The nation of Israel, faith, history and traditions
It has been 70 years since the modern nation of Israel was put in place.
But the Jewish people have provided much for the world to contemplate for far longer than 70 years.
They are a proud people with many accomplishments and a rich heritage.
Well-known Jewish Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote a book years ago called “Thou Shalt Prosper.”
It’s a great read, and one in which Lapin explained the attributes that came about in Jewish culture.
The book talks about Jewish faith, history, and traditions; but it is not only about Jews and for Jews.
On the contrary, it is a book that has a number of principles that can be applied in almost anyone’s life.
Lapin said that some of the practices employed by the Jewish people tend to work the same way when they are applied in the lives of others.
I won’t give you an entire rundown of the book here, except to say that it explains how a large percentage of the Jewish people have met with success down through the centuries.
Lapin explained that the Jewish people have benefited from having a respect for literacy, reading, and knowledge that has long been ingrained in their culture.
Elsewhere I’ve read that long before the time of Christ, Jewish boys went to a school that was roughly the equivalent of our elementary schools, but far more rigorous. They studied — and memorized — the entire first five books of Old Testament, simply known to them as the Torah.
The best students had the opportunity to further their education after that, by studying — and memorizing—the rest of what is today the Old Testament. (That’s Joshua through Malachi for those who haven’t been to Sunday school in quite some time).
After that, at about the age of 14, the Jewish boys who were the very best might have the opportunity to be called by a rabbi for more extensive training. By being yoked to a rabbi, one could get the most intense education available in all of Jewish society.
There were several rabbis in Jewish culture with different levels of influence, and the rabbis would select a young man to follow him only if he felt he was worthy of someday becoming a rabbi himself, capable of carrying on the teaching.
The best known rabbi in history is Jesus of Nazareth, who went against the tradition of the day by calling 12 who were not — by society’s standards — considered worthy to be rabbis.
The 12 had not been able to advance in their schooling and had to take jobs that were not as glamorous. Many of them were mere fishermen.
From this simple selection process, we learn a valuable lesson from Jewish tradition and from Christian beliefs: that in matters of faith, and to be accepted by God, a person does not have to be worthy, but humble and teachable.
According to Lapin, the Jewish emphasis on education has contributed to a great level of success for many centuries.
“Jews,” he wrote, “have always had a disproportionately high literacy rate and a respect for education.” He added later, “Cherishing books has remained a characteristic of Jewish homes …”
The intense training of the Jewish people in matters of scripture led them to do all that they could to preserve and maintain the scrolls that made up the Old Testament.
The first century Christian Paul, who had been a highly trained Jew himself, wrote that the nation of the Jews had been selected by God to give the Bible to civilization.
“Unto them,” he wrote in Romans 3:2, “were committed the oracles of God.”
Of all 66 books in today’s Bible, almost all were written by Jews. (The Greek physician Luke, who wrote Luke and Acts, may be the only non-Jew who penned any of Christian scripture).
The respect for knowledge and the respect for scriptural texts helped the Jews develop a dedicated view of work. To the Jew, work was not a dirty task, but an honorable way to please God. Work in a Jewish business was not to be fueled by nasty greed; but was instead a way in which a person could serve others and improve the world in which he lived.
It’s no wonder that with such an outlook, thousands of Jewish families have achieved a certain level of affluence down through the centuries. Generally speaking, monetary rewards tend to come to those who approach life and work with such joy, such dedication, and such devotion.
So as Israel celebrates her 70th birthday on May 14, we can appreciate her ancient culture and how it helped establish a good perspective for honest and hard-working people worldwide.