35 minutes | Dec 3rd 2020

S1E106 - Jonathan Goldstein on Genesis 18 – “A Divine Interruption”

Mark is delighted to welcome Jonathan Goldstein to today’s episode. Jonathan is the Chief Executive and Founder of the private investment firm, ](http://www.cainint.com/)[Cain International, the Chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, the umbrella body of British Jewry’s central organizations and charities, as well as the Chair of the Chief Rabbinate Trust. He has also served as Vice Chair of Jewish Care and Chair of Governors of Kerem School in Hampstead Garden Suburb, as Chair of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, and, with his wife, he is an inaugural Honorary President of Camp Simcha, a charity working to improve the quality of life of children suffering from life threatening illnesses. The passage he has chosen to discuss with Mark is Genesis 18.

In this wide-ranging conversation, Jonathan begins by offering his summary of the passage and then he and Mark engage in an extensive analysis of both this passage and others that share similarities with it. In so doing, they touch upon a number of topics such as divine experiences, determining the impact we can have upon the world and others, the primacy of helping others over prayer, and ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people. Jonathan also shares his perspective on the most important Jewish holidays, his advice for parents, his stand against Jeremy Corbyn, and the experience of British Jews. He concludes the episode with his thoughts on our biggest legacy, small acts of kindness, and the lessons about humankind which he has learned. So much of what is shared today by these two enthusiastic thinkers can be summed up in one of Jonathan’s final statements, “Stand up, be counted as a Jew, make your difference, engage with your heritage” – valuable advice and guidance inspired by this eternally relevant test.

Episode Highlights:

· His summary of the passage and its meaning for him · The purpose of a divine experience · Determining what impact we can make on the world and others · Committing to Judaism · The primacy of helping others over prayer · Ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people · Jonathan’s perspective on the most important Jewish holidays · Jonathan’s advice for parents · His stand against Jeremy Corbyn · Comparing the experiences of American Jews and British Jews · Our biggest legacy · Small acts of kindness · The lessons about humankind that Jonathan has learned

Quotes:

“It talks about a man of action. It talks about a man who understands his place in the world, and that he’s here to do something.”

“Okay God, if You could just hold on a minute, I’ve got some business to attend to. I’ve got some people that I need to look after.”

“Say a little, and do a lot.”

“There are many ways to approach God…you can get close to God and not be a Jew.”

“It is a miracle that we, as a Jewish people, have continued.”

“These are words and text that have huge relevance in our day-to-day lives.”

“Sometimes we forget our own heritage.”

“There are times in your life when you need to make a stand.”

“We live in a generation that’s been blessed.”

“We, as Jews, have never had it better.”

“You have to do the joyful things first.”

“It’s what we do in our own homes that’s our biggest legacy.”

“Our walls know us best, don’t they?”

“Have empathy for your fellow man or woman.”

“Keep yourself grounded.”

Genesis 18 Vayera The LORD appeared to him by the terebinths of Mamre; he was sitting at the entrance of the tent as the day grew hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them and, bowing to the ground, he said, “My lords, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree. And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves; then go on—seeing that you have come your servant’s way.” They replied, “Do as you have said.” Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quick, three seahs of choice flour! Knead and make cakes!” Then Abraham ran to the herd, took a calf, tender and choice, and gave it to a servant-boy, who hastened to prepare it. He took curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree as they ate. They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he replied, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will return to you next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son!” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah had stopped having the periods of women. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment—with my husband so old?” Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’ Is anything too wondrous for the LORD? I will return to you at the same season next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was frightened. But He replied, “You did laugh.” The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off. Now the LORD had said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him? For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is just and right, in order that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.” Then the LORD said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” And He answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” But he spoke to Him again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: What if thirty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: What if twenty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place. https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.18.1?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en

Links:

The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: The Rabbi's Husband

Mark’s Twitter: Mark Gerson - The Rabbi's Husband (@markgerson)

The Rabbi’s Husband Newsletter contact: mailto:daniel@therabbishusband.com

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