Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reactions to Zionism

Since the beginning of the Jewish Exile, trickles of Jews have settled in the Holy Land after emigrating from the Diaspora. The Land of Israel has always been a safe haven for Jews during times of persecution and great tragedy. After the massacring of Jewish communities in Europe during the First Crusade, the expulsion of Jews from France (1391), Austria (1421) and Spain (1492), and the pogroms of Russia (1880), many Jews sought security in the Turkish-ruled Palestine of the Ottoman Empire. Even before the establishment of conventional Zionism, the Biluim and Chovevei Zion movements supported settling the Promised Land. The Netziv, Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin (1817-1893, Rosh Yeshiva in Volozhin), whose son was the namesake of Bar Ilan University in Israel, and Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795-1874) were early supporters of Pre-Zionism, before Zionism was formally established as a movement. There are conflicting reports as to what the Chofetz Chayim, Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen Kagan (1838-1933), felt about Zionism. Tzion is a reference to the Biblical name for an area in Jerusalem. Zionism is credited with infusing a democratic, scientifically sophisticated, secular culture into a part of the world that for centuries had been despotic, technically backward, and obsessed with religion. Nonetheless, some might argue that that is typical of any colonization.

In 1896, as a response to the anti-Semitism exhibited by the world media during the Dreyfus Affair, Austrian journalist Binyamin Zev “Theodore” Herzl (1860-1904) published his pamphlet Der Judenstaat ("The Jewish State"). Through this work, Herzl, a secular Jew, became the founder of modern political Zionism. Since Zionism at that time was purely secular in nature, it only preached a geographically separated region to be inhabited by Jews; there was not yet any connection to the land of Israel/Palestine. Consequently, the original plans for a Jewish homeland centered equally on Argentina, Uganda (in an area presently part of Kenya), and Palestine. (According to a statement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Zionists should have established their Jewish homeland in Alaska.) Indeed, the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain, proposed the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda to Theodore Herzl, and later to a Zionist Congress meeting at Basel, Switzerland in 1903. The idea was eventually rejected (yet remained alive through The Jewish Territorialist Organization), but its proposal reveals the true nature of the Zionist movement, which only sought to protect Jews from European anti-Semitism by moving them elsewhere, and not, as many would assume, to return the Jewish nation back to their God-given homeland. In 1905, Religious Zionist leader Rabbi Meir Berlin / Bar-Ilan (1880-1949), the son of the Netziv, passionately fought against the idea of a Jewish homeland in Uganda. While many people became General Zionists, not affiliating with any specific variety of Zionism, other Jews developed various sorts of Zionism and various reactions to Zionism.

After it was decided that the Jews should establish their homeland in Palestine, a revolutionary group of freedom fighter militant Zionists infiltrated the Holy Land to wrest it from British hands. The ardently anti-religious leader of the Haganah (a pre-Independence Jewish militia in Palestine), Ze'ev "Vladimir" Jabotinsky (1880-1940) abrogated the Torah by proclaiming that the settlement of the land is the only law. He declared, "There are no justice, no law, and no God in heaven, only a single law which decides and supersedes all—[Jewish] settlement [of the land]." A more radical, yet religious, version of his militant position was espoused by former MK, Rabbi Meir Dovid Kahane (1932-1990). At the same time as Jabotinsky preached Revisionist Zionism, the Munkatcher Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro (1871-1937) vehemently opposed Zionism and even criticized Agudas Yisroel, then a non-Zionist organization, for cooperating with Zionists in rebuilding the Land of Israel. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849-1932) even appealed to King Hussein of Trans-Jordan to differentiate between the Zionist Jews who were seen as usurpers of Arab land in Palestine, and the Jews were not Zionistic. A third approach to the subject of Zionism, dubbed “Religious Zionism”, was chiefly based on the teachings of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook (1864-1935), the first official “Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the British Mandate of Palestine.”

Labor Zionism, the type of Zionism that the inaugural prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion believed in, dominated Israeli and Palestinian politics in the early 20th century. This leftist brand of Zionism was initially rejected by The Bund (General Jewish Labour Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia), but after the start of World War II, many Bundists became important Labor Zionists who helped establish the State of Israel. It is a purely secular sort of Zionism, which believed that a Jewish state could only be created as part of the on-going class struggle. Labour Zionists felt that only the construction of socialist kibbutzim in the countryside and an influx of Jewish proletariat in the cities could properly create a Jewish state. They advocated a settling of the Jewish working class in Palestine, without any Messianic or religious implications. Their military arm was called the Haganah was the predecessor to the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). This type of Zionism is sometimes referred to Utopian Zionism and very much resembles moderate Communism. They yearn for an Israel devoid of any Torah identity, yet rich in Yiddish, Jewish, or ”Israeli” culture. They are represented in contemporary Israeli politics by the Labour party.

A more right-wing faction within the general movement of Zionism is Revisionist Zionism. The patriarch of this faction was Zev Jabotinsky who sought the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine through diplomatic means. He wanted the British to agree to his plans for a Jewish state, and through British world influence, he would be able to garner international support for his cause. Some leaders of the Revisionist Zionist movement leaned toward Italian-style Fascism because it was so opposed to Communism. They felt that Socialism and Communism were "too civilized" as ideologies, while Fascism, like Zionism, was a return to the roots of the national culture and the historical past. Eventually, this branch of Zionism split into two distinct entities: The first was Centrist Revisionist Zionism—whose militant leg, Irgun, eventually joined the Haganah and later, the IDF—which became the forerunner to the modern day Likud Party. The latter, founded by Avrohom “Yair” Stern (1907-1942), was known as Lechi. They adopted a non-Socialist platform of Anti-Imperialist ideology, and thus viewed the British occupation of Palestine as wrong. Lechi, therefore, attempted to use bellicose forces to force the British out of Palestine; Stern was assassinated by the British in 1942. This type of Revisionist Zionism is manifested through the right-wing Israeli party, Herut: The National Movement.

A self-proclaimed successor to Jabotinsky, Rabbi Meir Kahane, founded two controversial movements: the Jewish Defense League (JDL) in the United States and Kach, an Israeli political party. His magnum opus, Ohr HaRa’ayon, published posthumously, explained many of the positions of Kahanism. The goal of Kahane replaced the British of Revisionist Zionism with the Palestinian Arabs, and he advocated forcibly removing all Arabs from Israel. He was assassinated by Arab activists in 1990. Kahanism Zionism is seen as a type of radical Zionism, which advocated a theocratic Israel. He believed that the Torah should be the law of the land of Israel and citizenship should only be offered to halachik Jews. His critics called his views racist and he has been accused of arousing worldwide anti-Semitism through his revolutionary views, an effect contrary to the original goals of Zionism as created by Herzl. However many say that he respected the Arabs and did not insult their intelligence like the other Zionists who attempted to “bribe” them with college scholarships, paved roads, and more land. His political party, Kach, was outlawed in Israel, and his organization was branded terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department. A follower of Kahane, Dr. Baruch Kappel Goldstein (1956-1994), famously massacred Arabs visiting the Cave of the Patriarchs in Chevron (Hebron). Following Kahane's assassination, various groups sprung up to represent his ideologies: Kach, Kahane Chai, The Kahane Movement, and the New Kach Movement. Two advocates of Kahanism and leaders of these groups include Rabbi Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane (1966-2000), who was murdered with his wife Talya by Palestinian Arab terrorists, and Baruch Marzel, a candidate for a seat on the Israeli Knesset under the Cherut party.

Although most leaders of traditional Judaism opposed Zionism since its infancy, a faction of Religious Zionism— sometimes called the Mizrachi movement— does exist. They are currently represented in Israeli politics by the National Religious Party (NRP, Dati Le’umi). This faction reconciled some of the supposed inherent problems of secular Zionism and Orthodox Judaism with some Torah-based teachings.
Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, arguably the most influential thinker in Religious Zionism, encouraged religious Jews to participate in the secular Zionist movements. Religious Zionists participate in national Israeli elections, in the Israeli army (especially in hesder Yeshivas which combine Yeshiva-style Torah study and army service), and accept the government-appointed Chief Rabbinate as a legitimate means of deciding halakha. Out of this sect has developed the Chareidi Dati leumi sector, known as chardal, who combine ideas from the Chareidi movement. The non-Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the State of Israel does not necessarily signal the dawn of the redemption. They do feel that the existence of a Jewish state after the Holocaust, where all the national holidays are the Jewish holidays, where they have their own army, government, courts in their own homeland is definitely a positive development that should be encouraged, especially after the Holocaust wiped out one-third of world Jewry, including many Gedolim. However, many Religious Zionists consider the creation of the State of Israel as a manifestation of the beginning of the Redemption, and they even say so in their weekly prayers.

