Beyond the Cusp

April 12, 2014

The Death of Zionism in America

This coming week we will hold our Passover Seder and say the words as we have traditionally for near two thousand years, “Next year in Jerusalem.” How many of us even think for a moment that we really desire to hold our Seder next year in Israel, let alone make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pesach? Have those words become simply a sign of our dedication to some quaint notion of a hope which only arises when we as Jews are facing duress and something we simply say when our lives are secure and comfortable? If that had become our truth, then we would serve G0d and the honesty He most certainly treasures to stop muttering these words which many of our mothers and fathers in generations before us spoke as an honest yearning and likely with a small tear in their eyes knowing that such was probably beyond their ability and that there was no Eretz Yisroel to return to anyhow.

 

But what are the excuses today? Are we really far too comfortable in our Diaspora lives or is it something far worse; is it because we no longer have the hunger and desire for returning to our ancestral home, the place the L0rd our G0d gave to us after visiting the Ten Plagues upon Egypt and giving us the Ten Commandments and Torah to guide our lives in the Land of Milk and Honey? Has the spark and inspiration that guided our forefathers’ lives through desperate times of persecution when even holding the Seder was forbidden and they held theirs in hushed tones for fear the neighbors might hear our retelling of the greatest story ever told finally lost its last glow. Now, when we throw open our doors and invite all who wish to join in our celebration of freedom no longer fearing for our very lives have we gotten so free from fear that we have lost all memories of how, as we will also say on this Seder night, that “Every generation there is one that will rise up against us.” Are we so content in our comfort that we refuse to heed that warning believing that it no longer holds any relevance in our enlightened time? Are we so haughty that we believe as did our fellow Jews did in Europe as they felt safe in their assimilated lives and many of whom were even warned of the coming evil by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in 1938 telling of waves of persecution and super-pogroms were imminently coming to Poland and eastern Europe and that for the sake of their safety and their lives the Jews should leave for Palestine as soon as possible. Are you telling yourself the same falsehoods which our forefathers have repeatedly said and believed even mere months before the coming tragedy which would threaten their very existence, “It cannot happen here as we are honored members of the society holding jobs as teachers, lawyers, physicians and are accepted amongst our non-Jewish friends.” If you are fortunate enough to have the diaries from your ancestors, please reread them and see what they uttered just before their world was turned upside-down.

 

This reminder of times past will not be heeded by any in America or elsewhere throughout the world as many Jews are not only assimilated but happily ensconced within the fabric of their exiled existence and attained a level of calm and apparent acceptance that they have lost any concern or desire to return to their home, Israel. They will point to the dangers they perceive threaten Israel and they are not completely without reason to point such out. At least in Israel the soldiers met on the streets, often carrying their weapons with them, are soldiers who are trained to defend Israel and her citizens within including, or actually especially, her Jewish citizenry. Passing one of these soldiers in Israel gives one a sense of belonging and a degree of safety that is difficult to describe. It is a feeling of belonging, of being home. In Israel there are no politicians calling for the banning of items of religious wear, including yarmulkes, nor are there people demanding the end of Shechita calling it a form of cruelty. Yes, such madness has not come to America and the United States is not Europe. The events and problems of anti-Semitism which is growing more prevalent across Europe is not such a problem here in our neighborhoods. These same words were likely spoken not that long ago in the Ukraine, Rabbis in the Ukraine have downplayed the evidence of a growing anti-Semitism there. Then there is the increasing awareness of anti-Semitism in France where the Jewish population increasingly is leaving France with many coming home to Israel. Should one actually take an in-depth measure of trends even in the United States they would see a troubling increase in acts victimizing Jews growing in frequency and severity such as the Knockout the Jew game which has spread to numerous major cities. Make next year the year you came home and hold your next Seder in Israel if not actually in Jerusalem. Listen and believe the words uttered for centuries at the conclusion of the Seder service, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

