Kol HaTor Monthly
3 Adar 5769
The Ship that Launched a Nation
By Ruth Gruber
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Crown (October 1, 1999)
Review by M.D. Roberts:
This very moving book covers the story of the "Exodus", the unarmed ship carrying more than 4,500 Holocaust survivors seeking refuge in "British occupied" Palestine during 1947.
The ship, a former tourist vessel designed to carry only 400 passengers, is described as having been rammed and boarded by the British Royal Navy which was determined to prevent the Jewish Holocaust survivors from finding refuge in Palestine. The entry of the "Exodus" into Haifa harbour is further described amidst a British military blockade. But the story in this book is not so much about the ship, but about the individuals on board, their history & personal suffering, together with what faced them following their arrival in "Palestine" and the process outlined with such clarity in this work, which saw them being used as "political pawns" by the British Government.
The book begins with a description of the "Displaced Persons" camps of Europe, where those fortunate to survive the "Concentration Camps" were housed. The book recounts how some 70,000 Holocaust survivors "found their way out" of the "Displaced Persons" camps and made the tortuous journey across land borders, forests, mountain ranges, the Alps until they eventually located "secret" ports in France and Southern Italy where they climbed aboard a motley fleet of virtually obsolete vessels, including cutters, leaky fishing boats, cargo vessels, icebreakers, banana carriers, yachts & steamers (one called Exodus 1947) upon which they embarked upon their desperate journey to reach their ancient homeland of Eretz Israel, the "Promised Land".
The journey on the "Exodus" itself is described as being endured under extremely insanitary and unbelievably cramped conditions, whilst always under the threat of being arrested as "illegal immigrants" during the British blockade.
The book is replete with many photographs documenting the above and the story reaches the night of 17th July 1947 when "Haganah boys" pasted handbills on the shop windows of Netanya, Haifa and Jerusalem depicting the plight of the "Exodus" and describing it's cargo of 4,554 refugees consisting of 1,600 men, 1,282 women, 1,017 young people and 655 children. The posters also advising readers that the ship had been spotted by the British Navy and that five destroyers and a cruiser were closing in on the vessel.
The book documents the subsequent broadcast from the "Exodus" itself, which related how the Royal Navy had attacked the vessel at a distance of "17 miles from the shores of Palestine" in "international waters". The "Exodus" described as having been rammed from three directions and subjected to gas bombs and gunfire which left one Jewish civilian dead, five dying and some twenty wounded. The boarding of the "Exodus" by British troops is also detailed. Photographs of the damage to the vessel and the wounded Jewish civilians are also included. The book then describes the plight of the Jewish refugees as they are then forcibly ejected from the "Exodus". The ensuing public reaction is also described.
As the story proceeds, the book cites the British authorities as describing the prison camps of Cyprus as being "too good" for the Jewish refugees and outlines how the British "decided to make an example of them" by returning the Holocaust survivors upon three ships to Port-de-Bouc in Southern France. A measure portrayed in the book as a deterrent to others who would "dare run the British blockade".
Amidst further British threats to then transfer the Holocaust survivors to Germany the book shows the reaction on board ship as a British flag is painted with a "swastika" below the Union Jack. The described plight of the refugees is heartbreaking as they are disembarked in Germany where the book recounts so many having been murdered by the Nazi regime. (Being British, having served in our military & studied the Holocaust for many years, I feel very uncomfortable at the described behaviour of my "compatriots".)
The book also details how, having been forcibly returned to Europe and incarcerated in these "camps" in Germany, many of these self same Jewish refugees/Holocaust survivors began repeating their individual, tortuous process of escaping. The book depicting how they once more embarked upon their journeys back to their ancestral homeland, with many having reached Israel when their nation was re-born on 15th May 1948. Many described as forming part of the fledgling Jewish forces which met the combined invasion from the surrounding Arab nations immediately after the Jewish nation's declaration of independence.
This is an extremely moving, often disturbing book, about an often overlooked period of history. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Jewish history and events surrounding the re-birth of the Jewish state of Israel. The excellent photographs themselves are worthy of a special mention. Thank you.
JUDAH DID YOU KNOW?
Judah did you know?
There is a hidden remnant of people
Scattered and sown in the nations afar,
Who discovered we are your brother Joseph
Responding to a voice that is calling
Saying: “This is the way back to the fold.”
Judah did you know?
Bodies that were lying lifeless for ages,
Are awakening from generations of slumber,
Our hearts and ears being circumcised
To hear the ancient Song of Moses
As in Debarim 32 it was told.
Judah did you know?
When we hear your ancient language,
Something deep in our souls is being stirred.
Tears rolling down our different faces
As we find ourselves responding to a seed being watered
Planted in our hearts thousands of generations old.
Judah did you know?
This is a frightening thing to behold,
When we who are being called from the nations,
Begin to study the Torah from the start,
Discover just like Jeremiah told our fathers,
The lies of generations we were told.
Judah did you know?
Not many are there that accompany us,
As we turn and do teshuvah to HaShem,
And come forward in isolation,
Rejected by family, friend and our fold.
Truly one from a city and two from a family as Jeremiah the prophet foretold.
Judah did you know?
For many years we loved you, silently from afar.
The reason until now unknown to us,
When unexplained, the Spirit would come upon us
Driven to prayer for your return to Eretz Israel,
And we so longed to be one of your own.
Judah did you know?
When seeing pictures of your sages and faithful people
Holding and bending over your precious Torah scrolls
A voiceless yearning came over us,
A respect that can not be put to words,
This unidentified feeling hidden silently in our hearts.
Judah did you know?
When we saw you coming together,
For the Feasts as the Torah commands.
A longing so painful would pull us …
Hearing the joyfull sounds of your music,
Our inner man too wanted to dance!
Judah did you know?
Now, like children we are learning your Torah
Stumbling and questioning towards that ancient road
By a light growing stronger daily
Driven by an intensifying hunger
For this treasure so long hidden in the sand.
Judah did you know?
Our hearts are longing for the faith of our fathers,
And Moses and the prophets of old.
Your halachah O, so very onknown to us.
Please may we take hold of your tzitzit,
And you begin to teach us as the prophet Zechariah foretold?
Judah did you know?
We understand that you are hesitant to trust us,
With your living heritage so dear.
We do not look like your brothers
Just foreigners out there in the nations
Still clad in our former goyishe gear.
Judah did you know?
During darkness and wars that you went through
Claiming back your inheritance in Eretz Yisra’el
Embracing the Covenant of our Fathers,
A faithful remnant of us in the nations
Also prayed and lay down their lives, in order to carry you through.
Judah did you know?
In the recent war fought in Gaza
We watched and prayed daily
And our hearts were crying out to you.
If only we could make aliyah
We would have been able to fight with you too.
Judah did you know?
The House of Joseph is waiting
As Ezekiel in chapter 37 foretold
His Spirit is breathing upon us
To take on the Yoke of The Kingdom
So that we can worship Hashem together, forever united with you.
Judah did you know?
Upon us is the Spirit of repentance
Being pulled back to HaShem and His fold.
Will you please take our hand of fellowship
So that we in this final generation
Can together be restored to His Promised Land?
Agatha van der Merwe
17 February 2009
23 Shevat 5769
A WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE HOUSE OF JUDAH:
(Areas in blue highlighted by KolHaTor Editor.)
Israel’s would-be new leadership – and Israelis as a whole – can continue to duck and dive around the subject, doing everything within their intellectual and political ability to avoid engaging it head on, but it remains the most central of all the issues confronting this nation.
It will not go away. It will keep on bedeviling governments, stymieing prime ministers, grid-locking cabinets, bringing rule to a dead end and repeatedly forcing early elections, until those leaders reach office who are willing to acknowledge and confront the matter, and take the uncompromising stand that will ensure they resolve it.
After 20 years of prime ministers trying every other proffered path – Madrid, Oslo I, Oslo II etc, the Road Map, Annapolis – only to run themselves ragged around the futility of them all, Israel needs a leader who will declare, ‘enough is enough,’ and turn with resolve onto the road all before have been unwilling to tread.
It’s staring them in the face.
Kadima Party chairman Tzipi Livni – whose party was specifically created by Ariel Sharon to facilitate the crime of the “Disengagement” from Gaza – showed us why Monday night.
“We need to give up half of the Land of Israel,” she told a convention of American Jewish leaders, pushing the pusillanimous position that this is the only way to keep Israel Jewish.
Livni hopes she’s found a partner in Avigdor Lieberman – chairman of the Israel Our Home Party that came from behind to win a potentially king-making 15 mandates in the February 10 election.
Notwithstanding his party’s patriotic name, and the media’s wall-to-wall painting of him as a “rightist,” Lieberman doesn’t stand with the Jews’ land claim.
He rejects the parameters of the “two-state-solution” which sees an Arab state created in Judea, Samaria and Gaza while Israel reverts to its 1948-1967 size. But his platform is open to ceding other pieces of territory, including the Galilee Triangle with its hundreds of thousands of Israeli Arabs.
Lieberman has taken a strong stand against the treacherous behavior of those Israeli Arabs, including Arab Knesset members, who have profusely promoted the aims of Israel’s enemies. This is understood to be the main reason many Jews, disillusioned by the manifest failure of the land-for-peace process to abate Arab aggression and hostility, flocked to Israel Our Home.
Kadima, increasingly determined to keep the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu out of the prime minister’s office, will compromise to woo Lieberman.
Livni lieutenant Haim Ramon announced Monday the party was able to agree with 90 percent of the positions held by Israel Our Home.
Kadima is hoping “to break apart the mass of right-wing parties that would recommend [Netanyahu],” Ynetnews reported, quoting a party official:
“We’re not sure Lieberman will recommend Bibi, so we must do everything possible to make sure he doesn’t.”
Will this gelling of parties with centrist and rightist facades but leftist positions lull Israelis once again, or wake them up?
And what about “Bibi?”
Could it be true, as skeptics argue, that this son of a strongly Zionist family who failed to stand against American pressure to divide up his homeland will, after all, midwife Palestine?
Speaking Monday to the same group of visiting Jewish leaders Livni had just visited, Netanyahu partially answered the question.
According to the Associated Press – which like most the pro-Arab foreign media would like to help distance voters from Netanyahu – the Likud leader “indicated that his offer to the Palestinians should he be appointed prime minister would be considerably less than a sovereign state.”
“Regardless how the solution is achieved, the Palestinians should run their lives. They should govern themselves, but they shouldn’t have certain powers that would threaten the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu reportedly ruled out unilateral territorial pullbacks a’la Gaza which, he correctly charged, had enabled Hamas to seize the strip.
But he did this without acknowledging that his own unwillingness to leave the Sharon government earlier than he eventually did effectively helped the “disengagement” go through.
So what’s this all about, you may ask. The two who would be prime minister ARE speaking to the question of the Land.
What they are doing is positioning themselves to surrender it, if in varying degrees.
This is not the answer. It might win them the temporary support – again – of this country’s vacillating voters. But these short-term “solutions” benefit Israel’s foes. For 20 years, the “peace process” has only fueled the Arab appetite and enabled them to improve the means to satisfy it.
For goodness sake – even The Jerusalem Post (once the Palestine Post – the JEWISH Palestine Post) long ago began routinely calling Judea and Samaria “the West Bank!”
Israel should roll an immovable rock in the way, and stop the slide.
This process has already cost a terrible number of Jewish lives – and brought things to the point where the IDF this very week, for the first time in years, informed the government that Israel faces an existential threat.
That’s a claxon call that should freeze in their tracks everyone who knows about the never-ending history of attempts to wipe this nation out.
But how to stop it is precisely the way Israelis have not been willing to go for a long, long time.
It stops where it starts. It stops at the question, who owns this land? Whose is it? Who does it BELONG to?
The only answer is that it belongs – from the river to the sea – to the Jewish people.
It is theirs by God’s decree. No one on this earth can stand against that; against Him. And that is reason enough.
But it is also theirs by historic right – and no other nation on earth has ever had it as their national homeland. It is theirs because of the millions of their fellow Jews who were persecuted and murdered because they insisted on clinging to their national identity and to the hope of “next year” returning to it. It is theirs because of the blood of tens of thousands of Jewish lives sacrificed to prevent evil, usurping nations from taking it by terror and by force. And for those who care about human justice, it is theirs according to international law as ratified by the League of Nations.
I don’t believe Mrs. Livni is approachable on this.
Mr. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is on record as repeatedly declaring his belief that Christian Zionists are Israel’s most loyal friends. He knows how concerned we are.
As one of these friends, I would say with the greatest respect and absolute conviction, that if he wants to do what is unquestionably the most important thing for his nation: spell this out. Now. Not after he’s become prime minister. We cannot outsmart God.