A son of Rabbi Kook, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook (1891-1982) added the Messianic element to the Jewish settlement of Israel. He said that the Secular Zionists unwittingly brought about the beginning of the "messianic age" by establishing their colonization of Israel. A result of his teachings was the various settlements in the Gush Emunim bloc. The Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the modern State of Israel is the beginning of the redemption and actually speeds the arrival of the Moshiach; while, the non-Messianic Religious Zionists believe that the establishment of Israel is definitely a positive development, but neither hinders nor helps the Messianic redemption. Messianic Zionists believe that Jews are already experiencing the beginning of the Redemption, for the Gemara (Megillah 17b) says, "The beginning of the Redemption is war." This attitude of Messianic fervor caused the Gush Katiff controversy
[1] in which Messianic Religious Zionist Rabbis urged settlers to disobey the government’s orders of disengagement. However, other Rabbis disagreed with some of Kooks’ assumptions. The issue of Zionism has caused dispute in the religious world both within the Chassidic communities (e.g. between the anti-Zionist Satmar Rebbe and the Zionist Boyaner Rebbe) and the Lithuanian (“Litvish” or “Yeshivish”) communities (e.g. between the Zionist American brothers Rabbis Aharon Soloveitchik (1917-2001) and Joseph Ber Soloveitchik (1903-1993) and their anti-Zionist uncle in Israel).

Until the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the majority of World Jewry was opposed to the ideals exhibited in the Zionist movement. The Bundists originally viewed Zionism as a racist movement (because Jabotinsky advocated a Jewish evacuation of Europe as a means of solving anti-Semitism), but after the Holocaust (1939-1945), they fully integrated themselves into Socialist (Labor) Zionism. The Orthodox Jews initially
[2] rejected Zionism for the various reasons as stated by the Satmar Rebbe, Grand Rabbi Joel (Yoel) “Yoelish” Teitelbaum (1887-1979), who famously wrote VaYoel Moshe on this subject. An overwhelming majority of Chareidim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) in Israel are considered anti-Zionist, although they are but a minority of Israeli Jewry. They disliked the fact that the main players in the Zionist movement were irreligious secular Jews, which made the Zionist movement itself appear secular in nature; the Zionists even advocated the creation of an irreligious government. Furthermore, the Zionists were considered by some as Ovdei Avodah Zarah (idol worshippers) because they did not destroy the Christian churches in Israel and thus contributed to the continuation of idolatry in the Holy Land. Anti-Zionists believe that until the coming of the Messiah, Jews should not have any sovereignty over Eretz Yisroel. The most extreme of Anti-Zionists, Neteuri Karta (Guardians of the City), call for the dismantlement of the State of Israel and cooperate with Israel's avowed enemies. The Satmar Rav understood based on the Talmud[3] that it is forbidden for any Jew to attempt to hasten the final Redemption on his own terms. Although Zionist apologetics have long since dismissed this argument, the simple reading of the Talmudic passage seems to imply forbidding the creation of the State of Israel.

Critics of the Satmar Rebbe say that the State of Israel was not in violation of the third oath
[4] because it was not founded by military conquest, but by Jews settling mostly barren and empty land and using diplomacy. They argue that the surrounding Arab countries attacked the newborn State of Israel in 1948, so the military conquests of Israel were only acts of self-defense; this should not have been considered a military conquest, but a defensive war. The Jews did not necessarily rebel against the nations by declaring the State of Israel in 1948 because it was already accepted by the U.N. in November of 1947, six months before David Ben-Gurion officially declared it. However, for whatever International Law is worth, the U.N. branded Israel’s territorial gains during the Six Day War of 1967 were illegal, so even following this reasoning, the halachik decision of the Satmar Rebbe regarding the prohibition of visiting the Western Wall (which was captured along with Eastern Jerusalem during that war) should still stand. The Zionist apologetics explained that because the nations of the world broke their part of the oaths by committing the atrocities of the Holocaust, then the Jews could break their part of the oath and establish a Jewish state. However, this logic is also flawed because it implies that if one person does not keep his word, it justifies another not keeping his word (“two wrongs make a right”). Furthermore, not all nations of the world participated in the carnage of the Holocaust; some even opposed them. In addition, many anti-Zionists say that some of the mayhem during the Holocaust was caused by Zionists (some of whom supposedly paid Nazis to kill Jews so that more Jews would be open to the idea of a Jewish nation-state after the war). In addition to blaming the Zionists for the Holocaust, some anti-Zionists argue that the butchery of the Holocaust was not necessarily enough of destruction for the nations of the world to have been considered violating their oath.

Although the Satmarer Rebbe was opposed to the state of Israel, that did not deter him and his students from living in the Holy Land. The Satmar Rav helped established the Eida HaChareidis, a Rabbinical Court for the old settlement (“the old yishuv”) of Jerusalem, which still refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Israeli government and her Rabbinate. Another prominent anti-Zionist was the Brisker Rev, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev “Velvol” Soloveithchik (1886-1959), who established a Yeshiva in Jerusalem. To this day, the highly prominent Yeshivas Brisk refuses to recognize the authority of the State of Israel and continues to decline government aid for their Yeshiva. Even though the Satmer Rebbe rejected the State of Israel, he still refused to meet with Arab Palestinian liberation activist Yasser Arafat (1929-2004) because the latter was a murderer. A splinter group, both shunned and excommunicated by the Satmar Rebbe himself, yet claiming to represent Satmar’s position, Neturei Karta, actively and diametrically opposes the state of Israel. They organize demonstrations all over the world to protest the State of Israel. In addition to being anti-Zionist, Neturei Karta, which was originally led by Hungarian Rabbi Amram Blau and Lithuanian Rabbi Aharon Katzenellbogen, supports Islamic and Arab causes, which call for the destruction of the State of Israel and spew anti-Semitic propaganda. Save for Neturei Karta, most anti-Zionists do not call of the destruction of the State of Israel because doing so would likely cause more bad than good.

The non-Zionists, or A-Zionists, also disagree with the State of Israel in theory, but they also feel "what's done is done" in practice. They are not so concerned whether or not there is a State of Israel. Had the State of Israel not been established (or theoretically did not exist tomorrow), they would "live with it", and since the State of Israel has been established, they are still "living with it". They do not see any inherent holiness in the State of Israel, but certainly support the Jews living in it and attribute political significance to the State of Israel. Even anti-Zionists agree that there is inherent holiness in the Land of Israel, but feel that in the State of Israel there is no intrinsic sanctity. Non-Zionist vote in Israeli elections (usually for Chareidi parties like Degel HaTorah, Agudas Yisrael, and Shas), visit the Western Wall, but they do not serve in the Israeli army
[5]. Azionists rationalize their collaboration with secular Zionists by citing the Hazon Ish who said that because non-religious Jews in the current era were not raised and educated in a traditional Orthodox environment they have the status of tinokos she-nishbu (lit. kidnapped children [and were brought up without any knowledge of Authentic Judaism]), which makes their sins accidental. However, one can argue that the Chazon Ish’s ruling no longer applies because of the vast availability of Torah sources to Secular (Chiloni) Jews with the advent of kiruv work in the Holy Land in the last half century.

A compromised version of Zionism, sometimes referred to as “Hopeful Zionism” is a combination of AZionism and Messianic Religious Zionism. Followers of this abstract movement feel that the State of Israel cannot be a satanic ploy because it supports great Torah learning; yet, because of its problems (including the government’s anti-religious sentiment), it cannot be viewed upon as an ushering in of the Messianic Era. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986) espoused this view by changing the text of the above-cited prayer recited by religious Zionists to exhibit a skeptical approach of the potential trueness of Messianic Zionism, without implying its absolute certainty. Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler (1892-1952) writes that he is hesitant to brand the establishment of the State of Israel and its ensuing military victories as “the beginning of the Redemption”; however, he still considered it a possibility, which is a Hopeful Zionist position. He also had harsh words for anyone who refuses to see G-d's miraculous intervention in the creation of the State of Israel, considering them heretics who reject Divine Providence.

While anti-Zionism and A-Zionism are usually associated with the right wing, Post-Zionism is a left-wing liberal movement. Post-Zionists claim to be the heirs to the original Zionists, whose goal has already been achieved. Post-Zionists advocate the evolution of the State of Israel into a non-ideological, secular, liberal, democratic state, which is neither officially Jewish nor Arab. It also calls for a semi-dismantling of the Jewish State. Hillel Kook (1915-2001), a nephew of Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kook, felt that Israel should lose its Jewish identity and become a general neutral state. This goal seems to contradict mainstream Zionism, not succeed it, because mainstream Zionism is defined as “Jewish nationalism”, while Post-Zionism completely removes the “Jewish.” (Even the leftist Labour Zionism still promotes an “Israeli” culture of Secular Judaism, which may or may not be an oxymoron.) Many supporters of Post-Zionism believe in a bi-national or bi-state solution to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Critics say that post-Zionism is a seditious anti-ideology, claiming that the mission of Zionism to build an independent Jewish country and unify all Jews within her borders, has reached its zenith, and is now on the decline. They claim that Post-Zionism implies that the Zionist project is over, when in fact, it should not be. In response to Post-Zionism, the organization Kumah Inc. sponsored an aliyah revolution, which spawned the Neo-Zionism movement. Neo-Zionists actively support and encourage the act of immigrating to the Holy Land as a means of helping develop the State of Israel.

Reform and other forms of Progressive Judaism have their own auxiliary branches of Zionism known as Reform Zionism or Progressive Zionism. Progressive Jews, who are generally liberal, traditionally shun Zionism because they prefer Jews to be patriotic of their respective home nations (i.e. American Jews should feel American, German Jews should feel German, etc…), without aspiring for a Jewish nation. However, following the establishment of the State of Israel many Progressive Jews felt an attachment to their brethren in Israel so they developed a unique type of Zionism. According to Reform Judaism’s ideology, the Messianic Redemption occurs through acts of Tikkun Olam (“fixing the world”). This belief entails acting toward others in an overly kind, loving, and peaceful nature (similar to Christianity’s “turn the other cheek” philosophy). Therefore, perfectionist Reform Jews strive to improve the world as much as they could to hasten the coming of the Messiah. As a result, they are of the strongest proponents of international intervention in the Darfur racial killings. In a similar vein, they strive to make Israel a Perfect state in terms of harmony. For this reason, Reform Zionists are not a political entity in Israel, but rather they are a group of social activists mainly under the umbrella Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379, which branded Zionism a form of racism. Although this Soviet- and Arab-sponsored resolution was rescinded by Resolution 4686 in 1991, its premise is often referenced in other debates of Zionism and racism. Chaim Herzog (1918-1997), at that time the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, symbolically tore up this resolution and stated, "For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood, and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value." A Representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Mark B. Cohen (Democrat), eloquently answered the U.N.’s initial claims by saying, "Racism claims superiority, while Zionism merely claims difference. Racism seeks the persecution of long powerless groups, while Zionism seeks to protect the members of a group long persecuted. Racism seeks to degrade its victims, while Zionism seeks to protect those who have been victims. The U.N. was right to repeal its discredited resolution." The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) categorized the U.N. proclamation as “anti-Semitic;” however, this description is not necessarily accurate because Judaism and Zionism have distinct identities, for some Jews are not Zionists (e.g. anti-Zionists, a-Zionists) and some Zionists are not Jews (e.g. Christian Zionists and the waning American liberal Zionists). It is unclear exactly which flavor of Zionism was referenced in the United Nations’ referendum because of the vagueness of the United Nations’ condemnation of Zionism and the multitude of differing diverse Jewish views on Zionism.
[1] In the summer of 2005
[2] Some, like Rabbi Yissaschar Shlomo Teichtal (who was martyred by Nazis in 1945) began to believe in Zionism because of the Holocaust. Rabbi Teichtal wrote a book, Eim HaBanim Smeicha, defending Zionism while experiencing the harsh conditions of the Budapest ghetto.
[3] Kesubos 111a
[4] of Kesubos 111a
[5] Especially the girls, as the Chazon Ish, Rabbi Avrohom Yeshayahu Karelitz (1878-1953), said that girls should rather allow themselves to be killed that to join the Israeli army.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Songs of Ascent

Essay One: Songs of Ascent
The term “song” as used in the Holy Scriptures (Shir and/or Shirah) refers not only to mere singing, but also to a unique type of spiritual phenomenon. A song is the manifestation of feelings into vocalized words, which represent a spiritual connection to esoteric concepts; songs reflect a belief of the intellect fused with the subconscious righteousness of the soul. Songs are especially used to commemorate happy occasions or to express one’s emotion during a joyous occasion. The core focus of a song’s content usually speaks the praises of G-d[1], but the actual circumstances behind the cause of the thanksgiving are also mentioned within the song. According to Lurianic Kabbalah (from the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchack "Ari HaKadosh" Luria, 1534–1572), there are eleven expressions of song—admitting/acknowledging thanks, praising, lauding, glorifying, extolling, beautifying, blessing, eternalizing His victory, exulting, and exalting[2]. Conversely, song is included in the fifteen languages of praise: Song, laud, praise, music (hymns), strength, rulership, triumph, greatness, powerfulness, epitome of praise, splendor, holiness, kingship, blessings, and acknowledgments of thanksgiving[3]. Thus, song is an expression of praise, and praise is an expression of song; this is because the raison d’etre of song is to be used as a means of expressing praise to the Almighty.

Rabbi Chanoch (Enoch) Zundel ben Yosef Luria of Bialystock (d. 1867) writes[4] that the entire world is compared to a symphony with all its various elements acting as the instruments within the great orchestra of the world. Human song is only one part of this grand orchestra of music that gives praise to the Creator. The animals, plants, celestial bodies, demons, angels, and topographical entities all praise their Creator through song, as well. A Braisa is related[5] that when Dovid HaMelech finished writing Tehillim (Psalms), he grew proud of himself and rhetorically asked HaShem, “Is there anyone who recites more songs and praises than I do?” At that moment a frog appeared and told David that he “spoke three thousand aphorisms and his song was a thousand and five“[6]. The Mabit, Rabbi Moses ben Joseph di Trani the Elder (1505-1585) tells[7] that after King David finished his magnum opus, Psalms, the divine spirit fell upon him once again, and he merited writing Perek Shira (“Chapter of Song”). This treatise details the songs that each of G-d’s creations sings every day to honor and praise their Creator. There are Kabbalistic explanations in understanding why each verse was attributed to whomever or whatever it was attributed to (e.g. see footnote[8]). The Ohr HaChaim HaQadosh (Rabbi Chaim Ben-Attar of Morocco, 1696-1743) writes[9] that HaShem created speech in all creations in order for them to praise Him, for it says, “Everything works for HaShem for its own sake”[10].

Even the angels in heaven busy themselves by singing of G-d’s praises. Elijah the Prophet writes[11] that the ministering angels do not say their songs of praise above (i.e. in heaven) until the Jews below (on earth) begin saying their songs. Indeed, two later prophets testified to the fact that in heaven the angels (Cherubim and Chayos) spend their time praising the sovereignty of G-d’s rule[12]. When Jews repeat the proclamations of these angels in the Kedusha services at least three times a day, they stand with their feet together to mimic the angelic originators of those phrases. (Angels have only one leg). Furthermore, at the time that Jacob—who was soon-after to be renamed Israel—was engaged in a wrestling match against the ministering angel of the Nation of Esau, Samael, the latter had to leave their fight early in the morning[13] in order to return to heaven so that he may continue saying his praises of G-d[14]. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1740-1810) writes[15] that if one wants to sway the attitude of a nation in order for them to have a more favorable view of the Jews, he need only know the song of that nation’s angel when it sings, blesses, and praises HaShem. This is because an angel has to love the man who knows his song, and becomes compelled to do the will of such a man. Therefore, writes the Berditchever Rebbe, one who says Perek Shirah is great.

