Rabbi David Walk
The central topic of this week's Torah reading is the apportioning of the
The article is called Life in Three Dimensions based on the writings of the Rebbe (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, 1902-1994). I'm thankful to the website, first of all, because it's a wonderful resource and for providing me with a topic for an article. The essay is an analysis of a famous line from our morning services, which has also become the lyrics for many tunes. Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu, u'mah na'im goraleinu, u'mah yafa yerushateinu. How fortunate are we that our portion is good, our lot is pleasant, and our inheritance is beautiful. The Rebbe's main point was that these three phrases describe a three dimensional relationship with the
This famous triple declaration is an introduction to a recitation of the Shema, which, of course, has the triple proclamation of God's name. There are two traditions about the writing of this section of the morning service. The first is very prosaic. We placed an early stating of the Shema; in case it's passed the technical time for reading Shema when we get to it in the regular service. There is also a dramatic version. During one of the many persecutions of the Jews, the evil authorities banned the declaration of God's unity. So, the wily Rabbis placed an early reading of the offending passage. Presumably this was said too early for the government spies to arrive in the synagogue. The context of the passage supports this second contention, because we are stating that we feel fortunate to be Jews in spite of any adversity.
In the context of the morning prayers, these expressions aren't talking about the
So, what are the three aspects of our long term connection to
Finally, we state that this is our inheritance. Please, forgive my arrogance, but I wouldn't have chosen that word. I would have called it a morasha or nachala, meaning a legacy or heritage which I must pass along to future generations. But our wise Sages were emphasizing our privilege over our responsibility in this statement. We would be ungrateful wretches not to accept this inheritance left to us by loving ancestors. Who are we to reject and, thereby denigrate, this possession so affectionately embraced for millennia?
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