René Descartes, a seventeenth century philosopher, tells man to accept nothing as truth until it can be clearly and distinctly seen. He attempts to define that which is true in the world by initially rejecting everything and then accepting only that which matches his criteria. He winds up with one basic truth, "I think, therefore I am."
Mankind has been through all kinds of systems of truths, most of which conflict with each other. They fall under such categories as religious, secular, and political. As the twentieth century draws to a close, it seems as though most of Mankind suffers from apathy and ideological burn-out.
Organized religion has taken the biggest hit.
The Jewish people are Western Civilization's most vivid living link to the past.
Together with Descartes and his colleagues, many contemporary Jewish historians have a secular orientation and have either rejected, are bashful, are ill-equipped, or are afraid to deal with traditional Jewish sources and truths. In their world model, the Bible is not a serious basis for historic fact and it must be substantiated by the findings of secular scholars, who are assumed to be unbiased sources of truth.
This book presents a model of Jewish history that is based on the great resources of traditional and classical Judaism. It reflects the teachings of such great Jewish sages as the ARI Hakodesh, Rav Chaim Vital, the Vilna Goan, and Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto. The model draws heavily from Kabalistic sources.
This model is based on the existence of a G-d, that G-d has a purpose for creation, and that G-d actively but subtly manages the affairs of mankind towards this purpose.
Thus, this book attempts to merge Jewish history with Judaism, a source of strength that has withstood the test of time for the past thirty-seven centuries. In doing so, it is able to provide a dimension to world history that secular historians are unable to attain.
To the secularist, history is driven by accidents and consequences of accidents. The only benefit in studying history is to learn from previous successes and repeat them, or to learn from failures and avoid them. History becomes a tool to be used by the fittest to survive. The secularist can only talk about the 'what' dimension, what happened. History and their world are flat.
This outlook has great impact on life. By nature, a person without a meaningful past and future can have no peaceful present. Life comes to require distractions from the awareness of its ultimate end.
History as viewed within the framework of traditional Jewish sources enables one to discuss the 'who' dimension, who made it happen, and it points to G-d. Furthermore, it enables one to discuss to some degree why events happened, the 'why' dimension.
The author will present selected management approaches and concepts that are relevant to our understanding of G-d's relationship with the world, taking the reader some steps towards the most mysterious 'why' dimension.
We would like to be able to understand why every event happened. We can not. Judaism relegates the ability to do so with human existence in the afterlife, with greatly enhanced intellect.
Thus, this book will take its reader into a different realm. To achieve the full effect, the reader must be able to park his or her everyday mindset and transcend into another setting. Some parts may seem startling and it is suggested that the reader read and re-read the book over an extended period.
The reader is cautioned that the concepts that are presented within this model interrelate with each other. Taken out of the context of the total picture, a single concept by itself does not represent the model and can be distortive.
The reader has much to gain by taking this unique journey towards understanding the destiny of Mankind as seen through traditional Judaism. From this experience, the author hopes that the reader will derive strength and meaning for life, also.
This book is stimulating and is not intended for couch-potatoes. It seeks to motivate the reader to think and to question. It is for the non-Jew to arrive at an appreciation for the role of the Jewish people, for the Jew to be able to take and even appreciate being Jewish.
The author tries to be as non-judgmental as possible. This book seeks to be above supporting the self-perpetuation of any institution or fraternal organization. It may present a challenge to many establishments and it is the hope of the author that it will have a positive effect on their evolution.
It is the authors intention to provide a brief overview of Jewish history, enabling the reader to see the historical forest from the trees. To maintain brevity, many personalities, events, and institutions are not included in this book. Omission should not be taken as a lack of significance. Please G-d, with additional time and resources, the author hopes to supplement this work with additional detail. Those who are interested in helping to expand or enhance this work are encouraged to contact the author.
The author relies for many historical dates on the book Todos Am Yisroel by Rabbi Shlomo Rottenberg (ZT"L). This great work provides a thorough cross-reference to authentic and established traditional Jewish sources, such as the Talmud and Medrash.
Throughout this book the name of G-d is spelled with a dash between the G and D, instead of the letter o.
According to Jewish tradition, we do this out of respect for the name of G-d.It is hoped that by respecting His name we will be more inclined to respect His wishes.
The author wishes to thank his teachers for their encouragement, review, and comments. He also thanks his family for their support.
For further study of Jewish history, the author recommends a series of lectures on cassette tape by Rabbi Berel Wein. They are well researched, informative, and downright entertaining. Additional information can be obtained from the Yeshiva Shaarei Torah 1-800-499-9346/8.
This book has its own history. It began with the publication of the Time Line Display of Jewish History in 1981. This colorful mural vividly portrayed sixteen major events of Jewish history, together with several hundred other dates and events. Since then, over four-thousand Time Lines have been sold to schools and homes. The third and latest edition of the Time Line, which is currently available from the author, was printed during his residence in Jerusalem. After giving a copy as a gift to a close friend, a high-ranking officer in the Israeli Air Force who unfortunately had a minimal Jewish background, the recipient asked whether there was an accompanying guide that explained the significance of the featured events. Documentation of the sixteen major events evolved into the present book, which is currently featured and accessible on JewishAmerica's Internet site at http://www.JewishAmerica.com.
Harlan (Tzvi) Black, Lakewood NJ
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