Thursday, November 16, 2006

Telling the story (Avot 1:10)

שמעיה ואבטליון קיבלו מהם. שמעיה אומר, אהוב את המלאכה, ושנוא את הרבנות; ואל תתוודע לרשות.

Shemayah and Avtalion received it (the Torah) from them. Shemayah says, love work, hate domination and don't reveal yourself to the authorities.

You can almost feel a black cloud falling upon the Jews in today's Mishnah. The previous Mishnas so far in Avot had mostly dealt with general advice about how to live a life of wisdom and about how to properly judge others in a court of law. Today, we see a concern about protecting yourself from the government.

Jews down through the ages have been at the mercy of the people among whom they have lived. We in American live in what is in many ways a Golden Age for the Jews; we fear the government no more than any other inhabitent of these lands.

But, we are still called to be a "light unto the nations". We must not forget the oppression of the past and we must not stop telling others the story of it. It is only in this way -- through the telling of story and the consciousness-raising that engenders -- that new oppressions, of Jews and of others, can be prevented.

No comments: