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December 19, 2003 - Image 90

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-19

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Spirituality

ege n1 (51-reet

Divine Will And
Human Choices

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2003

66

"

Conversations

749110

12/19

The Jewish state would have disap-
peared entering the maelstrom of
history. Palestine would have
become Hellenized. The Bible
would have disappeared. The Jewish
tradition would have come to an
end.
If Judaism would have disap-
peared, there would be no
he Torah portion of this
Christianity, for it was born out of
Sabbath is the familiar
Judaism. The whole configuration
story of Joseph and his
of Western civilization as we know
brothers. One aspect of
it, would have been transformed.
the story is the role of destiny in
The
concepts of justice, morality,
human affairs.
human dignity and freedom would
As one examines the
not have achieved expres-
story, one discerns how
sion.
every element is related to •
During the eight days
the Divine plan, a plan
of Chanukah, we recite the
which goes beyond Joseph-
al ha-Nisim prayer: "We
and his brothers.
thank God for the miracle
As a result of the hatred
Of having delivered the
of the brothers of Joseph,
strong into the hands of
he was sold into slavery
the weak, the many into
and he must make a forced
the hands of the few, the
journey to Egypt. There, he
wicked
into the hands of
interprets Pharaoh's dreams
RABBI IRWIN
the
just."
with such insight and wis-
GRONER
The question remains
dom that he is elevated to
Special to the
for each of us. Are we in
the position of viceroy.
Jewish News
control, of our lives, or
He becomes provider for
not?
his family and he brings his
Jewish philosophers have debated
father and all his family to Egypt.
this for centuries. Their conclusion
The Hebrew people, the descen-
declares that both sides are true.
dants of Jacob, now become numer-
Humanity is strong. Humanity is
ous. They are enslaved by their
weak. Man is powerful, and he is
Egyptian taskmasters. This is all
helpless. Much of his life is beyond
part of God's purpose that the
his control. Some of it is within his
Hebrew people would be redeemed
_ -
power.
and the redeemer would come in
A margin of freedom is available
the person of Moshe.
to us and with that margin come
We see how every step involves
those choices by which we are
the expression of a significant ele-
judged. This is the source of human
ment of God's design. What does
dignity.
this mean from a philosophical
We live by the decisions that we
point of view? Are we to believe
made,
by the convictions that were so
that people do not direct the course
strong
that persecution and hostility
of events, but rather that the tide of
of an environment often cruel and
history carries us along?
oppressive could not break the will of
I meet people so frequently who
the Jewish people to live and to bear
say to me, "Rabbi, I am a born
witness to God's message. That is the
fatalist. I believe that what will be,
secret of Jewish survival and the rea-
will be. When my number is up, I
son why we have continued as a
shall obey my summons.
Jewish
people until today. Fl
When challenged, these people
can cite incidents to support their
belief.
We can all point to experiences
in which an airplane was missed or
The question about the
an automobile ride was not taken or
Maccabees lingers. Was it a vic-
some other episode or event radical-
tory destined, fated, determined
ly altered the course of our life.
by the Divine will; or was it a
Let us turn to the ancient past.
product of human will, revealed
The Maccabees had mounted a mil-
in the bravery, courage and corn- -
itary campaign against the Syrian
mitment of the Jewish loyalist?.
Greeks. The odds were against the
-
Could it have been both?
Jews::
What if the Maccabees had lost?

Shabbat Vayeshev:
Genesis 37:1 - . 40:23;
Numbers - 7:1-17;
Zechariah 2:14-4:7.

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