Beyond the Cusp

December 18, 2016

Imagine the Return to a Revolutionary Ideal

 

Once upon a time there was the Black Robe Regiment which was the name given by the British to the Colonial Preachers who supported American independence. Not only did they preach independence, they very often were officers in the militias against the Red Coats. The British did all they could to murder these preachers and many gave their lives for the Revolution but the danger did not curtail the Black Robe Regiment preachers who refused to be cowed and were one of the main inspirations of the American revolution. Their sermons inspired and often their brash and brave actions kept the Revolution alive and brought a number of victories against the odds with their bravery and words motivating their fellow congregants often at the most crucial of moments. The United States owes much of the founding in the fighting and the religious basis of the Founding Fathers and the state legislators whose input and approvals were required in the formation of both the federation of America and then the Constitution which was the foundation for the United States of America. There is a possibility that the Revolution could have failed without the local inspiration and organization which was often centered around the churches and their Black Robe Regiment preachers.

 

Black Robe Regiment

Black Robe Regiment

 

All that changed in 1954 at the behest of Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proposed legislation to amend the tax codes affecting houses of worship such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples and other nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions. The amended tax code limited the freedom of speech by members of organizations and entities who had tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) regulations making any political speech such as supporting a candidate, party or other specified political speech. The amendment to the tax codes was named for its presenter and is called the Johnson Amendment. Particularly prohibited was conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office or other sermonizing which may be perceived as backing a candidate or party. The language was vague and unspecific enough that many clergy were silenced from mentioning even certain Bible passages near election times as they might be construed as taking sides on a campaign issue and by doing so backing a particular candidate or party. Such brought to an end political preaching from the pulpit, at least in theory as some such still exists but as long as the parishioners are singing the same tune, nobody complains and such activity continues. This was specifically used to target and silence clergy from endorsing candidates. Over time this embargo on political speech became partisan in nature in too many locations as a ban against conservative politicking while backing leftist causes or progressive Democrat candidates. Still, care was taken to never mention any names and instead to often mimic campaign slogans working them into sermons or choosing verses carefully for recitation which would appear to back one candidate’s positions or damn the opposing candidate. Still, clergy still need be far more reserved and careful and a far cry from the history of clergy, especially when one remembers the Black Robe Regiment.

 

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

 

Should Donald Trump as president keep his word and successfully repeal the Johnson Amendment thus freeing certain tax exempt institutions and their personnel from conducting any political activities, especially campaigning or endorsing candidates, imagine the consequences. We would witness the liberation of the clergy and the resultant rebirth potentially of a new Black Robe regiment preaching and supporting political positions more aligned with their religious beliefs. There need be no great fears from secularists as they won’t be in houses of worship forced to hear any sermonizing, especially political sermonizing. Rescinding this regulation, expunging it from the tax code, would be a strike for freedom of speech. Placing a political muzzle on the clergy and threatening their tax exempt status was a bad idea from the start, one might even say criminal. But then Lyndon Baines Johnson was not exactly known for tact or freedom of expression for anybody disagreeing with his views. He was better known for strong-arming political rivals by any and all means at his disposal. This was most evident during his time as President which also served to allow his passing every piece of legislation which became the backbone of his “Great Society” and a remaking of the social safety net and the start of an increased welfare system. Some have blamed this for many societal problems being faced by American society currently. Just maybe a little moralizing before Election Day voting would serve as a positive influence. Just Maybe.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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July 28, 2016

The State Versus Religion and Family

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In the most recent times there has seemingly been a war waged over who is responsible for raising children. This battle was best epitomized when Hillary Clinton came out and stated at the 1996 Democrat National Convention as if it were established fact, “It takes a village to raise a child,” (Full Speech Below). The entire speech may have been her best presentation despite her almost Al Gore like metered cadence throughout the entire speech though once in a while she appeared almost attached to or excited by what she was proposing and her meter increased briefly. But the advice that the village, a euphemism for the government, is vitally interested in the raising of the child is a direct threat to the stability and autonomy of the family. This has become the watchword for the school teachers who receive additional training through approved courses which instruct that the teachers and school nurse or other medical officer and the principal are the first line of defense against improper ideas and concepts from being introduced to children because parents have been known to introduce archaic religious “indoctrination,” their phrasing, not ours, which must be instead replaced with the new age socialized concepts where the whole society teaches that which is beneficial to the society instead and above that which is beneficial to the family. The society is known by another name, another reference and that is government. But before we can even address the war against parents and government as the first parent of every child, we must first look back at an earlier conflict between science and religion which morphed into a battle between government and religion and has brought us to the world we have today.

