Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thoughts About the Book Of Jonah, Assyria And Redemption

I finished learning the Book of Jonah on Shabbos. I was learning it, usingthe Meam Loez commentary.  It resonates with me a lot. I was learning it as part of my project to learn the entire Prophets and Writings in the order they appear in Tanach. I have forgotten a lot more than I remember, but it has really deepened my appreciation of the Prophets, and exposed me to in depth commentaries from Jewish sources.

What resonates with me personally about Jonah is the fact that he was sent to a non Jewish nation. As a convert who maintains warm relations with the family I grew up with, it is comforting to see that a prophet was sent to a non Jewish nation. The idea that everyone and everything has a purpose and a potential is a powerful message.

What I admired about Jonah was his love for the Jewish people. He was afraid that if the city of Nineveh repented that it would show the 10 tribes of the Kingdom of Israel in a bad light and magnify their punishment. For that reason he fled. It reminded me of Moshe telling G-d to erase him from the Torah if he destroyed the Jewish people. If Jonah sinned in fleeing from his prophetic mission, there was a lot of goodness in his transgression. What was even more admirable about Jonah was the fact that he put his heart and soul into his mission once he left the belly of the fish.

It is wearisome reading some of the terrible prophecies in the books preceding Jonah when the promises of rebirth and restoration seem not to have been fulfilled. G-d has fixed the length of the exile at nigh on 2000 years and the average human lifespan at well under 100 years. It is not like the 40 days that the Jewish people waited for Moshe to come down from Mount Sinai. It's been centuries upon centuries. If so many of us have despaired during the long exile it makes rational sense.

The Assyrian people still exist today and proudly call the city of Mosul by its original name of Nineveh. I wish them well in their yearning for their own homeland. May we soon be neighbours in a peaceful Middle East with a Bet Hamikdash fully functioning in its proper location.


This is the song of the Assyrian National Football team, Assyrika. When the 3 weeks are over on July 21, I will return to this song and blast it over good speakers.

No comments: