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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek

Introduction

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Shabbat Hagadol (70)

This is the Shabbat before Pesach, Shabbat Hagadol. A few words about Pesach, the holiday that celebrates our redemption from slavery and that made us a People, Pharaoh was the first to refer to the Children of Israel as an "am" a People. This strikes a chord in me and I asked myself: This People Israel, a unique Nation. How is this People different from all other Peoples?

In what ways can you think that Jews and Judaism are unique? You might ask your children and guests this question at the seder; see who can enumerate more points of difference. I have enumerated below some that come to my mind:

  1. Judaism is the only religion that is based on blood relations; it began as the family of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. It did not begin by converting others (through sword or threat). Of course we accept converts, but they become part of the original family.
  2. This People had a Land before they were a nation. Hashem promised the Land to Abraham even before Isaac, his son, was born.) We became a nation while living in a foreign nation (Egypt). Nations usually form on their land.
  3. The People continued to exist even without their Land, for 2 thousand years.
  4. This is the only People that returned to its land after such a long exile.
  5. Israel is the only country whose language is not shared by any of its neighbors, nor any other country in the world.
  6. Israel is the only country in the world whose very existence is threatened. Pharaoh threatened our existence; Haman, too; Hitler too, and now Achmademejed. All wanted to achieve a "Final Solution" of the "Jewish Problem."
  7. 7) In the Haggada we say: "In every generation they (the gentiles) stand up against us the finish us off." That is true today and has always been true. Anti-Semitism has been called "The longest hatred." Someone said: "Fascism came and left; Communism came and left; Anti-Semitism came and stayed."
  8. 8) Hebrew is the only ancient language that ceased being used in daily communication for 2,000 years and was brought back to life in our days.
  9. 9) See the following astounding fact of life today. There are over 120 nations in the Untied Nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The Security Council has 15 members and is the inner circle of the UN and makes important resolutions. There are five permanent members to the council (USA, UK, Russia, France, & China) and ten rotating members drawn from the 120+ members of the UN. Of these more than 120 nations only one nation can not be a member of the Security Council! Guess who! Only Israel can not be a member of the Security Council which, by the way, condemns Israel more than any other state in the world! Why can't Israel, and only Israel, be a member of the SC together with all the other nations of the world? What rational explanation can be given for this incomprehensible fact? Our answer comes from
Bilaam, the gentile prophet, prophesied over 3,000 years ago that Israel is "a Nation that dwells alone and among the nations will not be considered." (Numbers 23:9).

How true and how amazing!

We are different from all other nations. Some of us want to be the same as all other nations, but the more we strive to be the same as others the more we remain different! Simply because all other nations want to be themselves, so when we Don't want to be ourselves, we are already different!

Pesach is a time to celebrate our differences.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Somayach
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is produced by the Institute for the Study of Rashi and Early Commentaries. The five volume set of "What's Bothering Rashi?" is available at all Judaica bookstores.


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