Beyond the Cusp

October 5, 2016

Too Many Leaves Have Fallen

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In these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jewish New Year and the Day of Atonement, Jews spend much of their free time, and some of the not so free time, reflecting on their actions and shortcomings of the last year and also their entire lives where less than golden practices became habit. In this time I have too often strayed beyond my shortcomings and looked beyond to the shortcomings of my people and the entirety of the human race. Slavery has to be a practice which was carried on far too long nearly into modern times and even now exists in some measure. We were slaves and know its hardships which we recount every year at our Seders. Passover is one of the singular observances where traditions are pretty much set in stone. The odd thing is there are different stones for Jews of different backgrounds. I should know as my father was as Ashkenazi as one can be and my mother was equally Sephardim. Perhaps this was why we only got a half serving of rice at Passover and never enough for a meal. The Seder service which is said in the home in privacy closes with an important and universal hope of all Jews, “Next year in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). The Seder is far from the only set of prayers which end with this overriding and continual desire amongst all Jews no matter their individual customs, Jerusalem, as the Song of Babylon states, “If I forget thee may my right hand lose its cunning (strength) and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” That is the seriousness a Jew or any Israelite feels for their eternal Capital City and why the Arabs so demand they control the Old City, the part of which that pleading relates for they know that is the Jewish heart.

 

Remembering our past no matter where your ancestry originates there were pogroms, purifications, jihad, and just simple hatreds which drove our ancestors from their homes with what they could carry. All too often the older children had to carry the younger while father and mother carried what meager belongings they could, the Shabbat table cloth, candle holders, challah plate and cover were mother’s load in addition to what kitchen utensils she could manage while father carried his Tallits, Tefillin, Prayerbooks, Siddurim, Haggadah, necessities for his trade (which may include leading a cow or two or sewing machine, threads, cloth, butchery knives, or whatever and the Rabbi and sons carried the Torah, as many as possible and a few more as leaving even one behind was unthinkable), and whatever other items mother or children could not continue without (his was the burden of family). These fleeing Jews were often the fortunate ones as behind them were those Jews who joined the too lengthy list of fallen leaves. Every Pogrom, Purification, Jihad, forced conversions, Crusades, conquest for Allah, blame for every calamity, blame for disease in the community, and all too often just because we were Jews the leaves fell. People ask how humans could treat their neighbor so cruelly. Well, look to Europe or the past hundred years in the Arab and Muslim worlds or to Russia and remember Nazi Germany and the reasons abound.

 

One need understand the enormity of the history of the Israelite people. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob came from the time when agriculture and herding were just coming into their own and the city states were forming. At this point the first Jews were but a family and believe it or not we are largely still that very same family plus those we have married and the few converts over the ages, often these converts also married into the family and converted in order to do so. There are the claims that the Exodus from Egypt we brought numerous non-Jews with us and if one reads Torah they will see we know of this and these people were kept in a separate camp and were partially responsible for the sin of the golden calf. These others were sent on their separate way with many sailing to Greece with even some Jews who found our ways too difficult and desired a more earthy and pleasure seeking existence which was all the rage in those primitive times. Egypt saw us build a city to a Pharaoh who fashioned himself to be a god. The story of our exit from Egypt is chronicled in the best-selling book in history and one of, if not the, first books ever printed by the printing press. Our travels and travails of forty years in the desert are well chronicled and many youth learn of it early in their educations. The reason why is not so well noted. Put simply, we lacked faith in the promise from Hashem that the land would be granted us by His hand. Instead ten of twelve spies told of giants living in cities behind great and unbreakable walls. The illogic of giants needing walled cities never occurred to the Israelites who reacted to these recounting with great timidity and fear. The two who told of peoples in fear of the coming of the chosen of Hashem and a land flowing with goodness went unheeded as the Jewish people who had lived a life under slavery had not the bravery or independent spirit to conquer a land even with Hashem. For forty years we gave birth to a new people free of the yoke of slavery and filled with the miracles of Hashem such as the manna which fed them in the parched desert of the wastelands they traveled through.

 

Israelite Sin Worshiping of the Golden Calf

Israelite Sin Worshiping of the Golden Calf

 

Jericho put to rest the fears of the former generation as its great walls were no match for the formulae given by Hashem which brought them down. The following victory of Ai and then of the combined armies of the Kings of Canaan proved Hashem truly would grant us the land. What is often passed over is that the Torah gives the Jews the exact method we are to pursue when coming into our promised land with any tribes of people who reside within and it is a very simple method for selecting how one treats those tribes. We are to make them a simple offer. They have three choices of varying ease for their people. The most easy is to remain within the lands on the lands they hold and simply obey the Seven Laws of Noah, the Noahic Code and we will both live and prosper in peace. They can leave the lands and we will not pursue them and wish them well. The least favorable choice is they can choose to war with us at which time we will endeavor to kill every last inhabitant and member of their tribe and burn their crops, slaughter and leave for the buzzards their cattle and remove any and all record that they ever existed from the story of mankind. That was then and we no longer live in those times. What is not well known is that some of the Canaanites chose the first two options and were granted what was promised.

