Last week I wrote about the opportunity I had to lead a Torah study group. The correspondent from “J” Weekly, who attended the class, called me an amateur Torah scholar. My knowledge of the Torah came from years of study. Some years ago, I even taught a Torah class to Jewish high school students. This was an unusual experience in the sense that I do not have a formal religious education, and my knowledge came from self-study, which was fueled by my perpetual curiosity and thirst for knowledge. There are many books and audio programs available, and I personally have a substantial library. But years ago, I also discovered some courses taught by the professors affiliated with “The Teaching Company”. I used to buy them on tape, but now I borrow them from the San Francisco Public Library. I’ve learned about many different subjects and especially about various religious traditions. My drive is to understand what motivates people and how specific beliefs from the past affect who we are now. The latest course that I just finished listening to while driving was, “Between Cross and Crescent: Jewish Civilization from Muhammad to Spinoza”, taught by David B. Ruderman from the University of Pennsylvania. It covers one thousand years and describes how Judaism evolved and was preserved in spite of constant expulsion and relocation from one country to another. The course explains how their interaction with others, their traditions, beliefs and religions have affected the Jews as well as the people they interacted with.
Some might ask, who cares? We live in today’s world, in the most powerful country in the world, where Jews are not discriminated or excluded. Anti-Semitism started to decline in the United States only after the 1950s. Can it return, after all Jews living among Christians and Muslims for many years without conflicts in different countries? In Europe, anti-Semitism is on the rise fueled by anti-Israeli propaganda financed by the Arab countries and Iran and supported by the liberals, who camouflage their anti-Semitism by anti-Israelism.
For me, learning from the past, understanding other people and their history helps me be optimistic. After all, we all want the same – peace of mind and love.
When I read the Essence of Jesus’ Message on quota.com, I learned that “His laws and obeying them are defined as love or define love”. I am not surprised, since he was Jewish and his teachings were based on the Torah where it is written, “but you must love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19-18). The same message appears in the New Testament – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as well (Luke 10:28).
P.S. If you have feel you need more love in your life, get yourself a puppy, and buy my photo-story book “42 Encounters with Dog Lovers”, where you will see our puppy Max and his expression of love for his other four-legged best friends. You can order it at encounterspublishing.com or at amazon.com. These four images show the true manifestation of love among humans and their best friends.
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