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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 12:1 bless

Although Jews do not believe in active proselytizing of non-Jews, Jews are supposed to be role models of behavior to everyone else. In this way, the non-Jews will eventually see by themselves that the moral path of Judaism is superior to all other modes of living.  Isaiah 42:6, 49:6.  This idea is encapsulated in the very first words of G-d to Abram, a microcosm of Jewish history.  G-d first promises Abraham to creates a separate nation from his progeny, then all the other nations will praise and imitate Abraham’s people and be blessed, which is the ultimate goal of Judaism and Creation.  Therefore, even though Jews do not believe in proselytizing, they are obligated to be cognizant about whether their actions sanctify G-d’s name or desecrate G-d’s name before others.  Because of the particular obligation to behave especially morally before the non-Jew, the Jew must be sensitive not to defame G-d, and it is far worse than even erasing a letter from the Torah.  Yevamot 79a.  It is also for this reason that stealing from a non-Jew is worse than stealing from a Jews, Toselfta Baba Kama 10:8, since stealing from a Jew violates only the prohibition against theft, while stealing from a non-Jew also violates the prohibition against desecrating G-d’s name.   AMJV 353-4
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GENESIS — 12:1 blessing

To understand [Jewish] chosenness, one must first understand the unique role of the Jews in the world and how that role developed.  Originally, G-d created the world with the desire that every human being would achieve the highest spirituality, holiness and closeness to G-d.  Beginning with the sin of Adam, the then by Cain, the people in the world continued to sin and gradually deteriorated spiritually.  Ten generations later, the entire world had sunk to such a low level that G-d was forced to destroy his creation and start over with Noah and his family.  However, soon after leaving the ark, Noah sinned by getting drunk, during which his son Ham and grandson Canaan sinned against him.  Eventually, the entire world sinned against G-d by building the Tower of Babel.  G-d then decided to achieve maximized spiritually among all human beings by selecting one individual, instilling the ideas and moral behavior only in this person’s family, and grow it into a nation.  The entire world would then “take notice” and gradually develop the maximal spirituality intended at creation.  G-d chose Abraham, and thus his descendants, to be moral role models for the world.  At the time of Messiah, the non-Jews of the world will voluntarily acknowledge the Jewish G-d and adopt the ways of Judaism.  Maimonides, Laws of Kings, 11:4.  This was the divine plan and the concept of chosenness of the Jewish people by G-d.  [Forgoing is synopsis of longer excerpt].  The microcosm of Jewish history and this goal can be seen in the first words of G-d to Abraham.  G-d tells Abraham to leave his society, his city, and his family to live in Canaan, thereby setting him part as different from all other people.  He promises Abraham that a great nation will come from him and eventually all people will bless him [this verse].  The blueprint of Jewish history is being separate with a different code of behavior until the rest of the world eventually acknowledges Abraham and his people.  Zechariah 8:23; Isaiah 49:6, Pesachim 87b, end of Aleinu prayer, Zechariah 14:9. AMEMEI 193
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GENESIS — 12:1 go

A central biblical affirmation is that knowledge of G-d and of the true nature of existence will be a blessing for the nations. Therefore, G-d called his covenant people into existence to serve as paradigm and witness to the true nature and destiny of human life, to human value, to relationship to G-d, to ultimate redemption. This calling, this responsibility could only be lived out in history, in the human realm, and everyday life. Were it not so, those called to serve as paradigm and as witness would be unable to speak to humankind and its lot. Thus, the people which is rooted in G-d and serves as proof that existence in G-d is ultimately the only assured existence must simultaneously live in the world. This people needs land, security, health; it is affected by war, drought, death; it must meet the challenges and temptations of existence as best it can. In these experiences, it must be conscious of and faithful to its Lord. By their very nature, then, all aspects of the religious life are dialectical, oriented both to the world and to G-d. The call that initiates Jewish faith and peoplehood contains an exquisite dialectic, incorporating Israel's rootedness in G-d and in the land [this virus]. The patriarch's first act involves an uprooting, a transfer of the center of gravity from the natural ground to life in the Lord. But he does this by going to a new land--to found a people. The act of living in G-d does not illuminate the natural life; it illuminates it. The natural life is not repudiated in following G-d; rather, it is enriched, and quite literally so (Genesis 12:2). To deepen the dialectic: the destined land is not identified ahead of time. Going there will take faith in G-d and willingness to set out on roads unknown which leads one knows not where. It is not a land which is self-evidently holy, a paradise or sacred ground so full of divine forces that the worshiper can only submit to it. It is "a land that I will show you." Only G-d's election and the believer's actions will reveal its holiness. And to complete the dialectic: the acts of creating a people and looking to a land – – acts so particular, so involved in turning inward --are accompanied by the promise that they are of universal significance. Abraham is told, "In you, the nations of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). Even as Abraham begins to settle the land, he experiences it as the gift of G-d. (Genesis 13:14-15). When G-d and Abraham enter into a covenant, the land becomes the actual substance of that covenant. The extraordinary biblical claim is that G-d, too, is bound by the covenant. G-d self-obligates to give Abraham the land. The divine understanding is expressed by symbolically passing between the pieces. (N.B.: G-d is bound first). Later, a complementary covenant is made. Abraham and his seed will uphold the covenant to be G-d's people, marking it in their very flesh with circumcision. In turn, G-d will be their G-d and will give the land to Abraham and his seed forever, in fulfillment and sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:1-14). Thus, the land is the very essence of the covenant.
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GENESIS — 12:1 house