In a Tannaic preface to this work, three Tannaim (Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, Rabbi Eliezer, and Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, the compiler of the Mishnah) wrote of great blessings granted to one who busies his or her self with Perek Shirah. Rabbi Mordechai Gross (Chief Justice on the Rabbinical Court of Bnei Barak) writes that the recitation of Perek Shirah is heard in the highest places of Heaven and can have great influence in the Heavenly courts for a favorable judgment. Such songs can ascend and penetrate through all seven layers of heaven and reach directly to HaShem Himself. The power of song is so great that Rashi says[16] that after Deborah’s song, the entire Jewish Nation was forgiven from all their sins. The songs of the animals are so powerful they had the power to destroy the entire Assyrian Army of Sennecharib overnight (on the first night of Pesach), thereby saving Jerusalem from its besiegement[17]. However, despite all these favorable results of performing a song in HaShem’s honor, the converse is also true; the lack of song can sometimes produce unfavorable and even dangerous consequences. The Talmud says[18] that had Chizkiyahu HaMelech (King Hezekiah) sang thanks because of the destruction the Assyrian Army, he would have been anointed at the Messiah and the redemption would have occurred immediately. However, since he did not, the Messiah did not yet arrive and they Jews were subsequently exiled for over millennia. Rashi says[19] that the sun and moon only continued to exist after they were at a standstill and ceased their singing because Yehoshua carried out his singing on their behalf. Had Joshua not have continued the singing, the sun and the moon would have been destroyed. Rabbi Abraham Ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1092 -1167) explained that the sin of Moses[20] was that he did not sing to the rock, which he hit and for this, he was punishment by being banned from the Holy Land. Rabbi Boaz Goldman (from the Kollel Meshech Chochmah in Jerusalem) says it is imperative upon all of Jews to follow suit of the Jews[21] who recognized their divine miracle, realized the need for singing His praise, and actually went out and sang to Him.

Rabbi Yonason Ben Uziel, the top student of the Tanna Hillel, explains[22] that in the history of the world, ten songs were uttered by people as pure praises to their Creator, and were therefore given the title “Song” (in its proper sense). The first man, Adam, thanked G-d for establishing the Sabbath and dedicated a Psalm of thanksgiving to the Holy Sabbath Day (Psalm 92 begins with the words, Mizmor Shir L’Yom HaShabbos, “A psalm: A song for the Sabbath Day.”). Over two millennia later, when HaShem split the Red Sea for the Jewish Nation, thereby rescuing them from their watery graves, the saved nation sung His praises (Exodus 15:1-19, Az YaShir Moshe, “Then [sic] Moses shall sing”, an allusion to the Messianic Era in which Moses will arise from the dead and once again sing[23]). Later, when the Israelites were given water from a well, they sang the praises of G-d’s gift to them[24]. Before his death, Moses sang a fourth song, both rebuking his nation and describing G-d’s kindness to Israel (Deuteronomy 32:1-43, Haazinu HaShomayim, “Hearken O’ Heaven”). A fifth song was sung by Yehoshua, the student of Moses, when HaShem stopped the sun for him[25]. Deborah, the judge and prophetess, as well as her husband Barak, famously sang the praises of G-d who delivered Sisera, the Canaanite General, into their hands[26]. When Chanah was finally granted a son, Samuel, she too sang the exultation of G-d[27]; in doing so, she acknowledged that the vicissitudes of life are temporary conditions. When King David finally calmed all his problems and G-d saved him from all of his enemies, he sang a song of gratitude to HaShem[28]. A ninth song, steeped in imagery and allegory, was composed by Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) who described the love between Israel and its G-d (Shir HaShirim, Song of Songs). This Song of Solomon, sometimes referred to as Canticum Canticorum (Canticle of Canticles), is considered the most elevated of all ten songs. The tenth song itself will be sung by the Children of the Exile as they are being redeemed in the final redemption (speedily and in our days). According to the Prophet Yeshayah, it will be akin to the Hallel sung on the first night of Passover[29].

There are two types of Hallels and at any give juncture either one is said, or the other is said, or both are said, or neither are recited. One Hallel is called Hallel Mitzraim, “Egyptian Hallel”[30], and is recited on Rosh Chodesh, Chol HaMoed (intermediate days), and Chanukka (and in some communities, it is said on the Day of Israeli Independence to commemorate the creation of the Zionist state of Israel, Yom Ha'atzmaut). The other Hallel, recited on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, and every Shabbat, is known as Hallel HaGadol, “The Great Hallel”[31]. Hallel HaGodol is called so because every stanza ends with the words, “for His kindness is everlasting,” especially the penultimate verse, which mentions G-d’s graciousness in sustaining all flesh[32]. In fact, the Gemara[33] initially thought that that verse alone is sufficient to say that one automatically merits a portion in the World To Come for saying Hallel HaGadol thrice a day. This is the greatest praise that one can use to describe for it describes both His abundant kindness and His eternalness that no other being has. Its twenty-six verses correspond to the numerical value of the name of HaShem; alternatively, they correspond to the twenty-six generations between the creation of the world (i.e. Adam) and Moses. The “Egyptian Hallel” is called such because at the time that the Jews were exiting Egypt after two centuries of servitude, they were praising G-d by singing the passage from Tehillim, which constitute this Hallel. The Talmud explains[34] that this Hallel discusses five elements, which makes it greater than the “Great Hallel”: the Exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, the giving of the Torah, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the birth pangs of the Messianic Era. On Festivals (Pesach, Succos, and Shavuos) and on Shabbos-Chol HaMoed, both types of Hallel are sung, while on Purim neither Hallel is recited (because the Megillah itself, which is read, is considered Hallel[35]). The Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchack Zev Soloveitchik of Brisk (1886-1959), explained[36] that even within Hallel Mitzrayim, there are two classifications: a Hallel that is called “singing”, and a Hallel that is considered a “recitation.” On the first night of Passover – on the Seder Night—not only are both types of Hallel sung, but also, both types of Hallel Mitzrayim are recited; thus, there are three Hallels all together on that night which will be echoed by the songs at the coming of the Messiah.

Of the two types of Hallel, one implements usage of the statement “Hallelujah” and one does not. Hallel Mitzrayim contains the phrase “Hallelukah” five times, and repeats the opening stanza from “The Great Hallel” six times; it therefore contains the gist of “The Great Hallel”[37]. The portmanteau “Halleluqah” is the ultimate expression of thanks and happiness combined. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church bans its members from saying “Alleluia” during Passiontide (the time between Lent and Easter) because that time is supposed to be a sad time and the phrase is too joyous, so even the gentiles agree to the joyous power of the phrase. Rabbi Shimon Ben Pazi says[38] that King David did not use the phrase until the 104th chapter of Psalms because that phrase is only appropriate in complete bliss and such bliss is not achieved until all sinners cease to exist. He only used the phrase “Halleluyah” in conjunction with the disappearance of sins from the world and the resulting lack of sinners. Halleluyah is a combination of the Hebrew word “Hallelu” meaning to praise, and “Kah”, a two-letter name of G-d (spelled Yud-Hay). The usage of this particular name of HaShem is somewhat portent because its numerical value is fifteen, which is represented by the fifteen expressions of praise (mentioned above), the fifteen “Songs of Ascent”[39], and the fifteen steps upon which the Levites will once again sing those songs in the Holy Temple. May it be the will of HaShem that He shall build the Bais HaMikdash (Holy Temple) speedily and in our days: Amen.

