The world of Judaism is full of incredible teachers and inspiring figures. It seems that every week that goes by I am discovering a new rabbi or sage who helps shed renewed light on the words of Yeshua.
Such was the case when I discovered the teachings of Rabbi Menachem Froman last summer. Although Rabbi Froman passed away on Adar 23 in 2013, he left a legacy in the inspired disciples who continue in his work and are eager to disseminate his teaching to the larger Jewish world.
Rabbi Froman was an Orthodox rabbi who was the spiritual head of the Tekoa settlement on the West Bank in Israel. He served his time in the IDF and was one of the paratroopers who took part in the recapture of the Western Wall in 1967.
What is unique about Rabbi Froman is that although he lived in one of the most contentious areas in Israel, he was a peacemaker and interfaith communicator with his Palestinian neighbors. He viewed his Arab neighbors as brothers and sisters of the Jewish people and sought to bring peace and harmony between the two groups. He believed that what would ultimately be good for the Jewish people would be good for the Palestinians as well and vice versa. In many ways his actions and words remind me of our Master.
He never took himself too seriously but instead often brought humor into his teachings. He once said:
Many years ago, I suggested to my wife that we change our surname from “Froman” to “Purim.” Instead of people saying: “Rabbi Froman met with Arafat, he met with Hamas, etc.”, they’ll say “Rabbi Purim.” This way, it’ll sound totally different. No one will take anything I do too seriously.
Although Rabbi Froman never wrote a book, his followers have collected his teachings in a recently published volume whose title translates in English to My Chasidim Will Laugh.
Although the book is in Hebrew, I found a blog post in which the author has translated a few of his sayings into English. Here are a few I picked out that greatly remind me of the teachings of Yeshua:
What can brokenness create? It can produce a revelation of the Shekhinah that fills the thankful heart. (33)
The principal power of a person is to acknowledge his weaknesses and to turn to God. This is the great power of a person. (35)
For many years, I have said that I have two proofs for God. The first is that media fills the void of the world with so much nonsense and despite this, a person keeps a little reason - this is a sign that there is a God. [Second:] is that the religious community appears the way it does and speaks about God the way it does. Despite this, there remain people in the world who believe [in God] - this is a sign that in truth there is a God. (81)
Rav Shagar criticized the religious community for the fact that their faith was not realistic, rather it is an illusion. In my eyes, the problem of the faith of the religious is that in place of faith in God they changed into a faith in themselves, in the righteousness of their path and their worldview and who they are. Consequently, it turned into a closure of the heart to the sense of God (Inyan elokhi). (131)
Rabbi Froman’s yahrzeit begins this Friday night as the Sabbath sets in. God willing, I plan to take a few minutes and review some of his teachings at my Sabbath table. May his memory inspire us all to spread the love of God and the peace that he brings to all his children.