DON’T LET THIS BE YOU
Rabbi Markowitz concluded the services one Shabbat morning by saying, “Next Shabbat, my sermon will be about lying. In preparation, I would like you all to read the 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus.”
On the following Shabbat, Rabbi Markowitz rose to begin, and said:
“Now, then, all of you who have done as I requested and read the 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus, please raise your hands.”
Nearly every hand in the congregation went up.
“You are the people I want to talk to,” said Rabbi Markowitz. “There is no 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus!”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes this is a joke, but not knowing what the Torah says or doesn’t say isn’t; it has life and death implications. Did God really create the Heavens and the earth? Did He really say to Adam and Eve don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, and if so, why? Does the Torah have answers to some of life’s basic questions: Why are we here? How did we get here? What are we supposed to do while we are here? What happens after we die? Does the Torah say God helps those who help themselves? What about all the evil in the world … how did it get here, why does God allow it, and is there anything we can or should be doing about it? Why are there wars, and is there such a thing as a “good” war? How should we treat one another as peoples and nations, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbors, law-abiding citizens and criminals, old and young, rich and poor, business partners, debtors and creditors, fellow Jews, or the stranger in our midst? What happens if we break God’s laws, especially since we know beforehand that we will? How good do we have to be to be good enough? Does it really matter what we eat, drink, or wear? Who or what do we look to for guidance and direction when life gets really tough? If somebody wrote down all this stuff, who were they and why did they write it? How do we know whether it is truth or myth? What distinguishes it from — or makes it superior to — any other book of history or wisdom written by flawed human beings? Is any of it relevant to our lives today and, if so, what parts? If answers to any of these questions are to be found in the study of Torah, what a difference it would make in a person’s life to find them and live by them.