Pro-Israel students on US campus 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy JAFI)
Israeli students, even those who attend secular public schools, are fortunate to
have Bible classes throughout their education as part of their core curriculum.
However, young students often find these lessons a challenge to their secular
views on such issues as gender equality, vengeance, or science. It can also
bewilder their imagination. I still recall my teacher’s attempts to explain the
precise vocation of that righteous woman Rahab, the harlot, or what had happened
between Amnon and his sister Tamar.Even more puzzling was our teacher’s
attempt to explain to us seventh-graders this verse from the Torah portion
Va’etchanan, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Little did I know that
this very verse was such a pivotal idea for our Jewish philosophers from
Maimonides to Yeshayahu Leibowitz in making the distinction between the worship
of God “for its own sake” (lishma) or “not for its own sake.” That is to fulfill
God’s Torah in order to avoid punishments and gain rewards, as against following
the commandments as being good in and of itself.
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