[1] All the songs mentioned below explicitly mention His praise, except for a few in Perek Shirah that make no sense on the surface but in a deeper meaning (see below) are great praises and the entire Shir HaShirim, which is an allegory. If a song like Shir HaShirim was written with holy intentions, as Solomon had when he wrote it, it can achieve high spiritual potential. However, it is not for people nowadays to write love stories and try to pass it off as a song praising G-d. In order for a song to be called a proper song, it should praise G-d. In contemporary times, there are musicians who call their music "songs" but those song are usually devoid of any spiritual content and most of the time have disgusting content (e.g. songs about rape, murder, drinking, etc...). It is best to stick the songs that were written through divine inspiration as a means of praising G-d.
[2] These eleven expressions are mentioned in the Passover Haggadah, at the end of the Psukei D’Zimrah “Chapters of Hymns” services on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and at the concluding benediction of Hallel. Those who disagree with the Ari HaQodosh omit “eternalizing His victory”.
[3] These fifteen expressions are mentioned daily in the Yishtabach prayer.
[4] Kenaf Rananim, printed in 1842
[5] Yalkut Shimoni, end of Psalms, §150
[6] Kings 1 5:12
[7] Beis Elokim
[8] According to the Arizal, every kosher animal (as defined by Leviticus Chapter 11) gets its lifeline from the first letters of the Tetragrammaton, while the lives of non-Kosher animals are sustained through the latter two letters of HaShem's name. The last verse in Psalms (Psalms 150:6) states, "All souls praise G-d, praise G-d”. According to Kabbalah, this passage means that all soul-bearing creatures praise G-d using His name containing the letters “Yud-Hey.” According to the Arizal that only kosher animals have a connection to that two-letter name, how can every animal praise HaShem with that name? One can answer that every type of animal has a kosher counterpart because the Talmud says (Chullin 127a) every animal that exists on the dry land exists on the sea, and the Talmud elsewhere (Avodah Zarah 39a) explains that one is kosher, and the other is not. So for every animal there is a type (whether it is the sea version or land version) which is kosher and has a connection to the first half of the four-letter name. However, the Talmud in Chullin explicitly excluded the weasel, Chuldah from this sea-land rule, and the weasel is decidedly a non-Kosher animal (Leviticus 11:29), which uses the latter half of G-d’s name, so how can the verse in Psalms say every soul praises G-d through the name of “Yud-Hay”? (This assumes contrary to the words of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (1749-1821), who wrote in Nefesh HaChaim that animals do not have souls.) The Ben Ish Chai (Chacham Yosef Chaim of Baghdad, 1832-1909) answers (Ben Yehoyada to Chullin 127a) that indeed the weasel does not praise G-d with that name, rather the weasel is the one who recited Psalms 150:6, as he testifies that the rest of the world praises HaShem so. This is why King David ascribed that verse to weasel in Perek Shirah. Perhaps this is the intent of Rabbi Ya’akov Emden (1697-1776) in his cryptic citation of Chullin 127a in his commentary Zimras Ha’Aretz (printed with his famous siddur) to Perek Shira.
[9] Ohr HaChaim to Genesis 3:1
[10] Proverbs 16:4
[11] Tana Devei Eliyahu HaNavi, Seder Eliyahu Zuta, §25
[12] See Isaiah 6:3, Ezekiel 3:12
[13] Genesis 32:27
[14] Chullin 93b
[15] Kedushas Levi, 2:2
[16] Judges 6:1
[17] Sanhedrin 95b
[18] Sanhedrin 94a
[19] Avodah Zarah 25a and Joshua 10:13
[20] Numbers 20:8
[21] As explained by of Rashi in Exodus 15:1
[22] Targum Yonason (a divinely inspired translation of the Torah into Aramaic), Shir HaShirim 1:1
[23] See Sanhedrin 91a
[24] Numbers 21:17-20
[25] See Joshua 10:12-14
[26] Judges, Chapter 5
[27] Samuel 1 2:1-10
[28] Samuel 2, Chapter 22
[29] See Isaiah 30:29
[30] Psalms 113-118
[31] Psalms 136
[32] Pesachim 119a
[33] Brachos 4b
[34] Pesachim 119a
[35] Megillah 14a
[36] Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaRambam, Laws of Chanukka
[37] Although, the Introductory Psalm to Hallel HaGadol, Psalm 135, uses the phrase three times.
[38] Brachos 9b
[39] Shir HaMa’alos, Psalms 120-134

Monday, April 10, 2006

Freedom and Torah Supremacy

Many accuse the Jewish people of running a vast worldwide conspiracy in allegedly controlling various media outlets and governments. Former Senator David Ernest Duke wrote a book entitled, Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question, which echoes the accusations made against the Jewish nation in the well-known forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. “Jewish supremacy,” as the notion is popularly referred to as, is a non-existent concept. There are so many Jews in the higher echelons of world society simply because Jews generally have greater minds than their gentile counterparts do. Scientifically, this can be explained by Natural Selection in which the higher intellect has been naturally selected in the Jewish communities over the past thousands of years[1]. Contradistinctively, in the Christian communities, higher intellect has been selected against because their best and brightest have been pressured to become priests and nuns with a vow of celibacy to discontinue their lineage from that generation and on, without passing on their intelligent or enhanced genes. Since only the Jews have a commandment to follow all 613 mitzvahs –especially to learn the Torah— HaShem gave them better minds to be able to complete their special tasks. In an ideal world, all Jews should use this intellectual potential for their spiritual pursuits, to devote their mental power to Torah. However, it is a sad reality that many Jews do not follow the proper path and take advantage of their God-given minds to excel in the improper fields (such as politics, sports, sciences, movies, television, and other such mediums). Even if the Protocols accusations against World Jewry were true, those who would have been running the conspiracy would be doing so against the Torah.

Many charge that Judaism is an anti-gentile iconoclastic religion and that Jews hate goyim[2]. Although everyone should hate those who are the enemies of G-d, only those who are licentious, corrupt, and evil deserve the hatred due to them. All of humanity should join in the battle against evil. However, those who act correctly—Jews who keep their commandments and non-Jews who keep their commandments—should be commended and loved by all. The parents of the Jewish Nation, Abraham and Sarah, were renowned for their extreme hospitality. Their tent was open from all four sides to invite all guests looking for a place[3]. They were the epitome of humanism in a place where, not too far away in Sodom, people were being lynched for acts of kindness and guests were regularly murdered. Their tent came to be the embodiment of kindheartedness and benevolence. Even after their deaths, the couple's tent was still a place to which people turned[4]—the museum of hospitality. There were no Jews in the times of Avraham and Sara; ergo, their hospitality must have been to non-Jews. This lesson of being hospitable to non-Jews is something that all Jews, as the inheritors of the Abrahamic tradition, should learn from their ancestors.

Due to the unique relationship between HaShem and His chosen nation, the Jews, HaShem granted the Jews certain privileges and merits. A mere four generations after Abraham lived, the wicked King Pharaoh of Egypt, tricked Abraham's family, the ancient Israelites, into becoming his slaves. Jews in the licentious and ethically degenerated Egypt were at the complete mercy of their immoral Egyptian masters. Their backbreaking slave labor produced no results, as they were building a city on quicksand[5]. Such fruitless toil should theoretically have lead to the demise of the Jewish people, but as history shows, they survived. The Midrash famously explained that those Jews preserved their Jewish identity by retaining their names, clothes[6], and language. In addition, the holy Torah, which was studied by the tribe of Levi, who were exempt from work, united the people. However, these positive factors did not negate the coerced, hard work that the Jews did, which eventually worsened their spirits. The depravity and corruption of the Egyptians also began to influence the Jews and so their level of purity began to degenerate. As a result, after two hundred and ten years, the morale and morality of the Jewish people was at an all-time low. Therefore, it was the perfect time for salvation. Miriam broke the standard of her time of possessing a submissive and docile attitude and persuaded her parents, Jochebed and Amram, to remarry. This sanctified union produced Moses. Moses exhibited the characteristics of a slave: he was timid and bashful. On the other hand, he grew up in the royal palace of Egypt and thus attained the necessary traits for a leader. He was the ideal candidate to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt, and so he did on HaShem’s imperative command, after initially refusing the position.

