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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 33

33. God's Covenants with the Jewish People

If any other nation had gone through what the Jewish people did, they would have assimilated and disappeared. What element is it that keeps the Jewish people going under even trying circumstances? Answer: the covenant which God made with Israel.
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The Jewish people's ability to survive for thousands of years, despite all of the hardships, bears out the fact that they possess a mighty spiritual foundation that can endure the stormiest of winds. This foundation gives them the strength to stand up to the most trying circumstances, any spiritual crises, to face the long and difficult exile, the dispersion, spiritual confusion. The Jewish people have experienced all of this and have nevertheless managed to survive.
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
32 - 32. Israel's Plight in the Exile
33 - 33. God's Covenants with the Jewish People
34 - 34. The Jewish People's Extensive Suffering
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If any other nation had gone through what we did, they would have assimilated and disappeared. Indeed, a number of nations that rose to greatness after Israel have disappeared and nothing remains of them: Moab, Amon, Aram, Philistine, Kasdim, Median, Persia, Greece, and many more. The King of the Khazars acknowledges all of this, and the Rabbi continues to explain: what element is it that keeps the Jewish people going under all circumstances? Answer: the covenant which God made with the Jewish people. In fact, God entered into four covenants with Israel.

The first was the covenant of circumcision, as it is written, "My covenant shall be on your skin as an eternal pact." Second, the Sabbath, for the Sabbath too was given as an indication on a covenant, as it is written, "For it is a sign between Myself and you for your generations." In addition, it is written, "The children of Israel kept the Sabbath...an eternal covenant between Myself and the children of Israel, an eternal sign."

Third and fourth, the covenant of the Patriarchs and the covenant of the Torah. The covenant of the Torah is that which God made with us at Mount Sinai and then on the Plains of Moab before our entrance into to the Land of Israel. Reward and punishment are dependent upon it, exile and redemption, the punishment of exile, and after this, emerging from this, redemption and repentance: "Even if your dispersed are at the far ends of the heavens I will gather you from there, and you shall return to God your Lord and abide by His word." These covenants, which God made with us and our forefathers, cannot be breached. They cannot be nullified and they continue forever, eternally.

Therefore, it has never been possible to liken us to a "dead" nation, even when we had reached the most terrible depths. We could not be considered dead, but we could have been compared to a mortally sick person, afflicted with tuberculosis, a patient whom all of the doctors have given up hope of curing. The doctors gave up hope but the patient still believes that he will be miraculously cured.

This is reminiscent of the miracle regarding which the verse states, "These bones will come to life," or like the allegory mentioned by Isaiah the Prophet, "Behold, my servant shall prosper" (Isaiah 52:13). There the prophet describes the terrible situation of the Jewish people who are overcome with despair as a result of the exile. The prophet likewise describes the inconceivable redemption that is to follow.

According to Isaiah (ch. 53), Israel "has no form nor comeliness" - it is impossible to gaze upon him because of his strange and repulsive appearance. "He was despised and rejected of men; a man of pains and acquainted with sickness, and we hid as it were our faces from him. He was despised and we esteemed him not."

Yet, this despised and rejected person... "behold, my servant shall prosper. He shall be exalted and extolled." And just as they stood gazing mercifully and despairingly upon Israel in this downtrodden state, so will they be amazed and not believe their eyes when they witness Israel's future exaltation in redemption. Then it will be known to all that Israel's suffering had an important role in the rectification of the world: "But in truth he has born our sickness and endured our pains. Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted."

This is what the Rabbi had to say to the King of the Khazars regarding the secret of Jewish survival.


Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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