I am a sixteen years old Jewish boy living in Hendon, London with my mother. I recently had a dream and saw a man in Jewish traditional clothes and he made me to read a book call Isaiah, the whole chapter 53. He then ask me if l understand who it’s talking about, and said l don’t understand the whole passage. He later showed me the palms of his hands and feet. l saw that there were big holes in them. He also showed me his back and there were lots of wounds marks, like cane marks. He then said l am the Messiah who was, and is to come. I asked my mother to explain it me but she kept quite and would say nothing. Can you help?
I am not sure where you are coming from or indeed how real your letter is. But to me the dream that you claim to have means one of two things. You’re either smoking too much of something or you have too much time on your hands. You are better off focussing on your school work or, if they’ve already kicked you out for your weird dreams, get a day job.
The Challenge of Today’s Generation
As l regularly read your column and enjoy your witty replies, l also admire your common sense approach on most subjects regarding our religious duties, depending on one’s upbringing by the parent’s in every circumstance. With regard to the young man aged 17 years and his anxieties and concerns in a previous column, l am very pleased to read your common sense approach, “where parents have lost touch with inescapable reality of rapidly changing trends of modernisation and don’t know how to relate to their children the beauty of spiritual sentiment, etc.” .May I, Rabbi, as an elder and a Cohen, relate my dear wife’s experience as an war-time child evacuated to Wales and given religious instruction by a foreign Rabbi who forced his religious knowledge on her which resulted in putting her off religion many years later. However, all ended up well as I married this dear young lady fifty four years ago, and although we have had good and bad times due to a disabled son, I believe the faith in G-d has saved our marriage and believe that all parents, regardless of their Jewish beliefs have a duty to instil the faith the best they can in their offspring. I am not as religious as one would expect a Cohen to be but believe my late parents did their best for their children. The young man of in your column should as you rightly suggest, talk to someone about his overall anxiety and concern. He will appreciate his parents’ good intentions when he grows older and get more experience from synagogue attendance and guidance. I did, and will be eighty years old next birthday. I can see where this young man is coming from, but he should show respect for his parents endeavour to help.
If only more people would embrace your common-sense approach the youth of our modern-day generation would look far better than they do and our Jewish world would be a prettier picture. I would only add that you seem to have a little chip on your shoulder about your Cohen status and possibly not living up to the standard. We all have challenges in life, and irrespective of our status or tribal descent we strive to do the best we can, never rest on our laurels and keep aiming higher. That goes as much for eighty year old men as for seventeen year old youth.
What Comes First – The Mitzvah or the Intent?
I attended a Bar Mitzvah recently where the Rabbi explained that we should appreciate what we are doing before fulfilling a mitzvah and that better not to do something than to do it begrudgingly. Is this correct?
No Rabbi worth his weight in salt can honestly suggest that it is better to wait till you are in the ‘right frame of mind’ or till you ‘better understand’ before fulfilling. You are here to make a difference to your surrounds by the positive deeds you commit irrespective of your ability to understand or feel good about it. Needless to say, one should study and explore more in order to enhance their appreciation of the mitzvah, but never as a prerequisite to its actual fulfilment. It is told of a rich man who was known for his philanthropy. No beggar left his home hungry but still he felt that his charity may be the product of ulterior motives – the good feeling he had in giving. When raising the concern about his ‘true’ motives with his saintly Rabbi he was told: “But the poor man is ‘truly’ satiated!” The point is, it is the end result that counts, regardless of the motif. So, when faced with the choice of doing a mitzvah devoid of feeling or understanding, or not doing it at all, then just do it!