 

History passed and we had an expository period under King David and King Solomon who conquered lands until they reached the Euphrates River, the farthest we have ever reached and we desire far less today, only what was promised which is well documented and for the sake of my regular readers we will not go over this again. You’re welcome. The life went well until we had strayed from Torah and had practiced even idolatry and thus lost the guardianship of Hashem so we fell before the Babylonian sword. This was not our best of times but this exile ended when the Persians conquered Babylon and knowing of Hashem from their recounting of history beseeched that we return and rebuild our Temple and worship Hashem as we desired and simply pay our tribute to the Persians and we would be left in peace. Rather nice of them had that continued forward but there came an overachiever named Haman the Agagite and descendant of Agag, the king of the Amalekites and our saving grace in the form of the Persian Queen Esther. We built the Second Temple and in human history soon thereafter came such luminaries as Confucius, Buddha, Tao, and others who all founded various ancient religions of which a few continue into the modern era. The namedropping was more as making note in history when much of what we call a more modern age came into being and where much of Eastern philosophy had its roots. Eventually we once again gained our freedom, but wait, there’s more.

 

Eventually there was the inevitable family squabble and the Tribes of Israel chose sides with the ten northern tribes taking the name Israel and the southern two tribes being called after the far larger tribe, Judah and the Priestly tribe remained spread amongst the people and largely in Jerusalem under Judah. After the ten northern tribes were carried away as slaves by the Assyrians there were just the priests in Jerusalem and the tribes of Benyamin (a smaller tribe) and Judah the lion, the defenders of the southern borders, remained where most belonged to the tribe of Judah so we became Judeans and eventually simply Jews. The Assyrian Greeks eventually defeated Judah as well and then the Polemic Greeks and one more the Assyrian Greeks followed by the Romans. The Romans got a little put out after the Jews, the name had cemented by them, did which no other people managed, threw off the Roman yoke twice. They dispersed the Jews to the far reaches of their kingdoms and everywhere inbetween such that we would never again challenge Roman rule. That worked rather well and as the Roman Empire slowly crumbled the Jews spread even further but we had a secret weapon through which we remained attached to Jerusalem and our lands always hoping for the Messiah to return us to Eretz Yisroel, and that weapon is Torah. Torah is our history, our rules for life, our traditions, and our defining center which keeps us in touch with Hashem and our covenant and the promises Hashem gave to us. The Torah has kept us a family despite great distances and the stories abound of Jews traveling to a strange place often not by their choosing and upon arrival finding family there, finding Jews who greeted them as only family greets one they have never even known existed. This too was one of the many strands of string that when twined together make the rope which will eventually be spun in Israel, in Jerusalem.

 

Now, as we gather slowly from the far corners of the globe from America to Europe to Japan and the Philippines and India or Ethiopia as well as South Africa, Australia, even the outback and places even stranger and more remote, the time has come to stop believing we are Jews as we no longer are. Jew was the name we were given in captivity by the Greeks and Romans who shortened Judean to Judian to Juw which became spelled Jew. The actual spellings and pronunciations are not important but what Jew came to mean to the gentiles is important. The Jew was the reason for famine, for plague, for war they were always siding with the enemy on both sides as both sides saw Jews fighting for their enemy but were blind to the Jews fighting with them in their armies. The Jew was accused of every ill and even potential harm and the fact that the Jews lived in their own small area, ghetto, and practiced a different religion, often the parent religion to the one the others practiced, they had to be the reason as they were the other wherever they found themselves. When the time came to clean the lands of the disbeliever, the Jew too was cast out or burned at the stake, hung, crucified or whatever punishment was dealt the disbeliever. Often they were simply driven from the land and forced to travel through place after place before finding one which allowed them to settle and reside for the time being. The Jew always kept a number of suitcases packed and one special suitcase in which all their religious items were kept. They would be removed when required to observe the Sabbat or to do morning prayers or observe a holiday and then carefully and respectfully repacked in case they had to leave with little notice. This suitcase was the first one grabbed by the mobs of the pogrom, Crusade or whatever reason was for killing the Jews as this suitcase must have precious jewels to be so carefully guarded. Imagine the look when all they found were some candlesticks, candles, a special tablecloth and few other religious items and books but no jewels or gold or silver other than the few religious items, often only the Shabbat candlesticks. The main thing is the Jew was a temporary guest to be bullied and thrown away when hatreds overwhelmed the people and a frenzied mob sought a target.

 

We are now coming home and we are not going to be bullied or thrown from our lands. We may not be granted easy access to all our lands, even our most precious Biblical Lands in Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem will hopefully not allow to be divided and we again forbidden from visiting our Temple Mount which we built during the times of the Second Temple before Christianity and long before Islam came into this world. Allowing the Synagogues we so meticulously restored or even rebuilt to once again be defiled and destroyed would be a sin of great magnitude. Where we need to try and be accommodating and live with our neighbors on this little sphere orbiting an insignificant star in a moderately large galaxy soon to be merged with an even larger galaxy, we also must remain true to ourselves, our history and, most of all, to Hashem which means that Jerusalem’s old city must remain with the Temple Mount as an intricate and vital part of Israel. The Islamics know the importance of these areas which is the sole reason they demand them to be separated from the Jews. This is the same story which was the reason there were so many wars between Christian and Muslim over Jerusalem and only Jerusalem as that was the reason behind the Crusades and the Islamic conquests, they both wanted to hold the City of the Jewish holiest of places as that is the home of Hashem which both claim to worship (the validity of such claims cannot be covered in brief even in this article). But Jerusalem must remain a part of what is Israel and that should not ever be placed in doubt and slowly the Israelis are realizing this fact.

 

As for the name Jew, that needs change. Those of us residing here in the Holy Lands of Israel are no longer merely Jews even if we are of the seed of Judah, we are Israelites once again. With the airlift of Ethiopians and the Bnei Menashe community from India home to Israel we are once again to be known as the tribes of Israel. There is a group in southwestern India who call themselves the Tribe of Ephraim who were found when a Chabad couple shared a Passover Seder with them. With these tribes of the ten lost tribes of Israel reappearing, the people of Israel are not all but universally of the tribe of Judah, we are once again in transition and should recognize such and refer to ourselves as what we are, Israelites, the Tribes of Israel reuniting in our ancient and holy homelands.

 

Some may ask what should become of the Arab Palestinians. Well, we can offer them three choices. They can live in their own area under their own leadership in a semiautonomous area within Israel where we promise them security and to live in peace and in return they obey the Noahic Code, or they can leave and settle elsewhere in the world and we will wish them safe travels and the best of luck and promise not to pursue them or do them harm as they leave, or they may choose to treat us with violence and hate and do injury to us as a form of war for which we will do as we can to destroy their existence and to erase the fact that they ever resided amongst us. That is what any other people would do and for those who doubt such we would like to point to items such as Northern Ireland and the British.

 

Continuing on, other examples abound such as the Spanish and the Tribes of the Basque and Spain and even France, the many different tribes which made up Yugoslavia until they each went their separate ways, the Czech Republic and Slovakia which separated from Czechoslovakia and the numerous nations which were formed by the victorious powers after World War I that make up much of the Arab Islamic world today and which are now breaking even further into tribal regions, and the conquered lands which now live under the fist of their conquerors such as Tibet or those threatened by nations claiming their right to regain control of these areas such as Taiwan and Mainland China (Red China if your old enough to remember that term) and also Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the currently challenged Ukraine all of which are currently under direct or indirect challenge from Putin the Invader’s Russian bear. The changing tides of war and the formation and dissolution of nations has not ended as many wished to believe and world wars are no longer unimaginable. The claim that after the fall of the Soviet Union that history had ended and everything was now at peace and in equilibrium leading Francis Fukuyama to write a piece titled, “The End of History?” which has proven as much folly as the claim once made by the Commissioner of the United States Patent Office in 1899 who it is (attributed) claimed to have said, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

 

With all the turmoil in the world today, it is beyond reasonable but is yet true that the world considers what the Israelis do within the lands granted under international laws and treaties to them for their homeland dating from the early 1920’s and the numerous conferences, treaties and conventions which were signed by all the parties involved including the Arab League and King Farouk granting the lands west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea to be the area for the land of Israel to be formed. We, the Israeli people ask for no more than that which all powers, even to include the Arabs and Japan, British, French, German, Ottoman, Russian, and eventually the United States, League of Nations and United Nations all recognized and gave their blessings and agreement and yet to this day this is contested. The facts are not contested, just the realization, and there appears to be an undercurrent which is driven by the concept that by ridding the world of Israel, and with it the Jewish people once and for all, will end their ever considering having a real home anywhere on Earth. This is considered a desirable and possible eventuality by the leaders of the Western World to appease and pacify the Arab World. There is one answer for such people, and it is what we promised, “Never Again!”

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

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November 16, 2015

Blood Spilled is the Same Crimson Color Wherever it Flows

 

The Paris attacks were a horrendous and heinous act of barbarity which will be added to the ever lengthening list of civility slaughtered by barbarity. These craven acts will never end until the world of civil nations has determined that enough is enough. The world where law rules over men and life is precious must respond with strength and vigor against the spreading evil. There is an ancient saying which bears acknowledgement during the discourse on this latest act and the thousands that preceded it that goes, “Whatever starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews.” The only difference is simply a matter of time. Examples are found throughout history as is the truth of another even older saying found in Genesis 12:3 states, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed.” One is a slanted interpretation of the other and must be taken together which leads to a very strange concept which has proven true even in our day. Read on, it gets clearer, I promise.

 

Those who have assisted Israel, stood with Israel and felt the pains of Israel are blessed as they are acting in a manner that blesses Israel. Those who have threatened Israel, not stood stridently with Israel or have ignored the plights inflicting Israel or are demanding Israel give away that which Hashem has granted to them as their eternal gift and Hashem stated covenant with Abraham where said in Genesis 13:14-16, “After Lot had departed, the LORD said to Abram, ‘Look from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west. I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted.’” The lands which Abraham saw became the lands divided by the twelve tribes as the thirteenth tribe, some might say the first tribe, were the Levites and Cohans who lived amongst all the tribes and kept the Tabernacle and eventually the Temple in Jerusalem. The lands are pictured in the map below and show an Israel reaching from both sides of the Jordan River to the Sea and from the southern deserts to the Litani River in the north. The current borders of the State of Israel under that oft misused phrase often wielded at a weapon against Israel actually is no threat to Israel as ask any neutral legal authority who has studied and practiced International Law what the real current borders are of Israel and their answer would be that technically the Jordan River, the Negev/Sinai border, the border with Gaza, the Mediterranean Sea and the Blue Line with Lebanon. How does this differ from the map below? Well, the Blue Line is considerably short of the Litani River in Lebanon and it is doubtful they would desire to give us between a third to one half of their country. It is even more doubtful that Jordan would decide tomorrow to gift the lands east of the Jordan River containing the Reuben, Gad, Benjamin or East Manasseh. The odd thing is that Israel has no design on these lands and would welcome with simply the lands she liberated in June of 1967 in the Six Day War. As far as the Arabs, those willing to live in peace should remain and live in peace and the rest should be allowed to leave and even be financially assisted. Not so ridiculous, is it?

 

 

Left side map depicts the division of the Promised Land amongst the tribes and right side map compares the modern promised land from the Jordan west to the Mediterranean Sea compared to the maximum of area during King David’s and King Solomon’s reigns.

 

 

Meanwhile we are going to be struck for the next ten days to two weeks with wall to wall coverage of the Paris attacks as things play out and the terrorist perpetrators of this horrific waste of innocent lives and then it will slowly fade like reverberating echoes of a winding rock canyon. Within a half year, as long as no other attacks are perpetrated either in Paris or elsewhere in Europe as the authorities main interest and desire is not so much resolving the situation but rather appearing to have addressed the situation, shown the expected and responsible reactions and give the appearance of proper concern as well as be perceived as taking the proper remedial steps to address the future safety of all the citizens making Paris and other cities, especially in France, safe from such attacks be terror entities, be they Islamic State or Hamas or even forces trained by Iran’s special units of the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps). The quicker that everything can be allowed to return to normal, the faster the political leaders can go back to spending everybody else’s money on their reelection bid through government largess on projects onto which they can place their names or otherwise gain prestige in the electorates’ eyes and minds.

 

Of course the French have nothing which can compare to Israel when it comes to removing all signs of a terror attack in near nothing flat as Israel does with all too much consistent efficiency. Often after a terror assault in Israel every last drop of blood and every other vestige of the attack is cleansed and prepared for any potential end necessary, even if there were a resulting death requiring that the person’s corpse be made as whole as possible and every piece gathered at the scene is readied, identified and treated as required. A group of volunteers started the organization known as ZAKA (Hebrew: זק”א‎, abbreviation for Zihuy Korbanot Ason, Hebrew: זיהוי קרבנות אסון, literally: Disaster Victim Identification) who have since been recognized by the Israeli government. The members of ZAKA are religious, mostly Orthodox Jews, are volunteers doing some of the most difficult work imaginable and they do this extremely difficult and unfortunately all too necessary and potentially gruesome and made even worse as in at least one occasion some ZAKA volunteers have found they knew the victim and found they needed to stop performing their duty and gather their emotions and often decide or are told to take the rest of the duty day off in order to gather their thoughts, get a hold on their emotions, and do all that it takes to recover, though often many actually take their obligation to the deceased and the families of the deceased , injured and witnesses by also removing every sign that there had ever been a terror attack or even the slightest bloodletting as often the scene is cleaner and more, one might say holy, but not so much in any traditional aspect but more in an aesthetic or even spiritual as these members of ZAKA are doing a necessary and difficult service and doing so as volunteers.

