Beyond the Cusp

February 11, 2018

World Anti-Semitism Will Never Die

 

There is an underlying distaste of the Biblical definition of the Israelites as the Chosen People. This has been taken by the non-Jewish world to mean that the Jews find themselves to be better than everyone else. It never occurs to them that what being the Chosen People was that the Israelites were, or at least Abraham, Isaack and Jacob were the first people who followed Hashem and were to live by the laws Hashem would impart to Moses at Mount Sinai during the Exodus. The Jews are not to believe they are any better than anyone else, they are to hold themselves to a higher standard through the six-hundred-thirteen commandments in Torah and the other laws and admonitions which would be imparted through the Oral Law. Jews were expected to try harder to be the best society they could possibly accomplish. The truth be told, the Jews were actually set up for continued failure as the standard set for them was to become beyond their societal ability to reach and maintain. Sustaining the egalitarian love of all and acceptance of equality of humankind all while living a structured life which kept to the strict thin line guided by Torah and the Oral Law was difficult. The rules Hashem had given at Mount Sinai were an addition to the former code which Hashem gave Noah as the basis for civilized society known as the Noahic Code which contained seven rules (see image below). These were the initial laws which predated the Ten Commandments which were in addition to the Noahic Code and even restated some of the Noahic Code. The Ten Commandments were just the initial installment at Mount Sinai and were followed by Torah which is a combination of history book and code for life and the means for governance when the Israelites entered the Promised Land. The one thing which becomes obvious to one reading Torah is that the Israelites, the modern Jews, were expected to live exemplary lives which would allow them to be granted the grace of Hashem which would also lead to their not suffering from want. The successes they would receive for following the laws set forth in the Torah and explained and fleshed out by the Oral Law would make others desire to live similar lives and also be thusly rewarded. The success was not supposed to make the Jews appear better than anyone else, they were supposed to be an example which others would desire to live a similar life and also be rewarded. Unfortunately, this was not how things were interpreted by much of the outside world.

 

Noahic Codes

Noahic Codes

 

What occurred instead was that some decided that they would simply conquer the Israelite lands and take their wealth. Most of the civilizations who attempted this met with destruction while the Israelites were observant of the Commandments given them by Hashem. But eventually the Israelites turned from the narrow path and this led to their being conquered by foreign powers. The first time this happened was when the Babylonians under Nebakanezzer conquered the Israelites. This still left two tribes from the Twelve Tribes unconquered, the Tribes of Judah and the far smaller tribe of Benjamin. These former Israelites were referred to as Judeans and they would also fall to the Babylonians some years later. The first ten tribes of the Israelites had assimilated by the time the Judeans fell and were considered lost and dispersed becoming the Ten Lost Tribes. When Judah finally fell, the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the First Temple. The Judeans went into captivity and this was referred to as the first exile which was described to Abraham by Hashem. The Prophet Ezekiel prophesized the Jews were to be punished for 430 years because they had turned away from Hashem. The Persians under Cyrus the Great defeated the Babylonians and freed their Jewish captives about 70 years after Judah lost independence to Babylon. This left 360 years which the Jews would require a second exile to fulfill as one must pay Hashem when one strays. We will have more about this when it becomes pertinent. Meanwhile, the Jews, some of them, not all as Hashem had commanded, returned and began rebuilding the Temple. Cyrus the Great was aware of the history of the Israelites and did not desire enslaving them as doing so could bring the wrath of Hashem onto the Persians, something which did eventually happen when the Persians attempted to kill the Jews within their kingdom many years later (the story of Queen Esther and the story around Purim in the Megillah of Esther). The real problem was that the Jews who remained residing in the Persian Empire rather than returning to the Promised Land and live as Hashem commands became assimilated and began worshiping the Persian idols and gods. This and the eventual straying by the Jews eventually spread also to the Judeans who had returned to the Promised Land who were again conquered this time by the Hellenist Greeks. This was followed by the Romans, which was when the name Judean proved too burdensome for the lazy Romans who simplified it shortening the name simply to Jew.