Today, unequivocally, without apology or hesitation, the Arab world, the Islamic world, the western world, even America, even President Barack Obama – especially President Barack Obama – needs to hear these words:
“The Land of Israel belongs in perpetuity to the Jewish people, and we will never agree to giving any of it away.”
And the commitment should be made to annex Judea, Samaria AND Gaza, incorporating all of the Land of Israel into the Jewish state, forever.
God will honor those who honor Him.
To underline this – as a Gentile believer who worships that God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, may I remind Israel’s Jews – with their unparalleled history of suffering, survival, return and national resurrection – of the parameters the LORD set out for them when He brought them from Egypt to give them this land.
As Moses said to them:
“For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
For Israel to enjoy an abundance of food in their new land, they would have no mighty Nile to depend on. They would have to trust in the Almighty God for rain. He undertook to send it. All they had to do was remain faithful to and trust in Him.
So too with the indefensible situation of their tiny land – lying at the mercy of the mighty kings and empires that would rise and fall in Africa, Asia and Europe. Massive armies would want to march across Israel and devour it, or keep it as a vassal state, as they warred against one another. For Israel to survive her people HAD to remain faithful and keep trusting in their God.
Nebuchadnezzar, one of those great kings, sent his chief of staff to convince Israel of the folly of such trust:
Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, “Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.” But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” (2 Kings 18:28-35)
So it is today. Human rationale and logic says Israel has no alternative but to go along with what the world wants and relinquish claim and title to their land. The followers of other gods, gods like Allah, and gods like 21st Century Secular Humanism, say Israel has no choice and Israel has no chance.
But along with the Psalmist this is my plea:
“O Israel, trust in the LORD; He is your help and your shield.”
And this is my continuous prayer:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your loving kindness, because of Your truth. Why should the nations say, “Where, now, is their God?” (Psalm 115:1-2)
THE SECOND AND GREATER EXODUS:
We are studying the Torah Portions of the Nation of Israel and their first Exodus from Egypt these past few weeks. Our focus this week will be on how this relates to us, as we are coming out of our former non-Torah observant lives, in the process of becoming part of the Restoration of the Two Houses of Israel. The lessons of the First Exodus are the shadow patterns of the Greater and Second Exodus that the prophets spoke about, which is to happen in our days. How do we as 10-Tribers, and those of the House of Judah returning to the Covenant and the Faith of Avraham, Yitschak and Ya’akov, find a common identity as the Restored House of Israel in this process of return to the Ancient Path laid down in the Scriptures for us? How does the election of the House of Israel fit into the bigger picture of the Restoration of all things? How do we apply the giving of the Torah at Sinai through Moses to our lives, as we are waiting for this greater Exodus? Excerpts from the following studies are given with the sincere hope that we may discover and learn from those that have gone before us, and from those who have been called in this hour to study the Scriptures anew from a Hebraic/Judaic perspective. May this be done with a teachable spirit and in the spirit of unity, as our wish is to walk in the fear of HaShem, to worship Him only in Spirit and in Truth with one voice!
Excerpts from the following book:
By Will Herberg speaking on the Mystery of Israel.
(Areas in blue highlighted by KolHaTor Editor for emphasis.)
Excerpts from Chapter 18: THE NATURE AND DESTINY OF ISRAEL
"In Israel, all religion is history." Hebraic religion is not a system of abstract propositions to be apprehended intellectually or some esoteric wisdom to be received in mystic illumination. Hebraic religion is history, or rather it is faith enacted as history, not to be experienced, understood or communicated apart from that history. There is no Judaism without Abraham and Moses, without Egypt and Sinai. In Hebraic religion, the saving truth is the history of God's dealings with men in pursuit of his redemptive purpose. Hebraic religion is thus in essence Heilsgeschichte redemptive history, which is at one and the same time the history of redemption and the history which redeems. Only by making ourselves part of this redemptive history, by making it our own, can we be saved. If salvation is by faith, it is because faith, from this point of view, is precisely the appropriation of redemptive history as one's own.
The redemptive history which is Hebraic religion is the history of Israel interpreted as Heilsgeschichte. But though it is history of Israel, it is not merely history for Israel, as so much of modern nationalistic history is history for the favored nation. It is history for the world; indeed, in a sense, it is history of the world the "true history of the world," Buber calls it. (KolHaTor Editor: Martin Buber was a Jewish philosopher, educationist, and Zionist thinker. He was born Vienna in 1878 and died in Jerusalem in 1965.)
If this history is Israel-centered, as of course it is, this is because at the very heart of Hebraic religion is the conviction that, in a special and unique way, Israel is God's instrument for the redemption of the world. Mankind is the ultimate concern of redemptive history, and to that concern everything that relates to Israel, however large it may loom in Scripture and the rabbinical writings, is entirely subsidiary. The redemptive history of Israel is history for the world because it is through that history that the world is to be redeemed.
Redemptive history, and thus the existentially meaningful history of mankind, has its beginning in creation and its "end" in the final judgment and fulfilment to come. But both beginning and end as well as the entire course of history are themselves interpreted, as we noted in the last chapter, in terms of a crucial event, which may very justly be called the center of history. In Jewish faith, this event, or rather complex of events, is Exodus-Sinai. Exodus-Sinai, for Jewish faith, is the divine-human encounter par excellence, illumining and setting the pattern for all other encounters before and after. Exodus- Sinai is the crisis of crises in the history of Israel, the focal point in terms of which all earlier redemptive events are understood and from which all subsequent divine disclosures take their orientation. "I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt. . ."
(Exod. 20:2; Deut. 5:6) is the introductory formula in the proclamation of the Torah in which God makes his demands upon and reveals his gracious promises to Israel, and it remains henceforth the keystone of the entire structure of Jewish self-understanding.
The Exodus [writes Rylaarsdam] was basic in the consciousness of Israel. For Israel,reality was laid bare in that bit of history. God revealed himself in it. It is the normative event. . .HaShem redeemed Israel. . . This is the people by which he will fulfill his intention for all mankind. . .This is the perspective in terms of which the Exodus becomes the formative and guiding "event" in Israel's religious tradition. When we read, on to the end of the Old Testament, we find that all of it with the possible exception of such items as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which omit reference to our historical locus of revelation is written as testimony to this perspective that emerges from the Exodus event.
In the view of Maimonides, as Baron points out, "the greatest event. . .was the 'giving of the Torah' [at Sinai], and the period preceding it represents a kind of human prehistory." So it is in the entire rabbinic literature. "The labor of Israel in seeking to understand [its history] has never been completed, being continued by the rabbis of an earlier and the present day; but the revelatory occasion and idea have remained constant that "occasion and idea" has always been recognized as Exodus-Sinai.
What is it that Exodus-Sinai signifies in redemptive history? In the first place, it shows forth, for the Jew, God's supreme act of redemptive love, the paradigm of all of God's redemptive activity. It therefor establishes God's claim upon Israel, and, at the same time, calls forth responsive love, for love, as Judah Halevi points out, originally comes from God, not from us. We love with the love wherewith we are loved. In the second place, and directly as a consequence of God's redeeming act, Exodus-Sinai means the creation of the People Israel as God's covenant-folk. At Sinai, we are shown
God by a mighty act of his providence forming a people which should be the bearer of his redemptive purpose. Second Isaiah represents God as the "creator" of Israel in a very special sense that refers not to the general act of creation at the beginning but to the bringing of Israel into being as an elect, a "gathered" community: "I the Lord am your Holy One, I the Creator of Israel am your King . . ." (Isa. 43:15). And, according to Maimonides, the individual Israelites leaving Egypt had to be circumcised, baptized and brought to offer sacrifice had to be "newly born" like proselytes before they could
come forth as truly the people of God. All testimony and tradition converge to the same conclusion: "The Jews became a people by act of the Sinaitic revelation" "Our people are only a people by virtue of its Torah." Whatever the Israelites may have been when they came down as a family to Egypt, it was only Exodus-Sinai that created the People Israel.
The formation of Israel as people is represented to us as the consequence of the gathering and binding power of the divine covenant into which God entered with Israel at Sinai. In this covenant, God "called" Israel by its "name" that is, chose it and made it his "portion" (Isa. 43:1); but he also gave Israel its Torah its Way and its Law and laid upon it its vocation as his instrument in the divine scheme of redemption. Scripture and rabbinic tradition never tire of returning to the theme of Israel's election, but there is little suggestion that the election came to Israel through any merits of its
own; on the contrary, it "attributes the election to a mere act of grace or love on the part of God."
Such is the central event in the redemptive history of Jewish faith. Everything before and everything after is interpreted in terms of this crusial event. Looking back, we find the people-creating covenant at Sinai foreshadowed in the calling of Abraham and the covenant with him and his descendants. And beyond the patriarchs, there are Noah and even Adam, with whom, too, in biblical-rabbinic tradition God formed his covenants covering all mankind. The covenant, indeed, becomes in biblical thought the paradigm for the interpretation of all experience. What we call the laws of nature are understood in the Bible as God's covenant with his creation, inanimate as well as animate. The stars move in their courses, day follows night and night day, the beasts of the field obey their masters, all in fulfilment of their covenants. The covenant of election at Sinai is but the hub of a larger system of divine covenants by which nature, life and history are maintained in their appointed ways.
It is a covenant with Israel and for Israel, yet for Israel only because, through Israel, it is destined for the world. "As the Rabbis expressed it, it is only 'with the redemption of Israel that the Kingdom of Heaven will be complete.' Israel is the microcosm in which all the conditions of the Kingdom are to find concrete expression." Yet when the vocation of Israel is finally and completely fulfilled in the Kingdom of God at the "end," Israel will lose its reason for existence and all mankind will again be one. "The election of Israel was never meant to be a thing in itself, but as a first step toward the realization of the Kingdom of God on this earth. Israel is only 'the first fruit of his increase' (Jer. 2:3). Thus Jewish existence is in- dissolubly linked with that final goal. Its meaning lies in, and its justification derives from, the never-ceasing work of preparation for ... the malkut shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven)." All this is comprehended as in potentiality and promise in the covenant at Sinai.
What are these purposes? What is the vocation of the covenant- folk? These questions bring us to the heart of the "mystery of Israel."
"You shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exod. 19:6) : that is the basic formula in which the election and vocation of Israel are defined. Taken in its fulness, as it is developed in subsequent thought, this commission may be seen to imply a triple task: to receive and to cherish the Torah of God; to hear and to obey his voice in loving service and thus to live a holy life in a holy community under his kingship; and to be a "light to the gentiles" by showing forth God's greatness and goodness as well as by an active effort to bring the peoples of the world to acknowledge the Holy One of Israel. In a word, in inward life, corporate existence and outgoing service, to "sanctify the Name" and to stand witness to the Living God amidst the idolatries of the world.
Fundamentally, therefore, the vocation of the People Israel continues the same, for all the change, after the emergence of Christianity as it was before. Even for the outgoing function of the conversion of the gentiles, Israel remains indispensable, though now indirectly so. The primary and basic aspects of the vocation, the heart of the divine purpose in the calling of Israel the "sanctification of the Name" remains pre-eminently and irreplaceably the responsibility of Israel. To receive and to cherish the Torah of God, to live a holy life under his ever-present kingship, to stand witness to his word
against the idolatries of the world: these are the functions for which Israel is appointed. That this vocation involves suffering and martyrdom all history testifies; how could it be otherwise? "[God] chose Israel" so Dr. Finkelstein defines the Jewish teaching "to be his suffering servant, to bear persecution with patience, and by precept and example to bring his word to all the peoples of the world." Such remains the God-appointed vocation of Israel until the "last day."
Destroy the symbol of Hebraic culture, and the uncertainty of our conscience as well as the reality of our guilt are obliterated. Resisting our destiny, we must destroy those who call that destiny to mind. Until we surrender to that destiny, the Jew will not be safe. . .The Jew is always the enemy of an idolatrous culture."
Anti-Semitism is thus as "mysterious" as Israel itself, and like Israel it manifests itself in various changing historical forms. It is one of the ways the typical, symbolic way in which the pagan "gods of space" revenge themselves on the people of the "Lord of time" (Tillich). It stems from a tension, which, however much it may be reduced, diverted or suppressed, can never be entirely overcome until all history is overcome at the "end of days."
Yet Zion is the Land of Israel, not its native but its promised land. The bond between Israel and Zion, despite all dispersion and separation, is a theme that runs through the entire body of Scriptural and rabbinic writings. The destiny of Israel begins and ends with Zion: it is the land to which, in the beginning, God called Abraham and to which he led the children of Israel from out of Egypt; it is also the land to which, in the final fulfilment of the Messianic Age, the People Israel will be restored. But between the beginning and the end, there is the "great parenthesis" when Jewish existence and Jewish destiny are irremediably dual, centering around both Zion and the Galut.