 

 

The first concept required is to realize that all relationships whether private, public, familiar, governmental, religious and whatever; can be studied as living entities where the healthy and most adaptable grows in scope, influence and power and the lesser entities wither and eventually die. The earliest times in human existence, even before Homo Sapiens appeared, the basic unit was the family. This was because most of the groupings were clan based and one could tell your stature, standing, history and almost everything else about you by your name as it was an indicator of to what clan from which you arose. Different clans would have cooperative agreements often sealed with the exchange of women to show good faith and create and actual binding between the two families. This also served genetic diversity thus avoiding to some extent the genetic failings such as hemophilia and other disorders. With time clans merged to forge stronger and more capable collections which would supersede the family or clan unit. These groups were the first tribes which granted greater genetic diversity. All of this arose before the first modern man but was instrumental to development of complex society. The tribes grew to include numerous clans with some better at hunting and others at gathering knowing what was and was not edible while still others showed aptitude for healing and tending the young. In these more primitive conditions there were those whose task was the care of the youngest children but as they grew they would be trained in the skill they showed the best attributes by others such as a huntsman would train the young hunters, the gatherers would train the next generation of gatherers and so on. Tribes also began the concept of history, then simply known as the story. The story was one which was uplifting and always made the hunters as great warriors defending the tribe and the gatherer who risked life regularly trying new untested fruits and vegetables and if they survived and approved the tribe would add another plant to their diet which could have allowed the tribe to use previously unexplored lands. Such a person who would live to old age was likely rare but one who had along with the oldest hunters who reached an age where their use became telling of the stories. These positions evolved to become the job of an entire group who were to be the first priests who would eventually weave a set of codes which made the first religions.

 

With the onset of herding and farming, the time of city-states appeared and by now the tribal leaders were chosen by some method of testing or perhaps a single family’s eldest surviving son at the time of their father’s demise became the next ruler and the age of government had begun. It is important to note that the family was the initial and earliest defined obligation followed by clan and then tribe. With tribe we had the loosest governmental forms but religion grew into an actual class with priests who may have also been a warrior class which led the defense or assaults taken on by the tribe. Finally, about the time of the first cities, which would soon become city-states, did actual government take root amongst mankind. This was the first time that there would be actual laws enforced with proscribed punishment or at least delegating the one who proscribed the punishment for a particular crime. There came formalizations with religion already having led the way in this and they were followed by government. There came positions assigned with likely the first being the close guards who protected the ruling figure, then the ranking members of an enforcement group, the forerunners of modern police and judicial system. Often times the judicial system was also run by the clerical priest class as they were also the most learned class. This started the initial conflict between religion and government, even when a wise leader tied religion and government, blurring the difference and thus granting themselves the highest position in governance and religion. This was exactly what the Pharaohs of Egypt did when they proscribed for themselves a godly aura and was closely imitated by the Caesars of Rome.

 

There were a few exceptions to the basic complete authority of the governing leader or even the governing and clerical leaders which we have discussed a few times before, and that was the Torah which was the founding document for the Israelites who became over time today’s Jews. The rules given approximately three-thousand to three-thousand-five-hundred years ago were the framing of some of the ideas used by the Founding Fathers when drafting the United States Constitution leading to the proposed tight restraints on the Presidency. Such restrictions such as a President being withheld from granting themselves property or wealth derived from their knowledge of government workings nor could they simply invent and apply laws without the consent of Congress and were made answerable to both the Congress or the Supreme Court should they stray from the defined limitations of their office. These concepts along with the right of a state to leave the Union if they would so choose and do so in a prescribed manner and other limitations on a President were badly damaged or destroyed by Abraham Lincoln who basically became the government during the Civil War as he all but declared formally a State of Emergency permitting the President all but unopposable powers. Still, the limitations which were first set in Torah, the laws given at Mount Sinai in the book of Deuteronomy 17:14-17 which found their way even presumably to the present day in limits on the President of the United States and were placed as the very first laws limiting the powers and impositions of Kings where it read:

