Thoughts to Ponder Number 91

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Why I am proud to be a Jew

In these unusual days in which Jews are once more condemned for being Jews and some of our own brothers try to deny or even abhor their Jewishness, I believe, paradoxically, that the Jewish people will soon experience the most glorious opportunity of all time.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Jewish people, due to the present crisis, will ultimately be forced to recognize the profundity and spirituality of Judaism.

Circumstances are forcing the Jewish people to clean itself of many misconceptions, false philosophies and ideologies. Slowly but surely Judaism will be seen in a different light and Jews will once more fall in love with their tradition, of which they have been robbed for such a long time.

Not only will Jews start to appreciate their own tradition but Jewish religious values will move far beyond the borders of the Jewish people, influence a great part of mankind and transform men's attitudes to life in drastic ways.

There is little doubt that ultimately this century will see the revival of the Jewish tradition as never before. In our days in which many religions and secular philosophies have lost much of their influence due to their extremism and lack of moral fiber, Judaism will offer an answer to the spiritual and material needs of mankind.

I predict that there will be a Jewish wave blowing through this world which will be unprecedented in its strength and sway.

There is nothing new in this assertion. Throughout the history of the Jewish people, gentiles of great influence have recognized all along what Judaism has done for the good of mankind and it will be wise to quote some of them so as to create Jewish pride within ourselves and our children.

Here are some quotations which do not need any explanation. To appreciate these quotations, it is most important to read them very carefully, since each one holds another unique aspect of our Jewishness which, it seems, we have forgotten ourselves.

Heaven sometimes sends us great gentile souls in order to remind His people who they are. Let us carefully hear and act accordingly.


Leo Tolstoy:
Russian novelist and social reformer, 1828-1910.

"The Jew is that sacred being who has brought down
from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined
with it the entire world.
He is the religious source, spring and fountain
out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn
their beliefs and their religions."

"The Jew is the pioneer of liberty…
The Jew is pioneer of civilzation…
The Jew is the emblem of civil and religious toleration…
The Jew is the emblem of eternity.." *

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Lymann Abbott.
American preacher and journalist, 1835-1921

"We Gentiles owe our life to Israel.
It is Israel who has brought us the message that God is one and that God is a just and a righteous God and demands righteousness of His children, and demands nothing else.
It is Israel that has brought us the message that God is our Father.
It is Israel who, in bringing us the divine Law, has laid the foundation of liberty.
It is Israel who had the first free institutions the world ever saw.
It is Israel who has brought us our Bible, our prophets, our apostles.
When sometimes our own unchristian prejudices flame out against the Jewish people, let us remember that all that we have and all that we are, we owe under God, to what Judaism has given us." *

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John Adams.
Second President of the USA, 1735-1826

"I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men
than any other nation.
If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate,
I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.
If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or
pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance,
I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews
to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine
of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign
of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle
of all morality, and consequently of all civilization."

John Adams to F.A.Vanderkemp, 16 February, 1809, The works of John Adams, ed, C.F.Adams, vol.9, pp. 609-10.

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Matthew Arnold.
Poet and critc, 1822-1888.


"The religion of the Bible is well said to be revealed,
because the great natural truth, that "righteousness tendeth to life",
is seized and exhibited there with such
incomparable force and efficacy.
All, or very nearly all, the nations of mankind have
recognized the important of conduct,
and have attributed to it a natural obligation.
They, however, looked at conduct, not as something full of happiness and joy, but as something one could not manage to do without.
But "Zion heard of it and rejoiced, and the daughters of Judah
were glad because of Thy judgements, O, Eternal."
Happiness is our being's end and aim, and no one has
ever come near Israel in feeling, and in making others feel, that to righteousness belongs happiness!
As long as the world lasts, all who want to make
progress in righteousness will come to Israel for inspiration,
as to the people who have had the sense for righteousness
most glowing and strongest." *

*Quoted by Chief Rabbi J.H.Hertz, A book of Jewish Thoughts, 1966, London, Oxford University Press.

 

Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Reproduction of this essay is permitted when printed in full.

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