Beyond the Cusp

March 14, 2017

America and Judaism Share One Great Concept

 

Most nations and religions trace themselves to some great person who was responsible for their greatness and in some form or another deify that individual. For nations the examples are legion. Rome traced to the two children raised by a she wolf, Romulus and Remus, China was unified by a leader who was born of a dragon which brought him to China where he unified the separate kingdoms forging a great power, England has King Arthur and the Camelot myth and so on it goes. Christianity gave us Jesus, Islam gave us Mohammed, Buddhism gave us Buddha, Taoism came from Tao and so forth with each religion traced to a person who is raised above other men and in some way deified or immortalized. What follows will likely not sit us well with many readers but is presented for thought and not as any claim that the two seminal foundings were directly related beyond their emphasis on the sanctity of the human spirit and its enabling by the Creator, by Hashem.

 

But with the United States there was no one individual though George Washington is regarded as the father of the nation nobody would claim that he founded or singularly established the country. His greatest feat was giving up power when he could have continued as President until his death thus establishing the temporary power of the office instead of making it into a form of elected monarchy. The American idea was the world of the Founding Fathers, a group where though many people may choose one they prefer, none is more vital to the forging of the United States than the others. Sure we credit Thomas Jefferson with writing the Declaration of Independence but this only came about because John Adams deferred and chose him because he was a talented writer and an amiable person where, as John Adams is credited with stating in persuading Thomas Jefferson claiming when Jefferson claimed Adams was the stronger writer and better at expressing himself claimed that was why he could not be its author because he was far too disliked and anything he wrote would be torn apart by many of the others. James Madison is credited with crafting the initial wording of the constitution but again it became the work of all the signatories in some means or another. The United States is not traceable to a single person but instead to singular ideals expressed in that Declaration of Independence and a form of governance delineated in that Constitution and those are the two pillars upon which America rests.

 

Judaism is similar in that there were great people but no individual can be credited with establishing the religion. Granted when Hashem altered Avram’s name making it Avraham and Sari became Sarah, this would be the seminal point where the Covenant would be made and circumcision the sign of the contract which was to be undertaken by every male; yet the religion itself is transferred through one’s mother and not the father. To be a Jew one is required to have come from a Jewish mother. But Avraham received the Covenant with Hashem; he did not codify Judaism and did not write the Torah. Torah was transcribed by Moses which was why he is referred to as the lawgiver. But Moses transcribed Torah and led the Israelites from Egypt which is told in Torah in Exodus and retold in Deuteronomy. Moses went to great lengths to refute any deification including assuring that he would have no burial location which would be known so as to refute any worship giving all due credit to Hashem. Joshua was the leader of the Israelites when they conquered the Promised Land. Hashem kind of left out that after leaving Egypt the Israelites were going to have to conquer the Promised Lands but that was the way of forming a nation and claiming your place among nations in those early days of humankind. There also were numerous Judges and Prophets who ruled the Israelites but none were greater than the others in reflection and thus none were ever made to be more than wise and knowledgeable men. King Saul was the first Israelite king and was deficient in many ways but did preserve the nation passing it to King David more by default than any other means as the battle which claimed Saul’s son and heir to the throne also threw Saul into such grief that he took his own life, not the most glorious of endings. From King David the throne passed to King Solomon. King Solomon was regarded as one of the wisest of men but also had great failings chief amongst them were the inadequacy of his children who brought great harm upon the Israelites or Hebrews.

 

Torah the Founding Document of Judaism with Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights Founding Documents of the United States of America

Torah the Founding Document of Judaism
with Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights
Founding Documents of the United States of America

 

What is less known by many is that the Jews were the remnants of the Israelites. The kingdom ruled by Kings Saul, David, Solomon and so forth broke into two kingdoms with the northern Kingdom called Israel and the southern Kingdom named for its larger tribe, Judah, named Judea. Israel consisted of ten tribes and their priests and was conquered by the Assyrians and never actually heard from until modern times. These became known as the ten lost tribe of the Jews but were really the ten lost tribes of Israel. Jews are the remainder of the tribes of Benjamin and Judea and the Priestly classes, tribes, of the Levites and Kohanim. These two tribes basically merged into the entity of Judea and the people were the Judeans, obviously. With time people grew lazy and did not care to actually say Judeans so it eventually shortened to simply Jews. Judea traced back to Judah and Benjamin to Benjamin, two of the sons of Jacob. One need remember that when Judaism relates to Avraham it is almost always referenced as Avraham, Isaak and Jacob as these were the Patriarchs buried in Hevron in the cave bought by Avraham in which to bury Sarah. Still the story of the Jews hinges greatly on Jacob’s twelve sons but one was responsible for the survival of the entire family, Joseph. This was one of the more unusual stories amongst many unusual stories. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers but because of this act he was in the right place at the right time to become a favored one of Pharaoh and was placed as Chancellor over Egypt second only in power to Pharaoh himself. He managed resources of food saving Egypt from a great famine and saved his family as well. This led to the eventual enslaving of his family which was then brought forth by Hashem through the vessels which were Moses with Aaron. As is said, the rest is history except in this case it is more accurate to say the rest is the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament and then history as that story has had a rebirth which was foretold in the Bible with the formation in a single day of the nation of modern Israel in its ancient homelands, though that is still being contested the eventual forming of Israel will include its ancient lands even if that takes a thousand years.

