Lessons Learned and Lost

 

G-d knew that the Hebrews leaving Egypt had no clue about how to take care of themselves, just like so much of society today. They didn’t know how to hunt, how to sow, or how to reap. All they knew was that they were really ticked off that they’d bargained for freedom in leaving Egypt, and once they left, they were sure they were going to die. They didn’t even know how to find the basic survival necessities: food and water. And because they felt helpless, they complained and protested that they had ever left Egypt; they assumed they were doomed to die in the desert.

But G-d knew what was happening among the people. He also knew He would need to develop trust with the people; they needed to know that they would have food in the desert. So, He rained down manna for many years, with a number of pre-conditions: the people had to take only what they needed; they couldn’t hoard their share. They had to follow the laws in order to benefit from the gifts He would give.

Gradually, the people learned discipline. Oh yes, they still complained; people whose expectations aren’t met precisely can become demanding and ungrateful. But over time, they came to understand that receiving food, water and meat required them to follow the law, setting limitations, and even working together.

Eventually, the Hebrew people began to take on more and more responsibility. G-d assigned them the task of building a home for Him, where He could “dwell among them.” They learned the value of creating something beautiful; of contributing from their own wealth; of working together as a community. They learned how to trust the power of Divine Wisdom, while also recognizing their own power when at war against an enemy.  All the while, they were following the rules and laws that G-d had given them, with significant lapses, while worshipping Him alone.

When the time was right, when they reached their destination, they learned it was critically important to become self-reliant. They trusted in G-d, while they learned to trust in themselves and each other. They learned they were capable of transforming from tribes into a people. They realized they could provide for their own sustenance by planting fields and harvesting fruit trees. They experienced the joy of being self-reliant and productive human beings.

*     *     *     *    *

In G-d’s great wisdom, He knew that if the Hebrews were spoon-fed indefinitely, He would not have the kind of people He needed to serve him. The people would be spoiled, demanding, and dependent—forever! In which case, if He was looking for partners to continue creation, He would be completely out of luck.

So He found the delicate balance of helping the Hebrews through the early stages of their freedom, through all their missteps and idolatry. He even realized that they were not mature enough to enter the land of Israel, even with His help. So, they wandered in the desert for 40 years. At that point, He helped them build a nation, a tiny but resilient community. And he eventually took away all the extra benefits he’d given them because it was time for them to rely on themselves and each other.

He created laws that were demanding but fair; a work ethic that they understood and practiced; and the opportunity for an intimate relationship with each other and with Him, that would be the basis of their obeying and serving Him, as well as serving the world.

*     *     *     *

The tragedy among Jews is that we were chosen to spread these tenets among all the nations: self-sufficiency, responsibility, accountability, and the Noahide laws. Although many liberal Jews think they’ve met this mandate by lighting Hanukah candles or eating potato latkes, the premise of serving G-d by teaching these tenets to everyone has been lost in the socialist mandate. Perhaps we could call them JINOS: Jews in name only.

When we think of society today and its demands for entitlements and cradle-to-grave care, it’s clear that the people are naïve and misguided; having become secular, the early lessons learned in the desert have been lost. They may have their every need met, and that is satisfying for a while. But in a country that has already experienced wealth, freedom and independence, I wonder if they may eventually realize what they have sacrificed.

Unfortunately, our leaders have no interest in creating a self-sufficient and hardy citizenry. They are only interested in controlling the population to make them compliant. They are not interested in giving people the opportunity to lead rewarding and productive lives. They are not interested in strengthening our country to be one of the most powerful in the world.

Obedience is all they want.

Dependence is what they are striving for.

We only need to follow their rules.

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  1. John Racette Coolidge
    John Racette
    @JohnRacette

    Excellent, Susan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    John Racette (View Comment):

    Excellent, Susan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

    Thanks, @johnracette. Anyone could challenge my own religiosity, but in terms of carrying the attributes I listed to the world, I’m on board.

    • #2
  3. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan,

    This was exceptionally valuable for me as a Christian. It was so carefully and thoroughly thought out and written.

    Thanks.

    Mark

    • #3
  4. Foghorn Coolidge
    Foghorn
    @Dave Rogers

    Susan Quinn:

    When we think of society today and its demands for entitlements and cradle-to-grave care, it’s clear that the people are naïve and misguided; having become secular, the early lessons learned in the desert have been lost. They may have their every need met, and that is satisfying for a while. But in a country that has already experienced wealth, freedom and independence, I wonder if they may eventually realize what they have sacrificed.