These two aspects are to be related as two poles in dialectic tension with each other, each functioning as a norm and balance for the other. Each has its own characteristic strength and weakness, its own peculiar needs and resources. In a sense, the two complement each other, but the tension between them can never be resolved in history.
This duality of existence is naturally reflected in a differentiation of the vocation of Israel in the Land and in the Galut. In the Land, the Jews are called upon to establish their national life so that the
opportunity may be given to build toward the "true community" enjoined by the divine law, a community in which what Moore describes as the "ideal of the religion of Israel" "a society where all the relations of men to their fellows [are] governed by die principle, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, " can be given some measure of concrete embodiment. For that, political independence, or at least a high degree of autonomy, is obviously required. Here Buber finds the reason and justification for the kind of Zionism he espouses, which he believes to be in full harmony with Jewish religious tradition. "At that time," he writes, in an open letter to Gandhi vindicating the Zionst idea, "we did not carry out that which was imposed upon us; we went into exile with our task unperformed; but the command [to set up a just way of life] remained with us and it has become more urgent than ever. We need our own soil in order to fulfill it; we need the freedom to order our own life. . ."
But it is necessary also to remember what even Buber sometimes tends to forget, that there is an "unperformed task" for the Jew in the Galut as well, and will continue to be throughout history. The Dispersion came not only as a judgment upon Israel but also as a new way and a new field of service to God. In 'the lands of the Diaspora, it is for the Jew by his word and deed, by his conduct as a man and a citizen, by his very being as a Jew, to "sanctify the Name" and to help redeem the evil time. It is for him to stand witness to the Living God against the dominant idolatries of the age wherever they may appear, in secular or religious life, in his own community first of all. The testimony in life which the Jew by his very existence is called upon to give "Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One" is testimony that the world needs and must have, now more than ever and will never cease to need until all life is redeemed in the final fulfilment. And by the same token, "Jewish existence, in its ambiguity, strangeness and inconceivability, must be understood as the most powerful expression of the fact that the world is not yet the kingdom of God."
The Jew who is faithful to his calling must always be at odds with the life around him because the life around him is always making claims and pretensions that bring it into conflict with God. The Jew faithful to his calling is always "in a minority. . .He can hardly avoid putting a note of interrogation after every dogma or convention. . . ."
In all biblical and rabbinic visions of the "end," from the earliest to the last, Zion stands in the very center of the eschatological picture. "In the end of days it shall come to pass that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the top of the mountains and it shall be exalted above the hills, and the peoples shall stream unto it, and many nations shall come and say: Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways and that we may walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall come forth Torah, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Mic. 4: 1-2; Isa. 2: 1-3). And from the first beginnings of dispersion, the "return" of Israel to Zion was made part of the fulfilment. Both, however, must be understood in their Messianic context; both the exaltation of Zion and the restoration of Israel are part of the "last things." "The idea of the kingdom [of God]," Schechter writes, "is so often closely connected with the redemption of Israel from exile,
the advent of the Messiah and the restoration of the Temple as to be inseparable from it." Jerusalem, an earthly city, is proclaimed to be the center of the Kingdom of Heaven: that is another aspect of the biblical particularity that is so hard and yet so indispensable for us to accept.
While the vision of the "end" thus remains irreducibly particularistic, it is also universal. For "on that day," all peoples shall stream to Zion, and the word of the Lord that shall go forth from Jerusalem shall come to all alike. The Torah which, when it was given to Israel, the rabbis tell us, was given in the wilderness, so that Israel might not think of it as its own "national" property, will "on that day" become in fact the possession of all mankind, redeemed and transfigured in a world itself redeemed and transfigured. Then at last will Israel disappear, its vocation fulfilled. For "in this world, men, through the promptings of the evil yetzer, have divided themselves into various tongues (peoples). But in the world-to-come, they will agree with one accord to call on his name alone, as it is said: for then will I restore the speech of the peoples to a purified speech that they may all call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord' (Zeph. 3:9)." 61 Thus the day of vindication and triumph of Israel is but the prelude to its dissolution into a redeemed mankind, at last at one with itself because it is at one with God.
Such is the picture of the nature and destiny of Israel as seen from the perspective of biblical-rabbinic faith. It is the picture of a redemptive process set in a context of historical movement with a beginning, center and end. Each of us who makes this history his own is always at some point of the movement, looking back at the beginning, orienting himself toward the center, and looking forward to the end not
as to some dim and distant event but as to the absolute future confronting him at every moment of existence with its promise and demand. It is a picture of a redemptive history transcending and yet including the "secular" history of mankind.
The history of salvation, which is the authentic form of Hebraic faith, is the story of the gracious effort of God to bring a perverse and rebellious world back to the intent of creation through an elect community set apart for that purpose. The operative instrumentality of salvation is the covenant with the elect community through which men may be restored to God and become heirs of the divine promises.
Anyone may reach God to whom the grace of God goes out, but if it is truly the Holy One of Israel whom he reaches, it is in some way in and through the covenant with Israel. "The individual Israelite," says Richardson, "approaches God in virtue of his membership in the holy people. . .In the whole of the Bible, . . .there is no such thing as a private personal relationship between the individual and God apart from his membership in the covenant-folk. The rabbinical writings and the liturgy are full of appeals to the covenanted grace of God as the only hope of salvation.
The dynamic of the redemptive process thus proceeds in and through the covenant, through its inward realization and its outward extension until it covers all mankind. God never leaves himself without those who will bear witness to his Name and perform representatively, as it were, the redemptive function of the entire community. Who it is that at any time compose this saving remnant, we do not know; perhaps they do not themselves know, for where is there the saint who is conscious of his own saintliness? Everything remains hidden until the final clarification. But that they are there and at work, this we do know, for it is by them that we are sustained, the time is redeemed, and the world driven forward to that great day when the "peace of God" will reign here below as it does in heaven.
Excerpts from Chapter 19. TORAH: TEACHING, LAW AND WAY
No word in Jewish religion is so indefinable and yet so indispensable as the word Torah. It is Law, yet more than Law, for it is also Teaching and Way. It is a book, an idea, a quality of life. It is the Pentateuch; the Bible in all its parts; the Bible and the rabbinical writings; all writings dealing with revelation; all reflection and tradition dealing with God, man and the world. It is represented as a bride, the daughter of God, as a crown, a jewel, a sword; as fire and water; as life, but to those who are unworthy, as poison and death. It is the pre-existent Wisdom or Word of God, present at creation and acting as the "architect" of the creative work. It preserves the world from destruction; without it all creation would lapse into chaos: it is the harmony and law of the universe. It is all this and much more, for the exaltation of the Torah in Jewish tradition is a theme which no words can exhaust. But what, after all, is Torah, and what does it mean to the living Jew, here and now?
Perhaps it would be well to approach this problem from the point of view of Heilsgeschichte developed in the last chapter. What is the meaning of Torah in terms of the redemptive history which is Jewish religion?
Redemptive history is not merely history of redemption; it is also redeeming history, history with the power to save. The Jew achieves salvation not through purely individual, mystical exercises which somehow bring him into union with God. The Jew becomes a "true Jew" and makes available to himself the resources of divine grace under the covenant by making Israel's past his own, its sacred history the "background" of his own life. It is by this process of existential identification that the Jew becomes a Jew-in-faith, that his existence becomes authentically Jewish existence and he is enabled to encounter God as a Son of the Covenant, within the framework of the divine election. This existential self-integration into the sacred history of Israel gives the individual Jew a grounding in the past, a place of standing in the present, a hope for the future. It gives a context of ultimate significance to life, and that is itself redemption from the blank meaninglessness of self-contained existence. The authentic I-Thou relation between man and God, which we saw to be the existential content of salvation, emerges for the Jew within the framework of his personally appropriated redemptive history.
From this point of view, and this is the point of view most congenial to biblical thought, Jewish faith is the affirmation of the sacred history of Israel as one's own particular history, as one's own "true past." It is the way by which the power of redemptive history becomes effectual for us.
The true redemptive history for the Jew and in a rather different sense for the Christian as well is the sacred history of Israel. One becomes a Jew-in-faith by becoming an "Israelite," by re-enacting in his own life the redemptive career of Israel. Hebraic religion is historical religion, above all in the sense that the believer must himself appropriate it in his own life as his own history. Every believing Jew in his own life stands in the place of Abraham our father and in his own life re-enacts the historical encounter between Israel and God.
The three great festivals of Judaism Pesah (Passover), Shabuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) whatever may be their original roots in "nature," gain their religious significance through the fact that they are history festivals. They are the liturgical pattern in which the crucial event in the redemptive history of Israel Exodus- Sinai is re-enacted and through which the individual Jew integrates himself into that redemptive history. These festivals are not mere commemorations. They are decisive moments in which eternity enters time, in which the temporal takes on the dimensions of the eternal.
They are moments when sacred history is repeated in our own lives. In the Passover ritual, every Jew, insofar as he participates in it existentially, becomes an Israelite contemporary with Moses, whom God is drawing out of Egypt, the house of bondage, to bring to the foot of Sinai to receive the Torah. "All this I do," the Passover Haggadah represents the Jew as saying in explanation of the order of service, "all this I do because of what God did for me in bringing me forth from Egypt." 5 For me, not for my ancestors or for someone else, but for me in exactly the same way as he did for Moses and the Israelite slaves of the time. Shabuot is the reception of the Torah at Sinai, and he for whom this festival has its authentic existential significance, himself goes to Sinai in fear and trembling to receive the Torah.
He knows that what Moses told the Israelites "when they had come out of Egypt beyond the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth-Peor" applies to him just as truly, for he, too, is one of the children of Israel whom God has delivered: "Hear, O Israel . . . the Lord our God made not his covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day" (Deut. 5:5). And what is true of Pesah and Shabuot is also true of Sukkot, which relates to the wandering in the Wilderness. These three festivals are for us the living re-enactment of the formative events in the redemptive history of Israel. Just as Israel became Israel through the events to which they refer, so the individual Jew becomes a Jew-in-faith by "repeating" these events in his own life. It is neither past time nor timeless eternity in which we live in faith, but contemporaneity. "He who does not himself remember that God led him out of Egypt," says Martin Buber, "he who does not himself await the Messiah, is no longer a true Jew."
To be a Jew means not only to stand in Abraham's place and answer "Here am I" to God's call when and where it comes; it means also to stand at the foot of Sinai and receive the Torah, not figuratively, but actually, through existential "repetition." "On this day, Israel came to Mount Sinai," we read in Scripture (Exod. 19:1). "Why on this day rather than on that day?" ask the rabbis. "So that you may regard it," they answer, "as though the Torah were given this day* ... as a new proclamation which all run to read." Yet, although each of us stands at the foot of Sinai and receives the Torah as did the children of Israel in days of old, we stand now, not then. It is not so much that we stand at a different time; rather it is that we stand in a different context of life. It is the same Torah, yet different, because we who receive it are different and we hear it in a different way.
What is this Torah which each of us receives at Sinai as God's truth and yet which each of us must "make true" for himself?
Torah, in the first place, is Teaching, and its acquisition, in the familiar term, is "learning." In this sense, we may take Torah to represent the entire biblical-rabbinic tradition of "religious" wisdom, remembering, however, that for the rabbis, "if religion is anything, it is everything." Torah starts with the Bible. From the very beginning, however, it is not the Bible simply as written, but the Bible as read and understood. And yet what is thus "added" to the Bible is not really added, for can the Bible have any living significance except as read and understood and therefore as "added to"? This is the truth in the orthodox contention that the Oral Torah (tradition) was given to Moses along with the Written Torah (Bible) on Sinai and is therefore just as truly revelation. Here, too, I think Franz Rosenzweig has put the matter in a more striking and existentially truer way than orthodox fundamentalism is willing to do. "[To the orthodox]," he writes, "the Oral Torah is a stream parallel to the Written Torah and sprung from the same source. For us, it is the completion of the unity of the Book-as-written through the unity of the Book-as-read. Both unities are equally wonderful. The historical view discovers multiplicity in the Book-as-written as well as in the Book-as-read: multiplicity of centuries, multiplicity of writers and readers. The eye that sees the Book not from the outside but in its inner coherence sees it not merely as written but as read. In the former, it sees the unity of teaching; in the latter, it finds the unity of learning, one's own learning together with the learning of centuries. Tradition, halakic and haggadic, itself becomes an element in [understanding and] translation.
Thus, the Torah is "from Sinai," and yet the "Torah from Sinai" includes, as the Talmud assures us, everything that the earnest and sincere spirit propounds in trying to understand it and make it vital for
life. All is Torah as Teaching.
