V'ne'emar, and it is written, in Zechariah 14:9:
V'haya Adnai l'Melekh al-kol-ha-aretz; Bayom hahu y'hiyeh Adnai Echad, ush'mo Echad
And Adnai shall reign over all the earth; and on that day Adnai shall be One and Gd's name shall be One.
Such important and powerful words are these that they were incorporated into all Jewish worship services. They encapsulate the very essence of Jewish messianic hope.
While there is little doubt that, in their context with the rest of Zechariah's oracles and prophecies, the words express a hope for a future day to come, I'd like to examine these words in a present context, in a sense of bayom hazeh, on this day. For I believe we must live each day as if it is "the day" on which Gd is One and Gd's name is One, and Gd rules over the whole earth. And that is the intent with which I pray these words.
To live otherwise, to live for a distant hope of a time yet unrealized may be satisfying for some, but it leaves me wanting. Oh, I do not dismiss eschatological scenarios, messianic hopes, et al. I do, indeed, hope and pray for a time when wars shall cease and error be no more.
Yet, if I do not live as if Gd rules over the whole world today, and that Gd is One today, it gives me permission to look upon those who are not of my faith as wholly other and alien. It allows me to remain complacent, believing that, when the end of days comes, all will be revealed and my Jewish faith will have been "proven" to be the true faith. I can smile, be smug, and smirk secretly, inside, thinking myself superior, knowing we will "win out" in the end. A dangerously teleological viewpoint.
I don't want to play this "my religion is better than your religion" game. I don't want to wait around for Gog and Magog. I don't want to wait for bayom hahu "when there shall be no light, only cold and frost." (Zech 14:6) "an endless day--known only to Gd--neither day nor night, and at evening it shall be light." (Zech 14:7) I don't want to wait for the living waters (Zech 14:8) to go forth from Zion, assuring Gd's sovereignty over all the world. I don't want to compare our Jewish eschatologies with those from the New Testament or the Koran, to learn to simply tolerate Christianity and Islam as aberrations that, in the end, will be proved wrong (or right.)
Today, and everyday, is that day when Gd is One and Gd's name is One. Knowing this, I can look upon all my fellow human beings as part of Gd's One-ness. I want to follow Gd's commandments, and be a part of Gd's covenant with the Jewish people, not because I believe with perfect faith that one day Moshiach will come and Judaism will become the religion of the whole world, but because I believe that Judaism holds the key for me to be a good person in the here and now, in all that I do and say.
Future hope permits present pessimism. It permits us to perhaps do a little bit less, knowing that things will improve, with Gd's help "on that day yet to come." Gd needs our help just as much, if not more so, right now.
"A day will dawn in the time to come, a day when Gd's name shall be One. All war and suffering shall be through. When that day comes, Bayom Hahu..." wrote Pete Tobias and Lisa Silverstein Zur. Let's make that day today and everyday. Bayom Hazeh.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
©2003 by Adrian A. Durlester
Other musings on this parasha:
Sukkot 5763--Sukkot Time Travel
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