    Unfortunately, our leaders have no interest in creating a self-sufficient and hardy citizenry. They are only interested in controlling the population to make them compliant. They are not interested in giving the people the opportunity to lead rewarding and productive lives. They are not interested in strengthening our country to be one of the most powerful in the world.

    Obedience is all they want.

    Dependence is what they are striving for.

    We only need to follow their rules.

     

    For those of us following a religious law so much of what we see harming our society today could be prevented by sticking to what we believe. Unfortunately the culture today seems to think our beliefs are outdated & racist, sexist, (insert the latest ad hominem label). Funny thing is that those who accuse me of say, hating gays or some other such nonsense because I’m Roman Catholic, have no idea what I truly believe or really know/understand what my faith teaches. 

    Then they accuse me of wanting to tell them how to live when in reality I’m perfectly fine with them living anyway they want to as long as they reciprocate. 

    I’ll live according to my beliefs and you live according to yours and let’s just leave each other alone. You want to protest, self identify as something other than that which G-d made you or anything else that is in vogue today. Fine by me as long as you don’t try forcing me to play along.

    Then we each reap what we sow. 

    • #4
  5. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn: The tragedy among Jews is that we were chosen to spread these tenets among all the nations: self-sufficiency, responsibility, accountability and the Noahide laws.

    Teaching by example didn’t take with everyone, unfortunately.

    Although many liberal Jews think they’ve met this mandate by lighting Hanukah candles or eating potato latkes, the premise of serving G-d by teaching these tenets to everyone has been lost in the socialist mandate. Perhaps we could call them JINOS: Jews in name only.

    gah! Note to self: never deploy JINO! I do not need the conflagration that would result.

     

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan,

    This was a exceptionally valuable for me as a Christian. It was so carefully and thoroughly thought out and written.

    Thanks.

    Mark

    Oh, bless you, Mark! Yes, I think it speaks to and for all of us who believe in G-d. I’m glad you see it that way. Thanks.

    • #6
  7. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Percival (View Comment):
    gah! Note to self: never deploy JINO! I do not need the conflagration that would result.

    Why do you think there would be a conflagration?  Oh, do you mean like with…you know,  _INO? And _____ist?

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Foghorn (View Comment):
    Then they accuse me of wanting to tell them how to live when in reality I’m perfectly fine with them living anyway they want to as long as they reciprocate. 

    Liberal Jews are often convinced that devout Christians are determined to convert them. It’s so sad. Over and over again my Christian friends have told me that they would so appreciate my accepting Jesus as my savior, and also take me just as I am. I think that must just be too complicated for the average Lefty Jew. Can’t a person want you to accept a belief without forcing you to join up. This must be transference on the part of the Leftist Jew. Thanks, @foghorn.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):
    gah! Note to self: never deploy JINO! I do not need the conflagration that would result.

    Bring it on! Hey, I’m no elitist; my Jewish practice is sadly lacking. But I even know liberal Rabbis who don’t believe in G-d! Seriously! So I’m not going to argue with them. I don’t think we have anything to talk about. But thanks for the cautionary words, @percival.

    Edit: I’m only saying that politically we probably have nothing to say to each other. But that’s true of any Leftist. . .

    • #9
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    gah! Note to self: never deploy JINO! I do not need the conflagration that would result.

    Bring it on! Hey, I’m no elitist; my Jewish practice is sadly lacking. But I even know liberal Rabbis who don’t believe in G-d! Seriously! So I’m not going to argue with them. I don’t think we have anything to talk about. But thanks for the cautionary words, @ percival.

    No, no, no! I’m thinking of an old dear friend for whom the appellation might be all too on the nose.

    • #10
  11. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Percival (View Comment):
    No, no, no! I’m thinking of an old dear friend for whom the appellation might be all too on the nose.

    Ah, OK got it.

    • #11
  12. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn: They learned how to trust the power of Divine Wisdom, while also recognizing their own power when at war against an enemy. 

    Great post, @susanquinn.  I couldn’t help smiling a bit at the opening paragraphs, particularly when I came to the above sentence, because I was reminded of one of my mother’s favorite World War II songs, a verse of which went like this: 

    Praise the Lord, were on a mighty mission
    All aboard we ain’t a-goin’ fishing
    Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition
    And we’ll all stay free.

    It’s a sentiment that’s all too rare these days:  Don’t wait around for someone to take care of it you.  Trust in the Lord.  Pull your weight, and do your bit.