That is why he who wants to appropriate for himself the Torah in its fulness must appropriate it as total living tradition. We cannot start with any external criterion of value, whether it be the distinction between the biblical and the extra-biblical, the "essential" and the "nonessential," the religiously "inspiring" and the religiously "uninspiring." Whatever distinctions and discriminations have to be made must come from within the total living tradition of Torah as distinctions and discriminations of parts in terms of the whole; but it is the whole that is the Teaching and must be acquired as "learning." The continuity of Torah, as written and as read, was well understood by the rabbis, who affirmed, to use Schechter's words, that "prophecy [is] the 'word of God' and the continuation of his voice heard on Mount Sinai, a voice which will cease only with the Messianic times perhaps because the earth will be full of the knowledge of God and all the people of the Lord will be prophets." Let us remember, however, that this "voice," like the word of God at Sinai, reaches us only as mediated through the minds and hearts of men and therefore in a relativized and fallible form. To discover the word of God in the words of the writings is the effort of all "learning," and is a task never done.
Since Torah is Teaching and its acquisition "learning," the study of Torah has from early time been the great and absorbing concern of the believing Jew. It is equivalent to the Temple sacrifices, we are told; indeed, it is that for which man is created. It would be utterly wrong to conclude from this emphasis on studv that Jewish spirituality runs dry in the sands of intellectualism and scholasticism. Study of the Torah is something very different in Jewish reality: it is a genuine spiritual exercise, the characteristic and authentic Jewish equivalent of mystical communion with God.
Yet (the study of Torah is as nothing or worse than nothing if it is not associated with doing. Indeed, it is held to be of such transcendent value precisely because it is relevant to life and action. This leads us to a consideration of Torah as Law.
Torah is not in itself identical with law, as the usual translation would make it. But it is Law, or halakah, in one of its aspects. Torah as Law reflects the fact that the Jew, in his covenant-existence, lives "under the Law," which is the constitution, so to speak, of the elect community, the "holiness-code" of the covenant-folk. That this conviction of living "under the Law" need not entail a graceless legalism or the notion of self-salvation through good works the slightest acquaintance with genuine Jewish spirituality or the most cursory reference to the Prayer Book which, as Schechter points out, is the best witness to authentic Jewish belief is enough to prove. Certainly the countless generations of Jews who have prayed daily, "Our Father, our King, be gracious unto us, for we have no merits. . . . Our Father, our King, if thou shouldst take account of iniquities, who could stand? . . . We know we have no merits, so deal with us graciously for thy Name's sake. As a father has compassion on his children, so, O Lord, have compassion upon us. ... Righteousness is thine, O Lord, and confusion is ours. How can we complain? What can we say? How can we justify ourselves? . . . Save us because of thy grace, O Lord" the people who uttered these prayers were under no illusion that they could save themselves through the accumulation of merit. Nor can the rabbis who, for all their circumstantial enumeration of commandments, taught that all were ultimately "compressed" or reduced to one, "The righteous shall live by his faith" be charged with the fragmentation and trivialization of the divine imperative. Yet, though it does not succumb to legalism, normative Jewish faith is halakic through and through in the sense that it is oriented to the Torah as Law as well as to the Torah as Teaching.
Torah as Law, like Torah as Teaching, is not merely the Pentateuch, not merely the Bible, not merely these plus the Talmud. It is the entire living body of tradition that confronts us with its claim, and its claim is to the totality of life.
Torah as Law is the divine imperative in all its unity and absolute demand. It "derives its authority from the Kingdom [of God]," as Schechter points out. It is not merely an aggregation of particular commandments; it is in the first place, the affirmation of the total kingship of God, and to this everything else is subordinated. "Why," asks R. Joshua b. Karha, "does the section [of the Shema] Hear, O Israel precede And it shall come to pass if ye shall hearken? So that a man may first take upon him the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and afterward take upon him the yoke of the commandments." First, the yoke of the Kingdom; then, the yoke of the commandments. Just as sin, rebellion against God and his kingship, is the source and origin of particular sins, so the acknowledgment of the divine kingship is the source, basis and sanction of the particular commandments. But just as, on the other hand, no man can be merely sinful in the abstract without engaging in particular sinful activities, so no man can truly acknowledge the kingship of God without subjecting himself to his Law in its particularity as commandments.
The commandments (mitzvot) that follow upon the acknowledgment of the divine sovereignty are in themselves neither absolute nor unchangeable, however much they may appear to be so in the conventional formulation. They are, in fact, generally recognized, though not always explicitly, to be changing and relative to the human situation. No commandment is conceived as absolute in the sense of being automatically applicable without regard to circumstances. Even the Sabbath, the rabbis teach, "is delivered into the hand of man (to break it when necessary), and not man into the power of the Sabbath." "Danger to life annuls the Sabbath . . ., and one Sabbath may be violated to save many. And what is true of the Sabbath is, of course, equally or even more true of other commandments. The general principle is, "that a man shall live by them live, not die." This principle provides not only a criterion for the application, suspension and, where necessary, the violation of particular commandments, but also a rule, though by no means the only one, by which orderly change and de velopment are made possible.
Torah as Law is very far indeed from being a fixed and rigid legalistic system without concern for human needs and changing requirements. It recognizes, by implication and act and sometimes even in so many words, the essential relativity of the commandments and their susceptibility to change in response to changing conditions. The lifeless rigidity that characterizes a certain type of contemporary orthodoxy is very far indeed from the classical conception and practice.
For most Jews today, the existential significance of the various kinds of commandments is by no means the same. A good many those dealing with political, criminal and civil law, for example have lost all practical meaning since they have been superseded by the law of the state, and, according to the ancient rabbinical maxim, "The law of the state is the law." Others, such as those relating to the Temple sacrifices, are obviously of no contemporary relevance. There are, in fact, left but two kinds of commandments that are of direct concern: the moral prescriptions, on the one side, and the "ritual" or "ceremonial" observances, on the other.
Let us note, in the first place, that all religious observance, existentially considered, is the acting-out of one's religious convictions.
What is the religious significance of these observances? Is it not obvious that they are, in effect, the acting-out of the Jew's affirmation of the election of Israel and its "separation" as "priest-people?" "You shall be holy unto me, for I have separated you from among the nations that you should be mine" (Lev. 20:26): in this proclamation lies the meaning of Israel's existence and the ultimate grounding of the halakic code of ritual observance. The Jew, who, in existential "repetition," stands at the foot of Sinai and receives the Torah, receives it not only as a teaching about the election of Israel but also as a code, a "holiness-code," in terms of which he is to enact that teaching into the pattern of his life. "Law, lived and experienced, is expression and justification of the divine election of Israel. Both belong together."
In this view, Jewish ritual observance is halakah, for the Jew lives "under the Law," and the special discipline to which the halakah subjects him is the commandment of God involved in the election of Israel. The "general principle" cannot be really understood unless particular commandments are observed. "The truth of the theological connection between Chosenness and Law becomes evident when we actually fulfill the command. Only the 'living reality,' the unmediated experience of the single law, leads to a conception of the objective theological fact." Observances have their history; they have arisen, changed and many of them lost their effectiveness with the passage of time. God operates in and through history, and the history of Israel certainly cannot be dissociated from the divine intent for Israel.. The election and vocation of Israel mean more, much more, than fixed ritual observance; they include the entire moral law, and no area of life is unaffected by their transforming power. Buber, moreover, himself speaks of the "mysteries whose meaning no one learns who does not himself join in the dance." The halakic pattern is the "dance" in which the Jew learns the "mystery" of the election of Israel.
Unless a mitzvah is really made one's own, unless it can be and is performed with true inwardness, it has no effective power. The entire body of halakic tradition, ever changing in its historical conditionedness, yet ever the same, confronts the individual Jew as Gesetz ("law" in the external sense, mere "substance"). "In the realm of Law, as in the realm of Teaching, contents and material must cease to be mere substance and must be transformed into inner power. We choose; but it is a choice based on high responsibility." Thus, through responsible personal appropriation, halakah-as-such is transformed into halakah-for-me and becomes operative as the way in which I as a Jew live out in ritual pattern my existential affirmation of faith. No man can decide for another what he can or cannot make his own; each must decide for himself, in responsible recognition of the claim that the tradition of the Law has upon him, but for himself nevertheless. In the end, the appropriation of Torah as Law is an existential decision made in divine-human encounter as at Sinai. In the end, too, everyone who has taken upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom and the commandments is vindicated before God for what he does in the full consciousness of responsibility, according to the saying of R. Zedekiah b. Abraham: "Every man receives reward from God for what he is convinced is right, if this conviction has no other motive but the love of God."
Torah as Law is the active side of Torah as Teaching. It embraces not merely ritual observance, but in a sense everything the Jew does, for it recognizes no ultimate distinctions in the totality of life, which is all subject to God and his Law. Law and teaching constitute two aspects of the same reality, and that reality, in unity and synthesis, is Torah as Way. We will think of Torah as the Way for the Jew in his life under the covenant.
But if the repudiation of his true redemptive history is so destructive to the Jew, his wholehearted affirmation of the covenant brings with it the divine blessing of authenticity. Authentic Jewish covenant existence made operative in life: that is the Torah in its totality as Way.
Because of this ambivalence, the Torah is decision and judgment. It is decision, for it confronts every Jew with the demand for recognition and appropriation, not only once for all but at every moment of existence: "Choose you this day whom you will serve" (Jos. 24:15). It is judgment because, upon this decision, depends the Jew's existence as Jew: "It is not a trifling thing for you; it is your life" (Deut. 32:47). Or, as the rabbis put it, Torah may be either balm or poison. "For him who deals rightly with it, it is a drug for life; but for him who deals wrongly with it, it is a drug for death." Torah is for the Jew the permanent crisis of his life, for it is demand, decision and judgment. But it is also joy, for it is the testimony of the election, the abiding expression of God's mighty act of redemption in the past and the promise of the greater and final redemption to come. It is at once the symbol and the embodiment of Israel's redemptive history.
Torah as Way is the totality of everything that has meaning for the Jew in his religious existence. To live a Torah-true life is, for him, to live a life that is true to his inmost being because it is true to the God who is the source and law of that being.
Excerpts from Chapter 20: CONCLUSION: FAITH FOR LIVING
We serve a Master who calls upon us to be free and who assures us that if we act like free men, in truth and responsibility, we will be acting in obedience to his law and in accordance with his will. We may not evade responsibility, but we need not fear it either. For if God be with us, and God is with us to the degree that we put ourselves in his service, who can be against us?
For the Jew, the faith that saves is the faith that becomes concrete in the redemptive history of Israel. The God of Jewish faith is no abstract principle but is the Lord who "led us out of Egypt," the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God at Sinai, the God who in the "end" will send his Messiah to redeem Israel and the world. For the Jew to "believe in" this God means to affirm with his whole being, in thought, feeling and action, that this entire story is quite literally the substance of his personal biography. On this level, too, faith is won through a never-ending struggle against idolatry. Each of us stands in Abraham's place, each of us confronts God and receives the Torah at Sinai, each of us looks forward in the tension of expectation to the coming of the Messiah: that is the meaning of Jewish faith.
Hebraic religion is thus, on every level, a declaration of permanent resistance to idolatry. It is a declaration of total and unreserved allegiance to the Living God who alone is absolute and to whom all other powers, concerns and allegiances are subject. It answers the ultimate question of existence, "Whom shall I serve?" with an unqualified "Fear the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, love him and serve him with all your heart and all your soul" (Deut. 10:12).
Excerpts from an article: The Second Exodus
(The Sacred Names were changed by KolHaTor editor in order to comply with the KolHaTor guidelines.)
We have a “saying” back home, in our congregation. And, it’s one of the keys to understanding and rightly interpreting Scripture. It’s actually a concept that applies to every historic episode in the Torah; in fact throughout the entire TaNaK and Brit Chadashah. This principal is, in the Hebrew,“Ma’aseh avot siman le’vanim”. In English, it states, “The deeds of the fathers (our ancestors) are signposts to the children”. Now, there are three different ways that this concept helps us understand Scripture; each representing a deeper level of meaning, similar to the concept of PaRDeS, which looks at four levels of Scripture interpretation (Pashat, Remez, Drash and Sod). In other words, “Ma’aseh avot siman le’vanim” is a three tiered principal in which each level adds deeper meaning to an historical event for us.
The first level, or “plain sense explanation”, says that what the “fathers” did should be an example to us, the children. We should learn from their acts and decisions and apply those lessons to our walk. The second, or “deeper explanation”, is one of historical precedent. What happened to the “fathers” will happen to the children. By studying biblical events, we can be prepared for the future.
