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Monday, November 30, 2015

Rabbi Daniel Mechanic Discusses the "Basics of Our Religion" With Junior Girls

On Tuesday, November 10th, the Yeshivah of Flatbush junior girls had the privilege to hear Rabbi Daniel Mechanic speak about what he calls “the basics of our religion." He presented a scenario to illustrate the importance of knowing the basics; sitting on a plane to Israel as the Orthodox Jewish woman seated next to a less religious, non-observant Jewish woman of the same age. Before the plane takes off, the two women are chatting and suddenly the less religious girl cuts off and exclaims “I need you to answer this question! The question I’ve been waiting to ask someone!” And she asks you, “So why do you do it? Why do you do all of it, the praying, the fasting, tzniut, all the mitzvot—why do you do it?”

Why do we do mitzvot? The immediate answer is, “Because that’s the way I was raised.” Rabbi Mecahnic approached the question from the different angel of “Well, why not?” Rabbi Mecahnic explained that all other religions in the world see themselves as the chosen nation and everyone else is wrong. Jews also see themselves as the chosen nation, but do not impose their religion on others. As long as these non-Jews abide by the Seven Mitzvot Bnei Noach they are fulfilling their obligation.

Additionally, while all other religions originated between one man talking to God, like Muhammad, Jesus, or the Buddha—Judaism doesn’t ask us to entrust our full faith and support into one individual. In Judaism rather Hashem is explicitly written to have spoken to the entire nation at Har Sinai. Rabbi Mechanic pointed out that our religion is millions of people following millions of witnesses. Other religions are billions of people following one man’s claim. If Hashem indeed left us, why did He not tell us? If Hashem wanted to give another Torah and start a new religion, why didn’t He make another Har Sinai event? Why didn’t these other religions just write in their books that Hashem appeared to a group of people? The answer is that it all falls on one man. We can’t put our entire life in the heads of one man. Our ancestors conversed with God, and therefore we dedicate our lives to honor this connection. The Pesach seder is the best proof that our religion is a mesorah that has been passed down since Moshe Rabeinu without any breaks in the chain. It is our obligation to keep this chain going.
~Esther Levy, Class of 2017