 

 

Eiffel Tower Symbol for Peace Restored to All France and the World

Eiffel Tower Symbol for Peace Restored
to All France and the World

 

 

While comparing France and Israel, we would be remiss if we did not also mention the difference in the world’s reactions. As we pointed out earlier, what begins with the Jews never ends there. The Jews were slaves in Egypt and eventually slavery became a black mark in the Western World and partly thanks to the British navy, slave ships soon found themselves out of business and seeking more honorable cargo. This has been proven once more in too many instances as the terror which began in Israel, or actually well before Israel became a nation, there were terror attacks in 1929, 1936 and again in 1939 with these instigated before there was any Israel, before there could have been any occupied lands, before anything except Jews working the land and hoping to establish their state. Had there been no Arab terror attacks on the Jews or against the British, their arrangement, though very unofficial despite certain orders given by British commanders to their troops, then there might not have been a British so ready and almost glad that the United Nations took the Mandate and the forming of the State of Israel out of their hands as such had been nothing but a burden for them. The treatment received from the British almost might make one wish to quote to them their own Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, who wrote Merchant of Venice where the character of the Jewish money-lender, the precursor of a modern bank and one of the few professions left open to Jews as it was uncustomary for Christians to make loans in that period, who made one of the most famous soliloquies which begged the adverse treatment of the Jew and the pleading for the recognition of the Jew as an equal member of society and also given the equal respect any other many, especially a Christian, would receive in the same position. Below is his famous retort to why he deserves justice, and equal justice at that.

SHYLOCK: To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.

 

Israeli Flag

Israeli Flag

 

 

We could make a similar pleading before the United Nations or before the European Union which has voted to make certain Jewish products be labeled such as a sign against European citizens purchasing these items. In response to all the United Nations’ inequities and the European Union’s sanctioning Jewish products including some of the world’s most excellent wines, luscious fruits, high technology products and software (including some of the greatest personal computer protection software) and these industries are the largest employers of the Arab Palestinians, the European Union et al, paying them wages which rival the wages paid by the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas to the terrorists imprisoned for their crimes in Israel, Israel has decided that instead of returning the sanctioning of select products, Israel will carry on business as usual. The reason, you ask? Because we are a light unto the nations and will treat others as we wish to be treated. Pretend our ancient lands are not ours. Are we to plead vainly before you? Were that to be of service, it would still demean us. Were we to shrink before our enemies, would that be sufficient to mollify you though you know as do we that our enemies cannot be mollified. When you single us out from amongst the world of nations for condemnations more deserved by others, are we not to decry the injustice. When you feed the hate of those who spread terror throughout our lands and you turn away, would we not be equally staid if we steeled our nerves and ignored your pain. But we did not any of these recourses. When terror licked your shores and sliced coldly through your metropolis we sent assistance and offered our hands to hold and help in your time of need. When you wronged us we cried out as who would not as to not decry such acts would prove us as inhuman as your actions have been inhumane. We have not dealt shame for shame nor have we turned our backs on those who have ignored our pain. When terrorists shoot our citizens, do they not bleed the crimson colored blood just as deep and red as your victims? And, when the blood had all been let, do our victims not die as had yours? Recognize that we are feeling humane beings and that our families cry salted tears as have yours. We also weep for your dead, could you at least not turn from ours? We will never change as you can read in our history that we once warred to take a land to have as our own almost thirty-five-hundred years ago, our known promised land. Since then our wars have been to defend those lands. We are not even demanding the entirety of that ancient lands so well described in the largest selling book on the planet and the stories are told, unlike other religions, with all the warts and pains and errant acts of even our most respected and beloved forefathers. We do not profess to be perfect or that our history has not always been as free of sin as we would have liked, but we still admire those who after their sin dropped to their knees and begged Hashem that they would not again commit that sin and they meant every syllable they uttered whether their acts measured up was for them and Hashem to recon. We claim a land which has stood unproductive for those who would hold it and it waited until we return to give up her fruits, not that it did not take a large and almost unimaginable amount of toil and large endeavors but Hashem smiled on these efforts and we have been rewarded with a land which once again flows with milk and honey. Those words, milk and honey, you probably remember those words and that means you remember Hashem made a covenant with Abraham and all his inherited line through Isaac, Jacob and then Joseph and his conniving brothers who all made their peace and settled their reckoning. We do not want that pound of flesh, we want just the portion which Hashem promised and we know our history, we know what the founders of our homeland said and what they were and the miracle which brought low the walls of Jericho and all else which Hashem blessed our ancestors with. We know of their failings and the exile in Egypt and the miracles when Hashem brought me out from bondage in Egypt and for many years my closing words at every Seder rang out like a clarion bell calling attention to our dream as a people, “Next year in Yerushalayim!” For me that dream has come true, and I live in my land that was promised me by the Covenant of Abraham. I endeavor to ever improve the parts I must hold to as Hashem had allowed me to return to my true home. And here is the strange part; I am more at home here than I ever believed was possible and my joys when I pray each morning at a house of prayer and the Sabbath when I make the effort to go to a synagogue in which I know I am appreciated as an equal despite my slight language problem as I am as far from literate in Hebrew as I am in French, as for my French speaking friends, I could never order fish in a French restaurant as my pronunciation would sound as if I might have ordered poison. My French speaking friends will understand. May we all reach out and make the world right for all to live in peace with dignity, mutual respect, love, tolerance, and most of all, forgiveness with understanding. Je Suis Paris et Je Suis Yisroel!

