Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Israel and the nations - the detailed sources

Drawing on the sources identified in this paper I conclude; Israel’s relationships with the nations has particular relevance to Islam since it is the only mainstream religion that conforms to Torah’s universal laws as evidenced by the fact Halacha (Jewish law) permits a Jew to enter and pray in a mosque.

Parshat Yitro deals with the mystical and psychological relationship between the source of the minds Insight and Wisdom and its reflection from the attribute of Understanding[1] as it relates to the re-incarnation of Cain in Yitro and Abel in Moshe. The Zohar quotes; Yitro and her (Moshes wife) two sons came to Moshe and Moshe went out to meet him. To explain Rabbi Shimon quotes Isaiah 2:3 “ Many people will go and say ‘Come let us go up to the mountain[2] of HaShem, to the house of the God of Jacob, He will teach us His ways and we will walk in His paths.’ For Zion will come from Torah and the word of HaShem from Jerusalem”.

The Zohar goes on to explain “To the house[3]” – Jacob, who called this place “house”. “Mountain and house” – although all is a single rung [70a] one transcends the other[4]. “Mountain” – for other nations, when they come to enter under Her wings, “House” – for Israel, to be with them as a wife with her husband in one dwelling, in joy, crouching over them like a mother over her children. “…Moses father-in-law, and his sons and his wife came to Moses to the wilderness…”[5]. Since it is written “to Moses to the wilderness” the Zohar explains it to be the “Mountain of Elokim” – a place for converts to convert and whoever comes and attains it and is called “ger tzedeq”[6].

Rashi derives from the phrase “he encountered” that Yaakov prayed at the site of the Beis Hamikdash, and instituted the maariv prayer. There is a Midrash that cites the verse “Give praise to the Lord our strength; blow a teruah to the G-d of Yaakov”[7]. This Midrash asks why Yaakov is singled out here, and answers with a parable. Once a king had three friends to whom he showed a site where he intended to build a palace. The first looked and said, “You mean on that hill,” and the king left him. The second said, “You mean in that field,” and the king also left him. The third friend looked and said, “There’s going to be a palace over there.” The Midrash says that Avraham called the Beis Hamikdash a mountain, Yitzchak called it a field and Yaakov, on the other hand, called it a house, as when he awoke he declared, “this is none other than the House of Hashem.” The Midrash then relates that Hashem said that because Yaakov called it a house even before it was built, it would be called by his name.[8][9]

The Midrash Rabba quotes Rebbi Elazar in the name of Rebbi Yossi Ben Zimri who suggests that the ladder of Yaakov’s dream was rooted in Be’er Sheva, stretched to Beit E-l and had its center at Jerusalem. (Midrash Rabba Bereishit 69:7). The “house” Jacob speaks of is associated with Luz and Beit El, the location of Jacob’s dream, the monument he anointed to God (matzevah), the place Isaac was offered as a sacrifice, the mountain of God identified by Abraham and the field in which Isaac prayed.

Avraham always believed that Avraham and Hagar’s son Yishma'el would be included among the Chosen People. We find signs of this in many places. When Sarah suggested exiling Yishmael and Hagar, "It was very bad in Avraham's eyes, because of his son"[10]. It required a direct mandate from God to force Avraham to send Yishmael away. A more poignant proof is the Midrash cited by Rashi[11] regarding God's command to Avraham to sacrifice Yitzchak.[12]

When did Abraham have a son from Sarah? When he prayed on behalf of Abimelech[13]" [14]

Hagar, also “ha ger” translated “the convert” and Sarah’s concubine with whom Abraham had Ishmael, praises the Seeing God for recognizing her and showing her how to be humble[15]. The term used is אָֽמְרָ֗ה – [a]M[e]Ra[h] the meaning of which is drawn from its 15 occurrences in the Torah. It comes from a primitive word root that can mean answer, appoint, avouch, boast about self, call, declare, challenge, certify or command and it could reflect truth or untruth. In context the occurrence reflects Sarai’s encounter with Hagar, Avraham’s encounter with Avimelech over Sarah[16], Rivkah’s advice preempting Yaakov to take the first blessing of Yitzchak[17], Leah’s birth of Reuven[18], Tziporah’s action to save Moshe’s life[19], Hannah, Elkana and the birth of Shmuel[20] and Elisha’s miracle breaking the drought in Shomron[21]. In addition in Proverbs[22] - Wisdom, understating and evil[23], Kohellos[24] - Shlomo seeking one man’s wisdom, Lamentations[25] - faith and plea for help, Yechezkel[26] - the pleasure businessmen of Tyre obtained on hearing the temple was destroyed, Hoshea[27] - on illicit relationships and childbirth and punishment for harlotry and ultimately its relationship to Peace[28].

The present dynamic of Israel to the nations of the world is like The Temple Mount compared to the neck of the Mount Moriah on which the Temple Mount it is located – in the daily recitation of blessings before Sh’ma – “…break the yolk of nations from our neck and speedily lead us upright to our land” refers to the trappings of Israel’s exiled state and the last request made before entering the higher mind states designated for the Sh’ma and Shmoneh Esrei (Amidah) prayers. The future dynamic of Israel to the nations of the world is the Temple compared to its location on the neck of Mount Moriah.

The mystery of Parshat Yitro alludes to the higher order of Wisdom’s reflection from Understanding and the negation of ego to correctly interpret and benefit from it. Its inner meaning is alluded to in the twin girls born with Abel and the twin girl born with Cain, where Abel gazed on the (reflected) image of the Divine presence and for this he received death.

