Personal and institutional relations between American Jews and evangelicals are at a nascent stage. Despite the work of a few pioneers, Jews and evangelicals are only just beginning to get to know each other, to learn about each other's faith and how our faith commitments inform our engagement in the public square. Evangelicals and Jews are taking but the first steps towards understanding their greatest joys and worst fears. How shall each of us educate the other about what matters most at this time when evangelical Christians and many others are suffering in Lebanon and the Jewish state is bordered and assaulted by two groups (Hamas and Hezbollah) that are, respectively, the majority and minority voices within their governments and that call for Israel's destruction? What is it that evangelicals and Jews should teach each other at this moment?
We should meet in the space of a commonly shared text and principle from B'reisheet-Genesis 42:21. When the brothers stand for the first time before Joseph, they realize that the hand of God is at work. They have been brought low, and they know this is because of their past sin. And so they say to each other, "Indeed, we have sinned and are guilty because of what we did to our brother. We witnessed the pain of his very life when he pleaded with us and we did not listen. Therefore, has this trouble come upon us."
This principle is later transformed, as is always the case in the Torah, from narrative into mitzvah, law, and commandment. The Torah uses the very language of the Joseph narrative when it teaches (Sh'mot-Exodus 22) about suffering. God says, "For indeed if he or she cry out to me, I will hear their cry, and I will become enraged with you. and it will be when he or she ...1
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