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    The dowry, please

    Before the Ten Commandments were given, God made an agreement with the people of Israel.

    Vih’yitem li s’gulah mikkol ha’ammim, He said: “You will be My special people out of all the nations” (Ex. 19:5).

    Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, in one of his regular conversations with God, reminded the Almighty of His promise.

    Ribbono shel olam,” he said, “Master of the Universe, You pledged Yourself to us when we stood at Mount Sinai as if it were a marriage. But with a marriage comes a dowry.

    “You, God, can certainly afford it. Does not the prophet say, Li hakessef v’li hazahav amar HaShem tz’va’ot – ‘Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold, says the Lord of Hosts’ (Hag. 2:8)?

    “If so, where is our dowry?”

    Levi Yitzchak was a great ohev yisra’el, a great lover of his people. He always fought for Israel with God.

    If he wanted the Almighty to hand over the dowry, it was not because he thought money could solve problems. It was because the Jewish people had suffered so much for God that they deserved a comfortable life.

    The truth is, however, said Levi Yitzchak, that even without the dowry we are very happy with our shidduch.

    Nothing would persuade us to abandon God, no matter how difficult it is to maintain our faith. Dowry or no dowry, we are not giving up on God. Even if it costs us our life, nothing will stop us believing in Him.

    Yes, from time to time there are Jews who have no passion for their Judaism, Jews who want out, Jews who want to be non-Jewish Jews. But it does not make their lives happier, and the sporadic flight from Jewish identity never lasts for ever.

    In time almost every Jew says, “I can never be anything but a Jew”. In time, the descendants of those who tried to opt out of Judaism seek to come back.

    It often happens that people who say they want to convert to Judaism reveal or indeed discover that they had some Jewish background and they feel as if they are coming home.

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