Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fools of the World!

Re: Jerualem Post Article - Watchdog organization petitions against state funding for talmudei torah

The opening gemara in Masechet Avoda Zarah (2a) says:

In the future to come the Holy One shall bring a Torah scroll and set it in His lap and proclaim, “For each one who occupied himself with it, let him come and receive his reward.” Immediately all the nations of the world will gather and come in pandemonium…

The kingdom of Rome will enter before Him first…The Holy One says to them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?”. They will say before Him, “Master of the World! We installed many markets, we made many bathhouses, we amassed much silver and gold, and all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah.” The Holy One says to them, “Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes. You built marketplaces to situate harlots, bathhouses to adorn yourselves, and the silver and gold is actually Mine...”

The kingdom of Persia enters after them. The Holy One says to them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?”. They will say before Him, “Master of the World! We built many bridges, we conquered many metropolises, we waged many wars, and all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah.” The Holy One says to them, “Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes. You built bridges to collect from them tolls, you conquered cities to conscript the inhabitants and their property for your military campaigns, and, as for wars, I am the One who manipulates wars…"


I have oft-times reflected on this passage and noted that the great super powers of the world will line up to apply for this reward. Edom (the US and Europe) and Persia (Iran). No doubt Russia and China will also submit their applications.

And what about the State of Israel?

Will the State of Israel that tries so hard to be like all other nations, will the State of Israel also line up to ask for the great reward? And what claim will they make?

My guess is that the State of Israel will be right there clamoring away with the rest of the nations. And, as with the rest of the nations, HKBH will ask them, “In what way have you involved yourselves?” And they will say before Him, “Master of the World! We gave military deferments to those who could prove that they are studying Torah. And we made sure that they will not be able to legally work as long as they received these deferments. We gave child allowances for the children of your people - although we halved the child allowances at the same time as bread and milk doubled. And we set aside a special budgetary allotment for Torah schools - to make it look like we are giving them extra money when in truth we are giving them less since we didn't think that they deserve the same basic funding as State schools and so we made sure they didn't get it. And all this we did for no purpose other than to enable [the people of] Israel to busy themselves in Torah..."

And what will happen? Will the Holy One smile and heap infinite reward on the State of Israel for their sincere efforts or, as to the rest of the nations, will He say to them, "Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes..."?

Just don't kick the sukka on the way out.

1 comment:

G said...

Probably true,and yet I can't help but think that it will be the answer given to just about any group that comes forth proclaiming their "occupying themselves" and demanding their reward.

“Fools of the world! All that you did, you did for your own purposes."

Indeed, more is the pity.