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    Birthright – Tol’dot

    The name Birthright has a contemporary significance.

    The Birthright Program is taking hundreds of young Jews every year to enable them to experience Israel and its people and many of the ideas and values which go with being Jewish.

    It is a wonderful project and is already having a constructive effect on Jewish life in the Diaspora.

    Presumably someone in Israel will realise before long that Israelis too can benefit from a closer acquaintance with their Jewish birthright.

    The sidra speaks of Esau as despising his birthright but our problem today is not people who despise their Jewish heritage but those who are basically unaware of its richness, colour and inspiration.

    Whose fault is it? Can it be the people who do not know? What right have we to blame anyone who has never been taught? Can the fault lie with those who could and should have taught but failed in their responsibility? Possibly, but who are they?

    Some would say that the blame lies with the tzaddik in peltz, “the pious person with the fur coat” – an allusion to the person who says, “I’m warm. I have a coat. If you are cold, it’s not my problem!”

    Others suggest that outreach work requires special skills and some people simply cannot cope with the responsibility.

    All very true, but there is a further category who cannot be absolved from blame, those parents who do not so much despise their birthright as give their children such a materialistic perception of life that any idealism they might have had is squashed and frustrated.

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