“To lead one’s parents in and take them out”—part of the definition of honoring parents—denotes a kind of personal service when parents are unable to walk in and out by themselves. Maimonides articulated that tone clearly: “And he [the son] leads [the father] in and out and serves him in the other ways in which we serve a teacher.” Footnote 36 The medieval moralist Rabbi Isaac Alnakawa defined this in terms of adult children and their able parents: “’Lead them out’”-How is this to be done? The son is obliged to accompany his father and mother, and not to turn his back until they are out of sight. ‘Take him in’-How is this to be done? He is obliged to give them a fitting dwelling, or rent one for them. And when the father or mother enters the son’s home, he must rejoice in their coming and receive them happily.” Menorat Ha-Ma’or (ed. Enelow), 4:15-16, cited in Blidstein (1975), 53. For many of us, though, the implications of this requirement vis-à-vis frail parents are much more extensive, for Jewish law understood honor of parents to include the requirement not to abandon them. The Midrash states this poignantly. At the very beginning of our familiarity with Abraham in the Bible, when he was still called Abram, we read: “The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” [this verse] In commenting on this verse, a midrash (a rabbinic interpretation explanation of the verse) says this: “Abram was apprehensive, saying, ‘When I leave, men will profane the name of G-d because of me, as they will say, ‘He left his aged father and went off.’” So G-d said to Abram, “I release you from the obligation of honoring your father and your mother, but I will release no other person from this obligation.” Genesis Rabbah 39:7 The midrash is troubled by the fact that Abram leaves his aged father. What kind of beginning is that for future patriarch of the Jewish people? And indeed, Abram’s own equanimity in the situation is surprising: He is worried only about what others will say, not about the inherent wrongfulness of abandoning his father. The midrash explains these facts as the result of a specific decree of G-d so that G-d could use him as a leader.  As Gerald Blidstein points out, “this is a typological rather than unique: the young prophet leaves the home of his parents for the company of Elijah, [and] the student of the sage chooses the academy over home and prefers the service of his master to that of his parent.” Blidstein (1975), 111. For the story to which he is referring, in which Elisha leaves home to join Elijah, see 1 Kings 19:15-21. For rabbinic sources on people leaving home to study, see B. Megillah 16b, M.T. Laws of Rebels (Mamrim) 6:13; and S.A. Yoreh De’ah 240:13.  But those are the exceptions to the rule: unless one is engaged directly in G-d’s service as either prophet or rabbinic scholar, one is obligated to accompany one’s parents through their old age. It is important to understand that the duty to be with one’s aged parents is not only to be able to take care of their physical needs, a task that presumably could be done by person hired for the job, but also for the psychological reason that they need company—especially from those who can most directly gives them a sense of worth and continuity. Loneliness is painful for anyone. The presence of friends alleviates that, but nothing can replace seeing members of one’s own family. That too is a “need”—or better, an opportunity for honor. Even G-d, according to the Midrash, exemplifies this value by bidding us to build a sanctuary so that G-d can dwell among us: “You are my children, and I am your father… It is an honor for children to dwell with their father, and it is an honor for the father to dwell with his children… Make, therefore, a house for the father in which he can dwell with his children.” Exodus Rabbah 34:3 The midrash is commenting on Exodus 25:8, “and make for Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them.”  Thus, although the major medieval codes do not directly require that children reside with parents, they undoubtedly assume it. Blidstein (1975), 113-115 DORFFLOV 136-7
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GENESIS — 12:2 blessing

Over three thousand years ago, when G-d revealed himself to Abraham, the first Jew, He told him, “And you shall be a blessing” [in the lives of those with whom you come in contact; this verse].  I think it is fair to say that if we undertake to incorporate into our behavior the age-old Jewish teachings in this book, we too will become a blessing in the lives of all those with whom we come in contact, and a blessing in our own lives as well.  TELVOL 1:5; TELVOL 2:3
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GENESIS — 12:2 blessing

Over three thousand years ago, when G-d revealed himself to Abraham, the first Jew, He told him, “And you shall be a blessing” [in the lives of those with whom you come in contact; this verse].  I think it is fair to say that if we undertake to incorporate into our behavior the age-old Jewish teachings in this book, we too will become a blessing in the lives of all those with whom we come in contact, and a blessing in our own lives as well.  TELVOL 1:5; TELVOL 2:3
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GENESIS — 12:3 bless

In Judaism, how people react to a Jew’s action is indeed very important.  The very essence of being Jewish is how one impacts not only upon oneself but also upon others.  Therefore, to consider the reaction of others as unimportant is to contradict a fundamental precept in Judaism, because it does not allow a Jew to fulfill his or her overall mission.  The very first Jew, Abraham, is promised by G-d that he will be a blessing to all people of the world, not just to Jews.  This indicates that others would aspire to be like Abraham.  [Rashi]. Every action that Abraham took was scrutinized by others, and rightly so.  Had Abraham acted in a way that would have affected people negatively, he would not have been able to succeed in his goal to inspire others to believe in one G-d.  This is not just Abraham’s mission, but it is also the mission of every Jew.  AMJV 314 (Continued at Deuteronomy 6:5 love AMJV 314)
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