Parsha Nitzavim / Rosh Hashanah — Seeking Good and God in this world
This week’s reading starts off with all the people standing together and charged to enter the covenant of God. In this blog, we together ask and attempt to answer the question — Why Judaism?
“You stand this day, all of you, before your God יהוה — your tribal heads, your elders, and your officials, every householder* in Israel, woodchopper to water drawer — to enter into the covenant of your God יהוה, which your God יהוה is concluding with you this day, with its Oaths”
אַתֶּ֨ם נִצָּבִ֤ים הַיּוֹם֙ כֻּלְּכֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם רָאשֵׁיכֶ֣ם שִׁבְטֵיכֶ֗ם זִקְנֵיכֶם֙ וְשֹׁ֣טְרֵיכֶ֔ם כֹּ֖ל אִ֥ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃
Rabbi Sacks z” l in this week Parsha titles his essay asks — Why Judaism?
This is a great question for us to ponder on Rosh Hashana.
On a simple level, we could say Tradition as Tevye from fiddler on the roof sang. It is amazing to be connected to 3,000 years of history, and collective memories.
But times change and Judaism throughout its history adapted to life and the world around especially after the destruction of the 2nd Temple. And now is in process of change after the Holocaust, after the establishment of the state of Israel, and the online world.
Today, the state of Israel has brought the Jews back on CenterStage. The eyes of the world are focused on Jerusalem, our every move, overly critical, and an unhealthily obsession about our rights to the land and so-called failing in “human rights.”
It is ironic that those who accuse us, are the old colonizers nations who exploited Africa, Asia, and Latin America. With the death of the Queen, questions and stories about the cruelty and terrible practices of the British Empire started to surface. The impact of this is still with us today as the vast majority of the 175 underdeveloped countries in the world are ex-colonies. These western powers should do Teshuva (repentance), look in the mirror, stop scapegoating the Jews and Israel, and focus on repairing their own countries and on Tikkun Olam — repairing our broken world.
On Rosh Hashana, as we read in the Machzor, the world is being judged.
There is a global movement united by the call for Climate change.
Is the Earth really in danger or not, this is not the question. Exploitation (and skewed ownership of the earth’s resources, increase in population, and overconsumption are some of the areas of consideration.
So, I go back to Rabbi Sacks' question Why Judaism?
And I think the answer is very simple.
Seeking Goodness and God in this world.
The majority of the UN SDGs or climate change initiatives ignore God. God is missing from the narrative.
Without God and by this the Jewish definition of God, and not the power of the church and Islam who unfortunately have distorted God’s word, the world is continuing to self-destruct through wars, and exploitation by big corporations and governments.
Judaism throughout its moral and ethical laws (code) recognizes the value of the individual.
God in the creation story charges us to develop and look after the world.
Without this moral and ethical underpinning and calling for a more rational and kinder world we are doomed to repeat our past failures.
And on this Day of world Judgement, it is our duty, to hear the blowing of the Shofar calling out of each one of us to stand on our rooftops (aka social media) and shout out
Time for a Reset
Time for a more just world
Time to seek Goodness and God in this world
Yes, history and tradition are important, but as Bob Dylan sings “Times, they are a changing.”
The shofar represents the three aspects of the Musaf Service and challenges us to ponder”
· Kingship –we should here ask — Why God? Why Judaism?
· Zichronot — recalls our Memories.Tradition. The History of the future. Why is the history of memory important?
· Shofar — Callout, Renewal, Redemption — What kind of world do we seek for ourselves and future generations?
And it is our duty to impart to ourselves, and our children Why the ancient and refreshed calling of Judaism is so much needed in today's fractured world.
When we use the phrase Moshiach or redemption, it should be a rallying cry of seeing goodness and God in this world.
God has started this process. The state of Israel is the start of this process. Israeli Innovation provides the tools for Tikkun Olam.
Judaism's moral and ethical code is key to a more just world.
Yes, we desire the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem where all Nations can come together in peace under the umbrella of a universal God, each keeping their traditions, united in a desire for a peaceful and just world.
Rosh Hashanah is our invitation to harness the power of renewal and support our inner pure soul to emerge and actively participate in perfecting the world.
Rabbi Saacks — Who am I?
The deepest question any of us can ask is: Who am I? To answer it we have to go deeper than, where do I live? or What do I do? The most fateful moment in my life came when I asked myself that question and knew the answer had to be I am a Jew. This is why.”
In this new whiteboard animation, Rabbi Sacks explains why he is proud to be a Jew and what it is about Judaism that makes it so unique. This passionate appeal calls on Jews around the world, from across the political and religious spectrum, to connect to their people, heritage, and faith.