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...The core and foundation of Judaism, the heart and soul of Judaism, our DNA – is Abraham and Sarah. It is the combination of personal righteousness and concern for the larger society that gives Jewish life the unique energy and strength to mend the world.
That is the thrust of the first Jewish mission statement set forth right before the great revelation at Mount Sinai. In a mere four words, G-d outlines the vocation of his children Israel:
“Mamlechet kohanim v'goy kadosh - “A kingdom of priests and a holy people.”
What does a “Kingdom of Priests” mean?
All ancient societies had priests, but they were a minority, the elite of the population. A ‘kingdom of priests’ is one in which all bear the burden; all are charged with responsibility to fix the world. Indeed, five times in the book of Genesis the patriarchs are reminded of that initial charge and prediction: “Through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).
In downtown San Francisco there is an Israeli Kosher falafel stand called Yossi’s Falafel. One day the IRS tax auditor who is going through Yossi’s books says, “Sir, this falafel of yours is some kind of Jewish take out - is that right?”
“Yes it is,” Yossi replies.
“Well as I go through your books, I can understand business expenses such as rent, utilities, ingredients… but please tell me how and why you’ve expensed such costs like 4 flights to Miami, 6 trips to Tel Aviv and 9 trips to India!?”
Yossi puts a big smile on his face and says, “You don’t understand. We deliver!”
Indeed, to be a Jew means to “deliver.” To deliver a message and a blessing to one’s fellow man – not just to those in our immediate surroundings, but to the entire world...