The Secret of Our Immortality

by Arliene Botnick, October 26, 2016

In a famous quote entitled “About Jews” (Mark Twain – 1899) Twain suggests that the Jewish people are like a “nebulous dim puff of the stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way”. He goes on to write that with such a small percentage of the USA population being Jewish, we should “hardly be heard of” and yet our contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine are “way out of proportion to the weakness” of our numbers. Twain concludes, “The Egyptian, the Babylonian, the Persian (the Greek, the Roman) rose, filled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream stuff and passed away… The Jews saw them all… and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age… no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind.” All things are mortal but the Jew: all other forces pass but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Amazing words – written more than 100 years ago, but as timeless today as then. Not necessarily so positive, since we have survived, but often paid dearly with the loss of millions of Jewish lives; nonetheless, we have survived.

So what is the “secret of our immortality”? Is it the mitzvah of Teaching Our Children diligently? The Mitzvah that commands us to make sure our children are Jewishly educated? Is it the commandment that says honour our mother and father – how can we ever forget who we are when we remember our parents and what they believed in? Is it that we celebrate at home so many life cycle events, and of course so many Shabbats? Achad Haam said, “More than Israel has kept the Shabbat, the Sabbath has kept Israel.”

Through slavery, rebellion, pogroms and Holocaust, we have survived. We stood at Sinai and received Torah. Torah is our survival. Keyn Y’Hi Ratzon!

Filed under: Educator's Message

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