Jewish History: The Impossible Journey

When Blaise Pascal, the 17th Century French rational philosopher, was asked to provide evidence for the existence of the supernatural, his response to King Louis was, “The Jews, Your Majesty, the Jews.”

Any objective analysis of world history, whether it focuses on the probability criteria of logical mathematics or on the methodical examinations of postmodern exegesis, inevitably reaches the same conclusion: The history of our people makes no sense. Where we begin our analysis matters much less than the fact that we end up with the realization that the Jewish people are a supernatural phenomenon that has withstood the tests of time and the worst malevolence that humanity has to offer. Our continued existence is incomprehensible and our enduring identity is impossible ñ we are a freak of nature.

But is it fair to assume that our historical journey and our current existence are miraculous, or do we simply have a secret weapon that enables us to survive and thrive through the passing epochs of human history?

Leo Tolstoy dramatically stated that, “The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He who neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy, he who neither fire, nor sword, nor Inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the earth. He who was the first to produce the Oracles of G-d. He who has been for so long the Guardian of Prophecy and has transmitted it to the rest of the world. Such a nation cannot be destroyed. The Jew is as everlasting as Eternity itself.” And Mark Twain once wrote, “All things are mortal, but the Jew. All other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

Many thinkers have shared these questions, but few, if any, have found the answer.

The answer lies in a simple yet profound fact. Every Jew, no matter what his status is as a Jew, how Jewish he thinks he is or even if he considers himself a Jew at all, is ultimately and completely bound to G-d – his G-d – the G-d of his parents and grandparents going back 134 generations to our great father Avraham. The faith and universal truths are part of our genetic makeup, and the greatness of our ancestors, the steadfastness of their faith and the aggressiveness of their minds, have left their imprint on us. But even more than this, our connection transcends reason; it transcends whether we express our desire to maintain it, and it transcends our actions as well. In the words of the book of Tanya, every Jew is “literally a part of G-d above”. And because our connection to the One living G-d, the Creator of all created beings, is so transcendent, we in ourselves embody an element of transcendental existence. We are, in a certain sense, part of the Infinite.

That is why miracles have been part of our experience since the days of our earliest inception as a nation. The lives of our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, were replete with miracles in their day-to-day lives. The splitting of the Sea of Reeds was a profoundly mystical experience during which “the lowliest maidservant experienced a greater revelation than the greatest prophets of later generations.”

The whole idea of a miracle is that it reminds us that life itself is a miracle, a product of G-d’s direct involvement in every facet of our existence. The awesome miracles that we are witnessing today ñ the survival and thriving of our people and our homeland, the reawakening of a latent national-spiritual consciousness – these are all testimony to the intensity of our connection to G-d.

So don’t be surprised if you find that you can walk on water. But take my advice and learn to swim just in case. We are human after all.

Enjoy the journey.

Comments are disabled for this post