14  When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,”
15  you may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord your God will choose. One of your own communities you may set as king over you; you are not permitted to put a foreigner over you, who are not of your own community.
16  Even so, he must not acquire many horses for himself, or return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, since the Lord has said to you, “You must never return that way again.”
17  And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself.

 

Meanwhile, somewhere between the gathering at Mount Sinai where the Israelites responded to the coming giving of “The Law” said, according to many translations, “We will obey and we will listen,” and today in much of Europe and the developed world where the people would not even listen to the religious codes and laws, let alone obey them as religion has been supplanted by government and the new priests are the lawyers who believe themselves the ultimate interpreters and applicators of the law twisting it to their will and whim. At some point around the rise of Persia and the rise of Rome religion and government became permanently separated in what would become Europe and much of the rest which came under either Greek or Roman rule. This began the contest between the two main centers of power outside the family unit. At that time the two still crossed boundaries with government infringing on religion for their advantage and religion infringing on government very much to their advantage. A sign of both comes as part of the Inquisition. Where it was an obvious usurpation of prosecutorial powers taken into the hand of the Church striping that power for the priest class who acted as judge, jury and often executioner, their prosecutions were also abused by government to destroy adversaries or other challenges to the throne or regional power structures. At the same time King Philip II of Spain used the purification edicts from the Church in Spain to raise and launch the famous invasion fleet of the Spanish Armada against England and Queen Elizabeth I which ran afoul of vicious storms and the fleet of English gunboats which were smaller, faster and more maneuverable capable of passing between the huge troop carrying Armada frigates who when firing at the English fleet had their shot pass over the top of the low slung English ships and simply blasted the other Armada ships in their own fleet. Almost all of the Spanish ships sunk and the remainder limped home and that ended this threat to England and its Church of England, a Protestant Church closely tied to the Tudors after being created by Henry VIII. The creation of the Church of England was another perfect example of religion out of the needs of the ruling monarch. Henry VIII needed a divorce which the Pope refused him; so he made his own Church after he went home.

 

Spanish Armada of Giant Frigates Holding Hundreds of Troops and Cannon Ports Only capable of Shooting Over the English Fleets Comprised of Sleeker and Low Slung Ships with Deck Cannons and by the Hand of G0d Seen as the Weather

Spanish Armada of Giant Frigates Holding Hundreds of Troops
and Cannon Ports Only capable of Shooting Over the English
Fleets Comprised of Sleeker and Low Slung Ships with
Deck Cannons and by the Hand of G0d Seen as the Weather

 

Over the ensuing years as science explains more and more of the unknowns and all appears to be explainable, the place of religion has diminished in the developed world. The need for religion to explain those things we did not understand had been greatly diminished but the final understanding is just as far out of the grasp of science now as it has ever been. The question surrounding the why, what and who caused the explosion which science has named the Big Bang is unknown and seemingly will remain unknown for the foreseeable future. Using Einstein’s equation of E=MC2 where ‘C’ is the speed of light which is times itself and multiplied just by the weight of the objects in our own little solar system and one gets a very large number and should that computation be done for all of the presumed objects just in our galaxy, the Milky Way, and that number almost becomes unimaginable and finally, if we add the viewable estimated number of Galaxies which the Ultra Deep Field Hubble Telescope took of a postage stamp piece of the sky thought to be virtually empty by all previous observations and that number is unimaginable by the average physicist, let alone the rest of us (see image below).

