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June 23, 1989 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-06-23

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

r

I TORAH PORTION

CONGREGATION B'NAI DAVID

Where Do We Learn
The Meaning Of Life?

RABBI ALON TOLWIN

Special to The Jewish News

0

ne of the 16 para-
graphs of Bahaalo-
techa contains the
narrative of the Jewish people
murmuring about the manna
they had to eat while in the
desert. They cried that they
missed the delicacies of
Egypt. Moshe was upset with
them and frustrated at the
thought of providing meat for
the complete Jewish nation.
The jews complained,
"Remember the fish we ate
for free in Egypt . . ." Rashi
responds, "If you will say that
the Egyptians would not even
give the Jews straw to make
bricks, yet fish they fed them
for free? Therefore, 'free' can-
not mean for no money;
rather, free means for no
mitzvot."
The Jews were mumbling to
themselves that they would

Shabbat
Behaalotecha:
Numbers 8:1-12:16,
Zechariah 2:14-4:7

rather continue to work and
live like dogs to eat than eat
to live like human beings!
This is a common syn-
drome. Ask yourself or a
friend, do you think people
ought to eat to live or live to
eat?
Obviously, no human wants
his tombstone to read: "Here
rests Yankele Ploni who
devoured 1,200 lbs. of roast
beef and watched baseball
during his lifetime." We must
eat to live.
The next question is, what
do we live for if not to eat?
This is where many people
get confused. Eating is satis-
fying whether or not we
understand why we eat.
Eating is comforting whether
or not we understand why we
eat. Eating is effective
whether or not we unders-
tand why we eat. Living is
not!
Therefore, it becomes very
easy for people, confused
about the purpose of their
lives, to escape into eating.
lb discover purpose in being
alive can be frustrating.
Where do we turn for infor-
mation? Everywhere. If
people aren't living to eat
then they live for some food
substitute like sports, a
career, popularity, hobbies.

Rabbi Alon Tolwin is head of
Aleynu, the partnership for
adult Jewish education.

I will finish with a story.
Two grandfathers, one
religious and one secular,
were having a chat.
"I don't understand," the
secular one said, leaning back
in his rocking chair. "My
grandchildren don't respect
me. They never come to visit.
When they do, it's only to bor-
row money or ask a favor.
Your grandchildren are dif-
ferent. They come to see you.
They sit at your feet and are
anxious to listen to your every
word. What's the difference
between you and me?"
"I'll tell you the difference,"
said the religious man, runn-
ing his fingers through his
tzitzit. "I teach my grand-
children that I'm two genera-
tions closer to receiving the
Torah at Mount Sinai. You
teach your grandchildren
that you are two generations
closer to the apes from which
you feel you you evolved."
The Torah teaches us: Draw
upon the wisdom of the past.
Are we so vain to assume that
each generation is smarter
than the last, or than all
previous generations combin-
ed? Don't we have the same
emotions, stresses, fears,
doubts and aspirations today
as the Jews in the desert?
Couldn't a document, bound
up with 3,000 years of
wisdom, provide some in-
sights into why we live?
Modern technology creates
illusions. We assume that
since the computer can access
more information faster than
before, the society that made
and uses it become wiser.
Does any of this information
deal with the purpose and
meaning of life? Can it tell us
how to be a good person?
Modern man needs inspira-
tion more than he needs infor-
mation. The Torah is our
source. Thousands of years of
meticulous analysis have
shown us that its wisdom can
never be exhausted.
The other day a stockbroker
confided to a friend, "When I
was a child, my parents gave
me money; they gave me love
and an education. I just wish
they told me what life is all
about." 0

Chabad House
Hosts Lecture

Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg
of Bais Chabad Torah Center
will deliver a lecture on
"Mutiny in the Desert — The
Jewish Generation of
Knowledge" at the Ann Ar-
bor Chabad House, 99 Hill,
Sunday at 5 p.m.

SUNDAY SCHOOL

IN WEST BLOOMFIELD

Congregation B'nai David, Michigan's largest Traditional Synagogue,
is very proud to announce the OPENING of our exciting new SUN-
DAY SCHOOL in West Bloomfield, located at the MAPLE ELEMEN-
TARY SCHOOL (15 Mile Road between Halstead and Haggerty
Classes will begin in September, 1989 and will include:

MISS BESSIE'S KINDERSPIEL with Bessie Levin, beloved and ac-
claimed pre-school instructor, formerly with the Jewish . Center in Oak
Park. This class will enable 3 and 4 year olds to explore and share
Judaism with their parents on a weekly basis.

AND

A K/1 class for children who will be 5 or 6 during the 1989/90 school
year.

Enrollment is open to MEMBERS and NON-MEMBERS and will be
limited.

For further information contact the

C.B.D.S. SCHOOL OFFICE at 557-8210

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

43

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