 

Do you remember the 360 years which the Jews still would be required to serve in exile we talked of earlier? Well, now we will explain their importance along with some very unbelievable truths from history. In Leviticus 26:18, Leviticus 26:21, Leviticus 26:24 and Leviticus 26:28 the Torah spells things out quite clearly, should the Jews not fully repent their sins they would be punished increased by a factor of seven. As we have already established, the Israelites, by then having become Judeans and who would soon become Jews, strayed leading to their being conquered and sent again into exile. Their required time left to serve was 360 years but was prophesized in Leviticus to be increased seven fold, meant that their exile would last 2,520 years. Yes, this was going to be a very long and unprecedented exile and if the Judean, Jews, were to actually survive and ever return to the Promised Land, it would be an undeniable miracle. On the original lunar Jewish calendar, this actually translates to 2,484 years. The exile, according to historical records, began in 536 BCE. If one takes 536 BCE and moves forward 2,484 years it required taking the 2,484 years of exile and subtract the 536 years before the start of the modern calendar and you get a result of 1948 AD, the exact year of the founding of the modern Jewish State of Israel. Another prophesy comes from Isaiah 66:7-8 where it states, “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” Israel did come into being in a single day declared a nation holding her Biblical borders from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, some parts of which were lost in her initial war against six invading Arab armies on the day she was founded on May 15, 1948, yet she has survived every attempt to dislodge the Jewish People to this day. The modern state of Israel has been a miracle in every sense of the word and the founding exactly as numerous prophecies had predicted to her survival despite all the efforts to destroy her. The continued survival of the Jews through all the challenges of history is another source of anti-Semitism. There are those who believe that the Jews were an ancient people whose existence today has to be an aberration against nature and as such, they believe the Jews are an affront before all they worship and believe.

 

Some anti-Semitism has religious basis in that they believe that the Jews and Judaism have been replaced by their faith. This is the basis of replacement theology which was prevalent throughout Catholicism, all of Christianity and throughout Islam. There have been some attempts at moderating the resultant hatreds spawned by replacement theology and the belief that because these religions which have presumed to have replaced the Jews as the chosen of Hashem, the Jews became under the control of the devil and now worship and do the bidding of the devil. The Jews have thus been relegated to hell and because of their being an aberration of Hashem and damned by Hashem are thus less than human and as such to be spurned. Further, as they have become damned, they are the first to be suspected of being responsible for any calamity which befalls a community. This has led to many historic pogroms where the Jews were blamed for crop failures, diseases, financial failings and untold other calamities and even simple restlessness leading to violence such as resulting from uncommon heatwaves or prolonged frigid times or any uncommon or distressed natural event. These are easily explained events just as when during the Crusades when the leaders of the forces would know that waiting until battle in the Middle East to have their men take life for the first time would lead to many hesitating resulting in their death at the hands of their enemies. Instead, often the commanders would find a Jewish town and have their men turn on the Jews killing many in the town until the rest fled into the surrounding forests becoming too dispersed and thus would take too long to hunt down. Some commanders would repeat these drills in successive Jewish towns which eventually led to the Jews in the path of Crusaders to flee their villages until they had long passed. These types of anti-Semitism have mostly ended in modern life but anti-Semitism continues leading some to ask why and seek explanations.

 

Modern anti-Semitism has a number of reasons, some remaining from ancient periods such as the remaining remnants existing from replacement theology. Some anti-Semitism comes from preexisting anti-Semitism where parents share their feelings so frequently within the home and between friends who share their bigotries among which include anti-Semitism. But there exists one heinous source for modern anti-Semitism which is all but impossible to stamp out because the sources itself are some Jews. There are those who watch the Jews in their lives closely seeking to find them failing to act honorably and being irreligious. They revel in finding Jews who fall short morally and that leads them to believe that all Jews are failed people. This eventually leads to suspicions that Jews are operating nefariously while using false religious observance to hide behind. They begin to claim that all Jews fake their faith and are really using their faith as a cover allowing them to gain wealth or power or success at the cost of others. Those who hold these feelings will blame their failures on these cheating Jews and this drives their anti-Semitism. They then spread their belief that the Jews are cheating everybody in order to gain their wealth, power and take over the society, steal and bankrupt their nations or other acts of bad faith spread to cover all Jews. They find one bad apple and damn the entire barrel. This form of anti-Semitism has proven to be very contagious, easily spreading throughout a civilization like a wildfire. The reality is that all it takes is one bad actor who was born a Jew to start the suspicions. Soon such suspicion begins to become the object to blame any Jew who has more success, more fame, more anything and the claim will fall back to that Jew they know gained through illicit acts and his guilt is passed on to every Jew who has success which a jealous person cannot explain. They will ignore the Jew working longer hours or having a better education or whatever might be a more accurate explanation and instead simply go to the more comforting idea that their gains were ill gotten. It is easier to explain away one’s lack of success and another’s faster rise to their cheating rather than their hard work. Thus, any Jew who succeeds gives cause for feelings of anti-Semitism. All because one Jew fell short in honesty or righteousness or whatever shortcoming they were caught committing. This should be sufficient for every Jew to exercise greater care in their actions and the way they live their lives.

