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A recent post and exchange at Connexions, the blog of Methodist minister Richard Hall that I reproduce here in full, uncut and in advance, that raises the recent remarkable kick-ass speech by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Now that's "self promotion".
Faith “… even despite You”
[So Yosl Rakover, shortly to be murdered by the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto, concludes his testament, dated 28 April 1943, discovered "preserved in a little bottle and concealed amongst heaps of charred stone and human bones" ...]
My rabbi used to tell me, again and again, the story of a Jew who escaped the Spanish Inquisition with his wife and child and made his way in a small boat across the stormy sea to a stony island. A flash of lightning exploded and killed his wife. A whirlwind arose and hurled his child into the sea. Alone, wretched, discarded like a stone, naked and barefoot, lashed by the storm, terrified by thunder and lightning, his hair disheveled and his hands raised to God, the Jew made his way up onto the rocky desert island and turned thus to God:
“God of Israel,” he said, “I have fled to this place so that I may serve You in peace, to follow Your commandments and glorify Your name. You, however, are doing everything to make me cease believing in You. But if You think that You will succeed with these trials in deflecting me from the true path, then I cry to You, my God and the God of my parents, that none of it will help You. You may insult me, You may chastise me, You may take from me the dearest and the best that I have in the world, You may torture me to death — I will always believe in You. I will love You always and forever — even despite You.”
Here, then, are my last words to You, my angry God: None of it will avail You in the least! You have done everything to make me lose my faith in You, to make me cease to believe in You. But I die exactly as I have lived, an unshakeable believe in You.
Praised be forever the God of the dead, the God of vengeance, of truth and judgment, who will soon unveil His face to the world again and shake its foundations with His almighty voice.
“Sh’ma Yisroel! Hear, Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my soul.”
[Zvi Kolitz, Yosl Rakover Talks to God (London: Jonathan Cape, 1999), pp. 3, 23-25]
03.15.13 at 10:37 pm
That is powerful stuff.
03.19.13 at 3:51 pm
Yes. Powerful, challenging, and often bewildering.
03.21.13 at 6:32 pm
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
“This will be the defining battle of the 21st Century”
03.22.13 at 2:28 pm
You already know I think you’re wrong about this, so that won’t be a surprise. I don’t want to deny you a bit of self-promotion but I’m puzzled about what your post has to do with this one…
03.22.13 at 5:30 pm
Let’s see now.
Kim posts an extract from the 1946 Zvi Kolitz 1946 short story “Yosl Rakover Talks To God”, a meditation on the relationship between Jews and God in the face of firstly theological and then racial genocidal antisemitism. He does that without comment.
I post also without comment what I think is the last major speech by the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and spiritual leader of modern orthodoxy after 22 years and which is essentially a meditation on the redemptive force within humankind of Zionism and the relationship between Jews and God in the face of the most recent wave of genocidal antisemitism — namely antizionism.
A truly remarkable speech.
I have no difficulty seeing the connection here, especially in the context of Connexions. Perhaps it might have been better if we had continued to refrain from comment and let these other words speak for themselves to those who wish to listen for themselves. But I too am puzzled about something …
Why would you say this is about self promotion? I’m an activist for sure and I have a message to spread just as you and Kim do. But I don’t think any of us could be said to be into self promotion. This is not about me. It’s about something far far more important than that and I’m certain you and Kim would say exactly the same thing about what you do.
03.22.13 at 10:53 pm
I take it then that you agree with the Chief Rabbi that many of Israel’s actions have been incompatible with Judaism?
As for self-promotion - yes, that’s how I interpret a comment that, to my mind, bears little relevance to the post under which it appears. If it serves any purpose other than the promotion of your blog, I can’t see it. Hence ’self-promotion’.
03.22.13 at 11:54 pm
I suggest you take the trouble to read and listen to what the Chief Rabbi had to say just a few days ago about Israel’s actions and Judaism rather than take the twisted words of someone years ago and who the Rabbi says he was naive in giving an interview to in the first place and has repudiated. He thought critics of Israel were basically honest in their beliefs and in good faith. He thought you could connect with them.
Now that is naive. I bet he won’t make that mistake again.
And like Latma and their Israeli soldiers
I don’t care at all what you think about me.
03.23.13 at 8:29 am
That feeling is mutual. We have that much in common. If folk want to understand your reference to Latma they’ll have to visit your blog and find it. I don’t want the direct link here.
03.23.13 at 8:24 pm
An impassioned warning from Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at AIPAC March 2013.
A few days ago I put here without any comment at all a link to a post on my blog that apart from the dozen words above were entirely the words of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks from a speech he made in the US last week. I did that because I thought the speech provided the perfect bridge between the raw spiritual emotion of Kolitz’s short story written in 1946 and the spiritual concepts that underpin modern Zionism even for secular Jews. I did it because I thought it might help people of religion to understand. I did it because I thought you might listen to a fellow Briton even as you ignore me and I was perfectly happy to leave it at that.
This thread is now a record of what happened which naturally I have reproduced elsewhere. I wasn’t trying to trick you Richard or score points. This thing is far too serious for games like that.
I was however trying to spread a message.
Here’s something else that is true. If I was European and most especially British, let alone a Christian, the last thing I would do is get all precious about the Jews being forced into a military and to adopt as one facet of the national character , like Britain, the ethos of the soldier.
cross posted Israel Thrives