חג פסח שמח

בשנה הבאה בירושלים

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 27, 2014

Netanyahu Releases Trial Balloon Immediately Shot Down by Palestinians

Back at the start to the year we commented about the reaction by Palestinian Authority President Abbas or other Palestinian spokespeople to almost reflexively announce a new Palestinian position as a “Red Line” countering any proposal which was floated by the Israelis in the article “Kerry’s Great Accomplishments and Future Peace Plans.” We got to witness this reflex when predictably Saeb Erekat, lead Palestinian negotiator in the current talks, came out within hours and proclaimed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s idea that the Jewish settlers should be allowed to continue to reside in their homes under Palestinian rule after the establishing of the Palestinian state was absolutely a Palestinian “Red Line” and that no Jewish settlers would be permitted to live within the Palestinian state. Truth of the matter is that Prime Minister Netanyahu did not make such a statement though that was how it was reported by some news outlets. What the Israeli leader had stated in his address at the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland was that he would not evict any of the settlers and later commented that he saw no reason why the Palestinian state would have to be “mono-ethnic.” In an effort to be accurate, after the idea was made public by the media, a number of Israeli leaders came out denouncing the idea as absurd, unworkable and unacceptable. The most noteworthy Israelis reacting negatively to the idea were Economics Minister Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party and coalition member along with Deputy Defense Minister MK Danny Danon and Deputy Minister of Transportation, MK Tzipi Hotovely, both from the Prime Minister’s own Likud Party. Of course most people would realize the absurdity of leaving the Jewish residents in their present homes and allowing the area to be placed under Palestinian Authority rule would lead almost immediately to their deaths as there would be no IDF or other Israeli forces to protect them from ethnic violence. The truth of this was revealed on October 12, 2000, when two IDF reservists, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami, got lost and ended up in Ramallah where initially the Palestinian Police took them into custody for their own safety. Soon afterwards a mob of angered Palestinians surrounded the police station demanding to be permitted to kill the Israeli soldiers. When the situation became life threatening the Palestinian police deserted their station and the mob literally tore the two reservists apart murdering them in a most horrific and barbarous manner. A similar fate would likely be the inevitable fate of any Israeli Jews left under Palestinian rule within the Palestinian state.

 

So, obviously Prime Minister Netanyahu could not have honestly had any intent to desert Israelis, settlers or otherwise, to the whims of the Palestinians which makes the entire series of events around this idea almost completely absurd. The only objective that could have potentially been gained from this was to make a concrete example of the automatic setting by the Palestinian leadership of a new “Red Line” countering any proposal or idea the Israelis make concerning the peace process. Even with this example, by the end of the week it will have been allocated to the memory hole and disappeared from any future discourse, so any gains which might have been accrued will be short lived. Perhaps this entire episode from the Israeli side was simply to have a demonstration for the benefit of United States Secretary of State Kerry and any others attending the Davos conference as to one of the main stumbling blocks which is making it near to impossible for any peace to be forthcoming from the current talks. The problem with that idea is anybody who has missed the point demonstrated in this event by now is probably not going to accrue any additional knowledge from these events as their minds are locked in the “Blame Israel” position.

 

Meanwhile, on other fronts the European Union Parliament has continued their assault against circumcision calling it dangerous and damaging to the child. The European Union recommended to member countries that they initiate and pass legislation to place limitations to under which circumstances and by whom a circumcision can be performed. Their plans would completely ban the ritual religious practice of circumcision as it is practiced by both Muslims and Jews. In Judaism the rite of circumcision is considered to be a vital part of the Covenant between the Jewish people and G0d and as such an essential cornerstone of the faith. This considered along with the attempts across Europe to ban Shechita, the procedure used to produce Kosher meats, is just one additional proof of the war being carried out against Jews and the practice of Judaism. Many of the Jewish practices also are applicable to the practice of Islam and Christianity thus the truth is that the European governances are actually declaring a war on historic religions while attempting through legal pressures and manipulation of education and societal standards to enforce a secular and atheistic socialist humanism as the religion of the new age. This quasi-faith substitutes the government for God by claiming that all things which are good and worthwhile come from government and that the government is the sole arbiter of good and evil. The main consequence thus far of this war against established religions aside from the worship of the bounty and goodness of the State has been a rekindling of anti-Semitism across much of Europe. This was recently made obvious in Rome where boxes containing pig’s heads were delivered to the Israeli Embassy, one of the main Synagogues and a Jewish Museum currently having a Holocaust memorial on display for Holocaust Remembrance day which is today, January 27, 2014. Included with the vile contents of these boxes were notes refuting the actual events of the Holocaust and defaming Anne Frank as a hoax and imaginary individual used by Jews in their ploys to control governments and financial institutions. That was just one of the most recent anti-Semitic events which have also caused the desecration of numerous Jewish cemeteries, Holocaust memorials, graffiti with Nazi references upon synagogues and Jewish schools and centers and, worst of all, attacks on people wearing Jewish garments such as a Yarmulke. As a consequence of such anti-Semitic events and attacks, many Jews are leaving Europe and heading to either Israel or the United States. It is unfortunate to have to state that those European Jews who are seeking protection and a healthier environment in the United States may very well find themselves under the same rising tide of anti-Semitism even there where, due to a cultural practice occurring in numerous cities called the “Knockout Game” or “Knock Out The Jew” or “Get the Jew”, Jews have become subjects for being struck in the head with the full force of the assailant intending to knock their Jewish victim out cold or, minimally, knock them to the ground. In some of these attacks once the Jew has been knocked to the ground they are set upon and kicked and punched severely injuring them and some cases have left the Jew dead in the street. It is seemingly the position of some, and hopefully a very small group, are of the belief that the Jews should not be permitted to live in their society or even their nation while also holding to the position that the Jews should be forced from Israel and all of the lands be given to the Palestinians. That begs the question, if Jews are to be denied their own nation in Israel and banned from every other nation on Earth, then where are we to live, and I do understand what the answer would be. Sometimes there are those in the world which are revolting in their hatreds and these people must be stood up against and refuted by good people before their hatreds lead to another disgraceful disaster for the human race.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 27, 2013

