We are going back to our Online Roots!After much prayer and guidance from our friends within the Jewish community, we have made a few changes locally- including downsizing and ending our lease on our building rental so we can go back to focusing on our students online… During the Omer period this year, we were approached with […] Read More →
the love of Israel.
Contrary to the belief of the world; Judaism is not simply a religion. The Torah describes the Jewish people as a single unified soul that emerged from Ya’aqov.
וַֽיְהִי כָּל־נֶפֶשׁ יֹצְאֵי יֶֽרֶךְ־יַעֲקֹב שִׁבְעִים נָפֶשׁ
And all the persons [lit: The entire Soul] who [that] emerged from Ya’aqov’s loins were seventy souls [lit: Soul]…
Prior to entering the land, in Parashat Nitzavim, Moshe assembled the Jewish people together to make them understand that their covenant with HaShem is based upon עריבות (Accountability).
אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ טַפְּכֶם נְשֵׁיכֶם וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶיךָ מֵחֹטֵב עֵצֶיךָ עַד שֹׁאֵב מֵימֶֽיךָ׃
לְעָבְרְךָ בִּבְרִית יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּבְאָלָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כֹּרֵת עִמְּךָ הַיּֽוֹם׃ לְמַעַן הָקִֽים־אֹתְךָ הַיּוֹם׀ לוֹ לְעָם וְהוּא יִֽהְיֶה־לְּךָ לֵֽאלֹהִים כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר־לָךְ וְכַאֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּֽלְיַעֲקֹֽב׃
You are standing today, all of you, before HaShem, your G-d: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers – all the men of Yisrael; your small children, your women, and your gerim who is in the midst of your camp, from the hewer of your wood to the drawer of your water, for you to pass into the covenant of HaShem, your G-d, and into His imprecation that HaShem, your G-d seals with you today, in order to establish you today as a people to Him and that He be a G-d to you, as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitzhaq, and to Ya’aqov.
The reason why Moshe listed every person in Jewish society while using the superfluous expression; אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם (You are standing today, all of you) is to teach every Jew that they are responsible for their fellow Jew. From this pasuk (verse), Chazal taught; כל ישראל ערבים זה בזה, all Jews are responsible for one another (Bavli, Shavuot 39a). This means that Judaism is not just a religion. Judaism is a soul. A single soul radiating into many bodies, each ray shining forth on its unique mission, each body receiving the light according to its capacity, each embodiment playing its crucial role. Together, each Jew compose a symphony with no redundant parts, no instrument more vital than another. And our path back towards that original source of light is through every other ray that extends from it.
Ahavat Yisrael is based upon the mitzvah to unconditionally love every Jew no matter where they are at in life:
לֹא־תִשְׂנָא אֶת־אָחִיךָ בִּלְבָבֶךָ הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת־עֲמִיתֶךָ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂא עָלָיו חֵֽטְא׃ לֹֽא־תִקֹּם וְלֹֽא־תִטֹּר אֶת־בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְאָֽהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ אֲנִי יְהוָֽה׃
You shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him. You shall not take revenge and you shall not bear a grudge against the members of your people; you shall love your fellow as yourself – I am HaShem.
for the love of Torah
Instilling a love of Hashem’s Torah is important to the future development of Am Yisrael. In the siddur we ask HaShem to install in our hearts a love for Torah and mitzvot: וְתֵן בְּלִבֵּנוּ לְהָבִין וּלְהַשכִּיל. לִשְׁמעַ. לִלְמד וּלְלַמֵּד. לִשְׁמר וְלַעֲשות וּלְקַיֵּם אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי תַלְמוּד תּורָתֶךָ בְּאַהֲבָה. Through Beit Midrash Shivim Panim L’Torah we are committed to expand the messianic consciousness of Am Yisrael in learning TaNaKah, Talmud, and Halakha.
love for the land of israel
We are committed to a strong bond with Medinat Yisrael (State of Yisrael) and a deep love of Eretz Yisrael. The Torah gives us the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael (to settle in the land of Yisrael):
וְהוֹרַשְׁתֶּם אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וִֽישַׁבְתֶּם־בָּהּ כִּי לָכֶם נָתַתִּי אֶת־הָאָרֶץ לָרֶשֶׁת אֹתָֽהּ׃
You shall possess the Land and you shall settle in it, for to you have I given the Land to possess it.
love of the convert
One of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot is Ahavat HaGer — love of the convert. The mitzvah is codified in parashat Eikev:
וַאֲהַבְתֶּם אֶת־הַגֵּר כִּֽי־גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃
You shall love the Ger because you were gerim in the land of Mitzrayim.
The Ger is this context is traditionally understood to refer to the convert, who abandoned his or her former life and attempts to become part of a foreign people. This positive mitzvah is linked to a parallel negative mitzvah which prohibits Ona’at HaGer — paining a convert. According to Chazal, the concept of dealing sensitively with a convert is mentioned 36 times in the Torah, underscoring its importance [Bavli, Bava Metzia 59b.].
In masechet Yevamot, Chazal taught that a Ger is like a newborn:
Bavli, Yevamot 22a
גר שנתגייר כקטן שנולד דמי
A Ger is like a newborn child.
During their time in Mitzrayim, B’nei Yisrael were not “Jews,” at least not in the Halakhic sense of the word Jew. Their exodus from Mitzrayim initiated a transformative process, culminating in the giving of the Torah that made them into the Jewish people. Many times, in the Torah it says that there shall be one Torah for the Jew and Ger:
הַקָּהָל חֻקָּה אַחַת לָכֶם וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר חֻקַּת עוֹלָם לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם כָּכֶם כַּגֵּר יִהְיֶה לִפְנֵי יְהוָֽה׃ תּוֹרָה אַחַת וּמִשְׁפָּט אֶחָד יִהְיֶה לָכֶם וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶֽם׃ פ
For the congregation – the same chok (decree) shall be for you and for the Ger who sojouns, and eternal decree for your generations; like you like the Ger shall it be before HaShem. One Torah and one judgment shall be for you and for the Ger who sojourns among you.
תּוֹרָה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָֽאֶזְרָח וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכְכֶֽם׃
One Torah shall there be for the native [halakhic Jew] and the Ger who lives among you.
In masechet Keritut Chazal comment upon these passages and teach that if a non-Jew desires to become a part of the Jewish people the non-Jew must undergo the same process of transformation that the Jewish people went through. What we learn from this is that the giving of the Torah is considered an archetype for Geirut – the transformation from non-Jew to Jew.
When HaShem spoke to Ya’aqov, He told him that the families of the earth would graft themselves into the Jewish people:
וְהָיָה זַרְעֲךָ כַּעֲפַר הָאָרֶץ וּפָרַצְתָּ יָמָּה וָקֵדְמָה וְצָפֹנָה וָנֶגְבָּה וְנִבְרֲכוּ בְךָ כָּל־מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה וּבְזַרְעֶֽךָ׃
Your offspring shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward, and southward; and all the families of the earth shall graft themselves in you and in your descendants.
In parashat Lekh Lekha, HaShem told Avraham the same thing:
וַאֲבָֽרֲכָה מְבָרְכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָֽה׃
I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and all the families of the earth will graft themselves into you.
In masechet Yevamot, Chazal explains that the verb ונברכו comes from the word להבריך which means to graft. A story of Ruth is a well-known story of a non-Jew who underwent Geirut to become a part of the Jewish people. As an organization committed to Ahavat HaGer, Sulam Ya’aqov has educational workshops, courses, and programs available for non-Jews who are leaving Christianity and Messianic Judaism.