Just as the Feasts, or “Mo’edim” that we celebrate each year are remembrances of historical events that HaShem has told us to keep and proclaim, they are also the rehearsals of future events in HaShem’s dealings with B’nei Yisra’el. And, in the “deepest level” of explanation, each of the main, or more noteworthy, “forefathers” is identified (through their life experience) with a particular “midah”, or “attribute” or “quality” of HaShem’s character, that we should seek to adopt into our own character. This is specifically what we study each year during the “Sefirat HaOmer” or “Counting of the Omer”. In the case of Avraham Avinu (our father Avraham); his life exemplifies the “midah” (HaShem’s attribute) of “Chesed” or “Loving-kindness”. Yitsaq walked in “Gevurah” or “Discipline”. And, Ya’acov is associated with “Tiferet” or “Beauty in Emet (Truth)”, which is combination of “Loving-kindness” and “Discipline”.
So, by simply living their lives, our forefathers were not only ethical examples for us; but, they set in motion historical precedents that we will experience, as Yisra’el, in these “last days”. So, am I saying this is by genetics? Or, are we spiritual Yisra’el? While that is a whole teaching in itself, we need to remember what Sha’ul said in Galatians 3:29 (from the Aramaic); And if you are of the Messiah, then you are the seed of Avraham, and heirs by the promise. This begs the question, “What’s the promise”? Well in fact, in B’reshith / Genesis, there were three promises that HaShem gave to Avraham and his seed. 1) That they would become a “great nation” and his seed would not be able to be counted (B’reshith 12:2, 13:16, 15:5, 17:2, 18:18 & 22:17 and to Yitzaq in 26:4 & Ya’aqob in 28:14 & 48:4). 2) That they would be given the Land of Yisra’el (Gen. 12:7, 13:15-17, 15:7 & 18-21, 17:8 & 24:7 and to Yitzaq in 26:3-4 & Ya’aqob in 28:13, 35:12 & 48:4). 3) In their “Seed” all the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3, 18:18 & 22:18 And to Yitzaq in 26:4 & Ya’aqob in 28:14). I need to interject here that this promise isn’t just a prophetic word about Messiah. Because, in these “last days” we, the seed of Avraham, Yitzaq and Ya’aqob, are blessing the clans of the earth, the clans that we were sown into, the “Good News” of the Restoration of the Kingdom to Yisra’el. Isn’t that the job of the “Two Witnesses”? This is why it is so important to read and study the Torah. Torah is not just the “Law”. I mean, you probably already know that “Torah” literally means “Instructions”. And, like most instruction books, there are pictures in it. These pictures are the events in our ancestors’ lives that we need to learn from in order to live our lives as HaShem has commanded and to fulfill our destiny as His “chosen people”. HaShem tells us, through the prophet, in Yeshayahu / Isaiah 46:9-10; “Remember the former events of old, for I am El, and there is no one else – Elohim, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from of old that which has not yet been done,saying, ‘My purpose does stand, and all My delight I do,” HaShem indeed tells us the “end from the beginning”.
The Torah is a story of a people who were delivered out of Egypt and transformed from slavery into a nation of free men. The book of B’reshith / Genesis explains where they came from and how they got into Egypt. However, the unique part is that there is a prophetic connection to the future for the last generation – the descendants of Yisra’el. The Torah has a specific and deliberate purpose in the future. What is so ironic about this unique purpose is that almost no one, in modern history, has seen it until just the last few years. You probably won’t find any commentary, Christian or Jewish, that compares the generation leaving Egypt with the generation leaving this present age on the way to the Promised Land (the Kingdom). You may never have heard a teaching that explains the prophecies of the last generation in the context of the lesson of the exodus. What I propose to you is that the final purpose of the Torah, in the Last Days, is to instruct the last generation on how to enter the Messiah’s Kingdom.
Let’s look at a couple of important scriptures. The prophets Yirmeyahu / Jeremiah and Yehezqel / Ezekiel, to name just two, addressed the end of the ages, and both prophesied of another Exodus.
Yirmeyahu / Jeremiah 16:14-15, “Therefore see, days are coming, declares HaShem, when it will no longer be said, ‘As HaShem lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As HaShem lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where HE had driven them.’ For I will bring them to back to their own land which I gave to their fathers.
And, Yirmeyahu 23:7-8, "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares HaShem, "when they will no longer say, ‘As HaShem lives, who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As HaShem lives, who brought up and led back the seed of the house of Israel from the north land and from all the lands where I had driven them.’ Then they will dwell on their own soil."
Then, Yehezqel 39:27-29, “When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am HaShem their Elohim because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and left none of them behind. And no longer do I hide My face from them, for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the House of Yisra’el’ declares the Adonai HaShem” I need to point out here that, while I’ve only quoted two here, all the prophets prophesied about a future “gathering and return”.
Moshe is credited with writing a song of deliverance at the first Exodus, which we read in Shemot / Exodus 15. Upon crossing the Yam Suf, Sea of reeds, and seeing Pharaoh and his army drowned.
And, according to Torah, Moshe and B’nei Yisra’el sang that song. I’m sure you have heard the words, "The horse and rider He has thrown into the sea." But, did he write it? We’re not told. Is this the “Song of Moshe”? Well, we read as the Torah comes to a close in Debarim/Deuteronomy 31 that, that Moshe did at least write the song in Debarim / Deuteronomy 32. This second song is also a song of deliverance. Let’s look at Debarim 32:11, “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, HE spread HIS wings and caught them, HE carried them on HIS pinions.” Now look at Revelation 12:14, “And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” Yes, the
“Song of Moshe” (Debarim 32) is about the scattering of HaShem’s people and the regathering, the Second Exodus.
According to the book of Revelation, this song will be sung by Believers during the “Great Tribulation”. Revelation 15:3-4 says; “And they sang the song of Moses the servant of Elohim and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are Your Works, HaShem El Shaddai !; Righteous and true are Thy ways, O Sovereign of the nations. Who shall not fear you, O HaShem, and esteem Your Name? Because You alone are kind; Because all the nations shall come and worship before You, For Your righteousnesses have been made manifest." Now, some teach that these are two different songs, one of Torah and one Grace. But, I submit to you today, that this is describing one song. The “Song of Moshe” and “of the Lamb” is the song of “Deliverance” from the “house of bondage”. Ahmein? B’nei Yisra’el left Mitzrayim (Egypt) with the clear expectation that they were going to the Promised Land – the land flowing with milk and honey. However, they did not go directly to that land. Instead, they went into the great and terrible wilderness. They ended up being in that wilderness for 40 years and camped at 42 different places. Then, they came to the Jordan River and crossed over into Eretz Yisra’el.
Many things happened in the wilderness. They experienced the Pillar of Fire and the Column of Smoke, they heard the voice of Elohim, they received the Ten Commandments, they sinned with the golden calf, they built the Mishkan, or Tabernacle and they also rejected the Promised Land the first time and were judged in the wilderness. Only two, Yehoshua and Kaleb, actually made it into the Promised Land from those who were 20 years and older that left Egypt. The children of B’nei Yisra’el are those who took possession of the Land.
As I said, “Ma’aseh avot siman le’vanim”, or “The deeds of the fathers are signposts to the children”. You see, the pattern of the First Exodus prophesies of the Second Exodus. While they may not be exactly the same, to every detail; the picture is of the same subject and there are many correlations between the two.
Today, the average Christian is looking forward to leaving this world and going directly to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Promised Land, by way of a “rapture”, either before, during or after the “Great Tribulation”. They’ve never considered going by way of a “wilderness” in a physical migration, where there is hardship, or a lack of the basic necessities such as food and water.
HaShem explained in Shemot / Exodus 12:17-18 that the children of Israel did not go by the way of the Philistines (the short cut); “And it came to be, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that HaShem did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, though that was nearer, for HaShem said, ‘Lest the people regret when they see fighting, and return to Egypt.’” Instead, they went by way of the wilderness, verse 18, “So HaShem led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Sea of Reeds. And the children of Yisra’el went armed from the land of Egypt.”
Well, we too have a great and terrible wilderness before us in our journey back to Eretz Yisra’el and Messiah’s Kingdom during the “Great Tribulation”. For some clarity, let’s look at a couple of words here. First, the Hebrew word for Egypt is “Mitzrayim” (Mem-tzadee-reish-yud-mem). It literally translates from the Hebrew as “worshippers of Ra”. From the Hebrew dictionary, it means “bondage”, “oppression” and “trials and tribulations”. In the next exodus, our exodus, many believers will be coming out of a system that worships the “sun deity”. And, HaShem will lead us out of a world wide system of “bondage” and “oppression” through “trials” and “tribulations”. That world system today is indeed Mitzrayim / Egypt.
Next is the Hebrew word for “wilderness”, which is “midbar”. “Midbar” (mem-dalet-beit-reish), means “wilderness”. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon also uses the term “sterile place”, like a Petri dish. Lab technicians use Petri dishes to grow cultures in for study. It’s interesting here that HaShem used the “wilderness” or “sterile place” as His Petri dish to grow a new culture, Yisra’el.And, in this dish, He studied them and tested them. “Midbar” also means “mouth” or the “organ of speech”, as it is from the root word “bar” which relates to “word”. HaShem uses “midbar” the wilderness, as His mouth, to speak to His people.
The prophet writes to the House of Yisra’el, the Northern Kingdom, in Yehezqel / Ezekiel 20:34-38;
“And I shall bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out. And I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and shall enter into judgment with you face to face there. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Mitsrayim, so I shall enter into judgment with you,” declares Adonai HaShem. And I shall make you pass under the rod, and shall bring you into the bond of the covenant, and purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me. From the land where they sojourn I bring them out, but they shall not come into the land of Yisra’el. And you shall know that I am HaShem.” I don’t see any “rapture” in those verses.
The prophet Hoshea spoke similarly to the House of Yisra’el in Hoshea 2:13-20; “And I shall punish her for the days of the Ba’als to which she burned incense and adorned herself with her rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, and forgot Me,” declares HaShem. Therefore, see, I am alluring her, and shall lead her into the wilderness, and shall speak to her heart, and give to her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Akor (Tribulation) as a door of hope. And there she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Mitsrayim. And it shall be, in that day,” declares HaShem, “that you call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Ba’al.’ And I shall remove the names of the Ba’als from her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day I shall make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and
with the creeping creatures of the ground, when bow, and sword, and battle I break from the earth. And I shall make them lie down in safety. And I shall take you as a bride unto Me forever, and take you as a bride unto Me in righteousness, and in right-ruling, and kindness and compassion. And I shall take you as a bride unto Me in trustworthiness, and you shall
So, HaShem draws us into the “wilderness” to “speak to our heart” and give us “vineyards” from there. OK, “vineyards” is a scriptural metaphor for two things: “bearing fruit” and, because the fruit of the vine is grapes, “wine” or “simcha” (joy). So, the result of the “wilderness” is something in which bear the “fruits of joy” in us. And, HaShem says that He gives us the “Valley of Akor” as a door of hope. This is interesting in that the Hebrew word for “Valley” here is “emeq” (ayin-mem-kuf),
which means a “wide valley” or “great valley” and has the connotation of being an area of war; because, due to its size, it can accommodate large armies. Then “Akor” (ayin-kaf-vav-reish) means “trouble” or “tribulation”. It’s also very interesting that the Hebrew word here for “door” is “petach” (pey-tav-chet) which literally means “gate” or “entrance”, as in the entrance to a city or country.
And, “hope” is the Hebrew word “tikvah” (tav-kuf-vav-hey) which also means “expectancy”. In other words, it’s not just the “hope” of something, it is also about believing or expecting what we hope for. So, when HaShem calls us into the “wilderness”, He will give us the “Great Tribulation” as the entrance to that which we hope for and expect; our return to Eretz Yisra’el and Tzion. And, the fruit of this will be our joy.
Now, the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, which are the 42 months of the Great Tribulation, and our Exodus also lines up with the 42 encampments of B’nei Yisra’el in the wilderness. You see, the meanings of the Hebrew names of those encampments tells the story of their exodus and ours.
The Torah is full of comparisons and prophetic insights as to what the last generation will endure and how our deliverance is like that of our “fathers”. Consider with me some of these comparisons and insights; keeping in mind what Moshe wrote in Debarim / Deuteronomy 29:29; “The secret matters belong to HaShem, our G-d, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, to do all the Words of the Torah.” This phrase “to our children forever” refers to you and me. We are the children of those who came out of the wilderness and these things apply to us, today.
Pharaoh and the Anti-Messiah
The Exodus from Egypt focused on the conflict between Pharaoh and the G-d of Israel. Pharaoh hardened his heart against HaShem and great judgment befell Egypt. Shemot / Exodus 7:3-5; “But I am going to harden the heart of Pharaoh, and shall increase My signs and My wonders in the land of Mitsrayim. And Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, and I shall lay My hand on Mitsrayim, and bring My divisions and My people, the children of Yisra’el, out of the land of Mitsrayim by great judgments. And the Mitsrites shall know that I am HaShem, when I stretch out My hand on Mitsrayim. And I shall bring the children of Yisra’el out from among them.”