A Convergence of Celebrations of G0d

There will be a convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the Jewish holiday of Chanukah this Thursday. While many are consuming their Thanksgiving turkey along with numerous family traditional dishes our Jewish friends will be lighting the Shamus candle then using it to light two more candles as it will be the second eve of Chanukah with the first day concluding at sundown, conveniently likely between football games (some traditions have been known to impinge on other older traditions and many count football among them). Both Chanukah and Thanksgiving are holidays honoring and remembering G0d, from whom all bounty originates. So, what are the actual histories of these two holidays?

 

Let’s take Thanksgiving first. We can actually thank one woman for the fact that Thanksgiving is a recognized national holiday and her name is Sarah Josepha Hale. She drove a one person lobbying effort for years in her pursuit of her single passion, making the holiday of Thanksgiving a national holiday insisting that the last Thursday of November for it to be celebrated annually across the United States. She would regularly file petitions with the sitting President of the United States pushing Presidents Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan all to no avail. Finally she found a receptive ear in a fellow religiously inspired President and one who it is said was of kind disposition and gentle character though not a man to be opposed or taken lightly. It was with the following words that on Oct. 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November from that day forth “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” This did not bring Sarah Josepha Hale’s drive to make Thanksgiving the day we remember, or at last try to make it remembered in the same religious and dedicated spirit that she saw this great and oft mistaken for the start of the Christmas shopping season and college football playoffs, holiday to be. So, this year right before the Turkey is given the fateful first slicing why not say a quick thank you and toast the spirit of “The Godmother of Thanksgiving”, a title she definitely earned, to Sarah Josepha Hale. So, have a hearty fest and a peaceful and pleasant Thanksgiving to all.

 

Chanukah is so much more than a simple holiday over the one small flask which contained but a single day’s amount of oil that was still unopened and pure enough to be utilized to light the Holy Temple Lamps, even a single lamp yet that oil supplied their needs for eight full days, the same amount of time necessary to prepare new purified oil thus finally having a supply that would provide the lamps lighting and the Temple could once again serve the L0rd. Chanukah is more than a holiday celebrating the miraculous victory of the small band of Hebrews, Judeans, in their war of attrition which eventually ousted the Hellenistic Assyrian Greeks, one of the four empires which were set up when Alexander the Great divided his entire empire between four of his most loyal and finest generals upon his death. The Hellenistic culture worshiped the human form and considered the human as virtually godlike and, as is occurring in parts of Europe today, forbid the desecration of the human form thus outlawing circumcision as it was seen as defiling the infant and detracting from his perfection. Many Jews remained insistent on carrying out the circumcision of their male children even knowing that when caught the penalty was death. The best part of the story though is exactly how it is remembered that the revolt was initiated.

 

Many of the Jewish priests who cared for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had allowed, as they were threatened and feared for their lives, pagan idols and pagan ceremonies to be held in the Holy Temple. When the Assyrian Greeks would travel into the remote areas outside of Jerusalem they usually would try to provoke the people knowing that they did not follow the Hellenistic ways and remained faithful to G0d which angered the Greeks. It was on one of these encounters where things went off on a tangent starting the revolution. The small village was tended by a priestly family by the name of Maccabees. When the Greek officer demanded that the father of this priestly family, Mattithias, make a sacrifice to one of the Greek gods he refused. There was a High Priest from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem who talked slightly aside with Mattithias in an attempt to persuade him that there was no harm in doing as commanded and that it would prevent giving the Greeks any reason to cause harm to the village or its villagers. Mattithias became enraged and stole the sword from the Greek officer’s scabbard and slayed the High Priest and then turned the sword upon the Greek officer killing him. His sons, who would be led by Judah after their father’s death, joined in and they slew a number of Greek soldiers. It was then that they realized that a larger contingency of soldiers would soon be in their village and they should head off into the Judean Hills and hide in some cave or remote place. It was what Mattithias then said that turned a family running for their lives into a well manned and soon armed small army of liberation. Before turning to flee Mattithias screamed, “Those who are with G0d come with me.” That rallying cry was the ignition of the revolution which had some of the worst odds of success. Fighting a mostly hide and ambush guerilla style war the small army eventually made retaining the small and insignificant strip of land too costly and the Greeks retreated. Then came the cleansing of the Temple and the rededication of the Temple and in turn the people as many had adopted Hellenistic practices and needed to be, as too many Jews today could use, a reeducation of what it meant to be a Jew and the covenant, commandments, Torah, religious rites, ceremonies and everything that makes a Jew Jewish. So have a happy Chanukah to our Jewish friends.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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