 

The sources of anti-Semitism are numerous, some ancient, some contemporary. Many are impossible for the Jews to prevent. Some are religious in their origins. Some are pure jealousy. The reasons are impossible to quantify and all too many have so many various origins that they defy definition. The main means of fighting anti-Semitism would be for all Jews to live a Torah observant life and be an exemplary individual in their community and in all areas where they meet others. Jews need be above reproach in all acts and treat every person fairly and with great love of all humanity. But even if every Jew were to live up to the expectations of Torah, follow even all of the Oral Law and treat everyone as they desire to be treated, there would still be those who would find some reason to blame the Jews with cheating everyone to get ahead. Anti-Semitism will never be stamped out until the coming of the Messiah and the Messianic Age. Until then the Jews will be singled out for special hatreds and suffer for unmet expectations. So, we await the Messiah and must assist every Jew to live a more proper Torah observant life and incorporating the teachings of the Oral Law within their lives treating all people with respect and fairness. It will not end anti-Semitism, but it might lessen the number of people suffering this societal disgrace.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 30, 2017

Can We All Have One Tradition?

 

There is a wonderful side of Judaism which will tear it apart. The advantages of these wondrous diversifications, the ever greater variants of the traditions and prayers within Judaism, is that you can seek your own niche where you are most comfortable and everything tends to reflect your concepts and ideals you expect from Judaism. This means that almost any Jew seeking a comfortable place within their religion, Judaism, that somewhere, should you seek long enough or be fortunate and find your home quickly, there is a congregation which practices the Jewish faith exactly as you picture such in your own concepts, points of importance and traditions you remember from your childhood mixed with other items which simply serve to interest and soothe you. This is both an advantage to Judaism and a future anathema for Judaism. Let us explain. We just hope that we upset as few people as possible but we will still tell what we fear and believe.

 

Judaism is a unique religion in that it has remained largely in limbo where the main efforts for over two and a half to a little over three millennia has been to retain everything exactly as they were when the Temple was corrupted by the Greeks and then the Romans with one brief period after the Maccabean revolt when the Temple was rededicated and consecrated for Hashem. Judaism was frozen at a period soon after their return from the Babylonian exile, the second of the three exiles (Egypt was the first) when the Persians permitted them to return and rebuild the Temple and return to their dedication worshiping and serving Hashem. This era came to a crashing halt with the arrival of the Greeks who replaced the Persians and were on their path to conquering Egypt and the Judeans, the remaining Jews residing in Judea and Samaria largely were but a minor conquest. The Greeks did all in their power to pressure the Judeans (Jews) into Greeks by impressing Greek ethics on the Judeans. First was their introduction of the Greek sexual revolution where orgies, homosexuality and pedophilia were introduced and they brought bath houses plus the worship of the perfect, unaltered human form. This led to the Greeks making circumcision against the law and any circumcised males were executed which meant that any Judean following their religion was fearful of being inspected for having been circumcised as that meant certain death. The Greeks were all but immediately replaced by the equally distasteful Romans who were slightly more crafty than were the Greeks. The Romans corrupted the Sanhedrin placing Roman approved and compromised Jews in place and in the main cities the Rabbis were mostly Roman approved. Religious and traditional Judeans retreated to the countryside and the Judean Hills and caves eking out a living subsisting on whatever they could find growing wild or raised in small farming plots. Everything was done to minimize their coming to the Roman’s attention. This led to a strict, traditional and unchanging interpretation of Torah and the practice of their religion and the keeping of their simply life style.