 

Judaism and the United States owe their formations to many individuals with none more vital than the rest and neither would exist if not for all of these great people all of whom were guided by principles and forces beyond their comprehension. Did these people know they were a part of something far greater than themselves, of course they did. But each group had the guidance of great people when required the most and both claim that Hashem is an integral part of their formation as a nation. Neither deifies any individual and instead when they use the term Creator their reference is to the Creator of all things as told in Genesis and both Judaism and the United States of America claim to owe their creation to that very same Creator and both claim the view that mankind was imbued and “endowed by that Creator with unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These principles are found throughout the laws and preaching in Judaism and were carried forth in Christianity and found their place in the Declaration of Independence where they were once again ensconced in the human mind and established repeatedly but most forcefully in Torah and thus made available for Thomas Jefferson to include in his declaration.

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

February 24, 2015

A Fundamental Difference

 

There was an episode of Star Trek titled “The Savage Curtain” where a molten rock creature named “Yarnek” decided to learn what the difference was between the forces of good and evil. It pitted Spock, Kirk, Abraham Lincoln and Surak representing the forces of goodness against Colonel Green, the Klingon Kahless, a tribal savage woman named Zora, and evil incarnate from Earth history, Genghis Khan representing the forces of evil. After good finally triumphs over evil Yarnek argues that it sees no difference between the forces of good and evil. The difference pointed out was what each side fought for, their root cause and not their methods of achieving victory which was defined by a base and simple reality of the contest. Yarnek is satisfied that it understand and returns Spock and Kirk to the Enterprise and returns to standing motionless happy in its new found wisdom and prepares to stand motionless is some prop room until Yarnek gets a new role in some ‘B movie’ in the future.

 

The simple premise depicted in the episode was a basic principle for the studies of history and philosophy which prepares college freshmen to critical thinking on a not so critical basis in 100 level coursework. It also can be utilized to define the root differences and similarities between Islamist Fundamentalism and other driving forces throughout human history, but for simplicity sake we might wish to limit the discussion to what would fit into a single Star Trek episode. We might even simplify the discussion to Yarnek style simplicity and examine what each driving force behind other philosophical movements in the past and present.

 

Let us first look at Fundamentalist Christianity and their desire as it pertains to the goals set for Christianity. The end goal of Fundamental Christianity is to live a life which is beneficial to mankind and to spread the words of G0d as defined in the New Testament and fulfilling the new Covenant defined within. Christianity is a proselytizing religion where they are pressed to spread the world of Christ, the sacrifice which Jesus made in the name of all mankind, and to persuade all people through their actions and the introduction to the teachings of Jesus as defined by the Apostles depiction of the teachings and life of Jesus in the New Testament. Initially the Christians were a passive force spreading their newly found faith by word of mouth and by their actions and ultimately their passivity and refusal to lift up arms against their oppressors. This changed after the Roman army fought under the banner of Christendom under the Constantine. After Constantine had his vision, his revelation, the drive for conquest, which was a Roman concept, was married to the message of Jesus and Christianity. This led to the new definition of what could be called an Imperial Christianity. Christianity carried forth with it now being the accepted religion of the Roman Army and thus its new defining principle to spread Christianity over the world and convert all to Christianity. This continued until the Reformation of Christianity which introduced those forces which introduced competing definitions of Christianity. These new and supposedly more pure forms of Christianity ended up married to governments of Christian nations and then began the attempts of each strand of Christianity to become preeminent. This continued until Christianity was purged from the political attachment it held to governance until then. Once Christianity was stripped from defining governance a remarkable thing happened, no longer were wars fought between Christian nations to impose their particular brand of Christianity on the others; Christianity now allowed for the separate forms of Christianity to exist, though the version practiced by the reigning monarch did tend to receive preference. The wars continued but were now no different in their aims, to conquer the known world and rule all mankind; it just was no longer performed in the accepted name of Christianity. The splitting religion away from the state and thus from earthly politics allowed for the birth in Christianity for freedom of religion which is the present state though the attaining a complete break from imposing Christianity rather than spreading Christianity through example and teaching and a total reliance on persuasion and devoid of the means of force is a concept still being perfected. What can be said is that Christendom has made great strides towards the allowance of freedom of religion and equality of all religions before the governance.