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 1, 2015

The Family that is Israel

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Friday was a special day as we had family come and visit us making the long trek from southern Israel almost to the northern border where the train tracks end and go no further. We had a slow lunch enjoying good company and pleasant conversation enabled by somewhat relaxed service as the place was crowded and the kitchen was probably a place of ordered confusion. But the leisurely service mostly passed notice as we were lost in conversation with my cousin playing the role of translator since she is fluent in a number of languages, or at least in Hebrew and English, which was all that was required. We also took a strolling paced walk to the shuk and they got some fruits and such for their Shabbat and then had to make the trip home so as to arrive before sunset. This visit made me all the more aware of family and the warmth and closeness one can feel when in their company. There is a serenity mixed with enthusiasm and excitement making for a cacophony of emotions which blend making even diametric opposite coexist in a smooth and yielding blend satisfying the soul. This completeness felt from the all too short, as such pleasantries are always too short, time we were enjoying being together also leaves a lingering warmth and joy that makes one aware of other such relations some of which opens one’s eyes to things which otherwise are missed or simply taken for granted.

 

The next Morning, Shabbat morning, I started my trip, a short walk for most but a strenuous traversal which requires a few rest stops at spots now memorized as suitable, to attend services at the synagogue where my Torah Shiur Rabbi presides and leads the Shabbat service after the initial prayers have been chanted and leading to and performing the reading of the Torah and Haftorah. As my wanderings take me past a few other synagogues and there are other worshippers whose paths cross, we often wish one another a polite, and oft friendly, “Shabbat Shalom” and almost always dotted with a warm smile and a brightened countenance from the exchange. But this was but my initial realization that my view may have changed and become brighter, more optimistic and hopeful. The realization and recognition of this transition came upon my arrival slightly before services were to start as I require that I leave some extra time just in case my strolling pace is less efficient than normal, not to imply my walking speed approaches normal. This cemented the realization that in Israel we really are a family just as Torah teaches.

 

The Synagogue I attend may be graced with a Rabbi who speaks both Hebrew and English but for the large part the congregation speaks only Hebrew. Still, despite our language differences the other congregants treat me with warmth and friendship which came home more today as I was sensitized to see and realize the acceptance which has greeted me honestly from the first service I did partake of a Shabbat morning services there. This got me to thinking and realizing the many people who have become like friends at the various stores where we shop. In every store there are those who have taken the initiative to befriend us and make our lives so much easier and, better yet, warmer. Without these friends our lives would be more difficult, not impossible, but more difficult and far more cold. The difficulty would be overcome with technology, cellphone translation software and the fact that money honestly makes people desire to understand you and for more so in a town with mostly smaller family run stores. But even technology has its limits and life would be far less enjoyable without these wonderful people. Yes, there have been exceptions but even some, if not most, of these more difficult people have come around with time and their realization that we have made Aliyah and truly are here to stay. These people have become our extended family. These people we meet in our weekly ritual of shopping are but one family but there are others.

