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The Bible Isn’t Just Another Book on the Shelf
(Pixabay)

The Bible Isn’t Just Another Book on the Shelf

 Ma’ariv, Israel, July 6

Hebrew Book Month just drew to an end, and it was a very happy occasion. Reading books should make the reader smart, at least in most cases. But one book does not get the respect it deserves: the Bible. Yes, there are some initiatives here and there for reading and studying the Bible – perhaps one chapter a day or one chapter a week. The President’s Residence holds a Bible study class, which is certainly good. And yet, the centrality of the Bible in our lives has diminished and almost completely disappeared. The Bible is our identity, as individuals and as a people. Our sages say: “Know where you came from and where you are going.” Where did we come from? How did we become a people? The answer is in the Bible. Israel was built through the journey of our forefathers and foremothers, as described in the Book of Genesis. The Book of Exodus tells the story of the emergence of the people of Israel as a people. The Pentateuch teaches how we, Israel, should behave as a people in all areas – ranging from the structure of society, through family relationships, to our connection with God. Through the books of Prophets we learn about the rules of government and also that the history of Israel didn’t develop linearly. Unfortunately, entire parts of society have forgotten about the Bible. Indeed, some circles even oppose it, and large sections of our people no longer know who we are as a people and as individuals. The Bible teaches us how to be human, and it appeals to all of humanity. For us, Israelis, it teaches what true Israeliness is – not as an imitation of America or China or India. Other cultures can be respected, but they are not us. Only by assuming our roles and duties as the people of Israel will we become a light unto the nations. In view of all this, the recent decision to limit the study of humanities in our education system, including the study of the Bible, is disastrous. Referring to the Bible as another book on the shelf is a disaster. A nation that forgets its past is a nation without a future. The Bible is where we, as a nation, draw our power. Our future is only secure if we become well versed in our past. –Noah Dana-Picard (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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