Friday Candle Lighting: 7:33 pm
Shabbat Ends: 8:22 pm
The Key to the Foundation
“If you will follow My decrees… I will walk among you; I will be a G-d unto you, and you will be a people to Me.” (3:12)
In the uplifting prayer of Hallel we say that the “stone that the builders’ ‘hated’, became the rosh pina.” Rosh pina is typically translated as “the foundation stone”, but the literal translation is “head of the corner”. The “head” of something is far from its “foundation”. Maybe we could find a better concept for “rosh pina” than “foundation stone”?
When a stonemason builds he wants cuboid stones, ones of a shape that will fit nicely into his construction. Anything else is “a stone that the builders’ hate”.
In his 12-volume A Study of History, British historian Arnold Toynbee describes the Jews thus: “There remains the case where victims of religious discrimination represent an extinct society which only survives as a fossil…by far the most notable is one of the fossil remnants of the Syriac Society, the Jews.”
According to Toynbee the Jews are the “stone that the builders hated.” We don’t fit into any neatly schemed historical theory. We are a useless “fossil.”
But there’s one place in building that you don’t want, and you can’t use a regular cuboid.
When you get to the pinnacle of a building you need a keystone, a wedge-shaped stone that will lock together the rest of the stones in the edifice.
The Jewish People are that keystone, the apex of the entire building of the world.
The Jewish People, the “misfit” of society, the “fossil” of history becomes the “rosh pina” — its keystone.