     

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: They learned how to trust the power of Divine Wisdom, while also recognizing their own power when at war against an enemy.

    Great post, @ susanquinn. I couldn’t help smiling a bit at the opening paragraphs, particularly when I came to the above sentence, because I was reminded of one of my mother’s favorite World War II songs, a verse of which went like this:

    Praise the Lord, were on a mighty mission
    All aboard we ain’t a-goin’ fishing
    Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition
    And we’ll all stay free.

    It’s a sentiment that’s all too rare these days: Don’t wait around for someone to take care of it you. Trust in the Lord. Pull your weight, and do your bit.

     

    Love it, @she! So true that it is rare, and we can only hope to have it emerge again in the future!

    • #13
  14. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    It’s so much easier to make a desert than a garden. And it’s so much easier to get people to settle for a desert than do the hard work it takes to have a garden.

    • #14
  15. jonb60173 Member
    jonb60173
    @jonb60173

    I don’t know why, but it seems that’s man’s reset button is to look to others to care of him.  Also, Christ said “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.”  so Christians feel a real need to convert non-Christian Jews.

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    jonb60173 (View Comment):

    I don’t know why, but it seems that’s man’s reset button is to look to others to care of him. Also, Christ said “You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” so Christians feel a real need to convert non-Christian Jews.

    I have no problem with that need, @jonb60173, as long as it’s not forced on me. I’ve even had people tell me that they worry for my soul; I feel that is different than saying I will go to hell if I don’t convert. In a sense, I feel their concern is their problem–until they try to make it mine. I’m also not distressed at their belief; I have faith in G-d, and from a Jewish perspective, if I try to live an honorable life, serve others and serve G-d, it will all work out.

    • #16
  17. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Someone posted a really good joke: The flood waters were rising fast and the man on his roof held fast. A boat came by and they said we’ll save you  – climb down! He said no – God will save me. Then another boat came by and they hollered up to the man to stay steady – help is on the way!  He said no again – God will save me!  Then a rescue helicopter hovered over him, lowering a ladder – he waived them away yelling God will save me!  He drowned and when he made it to heaven, he asked God why didn’t you save me??!! And God answered, “I sent two boats and a helicopter – what more did you want from me?”

    Sometimes we can’t see God’s intervention and answers to our prayers when they’re right in front of us, but I’ve learned we have to do our part (and that’s where it gets hard sometimes)…..

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    Sometimes we can’t see God’s intervention and answers to our prayers when they’re right in front of us, but I’ve learned we have to do our part (and that’s where it gets hard sometimes)…..

    I love that story, FSC. And not only do we have to do our part, but it is helpful for our own wellbeing to note after the fact when G-d might have been present–or active. I just got back from a walk; it’s getting hot so early here, but it’s hard for me to get out earlier. But I was lucky that there was overcast part of the way, shaded areas and a slight breeze. Intervention? Pure luck? Hard to say, but you can tell my preference.

    • #18
  19. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    This is also interesting in relation to Old Bathos’ post regarding a conservative answer to homelessness

    • #19
  20. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I have no problem with that need, @jonb60173, as long as it’s not forced on me.

    Susan,

    I have to object to your understanding of Christianity.  No one has ever wanted to force Christianity on anyone, and no one ever will. You are confusing Christianity with Islam.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I have no problem with that need, @ jonb60173, as long as it’s not forced on me.

    Susan,

    I have to object to your understanding of Christianity. No one has ever wanted to force Christianity on anyone, and no one ever will. You are confusing Christianity with Islam.

    We’ve talked about this before, and on reflection, you’re probably right. I apologize.

    • #21
  22. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I have no problem with that need, @ jonb60173, as long as it’s not forced on me.

    Susan,

    I have to object to your understanding of Christianity. No one has ever wanted to force Christianity on anyone, and no one ever will. You are confusing Christianity with Islam.

    We’ve talked about this before, and on reflection, you’re probably right. I apologize.

    Whether you are inclined to agree or disagree, no apology is needed.

    If you had to apologize, then I would have to apologize for my own unintentional error:

    I wrote

    You are confusing Christianity with Islam.

    when I meant 

    You are confusing Christianity with religions, like Islam, that are based on salvation by works, not faith.

    Some Muslims could even claim that that is not valid, that the belief that performing prescribed practices like praying 5 times daily, making the hajj if able, etc., are sufficient for salvation is only accepted by other Muslim factions, not their own.

    • #22
  23. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Percival (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    gah! Note to self: never deploy JINO! I do not need the conflagration that would result.

