8 Tishrei 5781 / Saturday, September 26, 2020 | Torah Reading: Ha'azinu
 
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A Can of Paint    

A Can of Paint



Imagine that the Jewish People are a can of paint and the rest of the world is an ocean. If you drop an open can into the water, the paint inevitably disappears…

 



When one repents, does teshuva, and becomes a ‘new person’, it is best not to talk about the past. Putting old and negative vibes into the atmosphere is not good for the universe and especially not conducive to purifying one’s soul. The worst thing we can do for ourselves is to remind the accusing angels of the sins we chalked up many years ago, giving them so much more ammunition to use against us in the Heavenly Courts, come Judgment Day.

On the other hand, if one has already confessed these past sins to HaShem as required through daily Hitbodedut (personal prayer), and strives to do better,  Double Jeopardy kicks in. Once we judge ourselves, we have set up our own personal immunity. Additionally, if we use the lessons learned from past mistakes to help others avoid the same pitfalls we found ourselves in, it will make the yetzer hora (evil inclination) so confused, he will run off to find someone else to pursue.  With this in mind, I will share a bit of my past.
 
I grew up in a small town where I was the only Jewish girl in my grade. There were so few Jewish families, that the community hired someone (a chazzan) once a year to conduct services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Needless to say, most of my friends were either Catholic or Protestant. As a normal teenager, I refused to sit home waiting for a nice Jewish boy to fall out of the sky, and began dating non-Jews. After a few short relationships, and to my parents’ dismay, I became serious with my boyfriend of almost 3 years. I knew they would be upset, but we discussed marriage anyway. They were on my case constantly, telling me it was a mistake to marry out of our Faith. But my response was always the same; if someone is a good person, why does it matter about religion? Neither of us was religious, so we agreed that I could keep my customs and he would keep his. I thought, any kids we may produce would have the best of both worlds. (How could I have been so naïve?). 
 
I give my Mom and Dad a lot of credit for their strategy since, despite the fact that I was aware of their objections, they did not push too hard. When the time was right, HaShem gave them their break. My boyfriend was transferred up north with his job, and I was in first-year University some hours away. My Mom took the opportunity of our separation to write him a letter and explain why we should split up permanently. She wrote that by entering into a marriage together, I would be ostracized by the Jewish People. When I found, out I was furious! He responded instantly that he wouldn’t throw away 3 years of his life, so I thought the last laugh was on her. But was it? That letter ate away at my boyfriend until our relationship fell apart not long afterward. I blamed my Mom, and if the truth be told, it probably was her doing that we broke up. Baruch HaShem! In retrospect I can see that what she did saved my life.
 
Are you are asking yourself, what could be so wrong that I couldn’t have married my high school sweetheart? Doesn’t love conquer all, religious differences notwithstanding? Wrong. It’s not that we should dislike non-Jews. On the contrary, we should love all mankind as we are all G-d’s creations. In fact, I am still in touch with some of my old high school friends; they are sincere, honest and upright people. But a line must be drawn between friendship and family, even if that means not socializing at all. By imposing barriers, socializing cannot become more than that as so easily happens. Just as the Rabbis have created a ‘fence’ around the Halachot (laws) of Shabbat by stipulating certain actions as muktzeh (separated or set aside), we can protect ourselves from possible intermarriage by keeping our distance in the first place. 
 
Intermarriage today is at an all-time high. What family hasn’t been touched by this widespread occurrence? The best prevention is guarding our sacred Covenant, by observing the Torah strictly and faithfully, thereby ensuring that our children will have less chance of falling into this modern-day trap so cleverly set by the yetzer hora.
 
If you are pragmatic and still question why intermarriage between two intelligent, educated people is a problem, consider this. The laws of Kashrut say that 60:1 is the proportion of kosher to non-kosher ingredients which can render a mixture kosher. This means, if we (accidentally) drop milk into a bowl of chicken soup, if the milk is 1/60 of the total amount, it is as if it doesn’t exist.  We can utilize this concept in relation to the following analogy; imagine that the Jewish People are represented by a bucket of red paint and the rest of the world is an ocean of water. If the bucket is sealed, the paint will be preserved. But, if the paint spills out, it will inevitably disappear. 
 
You can splash drop after drop of red paint into the ocean until the whole can of paint is gone, but you will never be able to retain the red color as it will be swallowed up in the ocean. This is what is happening to our People whose numbers have been greatly diminished through intermarriage and assimilation.
 
The can – which is the container and preserver of the paint – is our holy Torah. Within the “container”, the Jewish people are preserved forever. Baruch HaShem, thank G-d, we still have many cans of red paint left – hermetically sealed – so that Judaism and its beauty aren’t spilled and wasted.
  
Another crucial reason that cannot be ignored is the prime goal of life itself, realizing what our true purpose is here in this world. Understanding and internalizing that we are here for no other reasons other than to correct our souls, to strive to be closer to our Creator and to fulfill His will, can leave us with only one conclusion; we cannot accomplish any of those obligations while in a matrimonial relationship with someone outside the scope of Judaism. Jewish thought teaches that men and women are brought into the world as halves of a whole until they each find and marry their soul mate. Only through the marriage ceremony itself, do they become one spiritual being. This is not possible without HaShem sanctifying the union between two Jewish souls.
 
Without a Chuppah, the uniting of two Jewish neshamas (souls) under Jewish Law, G-d will not be a partner in the marriage and you will be left to fend for yourselves. If we want our marriage to succeed, we need HaShem’s blessings and this is simply not possible if one partner is not Jewish.  On a practical level, marriage is difficult enough without the added problems of intermarriage. Let the divorce statistics speak for themselves.
 
Kids? That in itself is reason to reconsider. Do you really want to bring children into the world knowing that they are going to be torn apart either by conflicting ideologies or divorce proceedings? I will leave it at that. It’s never too late to make changes, it just takes courage. Speak to a reliable Rabbi and HaShem will surely pave the way.




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