Sunday, January 30, 2011

Why do we count our own?

I wish this post should be about first reactions on my book.
But it is still not available to purchase. Only what I can say at this moment is that – maybe next week I-H.
Meanwhile, read my new post if you wish so, and enjoy it.

There is a biblical prohibition of counting Jewish people or in another words making census. Though a counting did take place three times in Jewish history.
Twice when heeding to HaShems voice Moishe Rabayni counted the Jews BaMidbar – in the desert.
The third time it happened when Duvid HaMelech begin to count the subjects of his kingdom.
It ended tragically; thousands of people died and King Duvid’s crown was only bearly saved.
He clearly breached a prohibition of the Torah. The only way to count the Jewish people was by counting half shekels – coins, given to the Jerusalem Temple once a year from every Jewish person, but counting Jews is prohibited to do just any time.
When we hear or read the news, especially those tragic stories, we often ask “Were there any Yiden involved, were there any Jewish victims?
This is one of those questions that are asked in random conversations and on news blogs. Why is it that we worry so about our own people? Why we only count our own?
Some of us rush with critics - what about the non Jewish victims? Are their lives without value or is their value somehow slighter than the value of the Jew? Why don’t we simply ask how many victims were there?
This question and the problem are very delicate to ask as well as to answer but nevertheless I will try to answer with the help of G-d.
It so happens that I’m not limited to the English speaking media and I can read and listen to the non Jewish media outlets of a few other nations. Even a person that is only English speaking can follow the foreign media to some extent, and learn how this topic is treated among people.
Whoever has access to foreign news channels, knows that these kinds of questions are not characteristic for Jewish people only. When an accident happens somewhere in the world, in any country on Earth, nations are asking about their own people. How many Russians, how many Italians or French were there? Are any of them dead or injured? Is our embassy taking care of them? That’s just how it is; it’s the nature of the matter. However, unlike other nations, we live in Diaspora – Golus, we are citizens of those countries we are currently staying in. Why than do we ask about our fellow coreligionist?
I suppose that there is nothing wrong with it. Jews are the children of one father and four mothers; we can even go back one generation to Yitzchok, who with his wife are the biological parents of all the Jews. Jews are not only a group of people connected by a common faith but they are also family, a folk connected by the ties of common DNA.
Some may argue that all the converts, including me writing these words, somehow watered down the Jewish blood through the generations. Yes, there was some number of converts who joined the people of Israel from the very beginning of the history of this nation, but Jews are not some kind of horses or puppy dogs that have to be protected from any admixture of foreign blood.
The first and most important leader of our nation married a women born to a Midian priest. The leader we are talking about is Moyshe Rabaini (Moses) and his wife, Tzipoira bas Yisro.
His direct successor Yechoshia Bin Nun (Joshua) married another woman born to a non Jewish family. According to the Midrash he married Rachab, the women who hid him from the persecutors in Yericho. She was not only of ‘spoiled’ blood but also of spoiled morality before she converted. She became a full member of the Jewish family and the wife of its second Leader. No one was concerned about ‘diluting’ the blood of the Jewish nation. The reason is because it is not the purity of blood that has to be protected but the purity of life.
When a Jew asks about his fellow brother with fear it is precisely the apprehension of loosing something of this purity. Even when this victim Jew was not living to the high standards of purity, as a member of the family of Yakov, he has the potential to reach the levels of his fathers.
We are concerned about and value the life of every human being on this planet. It is the Jewish Bible that brings a message to Humanity: that all people are decedents of a common ancestor – Adam. And still, the members of our family are somehow closer to us.  That’s just the way it is!

Matys Weiser

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