 

If we now investigate Fundamental Judaism, a force that likely only existed for a few short periods; we find the target of this early form of Judaism which spanned from Abraham through to the conquest of the lands which made up the kingdom of the two most heralded rulers of the Jews, King David and his son, King Solomon. The initial period of Jewish Fundamentalism was during the becoming a people through realizing their goals of conquering the lands they believed were granted them by G0d. The period of Jewish History in question stretched from the start of Judaism with Abraham, their Exodus from Egypt and their forty years of purification and change from a mindset of a people under bondage to a people enjoying freedom with Moses and on until they had conquered their “Promised Lands” under the leadership and marshalling of forces initially by Joshua. Once these lands were brought under Jewish rule their designs on the world were completed and the rest of their mission, their desire to live as G0d had intended, was to be a force for good as defined within Torah, and to study Torah and divine from Torah what being a people of goodness actually required from them and by living a life defined by Torah, the Jews were to be a light unto the nations of the world, an example of living a holy and blessed life. There were no designs or desires to rule the world or over any peoples once the Jewish state was established. The second period of Jewish Fundamentalism could be defined as the modern Zionist movement which has defined their purpose is to reestablish Jewish rule and autonomy over those same lands as are defined in Torah as the ancient homelands gifted them by G0d. There is no desire to conquer the world or to convert the world, but only to live in their corner of the world and be as a light unto the nations, a representation of goodness as defined in Torah. As above, there are no designs or desires to rule the world or over any peoples once the Jewish state has been established nor is there any desire to convert anybody. The region under Jewish control will have a religious theme and basis over the governance, or at least is supposed to have such, but is still instructed by Torah to not only allow freedom of worship, but equal treatment under any Torah ruled kingdom thus the concept of freedom of religion is one of the basic ideals of Judaism. There is no driving desire to convert others to Judaism unless a person chooses to seek conversion and even then there are stringent requirements of any convert but they would be welcome within any Jewish society.

 

Islam has a more original belief on the ideals of conversion which will ultimately lead to a world where the survivors are all Muslims as there would be no room for anything else. Islam teaches its adherents that their religion had replaced Judaism and Christianity. This is the concept of supersessionism. Christianity believed they were the replacement under G0d and they had superseded the Jews thus negating the Covenant between G0d and the Jews and Islam believes they have superseded the Christians and through that, also superseded the Jews. The Muslim believes fervently that the revelation by Muhammad to be the final revelation and that no further revelation is possible as Muhammad was actually the restatement of the Covenant between mankind and G0d and that Islam is the true path while Judaism and Christianity had corrupted the words of Allah and thus perverted religion making their versions of worship an abomination and their sole hope for paradise was through Islam. This is an important part of Islam as it is necessary in order for Islam to fulfill their Covenant with Allah. Islam tasks the Muslims to fulfill Jihad which is defined as the Greater and Lesser Jihad. One form of Jihad is the perfection of oneself under the rule of Allah and the complete and utter surrender of the self to Allah producing a perfected person. The second form of Jihad is the conquest of the entirety of the world for Allah in order to bring the perfect religion of Allah before all in the world allowing them the opportunity to realize their sins and to repent and surrender to Allah and thus become a believing Muslim. Each person is to be permitted the offer of joining Islam and surrendering themselves before Allah willingly but should they continue to reject Islam then they are to be presented with one final choice, Islam or death. This is instructed in the Quran where the Muslim is instructed to spread Islam by the sword if that is what is required. The finality defined by Islam is a world where all believe in Islam and Islam rules the world according Sharia. Nothing less than the complete subjugation of the world by Allah can be accepted as Islam is currently defined and since the Quran cannot be altered there is a point of contention which is not capable of reconciliation between Islam defined by the Quran and freedom, only one can survive. Islam defines the perfection of the world as the supremacy of Islam and the sole existence of mankind is to surrender to Allah and obey the Quran as defined under the Sharia and nothing less is acceptable and the end result is you will ultimately have a world that has been conquered by Allah forever with any person expressing even the most innocent free thought not defined as acceptable under the Quran to be defined as an apostate for leaving the true faith of Islam and who must be put to death.

 

Under Judaism the world continues as it desires with the Jews only insisting on ruling their little corner of the world which is a nation not quite the size of the Philadelphia to Boston greater megalopolis, Christianity desires to teach the world the message of Jesus and hope that their actions are of sufficient influence along with the loving words of Jesus to persuade the world to follow their teachings and Islam simplifies everything and boils it down to conquer the world for Islam and convert all to surrender before Allah. Well, at least that definition just might fit into the basis of a Star Trek episode, nice, compact and simplified to the point of absurdity. I could see Spock correct Bones and Kirk who were arguing, explaining, “Simply put for your understanding, Doctor (glance emotionless at Dr. McCoy); Jews are content in telling only those who ask, while Christians burst forth telling the world, as where the Muslims are simply commanded to conquer and purify the world of nonbelievers. (look with slight smirk at Kirk, sharply turns and returns to his station on bridge)”

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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