Monday, February 11, 2008

How Goodly Are Your Tents, O Jacob?


An outsider to Judaism could be forgiven in thinking that the Synagogue plays that same role in Judaism as the Church plays in Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The central address of the Jewish nation is not in the synagogue or in the batei midrash, but in the home. One can be a perfectly good Jew without visiting the synagogue except on occassion, but one's Judaism would be severely lacking unless they keep a Jewish home- a home that observes the laws of kashrut, shabbat and is a center of kindness, hospitality and Torah study.

Throughout the ages, it has been the Jewish home and family that gave our people strength to endure the harsh persecutions. While the goyyim got drunk and beat their wives, Jewish husbands treated theirs with respect as mandated by halakhah. Instead of spending their nights getting drunk and taverns, Jews drank at smachot, or when making Kiddush Friday nights. The Jewish home was known to be a place of holiness, of G-dliness, and of kindness. When the Jews were in the Desert, the wicked king Balak hired the sorcerer Bilaam to curse Israel. Climbing to the summit of a hill overlooking the Jewish encampment, Bilaam found himself unable to curse the Holy Nation. He exclaimed in praise: "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, thy dwellings, O Israel!" (Num. 24:5). Bilaam saw that the doors of the homes never faced the entrances of their neighbours, to prevent invasions of privacy. Since our wandering at Sinai, the Jewish family unity, the basic unit of our people, has been a source of strength and a place to innoculate core Jewish values such as respect, monotheism, ethics and morality.

Needless to say, the recent ruling by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz allowing homosexuals to adopt children serves only to erode the strength and stability of the Jewish family. This first step towards recognizing same-sex marriage is completely contradictory to the Jewish family which emphasized traditional values, Jewish learning, Torah, the bond between parent and child. Like in other Western countries (though thank G-d not yet as widespread), non-traditional relationships have become the norm in many cases, with the numbers of divorces skyrocketing, and incrases levels of teenage pregnancies, single-parents and other non-Jewish lifestyles.

Israel cannot survive long if it allows the Jewish family to weaken and disappear. The Jewish homes is where family life revolves, meeting on holidays where they share Jewish historical experiences and seeing Torah practically applied. The Jewish family is an organic unit, a mutually created and momentous work of art, a microcosm of the Holy Temple and a vessel for G-d's Divine Presence. In the Jewish family, husband and wife are two halves of one persona, the expression of one, unified will. The Torah directs the family with strong morals and values. Its invaluable guidance nurtures a happy, serene and unified family. A strong Jewish upbringing in a Torah-home is essential for a healthy Jewish society. As we see, Israel suffers from an existensial crisis in which it cannot justify its own claims to the land and therefore cannot adequately protect itself. The only rectification for this is the return to a strong Jewish home infused with Jewish values to imbude children with moral integrity.

2 comments:

The Frank Family said...

A beautiful and needed admonishment not only to Jews but to society in general. The Jewish faith is indeed a light to the nations in this respect.

Deborah said...

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
(Genesis 2:18, 21-24)

3 Behold, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
(Psalm 127:3-5)

Thank you, BK, for sharing this... how precious! I hope and pray every Jewish marriage is blessed beyond measure with joy and contentment and that they are "one" in flesh, purpose, respect, and love... that their children will be, and are, peace-makers, without compromising their belief in Hashem, within the gates of their cities... namely, Jerusalem!

Thank you, again, for sharing such beautiful thoughts!

Shalom,
Deborah