    Bring it on! Hey, I’m no elitist; my Jewish practice is sadly lacking. But I even know liberal Rabbis who don’t believe in G-d! Seriously! So I’m not going to argue with them. I don’t think we have anything to talk about. But thanks for the cautionary words, @ percival.

    No, no, no! I’m thinking of an old dear friend for whom the appellation might be all too on the nose.

    We have a term, tinok shenishba, that may not be better appreciated as it describes them as the ignorant children that they are.  Many irreligious people think that the more religious are contemptuous or judgmental of them, but the reality is that the more religious, at least among the Torah observant Jews I know, see the less as people who sadly missed out on a great opportunity to learn in childhood and remain ignorant adults.  Having grown up in a secular home and coming to observance in adulthood, I see that I missed out on something sublimely wonderful while, instead, experiencing the worst of the 60s-80s mores.  I suspect that Christians look at Jews that way, too, but after too many centuries, nay, millennia of forced conversions and murder, I’m less sanguine than Susan is about those who wish I would convert.  Funny, Jews brought the world the message of the one true God, asking only that people recognize Him and live by 7 laws, while we, meanwhile, collectively observe 613.  We didn’t and don’t ask anyone to convert (though, of course, it’s permitted), nonetheless all of the Abrahamic off-shoots look back at us and say…”If only the Jews would convert to my way of their worship.”  It would be funny, were it not so tragic.

    Interesting thing I found when I went for the Noahide laws link.  Federal Register!  Under Clinton, no less.  I also found a bunch of really nasty, anti-Semitic stuff.  Surprise, surprise.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    You are confusing Christianity with religions, like Islam, that are based on salvation by works, not faith.

    I got that, Mark. The history between Christians and Jews is not always notable. But when I think about it, Christians are always happy to explain their beliefs but they are not overbearing. And I want to have that opportunity.

    I’ve not heard the works/faith argument for Islam. I’ve always had the impression that faith was most important.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Caryn (View Comment):
    I suspect that Christians look at Jews that way, too, but after too many centuries, nay, millennia of forced conversions and murder, I’m less sanguine than Susan is about those who wish I would convert. 

    As I said to Mark in an earlier comment, @caryn, I have to say quite honestly that in my experience, those activities are events of the past. And of course, the specter of anti-Semitism lingers. I’m reading a book about the Warburg family, and it is tragic to watch them struggle with allegiance between a country that often did not appreciate them, and the Jewish community about which they were ambivalent.

    • #25
  26. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I have no problem with that need, @ jonb60173, as long as it’s not forced on me.

    Susan,

    I have to object to your understanding of Christianity. No one has ever wanted to force Christianity on anyone, and no one ever will. You are confusing Christianity with Islam.

    Mark, this is just plain wrong.  Are you unaware of the forced expulsion (convert, die, or leave) of Jews from Spain?  That’s the other event that occurred in 1492.  It was followed by the Inquisition, where those Jews who converted were tortured and spied upon to determine whether they weren’t remaining Jews in secret.  Earlier than that, many Jews died by the swords of the Crusaders on their way across Europe to “liberate” Jerusalem.  Before the Holocaust, Eastern Europe was a field of death for Jews from pogrom after pogrom.  Pagans were also forcibly converted to Christianity, particularly in Latin America.  Christianity in America had from the beginning and has a very different character than that of Europe, but the history can not be denied.

    • #26
  27. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    You are confusing Christianity with religions, like Islam, that are based on salvation by works, not faith.

    I got that, Mark. The history between Christians and Jews is not always notable. But when I think about it, Christians are always happy to explain their beliefs but they are not overbearing. And I want to have that opportunity.

    I’ve not heard the works/faith argument for Islam. I’ve always had the impression that faith was most important.

    I had the same impression of Islam as you, Susan.  My coworker is a devout Muslim and all he seems to care about is belief in Allah and that Mohammed as the final prophet (and a whole lot about the hereafter).  The five pillars are as far into “works” as they get.  Judaism, on the other hand, is very much a works over faith religion.  I wouldn’t quite say that faith is irrelevant, but doing the right thing is considered much, much more important than believing.  Practically speaking, that works well in two ways: it’s really hard to do, especially hard things, without belief, so they tend to go together, but at the same time, doing is a good way to get through or past times that test faith.  In fact, I think you were even talking a little bit that way at the beginning of your treatment when it was more difficult than expected.  Am I remembering correctly?

    • #27