If Israel interprets the reflection of its wisdom in the manner of Yaakov’s middle line of Tifferet, it will learn that the neck is the designated place through which the correct vision of the head can pass and when this occurs the yoke of nations will be removed once and for all.

[1] Yitro - Apples from the Orchard Rabbi Wisnefsky on The ARI and Rabbi Vital
[2] Zohar [Matt] Yitro pg:388 mountain of H” - Avraham
[3] Zohar [Matt] Yitro pg:388 house Jacob – on the identification of the sire of Jacob’s dream as the Temple.
[4] Zohar [Matt] Yitro pg:388 Mountain and house…”both allude to Shekinah mountain alludes to accessibility whilst house alludes to intimacy and She welcomes converts under Her wings…
[5] Exodus 18:5
[6] Zohar [Matt] Yitro pg:389 that place – accessible - such a person is linked with Shekinah
[7] Tehillim 81:2
[10] Bereishit 21:11
[11] Bereishit 22:2, based on Bereishit Rabba 55:7
[13] Bereishit 20:18
[14] Pesikta Rabbati 39
[15] Genesis 16:13
[16] Genesis 20:5 and 21:16
[17] Genesis 27:6
[18] Genesis 29:32
[19] Exodus 4:26
[20] 1 Samuel 1:22
[21] 2 Kings 6:28
[22] Proverbs 9:4
[23] Proverbs 30:16
[24] Ecclesiastes 7:27
[25] Lamentations 3:24
[26] Ezekiel 26:2
[27] Hosea 2:5
[28] Hosea 2:12

Friday, September 14, 2012

Overt and covert - you can’t make this stuff up!

At the recent attack on the US embassy in Yemen they chanted "O Jews, Khyber, Khyber. The army of Muhammad will return!” President Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton compared to President Bush, Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice could not be more contrasted. Overt leaders are scrutinized according to their more public declarations. Covert leaders perceive their private declarations shield them. However, the death of American Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens expresses the disdain this lawless war has for overt and covert leaders of the American administration. The nature of this war is better reflected in the agreements Al Qaeda negotiated to launch their operations in the mountainous regions through which the Khyber pass links Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here the Pashtun people and their Taliban student fighters mount their continuing attacks; loyal only to those who provide their present temporal relief.

Climbing out of a bear pit with the bear may be easier than taming the beast outraged over social condition, legal imposition and moral composition. The insurgencies to which we subscribe are fuelled by ideological benefactors intent to prevail over tribal culture and the American administration is complicit. In 630 CE Prophet Muhammad’s army defeated the Jews fortressed in the Khyber pass. The battle paved the way for the conquest of Mecca and the establishment of Islam. After the Prophet’s death, Caliph Omar marched on Jerusalem where Akiva, a Jewish convert to Islam, advised the location of the destroyed Jewish Temples where Omar built his shrine. The shrine was erected over the place of the Holy of Holies and a subsequently built church and exists today as the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

While Obama bows to Saudi Kings and the Bush family court their wealth, Sunni and Shiite blood flows in streets where ideology and culture clash, yet successive administrations have failed to recognize the importance of symbolic ‘game changing’ cues. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s latest demand for ‘red lines’ exposes the pathetic state of diplomacy in a modern world where enemies hide amongst friends to spit in the face of ideologists intent on dominating culture. When insurgency matters and life is cheap there is no end to the enemy! Complexity is rife and no more so than in the Jewish roots of the staunch Pashtun people, the symbolism of Caliph Omar’s shrine on the Temple Mount or the Saudi Kings Sunni reign over Mecca, Islam’s holiest site. Red lines are an absolute necessity in the face of such ambiguity especially when Shiite Iran is intent to prevail over Sunni Arabs including by proving their usefulness against Israel. No amount of coaxing, befriending, wheeling or dealing will contain the pent up anger and resentment that targets opposing ideology.

Covert operations of the Obama Administration intended to deliver planned results often play into the hands of cultural regimes that respond unexpectedly to make their insurgent views known. Such insurgency is the nature of modern terror, any opposition to it must be founded in unwavering support of suitable counter culture, yet American presidents repeatedly fail to recognize the importance of Israeli symbolism to American cultural survival. How much begging and pleading does Mr. Netanyahu need to offer to make the point? Not only are red lines on Iran important, red lines on pretty much everything else are equally important. Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Yemen, Libya, Europe, Russia and China you name it, every one of these countries must understand that America means business and Israel is its chosen example over anything else in the region. For those who have visited Israel, its more than 40% Muslim population is a microcosm of a future Germany, Italy, France, England and America, a future with rapidly expanding Islamic constituents. Are these countries going to function as judiciously and how will their cultures and cultural icons be preserved?

Preservation of cultural identity is the color of our modern world. We must retain the freedoms necessary to respect and regard that which best serves each regions constituent cultures allowing those cultures to flourish. Notwithstanding counter insurgencies, established cultures cannot withstand long term ideological imposition to behave covertly. The Meranos of Spain and Portugal who were persecuted to convert to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition still light candles in their kitchen cupboards before the Jewish Sabbath without knowing why they do it. Its time for overt leadership to ensure the red lines are drawn and widely publicized so that the preservation of our rich human heritage can prevail and if President Obama doesn’t understand that, Prime Minister Netanyahu has an obligation to expose his weakness.