 

The Roman occupation in many ways did not actually begin to come to a conclusion until the decade of the 1950’s and the return of the Jews to their ancient homelands of Eretz Yisroel. The scars and deprivations of the Roman occupation remained even after the fall of Rome as before Rome had even really started their serious decline, they reacted to a Judean uprising by dispersing the Judeans to the farthest corners and throughout their empire just as they had other enemies in order to bury them from the pages of history. Every group that the Romans had used this form of punishment, disappeared from the pages of history just as the Romans had intended. The Carthaginians who were the final political form of the Phoenicians were dispersed thusly with the Capital City of Carthage having the lands surrounding it salted such that it became barren for the next few centuries. The Phoenicians or the Carthaginians, whichever name one wishes to utilize, are gone and no longer consist as a peoples. The others who the Romans thusly treated are equally erased from any following history and to the point that we do not even recognize any names which we could use to display the effectiveness of this punishment. The Judeans proved to be the exception because they had one thing which was different, their definition as a people was transportable and could be applied anywhere and though it was deigned to work best in the Promised Land, in Israel geographically, they had the ruleset and defined history contained in Torah which was established and had an agreed and exact form and wording which was never to be altered making it an anchor.

 

Five beautiful, glorious and holy Torah Scrolls which carry near infinite wisdom and are the foundation of all Judaism and their culture and civilization is built around the Torah and the teaching of Torah

Five beautiful, glorious and holy Torah Scrolls which carry near infinite wisdom and are the foundation of all Judaism and their culture and the Jewish civilization is built around the Torah and the teaching of Torah

 

The other half of their religion and life definition were contained in the Oral Law, their Oral Code which was designed to be flexible and change with time as they proceeded through life together in Israel, but now they were not in Israel or together, thus the Oral Code could be altered in different means for different areas. Thus the Rabbis over the next few centuries wrote and discussed the different ideas and ideals of the Oral Code and codified them into writing such that it would no longer be altered and everybody could remain on the same pages. This became the writings which today make up the Talmud. The most interesting of the concepts in Talmud is that only the final agreed definitions apply as the law, the discussions are included for future reference when new ideas or changes in societies take place. The greatest change has recently occurred, the return and start of the Ingathering of all Jewish Peoples back to their ancient homeland in Israel. But there was and still remains a division in Judaism which derives from whether they were from the Islamic world, including Spain when it was called Andalusia by its Islamic conquerors who were removed finally around 1492 which also included the voyage by Columbus to the New World and the Inquisition in which all non-Christians were brutally converted or killed in a purification of Spain by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella which targeted mostly Muslims and Jews. This forced the majority of the Jewish population to escape with their Muslim neighbors over to North Africa. These Jews mixed with the Jews already living throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Meanwhile there remained a sizeable number of Jews who were spread throughout Europe. There became some not necessarily insignificant differences between these two families of the Jewish Peoples.

 

There are also other groups of Jews with some dating back to the times of King Solomon and others to the full loss of ten Tribes which made up the nation of Israel (the northern kingdom which included the tribes of Dan, Ephraim, Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, Zebulun, Issachar and Simeon) who had separated from Jerusalem and Judea (the southern kingdom which included the tribe of Benjamin) and became known as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel. Some tribes of Jews in disparate regions have made claims as to being descendants from these lost tribes of which two of the most well-known are the Ethiopian Jews and the Menashe from India. The claims of these people are traced and certain realities which would survive in any actual tribes from the Israelites which are commanded in Torah. Should these tribes continue to hold these commandments and practice a Torah dictated lifestyle, then their claim is far more believable and they are invited to return home. The many different peoples is truly amazing and what is even more fascinating is that most of the people from these tribes tested had a particular gene which has been determined as being present in Jews showing the same ancestral maternal origin and also a gene which traces to the Middle Eastern peoples.