At first, HaShem warned the Egyptians ten times with His “finger”[7] like a father who shakes his finger to caution his child. He then saved the Jewish nation at the Red Sea from the Egyptians by using His outstretched hand[8] to punish the Egyptians like a father who finally has to smack his child with his hand, after having warned him many times already. On 14 Nissan 2448, HaShem took the Jewish people from servitude in Egypt to the Sinai desert. In doing so, HaShem took off the description “slaves” from the Jewish people, and redeemed them from their Egyptian overlords. Additionally, as a sign of freedom from Egypt, HaShem took them into the desert and put them under His wings for forty years to display their servility to the King-of-all-Kings. After passing numerous tests of loyalty to HaShem, HaShem finally brought His nation to the land of Israel and gave it to them as an everlasting inheritance, just as He swore to their ancestors. Over half a century after they first departed, the conquering and dividing of the blessed land of Israel between the tribes supplemented the nation’s newly earned freedom. They finally achieved their well-earned freedom. No longer was the Jewish nation responsible to a king of mere flesh and blood like Pharaoh; they now reported directly to HaShem, the eternal King, who would grant them a gift—the Torah. The ultimate freedom is keeping the laws of HaShem and learning His Torah because in doing so one is not bound by physical restrictions and thus has a limitless spiritual potential. The Torah is the raison d'etre of the Jewish existence, for it not only unifies the Jewish nation, but also dictates the exact lifestyle that of a Jew to serve better his creator. The Zohar explains that HaShem, Israel, and the Torah are one unified entity[9]; after all, the Torah was the blueprints from which the world was created.

Immediately upon the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, they were attacked by the Nation of Amalek. The utter cruelty and negligence involved in baselessly attacking a weakened nation of recently freed slaves caused HaShem to command His people to destroy the nation of Amalek. The commandment is, in essence, to wipe out such overly evil from the world and make the world a haven. Maimonides explains that the obligation is not to actually kill the descendants of Amalek, but rather to cause them to accept upon themselves the Seven Noahide Laws and thereby rid themselves of their inherent evil. Throughout history, malicious people have been given the appellation “Amalek” as if to say those people inherited their cruelty from the hated ancient civilization of Amalek. A recent example of such branding is the World War Two/Holocaust Germans/Nazis; Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849-1932), Chief Rabbi of pre-War Jerusalem, was reputed to have called the Kaiser of Germany a descendant of Amalek, and therefore he refused to meet with him when the latter came for a visit to Jerusalem[10]. Similarly, Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner (1749-1821) purportedly described the royal family in Tsarist Russia as being descendants of Amalek. Haman, the notorious villain from the book of Esther, is also branded in rabbinical literature a scion of the Amalekite clan. To abate the Amalak-like influences in the world will cause a decline in anti-Semitism because Amalek is the fighting antithesis to the Jewish ideal.

It was highly appropriate that in 2006 the National Geographic published its findings regarding the Gospel of Judas around the time of the year that ABC plays The Ten Commandments, that is, the Easter and Passover season. The Gospel of Judas (carbon-dated to circa. 200-300 A.D.) tells a story in which Judas Iscariot did not betray his supposed teacher, Jesus, but rather handed him over to the Roman authorities because his teacher told him to do so. All the anti-Semitism that the Passion play stories, especially around the Easter and Passover season, have caused throughout history were by insinuating that all Jews are betrayers of Jesus like Judas was. However, this logic does not really follow because many of Jesus’ students were Jewish, so if one betrays him that should not necessarily brand all Jews greedy, avaricious, mosers. When the French bishop Irenaeus (ca. 130-202 CE) banned the Gospel of Judas, he purposefully wanted the church to become anti-Jewish. If the Christians were only exposed to the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John they would get a bad picture of Judas and effectively apply that to all Jews. Even if this was not his intent, he at least, wanted to distinguish Christianity from Judaism for whatever reasons[11] by demonizing the Jew. The Gospel of Judas will never be given the same credit as the other gospels within the Christian communities because it would take away their justification for many acts of anti-Semitism they committed throughout history.

The Sabbatarians (e.g., the Seventh Day Adventists) claim that Saturday was kept by all Christian groups as the Sabbath until the second and third century, by most until the fourth and fifth century, and a few thereafter, but because of opposition to Judaism after the Jewish-Roman wars, the original custom was gradually replaced by Sunday as the day of worship. They often teach that this history has been lost, because of suppression of the facts by a conspiracy of the pagans of the Roman Empire and the clergymen of the Catholic Church. From this, one sees that even Christians themselves agree that the Church changed itself in order to distance itself from Judaism and the Catholic Church concealed this information. It is therefore very likely that they did the same concerning Judas' Gospel in order to justify their Amalek-like actions over the past centuries. Church reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) also exhibited this type of hypocrisy: in his early writings, he praised the Jewish Nation, but then vilified them in his later writings[12]. Once he realized that the Jews were not going to support his cause against the Catholic Church, he had no need for them, so he denigrated them.

According to a Jewish tradition[13], the Rabbis were very scared of early Christianity and knew that the religion would go on to become successful. In order to save future Jews from both death and definite assimilation, the Rabbis of the time sent a man to infiltrate the Christian communities and change the Christian doctrine to become so distinct from Judaism that it is proselytizing will focus on gentiles and not Jews. He was also to change the Christian doctrine to become favorable to Jews, even outlawing the murder of Jews. This man was named Saul, who later became known as Paul. Paul, who may or may not have been a student of Rabban Gamliel,[14] helped shape the Pauline doctrine that forbade Christians from killing Jews[15] and switched the Christian day of rest from Saturday to Sunday to alienate more Jews as a way of maintaining Judaism without having more Jews succumb to the Christian religion[16]. Paul is also accredited with introducing clerical celibacy to the Christian church; this also helped the Jews. The first pope, Peter Kephas, is known as Shimon Keifa in Jewish tradition, and he was the author of the liturgical poem Nishmas Kol Chai[17]. Rabbi Yehuda HaChassid of Regensburg (1150-1217) even called[18] Peter a righteous man who had good intentions in his seeming apostasy. Others explain that he was not a secret agent of the Pharisee Rabbis in an attempt to undermine Christianity, but rather he was a total apostate and only repented on his deathbed whereupon he wrote Nishmas.

Philo-Semitism is also a practice, which can be dangerous to the Jews. Many Evangelical Christians seem to practice Philo-Semitism and Zionism and in attempt to fulfill a prophecy of all Jews returning to Israel before the Second Coming of their savior. When Televangelists like Reverends John Hagee and Pat Robertson seem to support the state of Israel, they are actually supporting its demise. Many Christian Zionists view Israel as a fulfillment of a prophecy whereby all Jews will either convert to Christianity or be killed in the "end of days." Some scholars, like Norman G. Finkelstein[19] (b. 1953) and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (b. 1959), argue that Philo-Semitism and Christian Zionism are actually the latest incarnations of the now-socially unacceptable Anti-Semitism. Indeed, Christians have a potential for causing more damage to World Jewry by pretending to befriend the Jews than by outright attacking them as the present-day Muslim fascists do. Their “friendly influence” includes global missionaries whose sole purpose in life is to cause Jews to believe in the Christian savior. If more Jews that are uneducated fall for this trap, they will end up, heaven forbid, losing their special protection afforded to them by G-d. They will stop keeping the Mitzvos and learning the Torah, which makes them into ordinary gentiles, but even worse, into apostate Jews. Indeed this friendliness is what Jacob, feared from his brother Esau, when Esau was acting like his brother as opposed to acting like his arch-nemesis[20]. There is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian culture or ideals, Judaism and Christianity are two distinct concepts.[21]

A pattern has developed throughout Jewish History: Every time that the gentiles plan to destroy the Jewish Nation, they use a two-pronged attack like Esau. Esau both prepared to do battle with his brother Jacob to physically to destroy the latter, but when that did not work successfully--because all of his four hundred general deserted him[22]-- he decided to "kiss" Jacob[23] and befriend to assimilate him. Both failed. Generations later, the Moabites wanted to destroy the Jews physically, so their king hired Balaam to curse the Jewish nation. When this failed, they sent Midianite women to entice the Jews to sin (and of course, intermarriage is the worst type of assimilation). Again, they first attacked the physical being of the Jews and then their spiritual being. Afterwards, King Ahasuerus invited all the Jews to his party in an attempt to assimilate, when, in the end, this attempt failed, Haman convinced the king simply to wipe out all the Jews by the sword. The Syrian-Greeks and later the Romans did the same, first outlawing Torah observance, and then simply killing Jews. Emperor Napoleon of France, the man who brought about the European Age of Enlightenment attempted to destroy the Jewish community through the Reform Judaism movement. He proved unsuccessful in his efforts, but Adolf Hitler tried to finish the job by trying to murder all the Jews. In present times, the Christian Zionists are continuing the goal of Nazism by preaching assimilation for Jews in their thinly veiled support for the Jews using the State of Israel as a proxy.