 

Ultra Deep Field Hubble Telescope Picture Each Smudge and Pinprick of Light is an Entire Galaxy

Ultra Deep Field Hubble Telescope Picture
Each Smudge and Pinprick of Light is an Entire Galaxy

 

Using science as a weapon of ultimate destruction, government in the developed world has assailed religion attempting to make any religious belief or system presumably archaic, its practices the equivalence of a rain dance, the prayers comparable to a voice at a séance, and its commandments, covenants, decrees or other rulings as the equivalence to Ouija board revelations. Concurrently government has replaced religion as the determiner of right and wrong, the provider of charity, the reason for a Sabbath renamed weekend, collector of alms as an integral portion of taxes and slowly rendered any expression of religious observance unacceptable in public. About the only suppressive action government has yet to take concerning religion has been to make religion illegal. The reason is likely because should they actually make religion illegal, religion would likely make a comeback just because it was outlawed. Especially any reference to Judaeo-Christian ethics,codes, holidays, prayer, deity, prophet or Bible passage, the government put the final clasp subduing even the slightest religious thought from the marketplace of ideas. Meanwhile, ignoring the dangers, those in governments are permitting Islamic religious teachings claiming that it is study of culture and comparison of governance and civics. This plus an extra-judicial importance placed on a statistically insignificant threat posed by anti-Islamic acts which have remained relatively constant since 2002 after a noticeable rise in the second half of 2001 while anti-Semitism acts are rising in some locations many folds but these acts are minimized or completely ignored. There have been those who have theorized the governments’ in the developed world preferences for Islam stem from the Islamic anti-Semitic and anti-Christian ethos and actions. This may also be behind the initial rush for European and developed nations taking in of “Syrian refugees” while not considering taking in Christian refugees facing persecutions in the Sudan and other nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

 

Finally we get to the family and the initial start of governmental infringements on the family unit. One of the initial assaults on the family used the equality for women fight to weaken any male claim of being better suited at any particular field of employment due to the differences which were previously thought to differentiate men and women. The most ridiculous of the denied differentiations was the strength requirement as it was agreed that strength requirements for men had to be restructured for women such that they required a similar percentile for women to be passed. One of the first to be altered was the strength testing to be a firefighter. The requirement for men to carry a full body double along with his fire suppression and breathing gear including wearing the mask down two flights of stairs and out of a building under fire simulated conditions had to be scalable. They had to take the weight of the dummy and scale it to meet the same percentile as women as it took for men to pass as well as scaled gear weight and so forth. This required new sized dummies and smaller breathing apparatus and other expenses just to train and test women applicants. The argument made by one Fire and Rescue company in court that in an actual fire the size of the person who may need be carried would not be scalable was rejected when they had a number of fire squad captains admit that they often set an order of people entering a building or if inside chose the largest and strongest to be tasked with such carries and thus the test really was not about actually carrying a real person from the building but actually a strength test and thus would meet those requirements for scalable testing. This argument was also the initial scaling of military combat arms testing including for Ranger, Green Beret, Seal and other special forces testing and training. The real aim was just as much blurring differences between men and women and removing any male dominated jobs from having such as their label. This blurring has continued that there exist work environments where the surname for all employees has been simplified to the unisex denotation using the letter ‘M’ for both genders. Then came the real punch to the gut, when some schools began to use a new picture book titled “Heather Has Two Mommies,” to depict that a family was not the conventional one of a Mom and one Dad. Such attacks were later continued with any combination which desired the status of a ‘family’ to be so denoted.

 

