Thursday, January 24, 2019

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I had two recent encounters that illustrated to me that “general, non-practicing Jews” want to be affiliated and identified with the Orthodox. They are proud of and want to be a part of what we stand for.

In these parshiot, such a theme has relevance, for God performed the miracles and all happenings to really affect His “own” people. God wants us to know that we are the chosen ones and all of His interventions are for his dedicated flock.

My first encounter was at a rest stop on the way to Baltimore, Maryland. At a general store, I purchased a Coke and ice cream, and a tall, elderly grey haired older gentleman remarked to me something to the effect that he hoped what I was eating was stamped kosher. After we confirmed the same, he offered me a joke about a rabbi who got his black coffee at a certain place. It was an innocent encounter, but a friendly one. He wanted to make sure the Orthodox were in line and he was proud that the Orthodox institution was in place, because in essence it brought comfort to his life. He might never practice, but he adored the Orthodox and if he really ever had an ultimate choice of who to join, he would likely be on our side.

My second encounter took place one evening upon checking in at a hotel in Manhattan. The manager peered his head out from the side of the check-in desk and said I could still catch a maariv somewhere in the city and started to Google synagogues nearby. He clearly wasn’t observant but was proud that he could offer assistance to an Orthodox individual.

My argument is not that these people will likely soon practice the religion, but it does show that many of the “general” Jews out there are comforted by the Orthodox. This should give us a warm feeling towards our practice and what it stands for. The Orthodox are people who work on themselves and stand for high ideals. How wonderful that this way of life is cherished by so many of our brethren traveling amidst us.

Steven Genack