Values That Sustain the Oldest Civilization (Judaism)

By Dan, Leslie L. | Canadian Speeches, March 1996 | Go to article overview

Values That Sustain the Oldest Civilization (Judaism)


Dan, Leslie L., Canadian Speeches


One of the most important books I ever read, which left a lasting impression upon me, was by Max Daimant, entitled The Indestructible Jew. The theme of this book was profound, yet simple. It pointed out that throughout the past 4,000 years some seven major civilizations arose and disappeared but only one civilization remained -- retaining its original character, value system, spiritual values, and central beliefs -- and they were the Hebrews. Gone are the Persians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Etruscs, the Romans, the Greeks -- only the Jews who, some 3,200 years ago embraced monotheism and despite many ups and downs in history, constant persecutions, vilification's, expulsions -- still exist and likely will exist for many, many centuries.

I asked the question: "How was this possible when so many powerful nations disappeared? How come that a tiny group of Hebrews managed to preserve its religious and cultural identity and kept flourishing despite so many obstacles?"

I deliberated and found two main reasons.

First, our covenant and special relationship with God, and second, the teachings and the practice of our Torah and our sacred books.

Let me dwell on these two aspects.

Some 3,200 years ago an extraordinary event took place when God selected a small tribe of Hebrews and led them out of slavery in Egypt and made a covenant or an agreement with them, saying: "You Hebrews keep my laws and commandments -- I shall keep you and lead you to the promised land." And this indeed happened.

History tells us that the early Hebrews did not always follow the commandments of God and consequently paid a hefty price. In the 5th century BC Jews were expelled to Babylon, where they spent some 150 years, as we all know. It is most striking that in the 6th century BC the 10 tribes of the Hebrews living in the northern part of Canaan engaged in worshipping idols, intermarried and, despite many warnings by our prophets, did not make Teshuva or repentance, and they totally disappeared throughout the centuries. The wrath of God did strike them. Only the tribes of Judah and Ephraim survived, and still exist here today.

It is an interesting observation that the very 10 tribes which disappeared in the northern part of the country at the time of Moses, sent 10 of their representatives to spy out the promised land, and the representatives came back with negative reports. As you all know, prior to entering the land of Canaan, Moses sent 12 spies to the promised land and the spies of only two tribes came back with glowing and optimistic reports, namely Judah and Ephraim, while the spies of the other 10 tribes returned with negative reports. What were their sins? They gossiped, they made slanderous remarks, and did not believe and trust God's promise that the land of Canaan would be conquered with God's help. Isn't it interesting and mysterious that those were the very same tribes that disappeared some 700 years later because of their lack of faith in God.

There is another fascinating event in the history of the Jewish people. At every Passover dinner we open the door to welcome the Prophet Elijah. Similarly, at every Shabbat exit during the Havdolah candle-lighting services, we chant about Elijahu Honovim -- Elijah the Prophet. Why? How many of you know the reason?

The Midrash, our story, tells us that there was an argument between Elijah the Prophet and God. Elijah pleaded with God to give up the Jewish people because they strayed away and did not follow God's commandments. The tribes turned to idols and foreign gods under the influence of King Ahab's wife, the Phoenician Jezebel, and God made a mistake when the Almighty made a covenant with the Jews. God replied to Elijah that God could not abandon the Jews because the Almighty had made a covenant with them and days would come when the Jews would return to God. To prove this, God wanted to show Elijah that the Jews had changed and had become God-fearing, and therefore Elijah has been invited to visit Jewish homes at the Passover evening dinner throughout the centuries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Values That Sustain the Oldest Civilization (Judaism)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.