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Pledge of Allegiance

Pledge of Allegiance

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A Russian peasant was once bragging to his friends about his allegiance to the czar. “If I could, I would give my life up for the czar! If I had gold and silver and riches, I would give my entire fortune to the czar! Anything I own I would happily donate for the greater cause of the Czar and my country!”

His friend Ivan replied: “And your two chickens that you actually own, would you give those to the czar?!”

It’s all about translating the theoretical into the practical.

A Jew, under threat, would rather give up his “And your two chickens that you actually own, would you give those to the czar?!” life than his connection to the G‑d.1 But the power in a Jew’s willingness to give up his life for G‑d is not only his willingness to die when circumstances actually warrant it, but to use that willingness to arouse his natural, but sometimes dormant, love and awe of G‑d2 in day-to-day living.

It is feasible for every Jew.

The very premise of the book of Tanya is “For this thing is very near to you . . . ,” to have a palpable love and fear of G‑d. When a Jew becomes conscious that there is nothing else but G‑d, and that every mitzvah unites him with that reality3—and every sin disconnects him from it4—it becomes blatantly obvious which choice he wants to make. When he further realizes that from a certain perspective, every prohibition is similar to bowing down to an idol, that activates his spiritual adrenaline and latent love of G‑d, which absolutely won’t tolerate the thought of disconnection and will go to all lengths to prevent the sin.

There is a central “pledge of allegiance” that Jews recite twice daily to serve as a reminder. In the Shema prayer, a Jew says, “You shall love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” This means loving G‑d to the point of self-sacrifice.

The message of the Shema prayer message is as follows: “If I theoretically would be willing to surrender my very life for G‑d’s sake, I can practically choose to get in touch with my soul’s true desire and surrender any temptations that are not in line with G‑d’s Torah.”

And to do it out of love.

Tanya Bit: Reciting the Shema can release my “spiritual adrenaline,” and reveal the love and fear of G‑d that I naturally have.

(Inspired from Chapter 25 of Tanya)

Footnotes
1.
See Tanya, Chapter 19
2.
See Tanya, Chapter 18
3.
See Tanya, Chapter 23
4.
See Tanya, Chapter 24
Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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