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Parshas Pinchas (5777)

Imagine

IMAGINE Many of you reading this have likely heard John Lennon’s famous 1971 song Imagine. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisions of religion and nationality, and to consider the possibility that the whole of humanity would live unattached to material possessions. Here are those lyrics:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

With all due respect to the legendary Beatle, John Lennon was more than a bit naïve in thinking that the world will only be united if we get rid of religion. After all, it is a known fact that far more people were killed in the past century alone by non-religious, atheistic movements (think Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, etc.) than were killed in the name of religion throughout history combined. [I might add that even of those who were put to death in the name of G-d and religion, relatively few were killed in the name of our religion. So there!]

Of course, the Torah teaches us that the exact opposite is true, and that the only way to achieve true unity, the brotherhood of man, and peace on earth is not by getting rid of religion, or countries, or possessions, but rather by uniting under the One True G-d.

As we recite a few times a day in the Aleinu prayer at the end of the prayer service:

“And therefore we hope to you, L-rd our G-d, that we may speedily behold the splendor of Your might, to banish idolatry from the earth, and false gods will be utterly destroyed; to perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Al-mighty. All mankind shall invoke Your name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth. Then all the inhabitants of the world will recognize and know that every knee should bend to You, every tongue should swear by Your Name. Before You, L-rd our G-d, they will bow and prostrate themselves and give honor to the glory of Your Name, and they will accept upon themselves the yoke of Your kingdom. May You soon reign over them forever and ever, for kingship is Yours, and to all eternity You will reign in glory, as it is written in Your Torah: ‘The L-rd will reign forever and ever’. And it is said: ‘The L-rd shall be King over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd shall be One and His Name One’.”

In fact, it is Pinchas, the hero of this week’s Torah portion, who, according to our tradition, becomes Elijah the Prophet, whose job it will be to usher in the Messianic Era, a time when all the nations will accept G-d as the One True G-d and will thus be united as one. [Of course, at that time, all the non-Jews will believe in the same G-d as us, but they will not have to become Jewish. After all, somebody’s gotta pay retail!]

So with this in mind, I decided to ‘alter’ the lyrics to Imagine a little bit, just to make the song more aligned with the Torah truth. Hope you enjoy it! (I also hope Yoko Ono doesn’t sue me!):

Imagine there’s a heaven
Where we live when we die
And that our lives have meaning
As long as we just try
Imagine all the people
Living life every day... Aha-ah...

Imagine one religion
Imagine if you can
And countries all united
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Living in true peace

You may say I’m a believer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And all the world will live as one

Imagine there’s no evil
I wonder if you can
‘Cuz all the bad’s got purpose
Part of a master plan
Imagine all the people
Living with the truth

You may say I’m a believer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And all the world will live as one

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