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When Did You Realize You Were Jewish?

Wednesday, 1 June, 2011 - 12:19 pm

 How did I know this morning I was Jewish? Well, I as soon as I opened my eyes I said the Modeh Ani prayer and then leaned over to ritually wash my hands next to my bed.  I then said my morning prayers, said a blessing over my breakfast and ate a Kosher wholesome nutritious meal.  (Admittedly, some mornings I just do these things by rote and don't give it much thought.)

When did  you realize today that you were Jewish?  Was it the moment you woke up? Or perhaps before you ate your morning breakfast you said a Brocha (blessing) on the food? Perhaps it was when you left your home to go to work that you lifted your right hand to kiss the Mezuzah on the door? (if you need a mezzuzah email me) Was it perhaps when you were executing a business deal or meeting with a client that you said to yourself, "I am Jewish and I need to represent my people in this interaction"?

In just one short week we'll celebrate the holiday of Shavous.  This is the festival that that we commemorate the giving of the Torah at Sinai.  We mark this day by staying up all night and studying Torah (and in more recent years by kids eating Ice cream) and listening to the Ten Commandments.

The introductory verse to the Ten Commandments goes like this, "and G-d spoke all of these words saying".  The term "saying" generally is used in the Torah when G-d tells Moses a particular command or message to relay to the People.  But in this instance all the people stood at the foot of Sinai and heard directly from G-d the reciting of the Ten Commandments.  So why does the Torah use the phrase "saying".  "Saying", to whom?

When we keep the Torah in heaven and Man remains on earth then indeed the words of G-d remain as if He had never spoken them.  However, if we take the same divine words and translate them into our lives, then we have said them to ourselves.  We have moved them from the divine realm into ours.

This is what the Torah means when it uses the term "saying".  G-d is instructing us not to leave the Torah in heaven, but to make it part of our reality, part of our day to day life.

So I ask you... When did you realize today that you were Jewish?

Have a wonderful week!

Rabbi Schusterman

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