 

Eight Hundred Year Old Yemeni Torah Scroll Rescued with the Congregation's Rabbi and Seventeen Desperate Jewish Refugees Accepted and Taken in by Israel Granting Them Citizenship

Eight Hundred Year Old Yemeni Torah Scroll
Rescued with the Congregation’s Rabbi and
Seventeen Desperate Jewish Refugees Accepted
and Taken in by Israel Granting Them Citizenship

 

Where this has led is that even amongst Jews with similar backgrounds, due to the fracturing of the different Jewish communities, there started to form cracks in their practices as each Rabbi came up with something slightly different. Now the struggle is reunifying a religion which though having the identical central basics has also picked up particular practices and traditions which differ each following from a particular Rabbi. This led to some occasions where one Jew would claim, “My Rabbi taught,” while the next Jew countered, “Well, my Rabbi teaches,” and the arguments have led to some less than admirable situations. Judaism and Torah are supposed to unite all Jews to a common heritage through shared history but the histories were fractured by Roman decree and the ravages of time and separation. The Oral history being codified minimized the differences but sometimes the smallest differences are the most difficult to rectify and harmonize. Recently we read an article by Rabbi Melamed who sees the need to rewrite a new oral code which can be utilized as the basis for law in the lands of Israel. These laws would serve as had the original Oral Law and would be adaptable to change, not written in stone. These codes would cover both the secular world and the religious world. They would be a careful blending of Torah teachings and wisdom with the needs of a modern society. This would be worked through using a conclave of leading Rabbis from every discipline in Judaism with all the disparate schools represented from Ashkenazim, Sephardi, Mizraim, Chasidim, Traditional, Orthodox, Zionist, and as many others as can be represented giving the widest view and closest to totality such that what is produced while not granting any one groups complete satisfaction would find the path acceptable to as many Jews as are willing to forge a new unity and new beginning.

 

The horrors of the past will be the flames for the forge with which Israel will become one and our laws will once again be one uniting every Jew and Israelite to the other. The beginning is in sight if we take the opportunity to enlist the many flowers from the far corners of the globe and enlist every Jewish soul, our pluralistic yet harmonious neshama, and once we have merged our futures and woven our pasts into an embroidered and gorgeous prayer shawl with Tzitzit being the only strings attached, we can allow this to cover us all as a single people in our own nation home at last.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

January 16, 2016

Israel and the Jews

 

Allow us to revisit some of the items we have had in articles and draw them together here in one article. This will not be a rehashing of the legal matters, treaties, conventions and other documents and agreements. This is about the Jewish People and the Land of Eretz Yisroel and there are effects which can be observed often only through experiencing and seeing the changes and other effects between the Jewish people and Israel, the land itself. The first thing is that Israel in modern times attracts Jew for any number of reasons. There are two main groups which sometimes cross over and merge for some Jews. There are Jews who feel this strange pull that can only be fulfilled by making Aliyah and return there to their ancestral home which is exactly how many Jews explain there coming to Israel. For some it is the commandment to settle the land which commands the Jewish people to sojourn and commit their only expansive conquest taking the lands promised to Abraham, Izsak and Yaakov in Genesis in the Bible, the Old Testament, the Jewish Bible. Some come to Israel to escape anti-Semitism as Israel is the sole nation which promises to take whatever necessary actions to protect Jews from persecution.

 

Despite the actions of the world to tie Israel’s hands by court threats, protests world-wide, coordinated violence from the Arabs both within Israel and from the areas of Judea and Samaria which have been granted autonomy where their government rewards families whose members attack and murder Jews with higher rewards for more Israelis murdered or mutilated for life. This is what drives the suicide bombers as they know their family will receive a greater salary for life called a pension for a martyr of the cause of freedom, which means literally that they died in the attack, often due to being a walking human bomb, making their family honored and given a pension which is often higher than most Arabs make even those working for their government. This pension, blood money, is an incentive for Arabs who find they are poor and have little hope of providing for the family, often a wife and more than four children that the only way an Arab may decide that a suicide assault on the Jews is their only hope for their family. There have been Arabs from the autonomous region, who have charged at IDF soldiers at a checkpoint with a knife in their hand hoping to be caught and not shot so they can be sent to an Israeli prison as, and some have confessed this, their life would drastically improve where he would have better food and general conditions. Some attacks are carried out by the younger males in a family who know that they will receive next to nothing as an inheritance and for a farming family that is close to a condemnation to poverty and helplessness and they believe their only hope is to kill Israelis so their family will receive a pension should they be martyred and a salary should they be caught and imprisoned.

