Reflections for a New Year

It’s been some time without posting in this blog after six years of continuous weekly postings. With the exception of one or two times to reflect on current events. This hiatus responds to working on three major projects I have been engaged. A commentary on the Midrash Rabbah about the Torah, another commentary on the Ein Yaakov (both completed a few months ago), and another one on the Sefer HaAggadah where I am half-way. I entitled the three volumes “Goodness: The Jewish Way to Understand Life”. I selected a couple of pages of my commentary on the Ein Yaakov’s quotes of Sanhedrin to share with you looking forward to welcome the New Year 5781 with renewed spirits to celebrate the Jewish identity. Enjoy and get inspired!

“When love [lit. compassion] was strong, to lay [alt. sleep] on [the narrowness of] a sword [does not matter]. When love is gone a bed of sixty [yards] is not sufficient to lay on.”

If love reigns, it can dwell in the narrowest space with its happiness, and expands it inside out, for in it nothing reduces or decreases. Even if the space is small, love makes it sufficient. In contrast, the absence of love reduces the space to the point of expelling whom occupies it, no matter how wide the space may be. If there is separation, the wide of the shared space is irrelevant. Wise illustration.

“A judge that rules with the truth, for its [alt. his] own sake [lit. truth], [he makes] the Divine Presence dwells in Israel.”

One is the judge of his own thoughts, emotions, feelings, speech and actions, and God commands him to judge always seeking that the truth which is goodness prevail in them. Goodness is the truth we seek in every aspect and expression of life, and we pursue it for its sake that is our own sake (benefit). This is the meaning of having a “good judgment”. Thus, we keep God’s goodness that is His Presence in the world, dwelling among us.

“Three commandments were ordered to Israel when entering to their Land. To appoint [lit. establish] for themselves a king, to destroy [alt. cut off, uproot, exterminate; separate, divorce] the seed [alt. offspring, posterity] of Amalek, and to build for themselves the Temple of Jerusalem.”

The referential quality of the Land of Israel is goodness, the reason and purpose to live in it. In order to accomplish this, its inhabitants the Jewish people must establish goodness as their reigning principle, similar to a king who rules over them. Hence, our king must represent the ethical and moral values of goodness in order to make them rule over the people in every aspect of life, as sacred individuals that comprise a sacred nation. Under this kingship, the Jewish people and their king have to remove anything other than goodness that the “seed of Amalek” represents.

Goodness guides us and directs us to make it prevail. After this, we will have no impediment, obstacle or obstruction to build the Temple of Jerusalem that is the chosen habitation of our God in this world. Only by establishing the reign of goodness in our Land by eliminating evil from its midst, our God will return to dwell among (in) us.

In this sense, goodness is the leading divine principle that empower us to remove all forms and ways of evil from our consciousness and our midst, so that the King of goodness reigns forever among us.

“And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. On that day shall the Lord be One, and His Name one.” (Zechariah 14:9)

The prophetic emphasis on the Oneness of our God reiterates that only goodness will rule, as His Name is One. No duplicity, duality, antagonisms or opposites. Only goodness in its unfathomable, endless diversity as the works of our God are!

“When Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh, [the Archangel] Gabriel came down and planted a reed into the [Mediterranean] sea that gathered around it a bank [that became the Italian Peninsula] on which the great city of Rome was built.”

This illustrates the magnitude of the damage caused by idol worship, capable to form the vast territory where the equally evil Roman Empire rose. How much great and damaging was King Solomon’s deviation from the righteous ways of his father, King David.

We learn that wisdom is not as strong as ego’s destructive fantasies and illusions; and how powerful the latter are to build an even greater evil such as the one the Romans inflicted on their vassal kingdoms in general, and to the Jewish people in particular.

“The [Jewish] king must write the Torah scroll for himself [lit. for his name], [to keep it with himself] when he goes to war, when he comes [lit. enters] to his people and sits to judge them; and when he eats [his meals], the [the scroll] must be opposite him [on his table]; as it is said, ‘And it shall be with him, and he shall read from it all the days of his life (…)’ (Deuteronomy 17:19).”

This reaffirms what we said about the kingship of goodness that should direct all aspects of life. This principle applies for the Jewish people in general and to their king in particular, for he represents them as the one who leads the way of goodness that the Torah instructs. The quoted verse reiterates this for “all the days”, which mean all the time. In the Messianic era, this will be fully accomplished and establish for eternity.

Have a happy Jewish New Year full of joy, blessings, prosperity, abundance, wealth and health!

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Zefat.
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