The purpose of these judgments was so that Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and all nations (including Israel) would "know HaShem". The Scriptures say that Pharaoh forgot Yoseph, the man who helped save Egypt and the world in his day. In like manner, the second Exodus will have its Pharaoh – the anti-messiah. The anti-messiah will the epitome of heart a hardened against HaShem and he will not remember the son of Yoseph (Messiah ben Yoseph). And again, great judgments will befall the world and the anti-messiah; so that everyone, including Israel will "know HaShem."
Moshe and Aharon – the Two Witnesses
Moshe and Aaron went into Pharaoh and spoke HaShem’s will, "Let My people go." With each refusal, Moshe and Aaron pronounced G-d’s judgments upon Egypt / Mitzrayim and Pharaoh. In like manner, we will have two witnesses prophesying in Jerusalem and around the world, pronouncing judgments upon the world, and warning the people, "Behold, Here is your G-d!"
In Revelation 11:3-6; “And I shall give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, (that’s 42 months) clad in sackcloth.” These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that are standing before the Elohim of the earth. And if anyone wishes to harm them, fire comes out from their mouth and consumes their enemies. And if anyone wishes to harm them, he has to be killed in that way. These possess authority to shut the heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy. And they possess authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they wish.”
Israel and Ephraim ~ HaShem’s First born
Moshe was informed that the judgment upon Pharaoh and Egypt would result in the death of the first born, because they refused to let HaShem’s first born, Israel, go. Shemot 4:22-23 says; “And you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus said HaShem, “Yisra’el is My son, My firstborn, and I say to you, let My son go to serve Me. But, if you refuse to let him go, see, I am killing your son, your firstborn.”’” This very phrase, "Israel, My first born" is a sign to us, in the last days. The prophet, speaking of the House of Yisra’el in Yirmeyahu 31:9, “With weeping they shall come, and with their prayers I bring them. I shall make them walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they do not stumble. For I shall be a Father to Yisra’el, and Ephraim – he is My first-born.”
HaShem’s Judgments as Sets
The ten plagues that hit Egypt were three sets of three judgments with a final judgment. They can be identified by where Moses was when the judgment is brought forth. Beginning with the first judgment; Moshe was before Pharaoh at the Nile, when water was turned into blood. The sets of judgments came forth in this manner: When Moshe was before Pharaoh at the river Nile there were three, when he was at the Palace there were three and three after Moshe left Pharaoh’s presence.
This pattern repeats itself through the first nine. Then came the final judgment, the killing of the “first-born”. It is not that the judgments announced at the river Nile happened first then all the Palace announcements happened, etc. They were integrated with each other. In like manner, we can see that the future Revelation judgments are three sets of seven. It is not that the seals happen first
followed by the trumpets, then plagues. Instead, following the pattern of the first Exodus, they are integrated together and sequenced to bring out HaShem’s purpose, to know Him.
Leaving Egypt and Sukkot
Israel was instructed not to go by the way of the Philistines – the most direct route to the Promised Land. Instead, HaShem purposed to bring Israel to the mountain first. As the children of Israel left Egypt they did not know or understand all that would happen before they came to the Eretz Yisra’el.
All they knew was they were going to the land HaShem had promised to give their “fathers”, the patriarchs of Yisra’el. In the same way, the average believer wants to go to live in the Kingdom of G-d. But, most do not realize that they’re to go to the very same “Land” of promise. And, they certainly don’t know what’s in store for us on the way to the Kingdom of Tzion. Many believe that we may be raptured right to the Kingdom and not go through a tribulation. Most believers have no idea that we will leave our homes and go on the “Second Exodus”. They believe that the Exodus is
something in the history of Israel but not for them. Believing the imminent rapture, no matter where it occurs during the tribulation, Jacob’s Trouble, is the way of the Philistines. It might be shorter, but it is the way of death. It’s a false teaching.
The first place Israel camped upon leaving the city of Rameses was Sukkot. “Sukkot” means “tabernacles” or “tents”. It is historically referred to as the “Mystical City of Sukkot”. Estimates of it’s population range somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000. What’s really interesting is that it was a Bedouin city of tents, that was completely mobile. You see the Bedouins follow the seasons and the grazing lands for their flocks and herds. B’nei Israel were city folks in Goshen. Someone had to out-fit them with tents and teach them how to camp. Israel set up booths, huts, and tents in their travels through the wilderness.
Sukkot is also a holiday in the fall. It is called the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Ingathering. We are commanded to keep this holiday and remember how our ancestors survived in the wilderness. It is also the holiday that teaches the last generation how they will escape from the world. Leaving your house and all its comforts, going out with your brethren and living in a temporary setting, camping out, teaches you what to expect in the “Great Tribulation”. Furthermore, HaShem says that once we are in the Kingdom, after Messiah ben David has returned, we will observe the same holiday, the Feast of Tabernacles, as the first activity of the kingdom. It is the Marriage Feast. Simply put, while keeping Shabbat is practicing to live in the Kingdom; keeping Sukkot is training for the Great Tribulation and rehearsing our wedding ceremony and honeymoon.
You have to be willing to leave Egypt to go to the Promised Land. You have to be willing to leave this world including your home and church if you are to walk into the Kingdom. If you will check your Bibles again, you will discover that there won’t be any church buildings in the Kingdom. There will be the “Hekal”, the House of HaShem in Jerusalem and there will be the Biblical feasts. These are our rehearsals for the days ahead. Failing to keep Sabbath and Festivals is a sure way to walk into the wilderness ignorant of everything.
The 10 Tests in the Wilderness
Israel was purposely tested in the wilderness. HaShem wanted to transform the people and teach them to trust Him.
Debarim / Deuteronomy 8:2-5; “And you shall remember that HaShem, your G-d, led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you guard His commands or not. And He humbled you, and let you suffer hunger, and fed you with manna, which thou did not know, nor did your fathers know; to make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of HaShem. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell, these forty years. Thus you shall know in your heart that a man disciplines his son, so HaShem your G-d disciplines you.”
Beginning with the crossing of the Reed Sea and ending with Israel’s rejection at Chadesh-Barnea, Israel failed 10 tests. These tests were in two categories (belief and obedience):
Belief and Trust:
1. Will HaShem save us from Pharaoh (anti-messiah)?
2. Will HaShem provide water?
3. Will HaShem provide food?
4. Will HaShem be with us to defend us?
5. Is HaShem the One and only, true Elohim?
Obedience and Blessing:
6. Will we reject HaShem’s provision?
7. Will we reject HaShem’s presence?
8. Will we reject HaShem’s salvation?
9. Will we reject HaShem’s Anointed?
10. Will we reject HaShem’s Kingdom?
At the Red Sea, Pharaoh and his chariots approached to slaughter the children of Israel. The unbelievers cried out that Moshe had brought them out to die. But Moshe answered and told the people to be quiet and see the salvation of their G-d. Yahweh led them through the Yam Suf (Sea of Reeds) and drowned the Egyptians before their eyes. When the great tribulation comes, the first test will be whether HaShem will save us from the anti-messiah and his chariots. Many believers have been told that the anti-messiah will be very powerful in the world. The anti-messiah will be given power for a specific period; however, our G-d will not forsake us or abandon us to the enemy.
He is our Savior and His arm is not short to deliver those who take refuge in Him. We read in Bemidbar (In the Wilderness) / Numbers 11:23; And HaShem said to Moshe, “Is the arm of HaShem too short? Now see whether My word meets you or not!” But, He also tells us in Yeshayahu / Isaiah 59:1-2; Look, the hand of HaShem has not become too short to save, nor His ear too heavy to hear. But your crookednesses have separated you from your G-d. And your sins have hidden His face from you, from hearing.
Following the Cloud by Day and the Fire by Night
Of all the things that Israel did wrong in the wilderness, there is one thing that they did right. They followed the cloud. Whenever the cloud lifted above the tabernacle, the children of Israel prepared to leave. They camped when it came to rest on the tabernacle.
Shemot / Exodus 40:36-38, “And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of HaShem was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
What will the cloud be like in the Second Exodus? Will it be cloud by day and fire by night? We will have HaShem’s presence in the midst of our camp. I also know that He will lead us and show us where to take refuge in Him.
Hearing the Voice of HaShem. The children of Israel gathered at the base of Mt. Sinai and heard the very voice of HaShem speak the Ten Commandments. It was a frightening and soul stirring experience. The whole mountain shook as HaShem spoke. Shemot / Exodus 20:18-20 we read; And all the people saw the thunders, the lightning flashes, the sound of the ram’s horn, and the mountain smoking. And the people saw it, and they trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Mosheh, “You speak with us and we hear, but let not G-d speak with us, lest we die.” And Mosheh said to the people, “Do not fear, for G-d has come to prove you, and in order that His fear be before you, so that you do not sin.”
In like manner, the tribulation saints are going to have a similar experience. This time, HaShem will shake more than the mountain. He says that He will shake heaven as well. Ibrim / Hebrews 12:26, “… Whose voice then shook the earth, but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also heaven."
What will He say? We are not sure, but instead of the Ten Commandments, it is referred to as the seven thunders and Yohanan was prohibited from telling us the content. We will experience the seven thunders and hear the voice of HaShem from heaven in the days of the seventh trumpet.
Revelation 10:3-4, “... And he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, ‘Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, write them not.’"
Wanting to return to Egypt
It didn’t take long before the B’nei Yisra’el began to mumble and grumble among themselves. The accommodations were not all that great. Food and water were questionable. Eventually, Moshe’s leadership came into question. They complained that in Egypt they had free fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks and garlic; in the wilderness, all they had was manna. They also had taken a lot of gold, silver and many other valuables from Egypt. What could they spend their gold on out in the
wilderness? All of this led to various groups and individuals rising up in opposition saying that they should return to Egypt. In like manner, these very issues will present themselves in the great tribulation in the camp of believers. They will get hungry for McDonald’s, Chinese take-out, and pizza delivery. What’s more, many believers will bring money with them, but there won’t be anywhere to spend it in the camp. The temptation will come and our own brethren will rise in opposition to camp leadership. Whether the issue is leadership, as in which direction to go in the wilderness, or if the issue is money, and they will want to go spend it back in the cities. If they rebel and leave the camp, they will die.
HaShem gives us a stern warning through the prophet, in Yehezqel / Ezekiel 20:35-38; “And I shall bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and shall enter into judgment with you face to face there. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Mitsrayim, so I shall enter into judgment with you,” declares the Adonai HaShem. And I shall make you pass under the rod, and shall bring you into the bond of the covenant, and purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me. From the land where they sojourn I bring them out, but they shall not come into the land of Yisra’el. And you shall know that I am HaShem.”
Fear for our Children
The greatest concern and most difficult issue for Israel in the wilderness was preparing to enter the land of Israel. When the spies returned and said, "There are giants in the land," the people believed that their enemies would kill their children, or kill them and take their wives and children as slaves. According to Bemidbar / Numbers 14:2-4; And all the children of Yisra’el grumbled against Mosheh and against Aharon, and all the congregation said to them, “If only we had
died in the land of Mitsrayim! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! And why is HaShem bringing us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become a prey? Would it not be better for us to turn back to Mitsrayim?” And they said to each other, “Let us appoint a leader, and let us turn back to Mitsrayim.”
For this reason, they would not trust HaShem despite all that He had done and shown them. In like manner, we will face our greatest test in believing that HaShem will protect and care for our children.
The children of Israel didn’t believe HaShem; they were judged for their unbelief and disobedience in refusing to enter the land. So, the parents died one by one in the wilderness and the children inherited the Land. If we do not trust HaShem to protect our children in the great tribulation, then we will suffer the exact same fate. We will enter the Kingdom after the resurrection. Our children on the other hand, will be changed from mortal to immortal without physical death. They will make it. This
is why the Nazarene said, in Mattityahu 24:19; “And woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing children in those days! Just as in the First Exodus, parents will fear for their children and not trust HaShem’s Deliverance. It is just as the He also said in Mark 10:15, “Truly, I say unto you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of HaShem like a child shall not enter it at all.”
Remember, in the first exodus only two made it into the Promised Land out of all those over the age of twenty that left Mitzrayim. However, Yohanan / John in Revelation 7 said that he could not number the tribulation Believers entering the Kingdom (Promised Land). This will truly be an exodus so huge and from the four corners of the earth; so that in the future days, no one will speak of the former.