 

Jews native born to Israel, Sabras (Hebrew: צבר‎), is the name of a cactus Opuntia cactus (pictured below, known in Israel as “tsabar” (צבר) and as the fruit of the Sabra cactus has a hard and thorns outside and its fruit is sweet, soft, juicy and did I mention sweet. That description is really fitting in describing many original Israel born native Jews, some of which are my family. A few native families have resided in Israel since the early and mid-1800s while others have their family’s tree going back beyond and to before the 135CE and earlier 70CE Roman destruction of the Holy Temple and dispersal of the Jews from their land. This was executed in the hope that would destroy the Jewish people as they would no longer be attached to the land. This had worked just as they had done to the remnants of Carthage and possibly numerous other civilizations which we never knew as they did disappear from the face of the Earth. Some have family records which show their families having returned to Eretz Yisroel from the Babylonian Exile when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire on his way to establishing the Persian Empire, one of the largest and most storied in all history. Cyrus the Great gave the Jews his blessings to return and rebuild the Holy Temple and serve Hashem as directed by Torah. Some Israeli families arrived from Europe after the calamities of the Shoah and World War II. An equal or potentially greater number were expunged and forced from the Arab and Muslim nations of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) as well as Iran through edict, pogroms or legal restrictions making life next to or actually impossible. In most cases all property and wealth was confiscated and in the worst instances, forced out with one suitcase per person and those were inspected and anything of worth was removed.

 

 

Sabra Cactus with Fruit and Flowers

Sabra Cactus with
Fruit and Flowers

 

 

When they claim that the Jews of Israel return to their real homeland they are actually there. When the demand is for the Jews return to the lands where they arrived from, do they include the approximate half of Israelis whose former nation was throughout the Islamic world. Further, look at Europe with the European Union and their labelling of products from parts of Israel and the numbers of Jews literally fleeing European nations such as France, Sweden and others as well as the clincher, the unapologetic denunciations of Israel in every manner such that these are so egregious as they can only be described and blatantly anti-Semitic coming from the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. Her inflammatory accusations and denunciation along with her prejudging determinations which would be ruinous for Israel and against every agreement, convention, treaty, Mandate and other legal arrangements and pronouncement or still to be determined through formal negotiations and not the decree of some other nation not involved or even mentioned as a party to the situation are simply over the top. An example of her adamant refusal to take any moderation of her views is easily displayed in this recent debate in the Swedish Parliament where a member demanded of her an explanation of her extremist views shown below.

 

The lands of Israel have been conquered by nearly every empire which showed out of the Middle East, Europe and even from the Mongols from Asia and Egypt from Africa. The only empire to ever get production from the lands of Israel, which did not include simply ruling over and taxing Jews working the lands, were the Egyptians. There are those who claim the lands which today make up the nation of Israel, even if one were to concede Israel all the lands except Gaza from the Jordan River west to the Mediterranean Sea, were originally inhabited by a group of peoples, numerous tribes and city states, known as the Canaanites. This was a valid point in the times of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but by the time the Israelites left Egypt this was no longer the case as the Egyptians collected taxes and provided protection against the Hittites who resided further north possible within what is today Turkey, and from any other invaders. As the Exodus from Egypt was a revolt against Egypt, there would be a natural series of events that a group who had been originally welcomed and over time and a change in the lineage of the Pharaoh that they had been enslaved as had much of the Egyptian people who revolted with a shove and assist from Hashem who arranged ten incentives to persuade Pharaoh to allow the Israelite nation to leave and have their own homeland. The lands the Israelites took forty years later, give or take a few months, was land which belonged to the Egyptians and it was the tribal chiefs and some Egyptians that were defeated over some time and finally the lands were solidified by King David and King Solomon with a fair bit to spare. This marked the end of Israelite expansive designs. Here are some maps of the areas in question.

 

 

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.

