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January 16, 1987 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

___

T

Happy 40th pinna Jeross

This one s on you!!!
Love, D.J. & R.J.

reffilo

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space

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-

RABBI IRWIN GRONER

Special to The Jewish News

,

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(Failure to comply may void all
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OUR SALESMAN OR MAIL TO
THE BIRKETT MILLS, PENN
YAN, NEW YORK 14527. OFFER
GOOD ONLY IN U.S.A. LIMIT
ONLY ONE COUPON MAY BE
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Friday, January 16, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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TORAH PORTION

W by should a person
be good? For what
purpose should he
lead a righteous life? Should
this be done in order that his
virtue be rewarded and that
God bless him with material
and spiritual benefits? Or is
virtue to be pursued because
this is the only path that leads
to human fulfillment? Is au-
thentic religion our concern to
serve God and his teachings, or
is it our wish to have Him ful-
fill our will?
As we consider events in the
life of the Patriarch, Jacob, we
recognize how he answered
this challenge in different
ways at different times. When
he was young, he was forced to
flee from his home to escape
the wrath of his brother, and he
became a wanderer and a fugi-
tive. After having slept on
stones, he awoke in the morn-
ing and offered this prayer, "If
God protects me on my journey,
and gives me bread to eat and
clothing to wear, and if I return
safe to my father's house — the
Lord shall be my God . . . and of
all that you give me, I will set
aside a tithe for You."
In effect, Jacob declared that
he will maintain faith in God
only on certain conditions. Be-
fore entering Divine service,
he seeks a gilt-edge security, a
guarantee that his faithfulness
will be a profitable investment
and yield satisfactory results.
If the promise is fulfilled, Jacob
will keep his end of the con-
tract and return to God ten
percent of all that has been
bestowed upon him, not a bad
bargain.
We should be fair to Jacob,
because that prayer came from
a frightened and apprehensive
lad, who grew to be a man great
in spirit and understanding. At
the end of his life, after having
endured much, Jacob prays
differently. He is not running
away; he is coming home. He is
no longer young and brash; he
is aged and weary. He has lived
and loved and suffered. He still
has fear, but it is not the fright
of a headstrong youth; it is the
deep concern of a wise man for
the future. .
He recalls his history, he
passes judgement on the
events of his life, and he de-
clares "I wait for Thy deliv-
erance, 0 Lord." I hope for Thy
redemption. No conditions, no
terms, no bargaining or
negotiation. Jacob, profoundly
grateful for all the good he has
experienced, places himself in
the hands of the Almighty.

These two prayers of Jacob,
so different in form and sub-
stance, enable us to consider
the fundamental question of
what is religion. Is it a transac-
tion with God which secures us
against the ills of life, or is the
good life to be chosen on its own
account, even if unaccom-
panied by any reward. There is

a church hymn which declares
"Whatever Lord we lend to
Thee, we repaid a thousand-
fold will be." One cannot secure
such interest even at the best
banks, or the most successful
financial institutions. The
danger in that sentiment is
that religion is sometimes
viewed as a kind of bond issue,
guaranteeing the person who
subscribes to it the best of both
worlds, all of this one and much
of the next.
A contrasting view comes
from the Ethics of the Fathers
in which Antigonos declares:
"Be not as servants who serve

Shabbat Vayigash:
Genesis
47:28-50:26
I Kings 2:1-12.

their Master upon the condi-
tion of receiving a reward."
"Don't expect," says An-
tigonos, "Divine favor, tes-
timonial tributes, personal
success, and surcease from all
pain and trouble if you attempt
to lead a righteous life." Be-
cause, as another passage
points out "S'char Mitzvah,
Mitzvah." The reward of one
good deed is another good deed.
The satisfaction of having ful-
filled a mitzvah is the compen-
sation thereof. Virtue is its
own reward. Goodness is to be
loved for itself, even if it comes
to us empty handed.
This doctrine is not suitable
for children or the immature.
Most people expect rewards
and benefits for worthy con-
duct and meritorious deeds. It
is only the mature mind and
spirit that can grasp this truth:
the value and reward of virtue
inheres in itself and not in ex-
ternal privileges and prizes.
Jacob taught his descen-
dants this great ideal: it is in
unselfish dedication to the
values of justice and love,
without thought of recompense
or award, that we achieve
Judaism's highest vision and
most exalted fulfillment.

Annette Dulzin
Is DZF Scholar

Norman Naimark, president
of the Detroit Zionist Federa-
tion, announced that Israeli
political columnist Annette
Dulzin has been chosen as the
scholar-in-residence for 1987.
Mrs. Dulzin will be in the De-
troit area March 2-16 speaking
before Jewish and non-Jewish
audiences.
In addition to writing a polit-
ical column for the daily news-
paper Yediot Aharonot, Mrs.
Dulzin is a contributor to the
New York Times and has been
published in Forum. She is an
adviser on human rights to the
prime minister of Israel, and is
a linguist and interpreter. She
holds a bachelor's degree in
psychology and a master's de-

K

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