Crossing the River Jordan When Israel crossed the Jordan river, they entered the promised land as a nation. They had leaders, laws, and a land. The “Malak” or “Messenger” of HaShem (the Rock – Messiah) went with them. They were no longer slaves to Mitzrayim. They were a free people with a covenant from HaShem. We will have the same Torah we have now.
Only, the Messiah will be our Torah teacher. We will no longer be slaves to sin and the world; we will be free and servants of the Living G-d. We will receive our renewed covenant; one that we will not break. It will be just as the prophet said in Yirmeyahu 31:31-33; “See, the days are coming,” declares HaShem, “when I shall renew my new covenant with the house of Yisra’el and with the house of Yehudah, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Mitsrayim, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them,” declares HaShem. “For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra’el after those days, declares HaShem: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their G-d, and they shall be My people.
HaShem will also make a new covenant with us in the wilderness, as we prepare to come into the Land. Yehezqel / Ezekiel 37:26-27; “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them forever. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be their G-d, and they shall be My people.”
So when do we leave on this greater Exodus? When will it be time for us to leave our homes and go to our Sukkot (tents, booths, campers, RV’s, etc)? The Torah gives this answer as well.
When did the first Exodus occur? When did Israel boldly walk out of Mitzrayim and begin their wilderness journey? It’s obvious: on Passover day. There is a day coming when we will see the starting events of the Great Tribulation. We will see the anti-messiah make his boasts against HaShem. We will see those in Judea flee into the wilderness and a great flood (an army) swallowed up. We will keep the Passover meal with our loins girded, sandals on our feet, and staff in hand. We will walk out and not look back at Egypt ever again. We will be part of the Second Exodus to the Promised Land – the Kingdom of Messiah, in Eretz Yisra’el. But, is all of this really for me, you ask? You’ve been awakened, haven’t you? The scales have fallen off, or are starting to; and you’re feeling very different than before. You’re drawn to Israel, Torah and that Jewish thing.
Now, if we look at Yehezqel / Ezekiel 37:1-7; The hand of HaShem was upon me and took me out by the Spirit of HaShem, and set me down in the midst of the valley. And it was filled with bones. And He made me pass among them, all around, and see, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and see, they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, would these bones live?” And I said, “O Adonai HaShem, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and you shall say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of HaShem! Thus said Adonai HaShem to these bones, “See, I am bringing into you a spirit, and you shall live. And I shall put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, and cover you with skin and put a spirit in you, and you shall live. And you shall know that I am HaShem.” ’ ” And I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a noise, and there was a rattling. And the bones came together, bone to bone. And, Verses 8-14; And I looked and saw sinews and flesh came upon them, and skin covered them, but there was no spirit in them. He then said to me, “Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and you shall say to the spirit, ‘Thus said Adonai HaShem, “Come from the four winds, O spirit, and breathe on these slain, so that they live.” ’ ” And I prophesied as He commanded me, and the spirit came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, a very great army. And He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are all the house of Yisra’el. See, they say, ‘Our bones are dry, our expectancy has perished, and we ourselves have been cut off!’ Therefore prophesy, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus said the Master YHVH, “See, O My people, I am opening your graves, and shall bring you up from your graves, and shall bring you into the land of Yisra’el. And you shall know that I am HaShem, when I open your graves, O My people, and bring you up from your graves. And I shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall settle you in your own land. And you shall know that I HaShem have spoken, and I have done it,” declares HaShem.’”
OK, these bones….. Now, some teach that this is about the resurrection of the dead. But, we just read that these bones are all the House of Yisra’el, who were cut off and had lost their expectancy.
These are who HaShem will “raise up”. Now, there is a great picture in these verses of us and our emerging relationship with HaShem. First of all, as Yehezqel prophesied over these bones, flesh came upon them. The Hebrew word used here for “flesh” is “basar” (beit-shin-reish). “Basar” means “flesh”. But, “basar”, is the same Hebrew word used in Yeshayahu / Isaiah 61:1; “The Spirit of Adonai HaShem is upon Me, because HaShem has anointed Me to bring good news to the meek.” Here it is used meaning “good news”. The Nazarene said in Luke 4:43; And He said to them, “To the other cities I also have to bring the Good News: the reign of G-d, because for this I have been sent.” So, this flesh that came upon these dry bones was in fact the Good News of the Kingdom of Moshiach (Messiah).
Then skin covered this new “basar” or “flesh” / “Good News”. Our covering is the Covenant, our Ketubah or Marriage Contract with our Husband. This is the Torah. It’s interesting that the Sefer Torah (Torah Scrolls), even to this day, are hand transcribed onto parchment made from the skin of kosher animals, like sheep, goats, etc. So, now we have skin and begin to stand.
However, even though they were now standing, in order for those once dry bones to “live” again, the Spirit had to come into them. The very word in Hebrew for “spirit” is “Ruach”, which also means “breath” or “wind” from the mouth. So, HaShem says in verse 14 above; “And I shall put My Spirit in you, and you shall live…” What a picture of the transformation that is happening in us today.
Breathe in, deeply, Yisra’el; the Breath of our Creator and “live”. And, it shall be as HaShem spoke through the prophet in Zekaryah 10:6-8; “And I shall make the house of Yehudah mighty, and save the house of Yoseph. And I shall bring them back, because I have compassion on them. And they shall be as though I had not pushed them aside. For I am HaShem their G-d, and I answer them. And Ephrayim shall be as a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as if with wine. And their children shall see and rejoice, their heart exulting in HaShem. I shall whistle for them and gather them, for I shall ransom them. And they shall increase as they once increased. Verses 9-12; Though I sow them among peoples, they shall remember Me in places far away. And they shall live, together with their children, and they shall return. And I shall bring them back from the land of Mitsrayim, and gather them from Ashshur, and bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them. And He shall pass through the sea of distress, and strike the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the River shall dry up. And the pride of Ashshur shall be brought down, and the scepter of Mitsrayim be taken away. And I shall make them mighty in HaShem, so that they walk up and
down in His Name,” declares HaShem.
Oh family, I encourage you all; the Torah is not just a history of ancient times. Torah has more to do with your future than it has to do with your past. Torah is the instruction book of how to be set free, develop a relationship with the Living G-d, learn to live with your brethren, and to be part of Messiah’s Kingdom, Yisra’el. The rules of the camp in the Great Tribulation are the same as when our forefathers, the Children of Israel were in the wilderness. “Learn and Live”.
By Stephen Allen
 Interestingly, the Hebrew word translated “vex” (tsarar, Strong’s #6887) is translated “adversaries” in the same verse
THE FEAST OF PURIM:
The Fast of Esther will be on the 9th of March 2009 (13 Adar 5769)
Purim will be on the 10th of March 2009 (14 Adar 5769)
Shushan Purim will be on the 11th of March 2009 (15 Adar 5769).
Purim in Yeshiva Children in Purim Costumes
Children in Purim Costumes Children in Purim Costumes
Purim Scroll Purim in Yeshiva
(KolHaTor Editor: The Sacred Names have been changed to comply with KolHaTor guidelines. Although from a Messianic Source: this article contains the traditions from the house of Judah as a way of celebrating the Feast of Purim.)
Excerpts from an article: All About Purim
Purim is the celebration of the story told in the Biblical book of Esther. In this story tov (good) and evil struggle as Yisrael faces extermination by the wicked man Haman. Haman plots to kill all the Hebrews, but this evil plan is stopped by Esther and her cousin Mordechai. Since that time Hebrews everywhere have celebrated this appointed time with joy and ruckus!
Now understanding and celebrating Purim is as easy as A,B,C…
A. All about the festival, a simple overview
B. Biblical references concerning the holy day
C. Celebration information on how to make the day special
All about the festival
Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays. It commemorates the book of Esther, a time when the Hebrew people living in Persia were saved from extermination.
The word "Purim" means "lots" and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.
Purim is also called the “Festival of Lots.”
Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 13th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews, and the day that the Hebrews battled their enemies for their lives. On the day afterwards, the 14th, they celebrated their survival. In cities that were walled in the time of Joshua, Purim is celebrated on the 15th of the month, because the book of Esther says that in Shushan (a walled city), deliverance from the massacre was not complete until the next day. The 15th is referred to as Shushan Purim.
It’s a historical celebration of victory over foreign oppressors.
Judaism teaches four ways to celebrate Purim. Each of these four mitzvah are ways to experience the spirit of the season and the story. They are the reading of Megillat Esther, festivity and rejoicing, Shalach Manot (sending gifts), and Matanot L'Evyonim (gifts to the poor).
“Megillat” or “Megillah” is the Hebrew term for a small Torah scroll on which one book of the Bible is written. Megillah are pulled open from one side and read aloud.
Reading the Megillat or book of Esther is a big part of the day. It is considered a great mitzvah to read the entire book and hear the entire book read on this day.
What’s a party without food and rejoicing? Eating and drinking is just as important on this day as anything else. The miracle of Purim came through wine - just remember that it was Vashti's downfall and Haman's downfall came through a wine feast! There is also an (unbiblical) custom of drinking until intoxication as the Sages tell us, "A person is obligated to drink on Purim till he no longer knows the difference between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordechai."
By the way, the book of Esther is the only book in the bible that does not mention the name of HaShem. Poor people are also remembered on Purim. It is tradition to remember at least two poor people with gifts of tzedekah. These are called “Matanot L'Evyonim” or “gifts to the poor.” The gifts to the poor are given during the day, usually after the reading of the Megillah.
Another tradition is to give gifts to one another on this day. In Hebrew this is called “Shalach Manot.” Just like many holidays, presents are part of the fun. If at all possible, these gifts should be sent by messengers, rather than delivered personally because the Megillah uses the word mishloach (sending) for these gifts.
This is a festive time to remember HaShem and celebrate being His special people.
A short overview of the story of Purim from an unknown source is as follows: The story relates the downfall of the vicious anti-semite Haman, a descendent of Amalek, the traditional enemy of the Hebrew. As Prime Minister of ancient Persia, around 2300 years ago, he sought to murder all the Yisraelites of that land. Events happen such that Haman himself plays a crucial role in the coronation of Queen Esther, after the former Queen Vashti was banished. No one realizes that Esther is a Hebrew. Haman who has become a powerful man in the kingdom, is upset that Mordechai does not bow down to him. He succeeds in getting King Achashverosh (also known as Xerxes) to authorize a royal decree to annihilate an unspecified nation he claims is an enemy of the King. Initially, he does not identify the nation so that the King can later claim that he did not know that the decree was against the Yisraelites. Haman casts lots (called PUR) to determine the day this was to happen. Mordechai and Esther lead the Hebrews in a return to Hashem, through Prayer and Fasting. Esther invites the King and Haman to join her for dinner, and in response to the king's offer of "half my kingdom for your wishes," all she asks is they come again tomorrow to another dinner "and I'll tell you then." (She’ll reveal the reason for her invitation). We then find Haman working through the night to construct a gallows upon which to hang Mordechai. At daybreak, he will appear before the King to denounce Mordechai. Unknown to Haman, the King had not slept the night before, suspecting a coup led by Haman. In desperation to get some sleep, he had asked his servants to read from the Royal Chronicles. The Book opens to a long forgotten story of how Mordechai discovered an assassination plot by two royal servants against the King. At the exact moment the King is inquiring whether Mordechai was rewarded for his loyalty, who should appear, but Haman. Before getting a chance to make his request to hang Mordechai, Haman is ordered by the King to parade Mordechai through the capital city in royal garments on a royal horse while proclaiming "This is what is done to the man the King wishes to honor." Immediately afterwards, a crestfallen Haman is whisked to the second Royal dinner, hosted by Esther. At the dinner she reveals to the King that she is Jewish and that Haman, is an enemy of the King because he seeks to destroy the Jewish people. The embarrassed and angry King storms out of the room. Haman pleads to Esther for his life. He "somehow" loses his balance and falls on the couch where Esther is reclining. The King comes back at just this moment. He is very upset and blows up. On the spot, Charvona, a royal minister tells the King about the gallows Haman constructed for Mordechai, who saved the King's life. The King orders Haman to be hanged on the gallows intended for Mordechai. The King elevates Mordechai to Haman's recently vacated position. Mordechai issues orders, with the King's permission, allowing the Hebrews to fight against their enemies. On the thirteenth and fourteenth days of Adar the Yisraelites won tremendous victories and were saved from the threat of total annihilation. Since that time, we celebrate Purim.
Tradition teaches that Achashverosh searched four years for a queen, during which he considered more than 1400 contestants, before choosing Esther.
Mordechai, who refused to bow to Haman, was a descendant of Benjamin, the only one of Jacob's sons who didn't bow to Haman's ancestor Esau.