 

There have been developed groups within the Anglo communities which provide social, religious and study groups which add much to enrich the lives of us from the Anglosphere who have made Aliyah to our little corner of Israel. There are Torah study groups, social events around the Jewish holidays, expeditions to the near countless historic and religious sites which exist throughout Israel and other events which are simply for entertainment such as game nights. Much of this is possible as there are a fair number of Anglos who are retired or work via telecommuting thus giving them the time to shift work around events. But the reality is that despite many of us coming from many completely different backgrounds, completely disparate locations both within the separate nations as well as around the globe as the tentacles of the British Empire reaches into the farthest corners of the planet. The camaraderie is unlike anything I have ever experienced even in other Jewish communities. Probably the closest to the trust, cooperation, acceptance and mutual respect I have found in Israel was the camaraderie in my infantry platoon in the military and even there it was not as universal nor was it as close as the feelings and friendships I have found here. The mutual relations amongst our Anglo community are, as one might expect, made all the more obvious by the brightening of each other’s faces when we run into one another in unexpected meetings during our daily travels. The same bright eyed and extra bounce in their step is evident with those who have befriended my wife and I in the locations where we stop and despite the claim that most Israelis do not know how to treat people, customers, the many people we have met have gone to great extents to provide any and all assistance we have ever needed. But it goes further as even when we run into a problem in a store while shopping and there is no one we know to assist, often out of the blue a customer steps up, often a stranger and other times somebody we barely know, such as somebody we have interacted with during other completely unconnected matters, will step forward and take as long as required to make sure that every and anything required has been done to take care of whatever the problem or requirement you needed. Sometimes this even has the effect of the store or wherever you are, going the extra step and finding what it is you requested even after initially believing they had none in stock, a very surprising but not actually all that unusual case, just was not the reputation of the particular instance we recently experienced.

 

The ultimate test of a society is how they react when a person appears distressed, especially somebody they do not know and likely may not have even ever crossed paths. Suffering, as I do from a disability which often limits my ability to walk distances which are embarrassingly short on my worst days that I often end up sitting on low walls or the benches at bus stops and around town, of which there are numerous as this is a resort location, and I am usually breathing rather hard and sweat rather profusely partially from physical exertion and additionally likely due to the cocktail mix of medications physicians assure us are required for our betterment as they will place our blood tests and other medical tests within their preferred ranges. Needless to say, I make quite a site at times when I am out and around and more often than I may be completely comfortable though I am very appreciative and would probably be more ill at ease if things were the opposite and everybody just passed a person in distress by without any concerns sufficient to stop and offer to help. These good citizens will even seek the assist from another to work as a translator just to make sure you are not in need of medical or other assistance. This would have been a real rarity before I made Aliyah as my limitations are far from something new and I had sufficient opportunities to test the situation before reaching Israel.

 

Many of you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind or is there something towards which I am working and you would be correct. As many of us have been reading here there has been a steadily increasing levels of violence with stabbings, vehicular assaults, rock attacks, Temple Mount rioting replete with assaults on the police and some shootings as well. Further, there have been calls from Hamas for Arabs to start using poison on their knives as well as to start utilizing homicidal suicide bombings. The idea behind the terror assaults, the rocket attacks and every other form of attacks against Israeli citizens and the IDF are intended to accomplish two things, first to chase the Jews out and destroy Israel or second to murder every Jews thus destroying Israel. There is absolutely no desire to actually form an Arab nation called Palestine unless it replaces Israel after which Fatah and Hamas allied with Islamic Jihad will fight to see who gets to rule on their state founded on the corpses of the six-million plus Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Interestingly enough it often appears that the Europeans and the United States State Department and others from all over the globe, as indicated when the General Assembly voted to accord an Arab state of Palestine non-Member Observer State status in the United Nations with one-hundred-thirty-eight in favor and nine against which were Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Panama, Palau, United States and with forty-one nations abstaining. One-hundred-thirty-eight nations decided to recognize an Arab state which has refused to accept any offer for a state from the initial offer in 1948 to have the lands divided evenly between Israel and an Arab state, and again including a series of times during the last weeks of the Clinton Administration while President Willian Jefferson Clinton worked with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offering over ninety percent of Judea and Samaria with the remainder covered through land swaps as well as all of Eastern Jerusalem including all of the Old City and the Temple Mount even to include the Western Wall and the plaza before it where Jews currently pray as close as possible to the location of the Holy First and Second Temples on the Temple Mount. Then there was the nineteen years when the lands were occupied by Jordan in Judea and Samaria and Egypt in Gaza when there was no desires, claims, votes at the United Nations or calls about occupation over the presence of Jordan and Egypt in the lands now being recognized by the United Nations as an independent nation with overwhelming accordance.

