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The Last Self-Congratulatory Jew
By Andrew Nacht
Are you kidding me?
I had a bar mitzvah and married a Jewish girl in a traditional ceremony.
My son had a briss and a bar mitzvah
and then made aliya and moved to Israel permanently.
He put his life on the line to defend Your land,
my daughter had a bat mitzvah,
I was a member of the same synagogue most of my adult life,
look at my involvements!
I gave my time on committees, wrote charitable checks to worthy Jewish causes,
I thought tzedakah counted for so much?
The Jewish holidays were taken seriously,
I buried the dead in Jewish tradition,
we lit shabbos candles and went to Shabbat services as often as we could,
I have been to Israel more times than I can count,
how could You not be proud of Jewish accomplishment?
Our influence and success always outstrips our numbers, always!
Support, support, support,
pass down, pass down, pass down,
what more is there?
The Shema, God said
I know the Shema. I can do that:
Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
with all thy soul and with all thy might..and so on
I can recite most of the major ones like the mourners kaddish,
or the prayer for the sick, whatever.
I gave you writings to live a Jewish life and represent Me
In the way I intended but you have not done so.
You lived a Jewish life the way you saw fit.
Though your life is mine to give or not to give
I granted you free will,
with this free will you made your own way
with little or no regard to the most important words you heard from Me.
You did not give me your life before creating your own,
the words of the Shema, had you chosen to regard them properly,
would have amounted to the guiding force with every breath you took
while you had control of your human body.
There were many things in your heart you loved before Me
then more than Me
The most important thing I asked of you did not include ritually repeating My words
back to Me or defending the land of Israel with a Zionist footprint
or liking Me or respecting the tradition of Me.
I asked you for that which I graciously granted you,
your life in all of its phases.
You were to love Me with all of your heart,
think of it,
you withheld from Me,
you did not give Me everything in your heart.
You needed to love me more than you loved yourself, your wife, your children
or anything else that could have blocked you from loving Me with all of your heart.
What about your soul, that which separates you from your neighbor?
Did you give Me every like and dislike, every habit, every heartfelt yearning
or did you bypass Me and leave My words on your lips without the benefit
of them reaching into the deepest part of your body?
I am your God
no matter the perceived distance between us,
no matter whether you come to Me in times of personal strife or not,
I have chosen you, the Jewish people to be a light unto the nations,
then all will know that I am who I say I am.
You have disappointed Me and I will surely punish you.
Whether you think My ways are unjust or not is irrelevant,
I do not exist to provide an answer for all that you think and feel is unjust or cruel
as I was not created by man,
you were created in My image to worship Me and love Me
first and foremost or you and your offspring will know hardship.
Bow down to Me with the Shema in your heart.
Love me as if your life and the lives of your offspring depend on it for survival
and I will answer,
serve Me and My spirit will breathe inside of you,
granting you a new heart, a heart that knows Me,
then I will protect you and guide you through your human endeavors
and you will go in peace, My peace.
Remember, one day you will be granted life, another, death,
grant Me your life and I will fortify both your life and your death with my presence.
I feel Your words in my heart, O Lord,
it is like they are making their way down my throat and into my heart
as if I was tasting them.
What is this sensation?
I feel Your love and warmth inside of me.
I remember now, I am an old man confined to a bed for quite a while
and my family has been fussing over me.
I must be dying.
Is this how I go to my death, O Lord?
Yes, said God
Forgive me for my sins, God, known or unknown,
I do not understand.
I did not know You truly existed until now.
Why do you withhold the truth, Your love, until it is too late?
This is the feeling I was longing for my whole life without realizing it.
I would have been a more faithful servant and therefore pleased You more
if I had known this connection was possible, O Lord.
Of course I got distracted from You,
life was in front of me, not You, so I dealt with life.
Please do not hurt my family.
My wife is still down there as are my children and grandchildren.
I beg you, God, to protect them and guide them
They have not found me, God said
No one can find You! Maybe some rabbis or monks or priests or other very religious people
who have time but not everyone else.
The good and the bad of life pre-occupies everyone,
life can be busy, harsh and consuming,
You have given me the path of righteousness in my heart right before I die.
What good is it now?
I beg You, O Lord, go down to earth and satisfy Yourself.
Earthly hearts cannot be fulfilled without You so Your servants will rejoice and You will be glad.
If you allow us to turn our backs on You for too long
how will You get our attention?
I fear Your wrath because I can now feel Your anger toward us,
You will bring havoc and chaos and so scare survivors
that they will have no choice but to come to You, finally, but at what cost?
Only You know the hearts of men, O Lord,
Your servants are weary of all that distracts them from You
even if they are not aware of it.
Has it been worth the wait for us to come to You?
Is it not time to save us from ourselves?
I have grown weary of these words.
There have been many generations of these words.
It is not because of you that these words will never be spoken again
but your moaning will be the last of it.
The death march to follow will be one of tranquility and peace for all men
as the seed of Elijah has been planted on the earth.
There will be upheaval followed by My leadership
and I will cast aside hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh
filled with my wisdom and I will love you in ways you understand,
and the earth will by Mine again,
then my promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled
from the May 2012 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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