The gender wars and war on conventional definitions continued and we even saw women enter the military training at all levels until today women have been cleared to serve in any combat role even in actual combat condition, though this has not been tested to the best of our knowledge, not even in Europe where such equanimous ideas go to be tested. There was the court challenge against the classical definition of the family in a number of states establishing the right for other than heterosexual couples to adopt children. Eventually, we suspect, that multi-coupled relations will also seek equal rights in adoption as well as tax codes dealing with deductions for married couples where communal communities will be permitted treatment as what will likely be referred to as a ‘greater family’ or a ‘communal family’ and demand they receive treatment equal to a traditionally defined family. Eventually, through whatever means are required, the definition of what constitutes a family will be so weakened such that a person suffering from having multiple personalities will be able to be granted status as a family. Then, as with religion, the government will claim that they are the ultimate family and thus children will be raised by a licensed individual who will soon become a government employee much in the manner that teachers are now government employees. In an age gone-by, some name it the frontier age but really was anywhere a town was small enough and in an unpopulated area where there is no overseeing governance, when the citizens, particularly parents, desired a teacher who was knowledgeable in what was called the three ‘R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmatic, they were very adaptable) the wealthy peoples or person would hire a teacher and the one-room schoolhouse would be erected by the townsfolk and that was how early schooling was accomplished. Eventually the town would grow where grades by age groups, usually the young, middle and advanced groups, and multiple teachers were required, where in some fortunate places the wealthy people still provided the salary for the required teachers but eventually the entire community would jointly provide the teachers’ salaries with each parent paying their share according to the number of children they placed in school. This would eventually become some form of taxation collected by the governing body who also hired teachers and this will eventually become the department of child-rearing with the law eventually requiring all children to be raised from birth by the government.

 

Caring, educating and making every individual dependent on the state for everything from birth to death, cradle to grave care, thus makes everyone completely comfortable with doing exactly what the governing bodies demand. Just pray that by that time some overseeing the governing has been taken over by a self-repairing computer system and not by very fallible human politicians such as the wonderful and kind imbeciles who are elected or appointed in far too many societies for such to become all-powerful. Still, it is the nature of any organism, be it an individual organism, a collection of similar organisms, a collection of differing mutually beneficial organisms, a collection of balanced organisms, a collection of prey and hunter organisms, an organism composed of a collection of organ or any other imaginable system of organisms as such as today’s political class where they are dependent on others on which they prey (we are somewhat unsure which class they fall into to be honest) which exist in the many strata which we find defined in our modern society. The government grows by replacing existing and often very functional systems by meddling and regulating until they have subsumed the entire system and then they start to lower the expectations such that they are able to claim by the lowered standards how government run programs are superior. They will always point to the area where by their own defined criteria they prove to be superior. Often the criteria they point to first is inclusion as they will find groups which was at the margins or preferably outside the margins of the private run systems were capable of including and claim superiority due to the sheer numbers served. This has been evident most often with schooling where minorities of students are able to afford private school and the public education system serves all including those who would be unable to afford private school at the current cost. What they hide is that should they give parents a voucher which can only be used for attending private schools, that the very students they point to would easily be able to afford private school education. The truth is that there would be an entire market of schools which would educate children for less. The same would very likely be true in other government run institutions, but government has two basic advantages; first is they accomplish the assigned tasks with the minimal amount of effort from the people served and, even more importantly, they can make their providing of the assigned services required to be provided by government trained and licensed individuals thus making only government the sole provider by law/regulation.

 

The last thing which is an evil by which government grows and makes the government the beginning and the end in all places government desires to control is the power of laws made by fiat and without review by elected officials. The Federal Government is the most guilty of this intrusion and dictation over the people without review by the people’s elected representatives. This mechanism is known as regulations. The House of Representatives and the Senate will all too often pass legislation which sets goals and not mechanisms and then assign the flushing out of the how to accomplish these goals to a cabinet or department within the government to figure out who, what, where, when and how these goals will be defined and met. They do this without any input beyond the vague and often amorphous set of goals even leaving the final definitions of the goals and then formulate regulations. http://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/10871/Sunstein/ target=blank>Cass Sunstein was appointed by President Obama to be his Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Regulatory Affairs and assigned to review existing Federal Laws and find those laws which would allow for new and varied regulations to be fashioned in order to complete desired acts, actions, positions and requirements desired by President Obama and his team of Czars so that they could accomplish policy goals without involving Congress. Many of the regulations which Cass Sunstein wrote will lay waiting for complimenting laws and regulations to be passed or written and then they will also be applied. Very few if anyone other than the President and his former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs actually know all of what was found, written and sitting waiting for the appropriate time that these regulations will be required for government to accomplish another expansion of its powers. The regulatory route is what is most vital for government to grow and expand into new and various areas.