Mordechai is considered the first person in history to be called a "Jew"? (Before then, Jews were called "Hebrews" or "Israelites")
Did you know ...Vashti (King Achashverosh's first queen) was the great-granddaughter of Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian emperor who destroyed the first Holy Temple?
Esther's Hebrew name was “Hadassah.” Esther is from Persian origin.
Just a tidbit…Haman's decree was never revoked? King Achashverosh only issued a second decree, giving the Hebrews the right to defend themselves.
Tradition says that Mordechai was a very old man during the story of Purim. He was already a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest court of Torah law in Jerusalem, 79 years before the miracle of Purim!
Biblical references concerning the holy day
The entire book of Esther
Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Hebrews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 9:20-22,26, “Therefore the Israelites of the villages, that dwelt in the unwalled towns, made the fourteenth day of the month Adar a day of gladness and feasting, and a good day, and of sending portions one to another. And Mordecai wrote these things, and sent letters unto all the Jews that were in all the provinces of the king Ashkoshverosh both nigh and far, to establish this among them, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month Adar, and the fifteenth day of the same, yearly, as the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter, and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them.”
This is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate being Israel.
It is customary to hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests.
When the story of Esther is read on Purim it is tradition to interrupt the reading with celebration. Yes, interrupting the reading with noise-making devices at the mention of Haman's name is encouraged. Fifty-four times Haman's name is read in the Megillah, and fifty-four times the congregation erupts in a deafening chorus of "graggers," clanging pots, cap-guns, clapping, booing, and sirens. The congregation can also applaud and celebrate when the Hero, Mordechai is mentioned.
Another great way to blot out Haman’s name is to write Haman's name on the soles of your shoes and stamp your feet at every mention of Haman.
The gragger (Yiddish for rattle), is also;traditional to use during the reading. (The Hebrew word for this noisemaker is ra'ashan, from the word ra'ash, meaning noise.) The custom of the Purim "gragger," was obviously introduced to amuse the children, and so keep up their interest in the reading, as children (over 6) are also required to hear the Megillah.
There is an old joke about summing up many a Hebrew Holiday: "They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." A big Purim meal is just part of the fun.
Tzedekah, or gifts to the poor, can also be given during this season.
One wonderful way to keep the appointed time is to give Machatzit Hashekel, (half a shekel) - three half-dollar coins (or their equivalent in local currency), as charity to the poor, before the reading of the Megillah. This symbolizes the half-shekel which every believer used to give as dues to the Bait Hamikdash in Yerushalayim (Exodus 30:11-16). The reason we give three half-shekels is because the term terumah (contribution) is mentioned three times in the account of the mitzvah of the half-shekel.
The Fast of Esther or “Ta’anit” is a new tradition that has sort of evolved concerning Purim. The day before Purim is observed as a minor fast day. Participants can fast from sun up to sundown on this day as a reminder of three days of fasting that the Hebrew people did before Esther went before the King. (Read the story to know more about this.) One source sites that, “The 13th of Adar is also the anniversary of the day the fighting against the anti-Semitic forces occurred; Purim is the day the victorious Jews rested and celebrated. The 13th of Adar was then established as an annual fast day for every generation, known as The Fast of Esther. (Esther 9:31).”
Just as there is a day to celebrate before Purim there is also a day to celebrate after Purim. This is called "Shushan Purim." According to Megillat Esther, the fight against the anti-Semites in the walled capital city of Shushan, the city in which King Achashverosh lived, took a day longer than in the rural areas. The Jews in Shushan didn't get to rest and celebrate until the day after those in rural areas. In commemoration of this, Megillat Esther says that Purim is celebrated a day later in cities, on the day now known as "Shushan Purim." Our Sages decided that a "city" in this case means a city that had walls (whether they are still standing or not) at the time of Yahshua (Joshua - Moses' successor). For example, Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) celebrates Purim on
Matanot L'Evyonim is considered a symbol of foolishness among the peoples of Europe, and especially among the Jews. So we remember Achashverosh as the "stupid" king (as mentioned in Midrash Megillah XII).
There are specific blessings spoken during Purim. They are as follows:
Blessing over the reading of the Purim story
Blessed are You, Adonai our Elohim, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and has permitted us to recall the story of Esther.
Blessing of the Holy Day
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu melech ha olam,
sheh-asah nissim l’avoteynu ba-yamim ha-haym baz’man hazeh
Blessed are You, Adonai our Elohim, ruler of universe,
who worked miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this time.
Blessing over the festive season
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheynu melech ha olam
she-heh-chi-yanu v’key’manu v’hee-gee-anu laz’man ha-zeh
Blessed are you, Adonai our Elohim, ruler of the Universe, who keeps us alive, who supports the unfolding of our uniqueness, and who has enabled us to reach this season.
Blessing of Mordechai
“Who balked the counsel of the nations and annulled the designs of the cunning, when a wicked man stood up against us, a wantonly evil branch of Amalek’s offspring. Haughty with his wealth he dug himself a grave, and his very greatness snared him in a trap. Fancying to trap, he became entrapped; attempting to destroy, he was swiftly destroyed. Haman showed his forebears’ enmity, and aroused the brotherly hate of Esau on the children. He would not remember Saul’s compassion, that through his pity on Agag the foe was born. The wicked one conspired to cut away the righteous, but the impure one was trapped in the pure one’s hands. Kindness overcame the father’s error, and the wicked one piled sin on sins. In his heart he hid his cunning thoughts, and devoted himself to evildoing. He stretched his hand against Adonai’s holy ones, and he spent his silver to destroy their memory. When Mordecai saw the wrath commence, and Haman’s decrees to be issued in Shushan, he put on sackcloth and bound himself in mourning, decreed a fast and sat on ashes: Who would arise to atone for error, to gain forgiveness for our ancestors’ sins? A blossom bloomed from a lulav branch-behold! Hadassah stood up to arouse the sleeping. Her servants hastened Haman, to serve him wine of serpent’s poison. He stood tall through his wealth and toppled through his evil he built the gallows on which he was hung. The earth’s inhabitants opened their mouths, for Haman’s lot became our Purim, the righteous man was saved from the wicked’s hand; the foe was substituted for him. They undertook to establish Purim, to rejoice in every single year. You noted the prayer of Mordechai and Esther; Haman and his sons You hung on the gallows.”
Blessing over gifts of Matanot L'Evyonim (Gifts for the needy)
Blessed are you, Adonai, our Elohim, ruler of the universe, who provides for the needy and has permitted your people Yisrael to give Matanot l’evyonim, gifts for the needy.
Blessing of Purim
“The rose of Ya’acov was cheerful and glad, when they jointly saw Mordechai robed in royal blue. You have been their eternal salvation, and their hope throughout generations. To make known that all who hope in You will not be shamed; nor ever be humiliated, those taking refuge in You. Accursed be Haman who sought to destroy me, blessed be Mordechai the Yahudi. Accursed be Zeresh the wife of my terrorizer, blessed be Esther who sacrificed for me and for all Isra’el.”
Recipe for Hamentaschen
Hamenstaschen or “Haman’s Hats” are a special triangle shaped cookie that is traditionally made and eaten during Purim. Here’s an easy recipe for making these fun cookies:
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice (the smooth kind, not the pulpy)
1 cup white flour
1 cup wheat flour (DO NOT substitute white flour! The wheat flour is necessary to achieve the right texture!)
Various preserves, fruit butters and/or pie fillings.
Blend butter and sugar thoroughly. Add the egg and blend thoroughly. Add OJ and blend thoroughly. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating white and wheat, blending thoroughly between each. Refrigerate batter overnight or at least a few hours. Roll as thin as you can without getting holes in the batter (roll it between two sheets of wax paper lightly dusted with flour for best results). Cut out 3 or 4 inch circles. Put a tablespoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Fold up the sides to make a triangle, overlapping the sides as much as possible so only a little filling shows through the middle. Squeeze the corners firmly, so they don't come undone while baking. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, until golden brown but before the filling boils over! Traditional fillings are poppy seed and prune, but apricot is my favorite. Apple butter, pineapple preserves, and cherry pie filling all work quite well.
History Repeats Itself: PURIM
By Rabbi Ya’akov Asher Sinclair
Ohrnet Edition Volume 15. No. 26
On 1 October 1946, after 216 court sessions, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg delivered its verdicts sentencing the leaders of the Nazi party to death by hanging. The author of the following account, Kingsbury Smith of the International News Service, was chosen by lot to represent the American press at the execution of ten of those leaders.
Nuremberg Gaol, Germany 16 October 1946 International News Service
…Julius Streicher made his melodramatic appearance at 2:12 a.m. While his manacles were being removed and his bare hands bound, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a well-worn bluish shirt buttoned to the neck but without a tie (he was notorious during his days of power for his flashy dress), glanced at the three wooden scaffolds rising menacingly in front of him. Then he glanced around the room, his eyes resting momentarily upon the small group of witnesses. By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked steadily the six feet to the first wooden step but his face was twitching.
As the guards stopped him at the bottom of the steps for identification formality he uttered his piercing scream: ‘Heil Hitler!’ The shriek sent a shiver down my back. As its echo died away an American colonel standing by the steps said sharply, ‘Ask the man his name.’ In response to the interpreter’s query Streicher shouted, ‘You know my name well.’ The interpreter repeated his request and the condemned man yelled, ‘Julius Streicher.’ As he reached the platform Streicher cried out, ‘Now it goes to G-d.’ He was pushed the last two steps to the mortal spot beneath the hangman’s rope. The rope was being held back against a wooden rail by the hangman. Streicher was swung suddenly to face the witnesses and glared at them. Suddenly he screamed, ‘Purim Fest 1946.’ [Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrated in the spring, commemorating the execution of Haman, ancient persecutor of the Jews described in the Old Testament]…
Streicher had been a Nazi since early in the movement’s history. He was the editor and publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper “Das Strummer.” In May of 1924 Streicher wrote and published an article on Purim titled “Das Purimfest” (The Festival of Purim). In order to publish his vitriolic attack Streicher must have had a good deal of knowledge about Jewish thought and practice. However we can only speculate to what extent he was aware of the remarkable parallels between Haman and his own execution. However, they are indeed striking:
“And the king said to Esther the queen, ‘The Jews have slain and destroyed five hundred men in Shushan the capital, and the ten sons of Haman...Now whatever your petition, it shall be granted; whatever your request further, it shall be done.’ Then said Esther, ‘If it please the king, let it be granted to the Jews that are in Shushan to do tomorrow also as this day, and let Haman’s ten sons be hanged upon the gallows.’ ” (Esther 9:12-14)
If Haman’s ten sons had already been killed, how could they be hanged?
Our Sages comment on the word “tomorrow” in Esther’s request: “There is a tomorrow that is now, and a tomorrow which is later.” (Tanchuma, Bo 13 and Rashi, Shemot 13:14). In the Megilla, the names of Haman’s ten sons are written very large and in two columns. This is in distinct contrast to the style of the rest of the Megilla. The left-hand column contains the word v’et (and) ten times. According to our Sages the word v’et is used to denote replication. The inference is that another ten people were hanged in addition to Haman’s ten sons. If we examine the list of Haman’s sons three letters are written smaller: the taf of Parshandata, the shin of Parmashta and the zayin of Vizata. Those three letters together form taf-shin-zayin, the Jewish year 5707, which corresponds to the secular year 1946, the year that those ten Nazi criminals were executed. The Nuremberg trials were a military tribunal and thus the method of execution was usually by firing squad. The court, however, prescribed hanging. Esther’s request “Let Haman’s ten sons be hanged” echoes down the ages, Equally uncanny is that the date of the execution (October 16, 1946) fell on Hoshana Rabba (21 Tishrei), the day on which G-d seals the verdicts of Rosh Hashana for the coming year.
As the Megilla recounts, a decree that the king has sealed cannot be rescinded, and thus Achashverosh had to promulgate a second decree to allow the Jewish People to defend themselves. In other words, that first decree was never nullified. Our Sages teach us that eventually the Jewish People will return to G-d either voluntarily, or if not, G-d will raise up another despot whose decrees will be “as severe as Haman”
When we look toward the place of our original encounter with Haman and see the rise of a fanatic whose rhetoric rivals our most vicious enemies, we should remember that history most often repeats itself for those who fail to learn its lessons.
PEACE AND BLESSINGS
Compiling editor: Agatha van der Merwe
Content control: OvadYah Avrahami
Participating editors: Dr Robert Mock, Geoffrey Messervy-Norman, Stephen Spykerman
Torah Guidance: Rabbi Avraham Feld
Subscription – Regular subscription to this News letter is for Active Participating Associates of the KOL HA’TOR VISION only – who may freely forward and distribute it as they wish.
To register for KHT association, please complete your registration details at http://www.kolhator.org.il/join_us.php