 

 

Eventually the land fell to the Babylonians who forced the Israelites into exile working them in Babylon. What is interesting is that the records show next to no Babylonians remaining in the Promised Land more than likely because it refused to produce a decent crop or provide grazing lands. The Persians having some knowledge about the Hebrews and the Promised Land had those Israelite who desired to return to their lands to do so and required only a tax be paid each year. This arrangement worked for a while and the Persian Empire finally fell to the Greeks led by the Macedonian Alexander the Great. The land was again worked by the Israelites but rifts politically had split the lands with the norther ten tribes taking the name of Israelite with them and the southern kingdom was largely made up by the tribe of Judah along with the considerably smaller Benjamin. These were called Judea and had control of Jerusalem and the Temple. The northern tribes were conquered by the Assyrian Greeks and were dispersed throughout their holding and eventually went their separate ways becoming the ten lost tribes of Israel, literally. Judea fell eventually as well but remained in the lands. The Romans replaced the Greeks and from this point forward the life of the lands of Judea and their people who were called Judeans which eventually shortened to Jew.

 

The next part of the lives of the Judean, Jews, was related by a former MK Yaakov Katz in an editorial 407,118: The up to date number of Jews in Judea and Samaria, not counting Jerusalem. In the article he gave a description of what is a Jew which I hope to never forget as it was very relevant to Jewish history, our history. He said that the way to define a Jew is to define us by what others destroyed in order to eradicate the Jewish People, a depravity which has a way too often horrific number of repetitions throughout human history. The Egyptian by restricting us through slavery kept us from our Promised Lands yet we did not simply accept their gods, their idols or leaders who claimed they were gods. The Babylonians destroyed the Holy Temple hoping that would dishearten us and we would assimilate and they would be done with us. Then the Romans dispersed us such that we were scattered with only a few families in any one location which the Romans had done to others to destroy their cohesion and family. This, the Romans hoped would put an end to the Jews. Eventually, after many centuries it was the Catholic and, in turn, other Christians who forced conversion and removed us from our Torah and normal prayers hoping this would end the Jewish problem. Finally we would face the Nazis who decided they would simply annihilate the Jews and finally solve the Jewish Problem. So, if we learned anything, it is that we are defined as Jews by all of our enemies starting with the Egyptians through the Nazis and we find a Jew is the Promised lands of Eretz Yisroel from the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A Jew is the Holy Temple, may it be built in our lifetime. We find a Jew is community and one another as then we have a support group with whom we are more able to remember our commandments and perform mitzvahs and observe the Sabbath. The Jew is nothing without Torah and finally the Jew celebrates life. So, what is a Jew? A Jew is the Promised Land as we were made for each other as well as we are enriched by the Holy Temple which allows for certain Commandments to be fulfilled as they require the Holy Temple and we are to complete the Commandments but those remain unfulfilled. Our need for community becomes evident when after the Roman dispersal we quickly gathered where and how we could and made our little communities where we observed our customs which with time were adapted to the world around us. A Jew without Torah is a Jew unstuck and disconnected from the commandments and mitzvoth which was part of the reason that the greatest of the Rabbis wrote commentary and put the oral law into writings. And finally, a Jew is all about the celebration of life and the great gifts that Hashem has shared with us. What is a Jew in the fewest words possible? I will give it a try. A Jew is the land of Israel with the Temple in Jerusalem and community to be a part of with Torah and celebrating life, Torah, Mitzvoth, and Hashem.

 

All the empires, the Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Assyrian, Roman, the various Islamic and Christian conquerors, the Ottomans and the British all could not make the land bloom; but bloom they finally have done. But that works both ways. The Jews make the land and the land completes the Jew.

 

Coming home to Eretz Yisroel was the most wondrous thing in my life and has lifted burdens from me in ways I find impossible to quantify, let alone to define. For the first time I feel accepted to an extent which surpassed even Colorado in the 1970s and I thought that was heaven yet that barely compares with the coming to Israel. I often need to go look out the window to once again impress on me that I truly am home. The people I meet are mostly willing to go out of their way to help and their efforts mostly are beyond belief as they put up with us not having learned to speak Hebrew. We have found a couple of closely defined niches where we can speak freely and not fear being told to never return. As I explain, we have finally found the Jews we had searched for in the United States and they are all mostly here. I have likely been exposed and learned more about being a Jew here in the last couple of years and the rate of learning is only increasing daily. There are so many people making sure I get things correct that my biggest hope is that I remember one third and I will be far wiser than I was upon our arrival. How would I sum up Israel and the Jews in the fewest words possible? Mutual Fulfillment.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.