24 May 2018

Basic Concepts: "The Yoke of Heaven"

10 Sivan 5778

The ultimate foundation of everything in the world for both Jews and non-Jews is belief in God and submission to His will. No one is truly and completely "free" to do as he pleases. It may appear that way as judgment and retribution are withheld pending a person's possible teshuvah, but come it must when the bill will be presented to every human being for the liberties he stole.
...Belief in G-d is our most crucial tenet, and from it necessarily stems the path a Jew must follow. Our supreme commandment is to know G-d, ....

...To know G-d is to stand in fear, that same trembling we call "the fear of G-d," like a slave before his master, and with that same fierce, splendid love we call "the love of G-d," like a son's love for his parents.

Knowing G-d means knowing the true reality, that G-d is the omnipotent source of wisdom, understanding and truth and that we are therefore duty-bound to submit totally to His yoke and to study and understand and know His ways and thoughts. Such knowledge, and man's submission to G-d's ways and commandments, is man's purpose, and "this is the doctrine Moses placed before the People of Israel" (Deut. 4:44).   [Or Hara'ayon, Chapter One: "The Yoke of Heaven," pp.17-18]
Jews call this submission to God via obedience to His laws as accepting "the yoke of Heaven." It's a pretty phrase, but what does it mean to generations far removed from the agriculture-based environment of our forefathers for whom this meaning was crystal clear?

A yoke is a means of harnessing, guiding and directing one on a productive path and this is what the Torah and mitzvot do for the Jew who submits himself to God's will. Until we have internalized this most basic concept and put it into practice, it is impossible to proceed any further.

Encyclopedia Judaica: Yoke

On a related issue, let me say the following. There are more and more voices today being raised against any requirement for a potential convert to assume the yoke of Heaven.  Rather than a means to elevate oneself in an effort to come closer to HKB"H, "conversion" today is being promoted as a means to join the Israeli enterprise. If one feels some affinity with Jews or the Jewish State, volunteers to serve in the army, we should "let them in."  True converts emulate their forefather Avraham Avinu who did all that he did for the sake of Heaven and closeness to HKB"H.

Make no mistake. What is really being called for in the push to "reform" conversion practices in Israel is State conversion to Zionism, not religious conversion to Judaism. And it is part and parcel of the war on authentic Torah Judaism in this day and time. [See Would Ruth be accepted as a convert today?]

The third act required for conversion, after milah and tevillah, is the bringing of a qorban olah to the Beit Hamikdash.
Olah: Burnt Offering
Perhaps the best-known class of offerings is the burnt offering. It was the oldest and commonest sacrifice, and represented submission to G-d's will. The Hebrew word for burnt offering is olah, from the root Ayin-Lamed-Hei, meaning ascension. It is the same root as the word aliyah, which is used to describe moving to Israel or ascending to the podium to say a blessing over the Torah. An olah is completely burnt on the outer altar; no part of it is eaten by anyone. Because the offering represents complete submission to G-d's will, the entire offering is given to G-d (i.e., it cannot be used after it is burnt). It expresses a desire to commune with G-d, and expiates sins incidentally in the process (because how can you commune with G-d if you are tainted with sins?). An olah could be made from cattle, sheep, goats, or even birds, depending on the offerer's means.  (Source)
These same "reformers" are also spreading the heresy that Am Yisrael is a kingdom of priests intended to serve the nations of the world. Furthermore, they even claim that the technological prowess of the State of Israel is "being a light to the nations." But the lowest of the low is when a so-called religious Jew can say that Israel's winning of the perverted Eurovision song contest is "being a light to the nations." Hashem yerachem! 

Am Yisrael are servants of HKB"H and only HKB"H. When we accept the yoke of Heaven and serve Avinu Malkeinu through obedience to the Torah and observance of mitzvot - this makes us into a light to the nations so that they too, will understand that there is a God above and that they must also submit to His will.