As stated above, the Jews evaded assimilation whilst exiled in Egypt by retaining their names, clothing, and language. The Yalkut Shimoni states[24] that in the merit of four things were the Jews redeemed from Egypt: They did not change their names, they did not change their languages, they did not speak slanderously about each other, and they did not violate the rules governing sexual relations. Not only were all of these necessary precautions to avoid assimilating into the Egyptian culture, but they are also the methods with which current Jews can battle assimilation. It is less likely that someone named "Tzvi Dov" was assimilate into his surrounding non-Jewish society than it is that someone named "Harry" would do so. Furthermore, it is less likely that someone whose native language is Yiddish or Yeshivish would assimilate than it is likely that someone whose native language matches those of non-Jews (or non-practicing Jews in the case of Secular Israel). This is why the born-and-raised American Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001) never spoke English at home; he wanted his family to be separated from their gentile neighbors and so he encouraged Jews to speak Yiddish. Rabbi Mordechai Gifter (1915-2001), a friend and contemporary of Rabbi Avigdor Miller, had a different approach. He felt that Jews should speak a higher brow level of the English language to distinguish themselves from the generally lower brow vernacular of the common people. As Rabbi Dovid Grossman (of Los Angeles, the voice of Shaspod) explained, the point is that a Jew should not speak goyish, but rather should speak in a distinctly Jewish fashion. Although in some places, the Midrash says[25] that the Jews in Egyptian were redeemed because they refrained from speaking slanderous tales about each other, in other places, the Midrash says[26] that it was because they refrained from revealing each other's secrets. In practice, both explanations are the same because revealing others' secrets is forbidden in Halacha just as spreading slanderous—even if true—tales about another is forbidden; this is about what the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation is trying to spread awareness. The fourth cause for merit was the fact that the ancient Israelites retained their clothing. By maintaining the modest attire, which so appropriately defines Torah Judaism, temptations for forbidden sexual acts were drastically decreased to the point that no one broke any of those prohibitions and that served to help the Jews merit their redemption. In the current exile too, Torah True Jews have a distinct dress, which cut back on such evil temptations and serve as a uniform for the army of HaShem. The Chareidi[27] men wear black shoes, black socks, black slacks, black velvet yarmulkes, black jackets, black hats, and white neatly tucked shirts with Tzitzis hanging from its sides. The women wear likewise modest garments so as not to attract needless attention to them, an idea that organizations such as Bnos Melochim are trying to spread throughout the Jewish communities.

In the ideal situation, every Jew should follow the customs (Minhagim) of his family. However, when a penitent (Ba'al T'shuva) returns to the true Torah faith (i.e. Orthodox Judaism) after generations of having been astray, there are no traditions to compliment normative Halacha for them to follow. His parents—and possibly even their parents and parents—were either non-observant or were minimally observant. In such a situation, the penitent traditionally adopts the customs (Minhagim) of those who brought him or her back to religion. This can refer to a specific movement, organization, or individual who influenced the penitent's theodology. The problem arises when a person finds religion by himself through such means as research. If this person does not consult with Rabbis on a regular basis or even just affiliate himself with an official faction of Orthodoxy, then this person would be exposed to all kinds of fallacious ideas; he would then just accept these falsehoods as truth. The left-leaning academia tries to defame various forms of right (meaning both correct and conservative, pun intended) Judaism[28]. Therefore, when this person decides to follow the path of Orthodox Judaism, to steer clear from the groups, which he learned are "evil" because he does not want to contribute to the rightward shift in World Jewry[29]; therefore, he resolves to belong to "Normative Orthodoxy". However, the reality is that such a movement is nonexistent. In the end, either this penitent will adopt the routine of one group over another, but will inevitably label that group the real Orthodoxy, or he will "pick and choose" from various groups until he finds a lifestyle that is more convenient for him. Both of these conclusions are unacceptable.

A true Chareidi (literally "trembler", i.e., one who trembles before the existence of HaShem) fears G-d in his own way. By definition, he follows Halacha to the utmost detail and is scrupulous in his decisions, traditionally following opinions that are more stringent when there are conflicting acceptable rulings on a matter. This is in contrast to modern Orthodox movements who adopt views that are still legitimate in Halacha, but are more lenient in many instances. Discouraging secular education and assuming that grown children will get married and learn Torah for the rest of their lives without getting a job is not the definition of Chareidism. There are Chareidi colleges or Yeshivas that find college acceptable, some even encourage such collegiate education; there are even Chareidi university professors and Ivy-league educated Rabbonim. Not all Chareidim outright prohibit movies or the internet; it is a matter of opinion. However, most of them do follow the opinions that such worldly activities are forbidden because they tend to rule stringently in general terms. Dress is also not a defining factor as to who is a Chareidi; some wear a shtreimel on Shabbos, some a spudnik, some a Fedora or Hamburg hat ("black hat"), yet others bare their heads of a hat and wear merely a yarmulka, whether knitted, suede, or velvet.

True Torah Judaism is made up of various factions, and none is superior to another. As postulated above, the correct path in Judaism is to follow the tradition of one's ancestors. Therefore, descendants of one geopolitical nationality differ from the descendants of another in terms of customs. The Yekkis from Germany, Litvoks from Lithuania, and Ungarians from Hungary each have different customs. Nonetheless, each one is doing what is halachikly required of them. The "Black Hatters" differ from the Sepharadim, yet they are both correct in their fashion of Avodas HaShem (serving G-d). There is no faction within Torah Judaism that is "more correct" than another. When a penitent decides to brand one type of Judaism the authentic one, he effectively tries to invalidate the other varieties, and he is thus violating the cardinal rule of unity. One's only mission is to remain observant in the Torah's tradition, as it has been passed down to him.

A frum person (colloquially, "religious") is, by literal definition, "tied up." He is bound by Halacha; he is in servitude to his creator and the Rabbis who decide the parameters of this responsibility. A frei person is "free" from his G-d-given obligations because he refuses to acknowledge rabbinical authority and HaShem's supremacy and authority in the world. Such a person is, in actuality, a slave to his own his temptations and pursuit of physical pleasure. This is why he rejects the self-evident truisms about HaShem and His Torah. In contrast, a frum person is free from his bodily enticements and consequently has the liberty to serve G-d properly, and thus he can fulfill the purpose of his existence. Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman (1875-1941), may his blood be avenged, explained[30] that any thinking person can recognize the hand of HaShem unless he has been brainwashed to not be able to do so. A majority of irreligious Jews fall into this category. They are known in Halacha as Tinokos She'nishbu, meaning "children who were kidnapped", they were never exposed to the Torah True ideals, so their sinning is beyond their control for lack of better knowledge. In present days, some say that the Secular Israelis are not of this status because since Torah observance in the Land of Israel is so prevalent, these Secularists are constantly actually exposed to Torah ideals. Nonetheless, many Secular Jews have always grown up in closed communities (like their religious brothers) which do not accept change and eschew influence from Torah observant Jews, so the malediction that these Secular Jews suffer from is a result of their upbringing; they cannot all be branded sinners.

