Why have Jews survived through the ages while other civilizations and religions have come and gone?


Truly, by all accounts the Jews should have long faded into their place on the bookshelf of history, like all other once-great nations.

The fact that we haven't is nothing short of an absolute miracle. Rabbenu Bachaye, thirteenth century sage and biblical commentator, wrote that if you'd like to see a real, live miracle today (and this was almost a millennium ago), then take a look at any Jew. Is he supposed to still be here? Shouldn't he have disappeared? A miracle indeed.

The real questions are why and how?

How is simple. G‑d did it and continues to do it. Who else would we suspect of performing miracles but He?

As for why, a bit of background: Some 3,500 years ago, our forefather Abraham taught a confused, rootless world about the One G‑d, and His expectations of man. At one point in his life (see Genesis 15), when he asked G‑d: "How will I know that I will inherit the Land of Israel?", G‑d responded by cementing His eternal relationship with Abraham and his descendants. In this Covenant, G‑d promised to always protect us, and in return we will be His agents down here to spread absolute morality, kindness and justice, G‑dliness, sanctity of life and other values that originated with Abraham and by now have found acceptance by most civilizations around the world. You could say we are G‑d's PR office.

Now, you may ask: What about all the times when Jews didn't fulfill their end of the deal? Does G‑d get selective? Does He keep score?

The answer is that the very definition of a covenant is that it's the type of deal that implies an absolute commitment, irrelevant of the circumstances involving the other partner to the covenant. So over the years when we tried to forget G‑d, He didn't forget us, and likewise there were times when we felt that He forgot us, yet we didn't forget Him. (In truth, deep inside neither of us ever forgot the other. For whatever reasons, sometimes it may seem to be the case, but that's only superficial and non-essential).

But at the end of the day, like it or not, G‑d is our G‑d and we are His children, and it will be that way for all time. It's our job to make sure that we can say that happily, not begrudgingly and with good work behind us to back up our part of the deal.

So now a question for you (and me), if I may. Is there something we can be doing so that everyone in our home and vicinity knows this and lives it, to their own individual capacity? The vehicle which we Jews have used for all time to spread the knowledge of what is good, right and holy has been our Torah and its mitzvot. Perhaps now would be a good time to "pump it up" a bit.

Rabbi Moshe Goldman for