 

The reason which will stop the aims of Fatah, PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the PLO plus additionally Iran and the Islamic State who have also expressed their desire to destroy the Jewish State of Israel, or the Zionist Entity if one listens to their propaganda, is this family feelings between the majority of Israelis and particularly within the religious Zionist community which has been and continues to gain new adherents every day. Even in Israel there are those in the political classes who are attempting to take whatever they can to prevent the eventual surge in the religious Zionist camp from coming to the forefront and take control of the Knesset and the office of Prime Minister. What has been holding these groups back have been efforts to subvert their rising power in the right wing parties, a conflict here in Israel which might come close to the same resurgence in the United States of religious right in the Republican Party. It is just with the political zoo of parties in Israel such subversion is sometimes accomplished by some being driven by the old party power structures while others are lost through the foolish rivalries within this community which in too many cases are due to differences too insignificant for many to even understand. But politics are the same across the world and often make little sense to the average person but apparently are humongous in the political realms. Politics aside, in the real world within Israel, as best as I have been able to discern, there is an attitude which bodes well for the future and the taking on the challenges no matter what the world might try to throw our way. It took close to two-thousand years for the Jewish People to return to our ancient homeland making Israel the first nation to return into existence from exile twice (thrice if the four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt) and one of the few peoples to keep their original language and genetic integrity while in such an extended existence spread over as many differing nations as was the case of the Jewish People. This was extremely well worded in a recent article we read where it was simply stated,

 

“Israel, rooted in the Jewish people as an Abrahamic people, is a prototypical First Nation or aboriginal people, just as the Jewish religion is a prototypical aboriginal religion, the first of the Abrahamic religions. In a word, the Jewish people is the only people that still inhabits the same land, embraces the same religion, studies the same Torah, hearkens to the same prophets, speaks the same aboriginal language – Hebrew – and bears the same aboriginal name, Israel, as it did 3,500 years ago.”

 

The central congealing, central, and treasured truth which held these numerous communities was Torah. Torah cemented our history. Torah preserved our language (even if many of us have yet to remaster our ancient language, the language from where the first two letters, Aleph and Bet gave the English language the word ‘alphabet’). Torah retained our laws. Torah safeguarded our covenant with Hashem reminding us of our special responsibility to work the lands of Eretz Yisroel. Torah gave us hope during the darkest hours. Torah also challenged us through the ages to be better people despite the events which were often collapsing around us. Torah taught us the importance of reading and study. And Torah steeled us to remember our roots in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Exodus with Moses and the entirety of our history and some of the wisest and most sagely rules and advice on life, relations and virtually any situation we might encounter in life. It was the Ten Commandments and the rules establishing moral codes establishing the basis for Judeo-Christian society and the teachings of Psalms and Proverbs which filled out the basis for conscience and morality when most of the world still worshipped idols sacrificing children and others before great stone edifices.

 

 

Ten Commandments Arranged in Hebrew Reading from Right to Left with English Translations Underneath the Hebrew

Ten Commandments
Arranged in Hebrew
Reading from Right to Left
with English Translations
Underneath the Hebrew

 

Much of the basis for a just society was everything opposed by the Nazis as evidenced in this song sung by the Hitler Youth;

“We are the joyous Hitler youth
We do not need any Christian virtue
Our leader is our savior
The Pope and Rabbi shall be gone
We want to be pagans once again.”

That about says it all and many in the Arab Palestinian leadership and the leaders in Iran and other Arab and Muslim nations, terror groups, Islamic religious organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Semites, anti-Israel and anti-Zionists such as the leaders and members of the Islamic State all share an admiration for Hitler’s and the Nazis’ stand on exterminating the Jews with a special note for perhaps one of the main influences to inculcate these thoughts and concepts into Islamic and especially Arab Palestinian thought was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Hussein, the man who mentored Yasser Arafat and had a great deal of influence on Mahmoud Abbas who all dream of causing another Shoah, another Holocaust while a number which includes some of the Iranian leaders, other Arab and Muslim leaders both political and religious, as well as some like Mahmoud Abbas whose doctoral thesis revolved around a version of Holocaust denial. A few final thoughts which need telling, the Arab Palestinians are being fed lies about their state being denied them by the Jews in Israel as it is their leadership which will only accept replacing a destroyed Israel and placing their nation on the corpses of six-million plus Jews and the people, especially those being forced to remain in refugee camps are all being denied basic human rights by the Arabs who refuse to assist their brethren as they would hurt and impose hardship on generation after generation in the hope these refugees descendants will be permitted to flood Israel and vote their subjugation of all the Israeli Jews when they elect the leader who will surrender the lands to the Arab Palestinian state ending any two state solution making all the land between the Jordan River and the Sea one Arab nation and the Jews in Israel stand ready to enforce their idea which is summed up in a single concept, “Never Again!” As we actually are a family whose tree dates back to Abraham and Sarah over four thousand years ago, and yes such things matter and they matter to our family greatly.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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