 

Sometimes one is required to look back centuries and research deeply into cultures and societies in order to see that which has changed. One area where this is particularly true is printing. There have been some radical advances in printing made because of computers but that is more in preparation as when printing mass numbers of items such as newspapers and books, the methods used have remained very constant since the invention of moveable type which was where each letter of the alphabet and each number from 0 to 9 along with spacers and punctuation were made on individual pieces as blocks and thus could be arranged in any order. With enough of each particular block one could print many pages of the same letters very quickly. Before that invention printing was done by a specialist carving out a master copy reversed often in wood and it would be used but had a limit on how long they lasted. Additionally, the letters carved into the master were permanently in place and could not be used in another page. A whole new master would need to be made. Before this method, things were even slower as the only people making books were a few crafts-people known as calligraphers and specialist Monks trained in calligraphy. Books in these times as well as anything else we would print today and requiring more than one copy were all made each copy by hand individually. The Monks trained in calligraphy would spend their entire lives on one book if many, many copies were required and those who had the finest styling and abilities would be permitted to make copies of the Bible. Making a Bible was the highest form of calligraphy. There are still some who are studied in this art who are hired to make such books and these books are rare, often one of a kind, and are extremely expensive, some priceless. There are still books and scrolls made today by hand. Torah scrolls are one such example and are written by trained Rabbis who often spend years making a special Torah scroll and months making normal Torahs. Just for the record, the government used to hire private companies to make their respective printed material such as pamphlets, maps, tourist informational material, records of Congressional actions and other necessary items. Today most of these are printed by the government with a vast number done at their Pueblo, Colorado printing facility. Of course all money is printed by the government at the mint. Thus far, schoolbooks are written and printed by private companies often following set guidelines set by, you guessed it, regulations. These regulations are changed at intervals as the government, the Department of Education, change their requirements or decide to emphasize different concepts. From some of the most recent textbooks we have read, it appears that much of what we were required to learn in school has changed drastically and not necessarily for the better. Concepts such as whole word recognition which replaced phonics and sounding out worlds, new math or newer new math, and history as well as civics texts have changed drastically. There is a reason so many college educated students know so little about history and government which may make for great fun on the Lettermen Show but is less funny when these same people vote. The lack of making informed choices was made, if one follows the news, obvious to many ‘informed experts’ by the two choices made as the candidates for President by the two major parties. We believe it could have been worse, but it might have been better. Our closing remark is a quote from Thomas Jefferson. It may be a reference to Jefferson’s comment to his nephew Peter Carr, “State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well, and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.” As noted in Jefferson to Peter Carr, Paris, August 10, 1787, in Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 12:15.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 11, 2016

Israel Remembrance and Independence Day

 

Today is Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron), and tomorrow is Israeli Independence Day (Yom Haatzmaut). On the Gregorian calendar it will be on Sunday, May 15, but on our Hebrew calendar it is tomorrow. There will be fireworks and celebratory activities all across this small but vital nation and the vitality will definitely be on display for all to see. But that independence came at a price which must be respected and have its day which is why we have Remembrance Day, or Memorial Day, one day before, today. Today we mourn all those lost to anti-Semitic terrorism, anti-Zionist terrorism and anti-Israel terrorism which have a shared root directly related to Independence Day and a more historic foundation, for some possibly remembrance also goes back in their hearts ever further than the official definitions. Officially we are remembering all those lost to terrorist strikes, all our soldiers lost in the battles and wars we have been forced to fight to continue to even have a nation, the six million souls lost in the Holocaust and for me the souls lost to the wars fought as recorded in the Bible and to all the pogroms, cleansings and other atrocities all but impossible to imagine from both sides of the great history of the Jewish People. Most people are familiar with only the modern anti-Semitic history of Europe and Russia and are unfamiliar with the similar history for those Jews who resided amongst the Arab world as well as Spain where when the Muslims were pushed back across Gibraltar and back into Northern Africa that the Jews too were cleansed from Spanish lands despite that the Jews were often victims alongside the Christians when there was persecution in Muslim lands against the non-Muslims. And then there was the particularly troublesome part in the Holy Lands.

