too young to ask questions.
A child's personality and makeup are created by the time they are 6 years old.
  It only takes that long to develop inherited and learned personality traits, and we are set for life.  Luckily, some bad traits can be redefined with the help of a good psychologist, but so much of us affects the genes we inherit
to be good or bad traits.  Whether we were fortunate enough to have wonderful, intelligent parents or the type that were child-beaters,  sometimes our genes outweigh and save us under even the harshest of horrible conditions of our environment. 
So it is with nations and the people within.  The world's population since cave man has been under attack at different periods of time.  I often feel so lucky to have been born in 1934 after WWI and all preceding it into a modern world to wonderful parents.  My original inbred shyness has been remodeled to become an outgoing teacher with her classes.  Was it my paternal grandmother who was shy?  Was it my mother?  How is it that my Jewish ancestors have suffered so much in this world?  Has it always been so?  Why do the Arabs hate Israelis so much?  Why do some nations continually attack others?  
Jews in Poland being forced into one area to live in,
then to be transported to death camps to be gassed.
This turned out to be the total extinction of 6 million Jews in Europe
and other places.  
From the beginning of the birth of Judaism, Jews have found themselves in hot water.  Christians can read about the Jews' history and have been doing so since the history of Jesus in about 37 CE; that is for the past 2,000 years at least. The Greek Syrians and then the Romans occupied Jerusalem in c 312 BCE and took over the Temple until the Romans burned Jerusalem down in 70 CE.  We first read about it in our story of Chanukah with the eternal light returning to the Temple that lasted for 8 days and nights instead of one night. With that final blow, Jews were massacred while most others escaped to all parts of the world.  We were then in what was called the Diaspora, and found we were not accepted, for our  religion was so different.                                                     

The Old Testament in Deuteronomy 14:2 states:  "For you are a holy people to the Lord your G-d, and the Lord has chosen you to be his own treasure out of all the peoples that are upon the face of the earth."  In other words, originally, G-d chose the Jews as his favorite.  Because of this, the rest of the Christians must have felt a lot of jealousy.  In fact, some Protestant groups insist that they have replaced us and we are no longer special.  Well, as Tevia said in "Fiddler on the Roof," "Ha Shem, why couldn't you have picked someone else?"  What is the "Old Testament?"  "The Old Testament (abbreviated OT) is the first part of the Christian biblical canon, which is based primarily upon the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh), a collection of ancient religious Hebrew writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. "  We believe that the 1st 5 books in it were written by Moses himself.  Moses gave the Jews (the Israelites) 613 laws to follow in order to be molded into very special and moral people in order that they would be the light of the nations; the example of good behavior.  Moses saved these people from 400 years of living in Egypt of which most was spent in slavery-servitude to the Egyptians.  All who were these slaves followed Moses to freedom of which we celebrate with the upcoming holiday Wednesday night of Passover.  
Hillel, a 1st century BCE also called, "The Elder";  a scholar,
founded a school "House of Hillel"
Born in Babylonia, settled in Eretz Yisrael (Judah) , was a laborer working
with his hands while studying with well-known teachers-Shemaiah and Avialyon, just before the time of Jesus.  

Second most famous Jewish words comes from the original teachings of Torah and is called the Golden Rule written by Hillel who said simply,  "Don't do to others what you don't want to happen to you."  

Moses, b: 1391 BCE-d: 1273 BCE at 120 years.
Wandered with 600,000 Israelites for 40 years before
reaching Canaan and could not enter with Joshua and others
because he had lost his temper once.

The ancient Hebrews, as Israelites came to be called because they spoke Hebrew, were the 1st to base their life as a nation under Kings Saul, David and Solomon on the idea of One G-d, the G-d of all nations and all peoples.  In a very real sense, the ancient Hebrews were also "chosen" to bring this message to the world.  The most famous lesson was the Ten Commandments. Just think, laws are made to fix things and make them better.  We have the law of wearing seat belts when driving, and this was to keep people from being killed in an accident.  The Ten Commandments are found in Deut. 4:13;10:4, etc proclaimed by G-d on Mt. sinai and transmitted through Moses to Israel.  This is considered the fountainhead of all the other laws.  They are given in Exod. 20:2-14   The 1st 5 describe man's duties to G-d, and the last 5 his responsibilities to his fellow-man.

 An example: 1. Belief in G-d;  2, Prohibition of idolatry;  3. Prohibition of vain oaths, 4.  The Sabbath,  5.Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you.  6: "You shall not kill;  7. you shall not commit adultery;  Prohibition against kidnapping-meaning stealing... you shall not steal;  9. you shall not bear false witness against your fellow, 10. you shall not covet your fellow's house, You shall not covet your fellow's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your fellow.  
Esau and Jacob, twins of Isaac
DNA of J1c3d
as different as day and night

So, in our beginning, we were a people who were strong and free with Abraham as our founding father reaching back as far as 1948 BCE or in the 2nd millennium BCE who through his son Isaac and then his son Jacob, wound up during a famine and migrated to Egypt which was our only choice available at the time.  From there our story began.  Since then we have felt the slings, arrows, stones and bullets, rockets, and missiles real and of hatred from so many; Crusaders, Spanish Inquisition, on and on to the Holocaust, and now the Arabs in the Middle East.  For over 3,000 years we have believed in one G-d and the need of our moral compass given to us by Moses to be a compassionate and good people, only to find we are not acceptable in this world.  If Moses were to return to earth today, he would recognize much of the Torah, the Hebrew language, and many of the traditional teachings of our people.  Empires have come and gone since his time here, but ours continues.  

That makes our history unique.  Since we have so often been ruled by those who sought to destroy us and they are gone and we remain makes it striking:  like the Hellenizers of Ptolemaic rule and then the Seleucids, the surrounding kingdoms of Israel, Philistines and Phoenicians.  

During our history we have changed the life and thought of humanity, bringing to the world ideals of equality, decency, and morality which, however imperfectly carried out, are the driving forces of today's civilization."

We see the world as good, believing that G-d has a plan for the universe, a plan in which each of us plays a part.  No individual is hopelessly evil.  Every person can choose to do good, and in that way help perfect the quality of life on earth.  
Isaiah, painting by Raphael
lived during 740 to 701 BCE, prophesizing in Jerusalem
of a noble family, closely connected with the royal court under king
Hezekiah; against moral laxity;
Kindness, pity, and justice to the poor and underprivileged are more significant to G-d than offering sacrifices.  

                                         As Isaiah  2:2-4 put it: 
And it shall come to pass in the end of days,
That the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains,
And He shall judge between the nations,
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nations,
Neither shall they learn war anymore,   

My People --Abba Eban's History of the Jews, adapted by David Bamberger
Passover Haggadah with a new translation by Chaim Raphael
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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