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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Can bleeding heart Jewish liberals be cured?

Was Jesus a bleeding heart Liberal?
I recently read “Out of the Cave”, a philosophical inquiry into the Dead Sea Scrolls research. It is an example of the extreme ignorance, perhaps antisemitic bias against the Jewish record and the desire by many to ignore the evidence of Jewish significance in Israel as far back as 2600 years ago. 

The late Edna Ullmann-Margalit exposed these biases, which occurred over more than 50 years of academic research into the discoveries at Qumran. Her honest rendition of events also exposed her own biases against her Jewish heritage as influenced by the international consensus that quickly formed to shape what many hoped would be a momentous event for Christianity.


After the discovery of the magnificently preserved collection of scrolls, the predominantly Christian academic fraternity, permitted by the Jordanians quickly characterized the texts and people of Qumran an Essene sect. They did this to support their religious conviction that among other elements celibacy, practiced by the Essenes was a precursor the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. It was only after 1967 when Israel reclaimed its 1948 land west of the Jordan River, that qualified Jewish academics began to obtain access to the records and inject their cultural knowledge to restore sanity to the research.


It turns out, Jewish academics familiar with issues of halacha (Jewish religious law) were able to decipher much more than Christian academics ignorant and blind to the ways of righteous, orthodox, Torah observant communities. They described a priestly scribal community at the Qumran site, people engaged in extensive holy writings. A people who immersed in Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) each day, especially those involved in writing God’s holy names, a practice that continues among Jewish scribes to this day.


Clearly this community isolated itself from the ravages of Roman influence on the Jerusalem Temple community of Levite priests to the West. Some of the specific rules governing this scribal community also describe the minute details that motivated their departure from other righteous communities in Jerusalem. Greek then Roman insurgence into the region pressurized Jewish life to such a degree that communities with foresight began to question their own devotions, often highlighting differences between the failing branches of Jewish practices and those that would ultimately survive.  


Edna admits to be a proponent of the Essene theory, but as she progresses Out of the Cave, seemingly she recognizes the importance of interpretations by halachic authorities and knowledgeable academics of Jewish life. However she finds their technically proficient interpretations “decidedly unromantic” and hints that the more exciting Essene theory be momentarily permitted to irrationally define her brilliant academic credential. Perhaps this was too much to ask, because deep ignorance of her own culture shattered her academically compromised view, still she refused to submit to its superior logic.  

I once wrote of Winston Churchill's statements on the extreme anti-Israel/Jewish bias that caused him to pass comment. Winston Churchill said "God deals with the nations as they deal with the Jews. Of every fifty officers who come back from the Middle East only one speaks favorably of the Jews. That merely convinces me that I am right." Edna’s remarkable honesty is evidence, a wonderful insight to Jewish people who have drifted far from their cultural practices to a place where in the vacuum, emptiness and self loathing is the expected deeply psychological response. People who have been torn from their indigenous root and modern societies that recognize them and who pay tribute are testament to the long journey home for the Jewish people.

Reconciling the torrential ordeals of their past makes it difficult for many Jews, but with the passage of time they will all fill the void by bleeding their hearts toward the warm, secure comfort offered by indigenous Jewish custom and culture. Jewish healing has well and truly begun and Israel's unique inner source is being restored to shed light on an increasingly desperate world!