 

The conquest of the Holy Lands by Islam, then the Crusaders, then Islam, then more Crusaders and finally Islam, took its toll on the Jews still residing in our homeland but powerless to free it of either curse. Both were a curse as when the Muslims attacked, the Jews were slaughtered right along with the Christians; and when the Crusaders attacked, the Jews were slaughtered right along with the Muslims. The one constant was whoever was trying to conquer the Holy Land and Jerusalem in particular, the Jews were always on the wrong side as far as the attackers were concerned and often we were also seen as part of the enemy to whoever was defending against the attack; so the killing of Jews wholesale was always the outcome. These Jews I also remember because their only sin was to be living in our natural and ancient homeland. We had been thriving in this homeland when these forces of religious intolerance were still sacrificing their own to idols, before the Roman Empire, before Alexander the Great, before Darius and Cyrus and the Persians and before the Babylonians and Phoenicians and were only preceded by the Egyptians of that era, a different group than today’s Egyptians, the Minoans and the Hittites, Moabites and other peoples who existence has disappeared into the dust and only records stand in edifices still baffling modern engineers and archeologists. All the fallen throughout Jewish history should be remembered even if they also have their own holiday as they also were defenders of these lands.

 

 

Sculpture Dedicated to Soldiers Depicting Fallen Soldier

Sculpture Dedicated to Soldiers Depicting Fallen Soldiers

 

 

One might ask why dampen our spirits one day before our celebrating the wondrous miracle of the reestablishment of our ancient land into the modern world? The answer is so that we never forget and Never Again has additional meanings. And not to fret, the greatest transition in a national mood can be witnessed tonight as Jews across Israel go from somber remembrance to unbridled joy in a matter of seconds. We have had a history which has prepared us well for such shifts in our national mood. Remember Haman from the Megillah of Esther where we went from condemned to all be murdered across the Persian Empire in a single day and were instead decreed we would be permitted to defend ourselves without punishment from the King and we triumphed and survived by the thinnest wisp of smoke once again. We had faced similar threats before and would again and again as we are again today as most of the Islamic world has sworn to destroy us starting with our “partners for peace” the Arab Palestinians and Hamas, Hezballah, Islamic State and Iran and those are just for starters. Do not get us going down this road because it is not a road for great worry, we have faced these odds before and we are still here, and I do mean here as in right here in our ancient homelands where we belong no matter what the United Nations or the community of nations and a special shout down to the European Union and all the rest in Europe who support whoever is fighting against Israel despite our posing them no threat. We have survived threats just as severe before and we will very likely face others just as dire in the future. When your peoples have survived for over three-thousand-years you have some history and you have faced threats to end your existence and survived and thus are confidant, rightfully so, that you will continue to do so.

 

There are stories of rulers from France to Russia to the tips of Africa where they asked their wise men and advisors to define or explain such concepts as eternity, the Creator and a whole list of other things which defy definition as they imply that which is limitless and will last throughout the ages even well beyond their empire or other human measure of time and the answer given was always the Jews. Mark Twain once wrote, “The Eternal Jew” which reads:


If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.

His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him.

He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed; and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other people have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, and no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind.
All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

 

His commentary is a good place to leave these thoughts. Today in Synagogue we will all say prayers of remembrance and tomorrow we will quote prayers which are triumphant, one of the rare moments we do so. Then again, after three-thousand-years we have good reason to celebrate the fact we are still here to attend services but first to the memory of all who made our continued existence their worthy sacrifice and to Hashem who has walked with them whether they knew so or not. And perhaps that is the thread that binds the Jew to their heritage and gives them their spark, Hashem and His Torah which has been the glue that binds every Jew to his brothers and sisters no matter their path through the ages. Our thanks to our soldiers, our defenders and a remembrance to those from amongst our midst, the great sacrifices that were made and to our future; and may it serve Hashem well, with pride and humility, another opposing set of ideals we Jews have learned to hold simultaneously, or are at least still mastering.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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