A story is told of Natan Sharansky who endured many years of Soviet imprisonment by finding refuge within The Book of Psalms from which he overcame his fear of death at the hands of his jailers.
“Ukshartem leos al yadecha/Bind them for a sign upon thy hand," Hashem commands the Jew to submit to a relationship with G-d, that will free him existentially to serve Hashem and Hashem only. I don’t mean like one of the miserable wretches, without medication, whom you see meandering around downtown wearing a double-sided sign board.
Many have been the instances of Kiddush Hashem (literally, sanctification of the name of G-d; often manifest as selfless acts of unfathomable courage) when Jews, acting within the interstices of one moment and the next, have inspired those in need of inspiration.
“I shall fear no evil for Thou art with me.” Psalm 23
Living as His servant requires belief in The One G-d Who was, is and and will continue to be the creator and sustainer of all. Binding ourselves to Him does not mean we surrender rational thought and action to a tyrannical master.
I was a defendant in a minor traffic court case several weeks ago. The judge, having heard from both complaintant and defendant, dismissed two of three violations with which I had been charged. My sentence? Eight hours of community service of my own choosing, fully documented and presented to him in court in four weeks. More than ample time, right?
Determined to not procrastinate, I completed my community service and documented it. When a friend wondered why I seemed to have spent so much time on its preparation,
I asked whether he thought it incumbent upon a Jew to abide by the law of the land in which he resides.
We often liken the manner of our conduct in Jewish prayer to that of standing before an earthly king who, centuries ago, served as judge and jury. Dressed appropriately, we stand before him deferentially but not slavishly.
So, in like manner, do we stand before a judge, whether in traffic court or The Supreme Court.
Book Covers ...
can be tricky, perhaps even misleading.
They can hide or pleasantly surprise, creating a dichotomy-not unlike the one between being Jewish and being a Jew.
Of internal differences there will always be. It is easy to lose sight of achdus (unity) when you are absolutely correct.