Whether in America, where the majority of Jewry belongs to the Reform Movement, in Israel, where the majority of Jewry is plainly secular, or in any place of the world, religious Jews are a minority of Jews, who make up a small minority of the world population. In response to this sad state of events, organizations of kiruv (such as Ohr Somayach, Aish HaTorah, Lev L'Achim, Arachim, and many others), which attempt to "bring closer" those Jews who are far away from the Authentic Judaism, have sprung up all over the world to spread awareness of the Torah. The more academically inclined leftists like to claim that Orthodox Judaism in its present state does not address issues of science, social and moral ills, history, and deep theological concepts. However, these same people call those Rabbis who do indeed address such issues "Jewish apologetics". In doing so, they defame such luminaries of the Torah world as Rabbi Avigdor Miller (1908-2001), Rabbi Berel Wein (a Rosh Yeshiva who heads the Destiny Foundation and writes a weekly column in the Jerusalem Post), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (1934 - 1983), Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller (of Yeshivas Telz in Chicago).

As long as one stays within the realm of Halacha, and feels bound by the Torah law, one is still within the spectrum of Orthodox Judaism. The moment that one has rejected or tried to modify a Halacha, one is no longer within the range of what can be considered acceptable for Orthodox Judaism, rather that person is treading on ground reserved for Conservadox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Reform, and other progressive movements which have come into existence since the Reform Judaism. Starting in 1806, in the midst of the European Enlightenment, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte of France proclaimed that Jews were equal to all other Frenchman. This essentially broke down the ghettoes, which had separated the Jews from their gentile neighbors for centuries. Napoleon's goal was for the Jews to assimilate into mainstream French culture; Napoleon's "Sanhedrin" furthered Napoleon's purpose of transforming all the Jews into good little Frenchmen. The result of his work was the German Reform Judaism Movement that eventually spread and developed splinter groups, which mimicked their ideology across the globe. This emancipation of European Jewry was arguably more gruesome than Hitler's Holocaust did because spiritual death is much worse a fate than physical death. Judaism has still not recovered the ills that it faced because of the rise of progressive Jews ideals, which essentially led to rejection HaShem, and the Torah, as well as to assimilation and the adoption of Christian practices and rituals within the Jewish synagogue.

Rabbi Shimon Yerucham Green (Rosh Yeshiva of Bircas HaTorah in the Old City of Jerusalem) points out that both the Western World and the Moslem World agree on one fundamental point. They both preach that G-d and Freedom are opposites; one cannot have both religion and Freedom. The only difference is that the Muslims choose G-d, while the West chooses Freedom (i.e. secularism, even if not atheism, but a theistic secularism by separating church and state). However, both the Muslim approach and the Western approach are wrong. It is the duty of the Jews to show the world that proper worship of G-d is indeed in of itself a freedom. The Jewish nation was freed from slavery in Egypt only to be indentured as slaves again, but this time to the Almighty. In the first of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), G-d tells the Jews[31], “I am HaShem your Lord, who took you [singular] from the land of Egypt, from the house of slaves.” The implication is that the Jews are no longer slaves in Egypt; they are now slaves to Him. The American[32] religious philosophy can be summarized in a few words, as President George W. Bush said, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is G-d’s gift to mankind.” True freedom is the ability to serve HaShem in the way He intended.

Only Jews merited HaShem saving and redeeming them from slavery throughout history. Concerning only the Jews, does HaShem reveal himself to the world and “personally” punish his enemies and liberate his nation, just at the right moment. With regard to other nations who were indentured as slaves (i.e. the Africans who were bought and sold as if they were mere property, or young women who would “sell” themselves as prostitutes in order to make a living), HaShem allowed human intervention His own plan to save them. In those instances, HaShem’s role remained debatable because the hand of HaShem did not directly bring about their emancipation.[33] However, as is historically proven, HaShem Himself redeems the Jews. The conclusion of Tosafos Shantz[34] to the fifth chapter of Sotah reads, “He redeemed us from Pharaoh, He redeemed us from Sisra, He redeemed us from Nebuchadnezzar, and He will continue to rescue His nation accordingly until the ultimate salvation with the coming of the Moshiach, speedily and in our days: Amen.

[1] See "The Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence" by Professor Gregory Cochran in the Journal of Biosocial Science, summer 2005.
[2] This term literally means "nations" in Hebrew, but in popular usage in Yiddish and its derivatives, goyim refer specifically to the gentile nations. Some claim that its usage is derogatory, whether such a claim is baseless or not.
[3] Genesis Rabbah 48:9
[4] See Sotah 10a
[5] Sotah 11a
[6] Mechilta to Exodus, Chapter 5
[7] Exodus 8:15
[8] Exodus 14:30
[9] See Nefesh HaChaim, which explicates this general concept in detail.
[10] Perhaps this is the source of the popular idea that Adolph Hitler was also a descendant of Amalek.
[11] National Geographic hypothesizes that they possibly tried to appease the Romans of their anger at the Jews who participated in the Bar Kochba Revolution, even though that revolution occurred almost one century before Irenaeus lived.
[12] The most famous of which was published in 1543 as “On the Jews and Their Lies" and served as the blueprints of Hitler’s “Final Solution”
[13] See Otzar Midrashim pg. 557 (1915 edition, edited by Judah David Eisenstein, 1854-1956)
[14] Acts 22:3
[15] Those murders of Jews, which were carried out during the Crusades in the name of the Christian faith, were actually done by the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, who were Noahidic pagans not believing Christians. Freemasons rejected the teachings of Paul and Peter whom they believed corrupted the "true" teaching of Jesus. The American founding founder Thomas Jefferson, a freemason, was ridiculed as a heretic by his Christian contemporaries for excising the Pauline books from the biblical canon. Jefferson once wrote that "Paul was the first corrupter of the teachings of Jesus." Indeed, he was unknowingly correct.
[16] See Toldos Yeshu
[17] See Machzor Vitri compiled by students of Rashi. Although elsewhere in Machzor Vitri, an opinion is recorded that one who believes that Peter wrote Nishmas would be obligated to bring a Korban Chatas when the Holy Temple will be rebuild.
[18] Sefer HaChassidim §191
[19] This son of Holocaust survivors has been attacked as being a denier of the Holocaust, although that discussion is not relevant here to Finkelstein's stance on philo-Semitism.
[20] See Genesis 32:12 and the Beis HaLevi to that verse
[21] It should be noted that other scholars, like David Klinghoffer, preach that Christian embracement of Judaism is a good thing. Klinghoffer himself argues in Why the Jews rejected Jesus that the Jewish rejection of Christian theology is itself what caused the Christian success in the last two millennia. He cites a comment from the Netziv (Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, 1817-1893) who wrote (in his commentary to Genesis 33:4) that the Jews should recognize their “brothers” who descended from Esau (i.e. Rome and the rest of Christianity and Western society) and should reunite with them after many years of estrangement. Perhaps one can trace the dispute between modern secular academia regarding the proper Jewish response to a dispute between the great Roshei HaYeshiva of Volozhin (although no comparison of the individuals or their rationale is meant, only of their practical ideals). The Beis HaLevi and the Netziv argued about many issues, eventually causing the former to leave Volozhin and serve as the community Rabbi of Slutsk, Warsaw, and Brisk. As cited above, the Beis HaLevi felt that Philo-Semitism is a dangerous concept, while the Netziv urged his readers to embrace their Christian brethren—just not their ideals.
[22] Genesis 32:7
[23] Genesis 33:4
[24] Torah, Emor §657
[25] Song of Songs Rabbah 1:12, Leviticus Rabbah 26:5
[26] Midrash Tanchuma, Balak §16
[27] This is the politically correct term for what was called "Ultra-Orthodox Judaism."
[28] This is because of an interesting phenomenon in the academic world whereby the more left wing a school is, the more prestige it carries.
[29] See the multitude of works which vilify Hareidi/"Ultra-Orthodox" Judaism including, "Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy" by Haym Soloveitchik, Tradition, Summer 1994 and the multitudes of books and articles written by Professors Samuel Heilman and Noah J. Efron on the subject.
[30] Kovetz Mamaarim §1
[31] Exodus 20:2
[32] Regarding the general European attitude towards G-d (i.e. European Secularism) and their role in the conflict between the Western society and Islamofascism, see Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's, Too by Claire Berlinski (2006)
[33] Although a person with a strong conviction in his belief in HaShem should be able to see His part in everything.
[34] Compiled by Rabbi Shimshon of Sanz in the early 13th century

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