24 September 2011

Happy New Year

This coming Thursday is Rosh HaShanah, the beginning of the New Year 5772 of the Hebrew Calendar. Yes, Jews, although never particularly numerous in comparison to many other peoples, have been around as long as civilization. Religious Jews believe themselves chosen by God to live according to God's commandments. Such special election does not imply that Jews think themselves better than anyone else, or entitled to special considerations from anyone else. It implies that Jews believe themselves to exist to keep God's commandments, and that God's promise to them is that as long as they keep God's commandments, they will continue to exist as a distinct people.

Keeping God's commandments can get complicated, because many of them were written down thousands of years ago in circumstances that no longer exist in this world. Therefore, keeping the commandments has become a matter of interpretation and debate, which has lasted for nearly two thousand years. The Talmud records several centuries of detailed discussion and commentary regarding how one can best live in fulfillment of God's commandments in a changing world.

But one of the commandments is to live in accord with God's commandments joyfully. So, Happy New Year, Shana Tova, everyone!

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