Can you believe that Israel has an annual day of mourning? What is it all about? And I don’t mean Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement.
Tisha Be’av is a fast day that commemorates the destruction of both temples--Solomon’s and Herod’s. On both occasions, the people were thrown into exile. The Jews scattered abroad. No more temple worship. Thus, Tisha Be’av is the saddest day of the Jewish year.
This year Tisha Beav came on July 29th and 30th.
The traditional observances are fasting, sitting on the ground, refraining from washing, sexual activity and greeting people. Plus, there must be repentance of sins that the Jews say brought about the destruction of both temples.
In an article in the Jerusalem Post two weeks ago, Benji Singer says he thinks that due to the Corona Virus it is easier to understand what Tisha Beav is all about. That’s because, he says, we are experiencing a breakdown of our economy, financial security and relationships. We now have the yearning to return to the life we previously had.
In Israel, restaurants and places of entertainment are required to close on the eve of Tisha Beav, and many recreational activities are shut down.
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THE FIRST TEMPLE DESTROYED—King Solomon’s….which lasted until 587-586 B. C. Then, all but the poorest of people were taken into captivity, not in vehicles but walking the whole trip to Babylon.
We have a picture and an explanation of that temple destruction and the razing of Jerusalem in the Book of Lamentations. Here is one quote:
How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become…
She that was a princess among the provinces…
Jerusalem sinned grievously,
So she has become a mockery…
The Lord has become like an enemy…
- Lamentations 1:1; 2:5
Israel’s God was one who cared deeply. Yet it was hard for those Israelites to believe that. Again, in Lamentations we read:
- Israel’s God was sick of Israel’s hypocrisy: “The Lord has scorned his altar.”
- Israel’s God let Israel be put in ruins: “The Lord has become like an enemy.”
- Israel’s God had warned Israel through the prophets: “The Lord has done what he purposed.”
THE SECOND TEMPLE--King Herod’s, destroyed by the Romans in 70 A. D.
Jesus worshipped, taught and preached in its courts of Herod's temple. He also predicted its destruction, decrying the “wicked and adulterous generation” in which He lived, especially the cities. (Of course, the rejecting Jews paid no attention.)
So, the two temples of Jerusalem…destroyed because of hypocrisy and wickedness. Both are mourned. Yes, both ancient catastrophes are still prominent on the Jewish calendar and unforgettable in the minds of religious Jews today in Israel.
* * * * * * * * * * *
So, modern Israel uses the Book of Lamentations for its observance of Tisha Be’av—an old, old book of laments for its modern day of mourning. What a thing of pathos!
“My eyes are spent with weeping;
My stomach churns;
My bile is poured out on the ground
because of the destruction of my people,
because infants and babes faint
in the streets of the city. (2:11)
“I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
He has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light…
He has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation….
“My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
therefore I will hope in him.’”
- From Lamentations 2 & 3 (NRSV)
Right there…abruptly…the remembrance of things past comes to the prophet; the character of the Lord is seen. Even though He has appointed the Babylonian power to demolish their place and His place—Jerusalem--Jeremiah, all at once, remembers how the Lord has shown His love....so many times....in so many different ways.
Israel has suffered greatly in the past hundred years….GREATLY. But we are now seeing His steadfast love and faithfulness and its beautiful effect upon His Chosen Ones in the Holy Land of Promise.
Even though the population of the State of Israel is exceedingly small, Israel has never in their times of greatest peril asked for military personnel from another nation.
WAR OF INDEPENDANCE
Fighting broke out in late 1947 shortly after the United Nations voted to grant Israel’s statehood. The Arabs falsely claimed that the Jews were trying to annihilate them. Not so.
The Israeli forces permitted them to leave, if they wanted, the cities that were captured by the Jews.
On May 14, 1948 the British left the country, and Israel declared Independence. On the very next day, five Arab armies from Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq invaded the new Israel. The Jewish Haganah had 60,000 trained fighters, but only 18,900 of them were fully armed and ready for war.
Did Israel ask the U. N. or the U. S. to aid them in this fight for the life of their new nation, authorized by the United Nations and recognized by the United State? No.
No nations fought alongside Israel. Israel won the war without personnel from any other nation.
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THE SIX-DAY WAR OF 1967
After years of terrorist activity on Israel’s southern border by Egyptian militia, Egypt and Syria determined to make war with Israel. President Nasser of Egypt declared their aim: “…the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people…at the destruction of the State of Israel.”
On May 15, 1967, Israel’s Independence Day, Egyptian troops began amassing troops in the Sinai desert. On May 18, the Syrians prepared for battle in the north on the Golan Heights. On May 22, Egypt violated international maritime law by closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, Israel’s only supply route with Asia.
The United States attempted to negotiate a deal to prevent hostilities but was unsuccessful. President Lyndon Johnson was hampered: America was in the Viet Nam War. He urged Israel not to initiate hostilities. How could he say that? Israel was surrounded by nations that were all ready for war and on Israel’s borders. International commerce to the east was cut off. Nasser declared over the radio this this was a war of extermination.
America’s State Department at this time announced: “Our position is neutral in thought, word and deed.” What?
AND GET THIS: Both the United States and France put an arms embargo on every nation in the region including Israel to express disapproval of the war. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs! And…Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabs and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanians as they fought Israel!
Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of the General Staff said at the time: “It’s time we stop deluding ourselves that someone will come to our aid.”
AND NOTE: Look at where the U. S. has been or is now defending the freedom of other nations both small and large—South Korea about what...40,000 soldiers? We’re still in Europe, though some may soon be coming home. I think we have some in Iraq. And then there’s Afghanistan.
QUESTION: Is Israel in an alliance like NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) where each and every member is pledged to come to the aid of ANY of the others, no matter how small, who are invaded by another country.
ANSWER: No, Israel is not included in any alliance of this type.
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As I was preparing for this blog, my reading from the prophets took me to this Isaiah passage where Israel is “brought low.” That was the feeling in Israel before the 1967 war. “Prophecies of doom and the feeling of imminent defeat were prevalent among the majority in Israel.” (Jewish Virtual Library)
Jerusalem (Ariel, another name for the city) is brought low. Yet…and here Isaiah speaks an unbelievably relevant and poignant poem that magnificently speaks to Israel’s situation:
But the multitude of your foreign foes shall be like small dust,
And the multitude of the ruthless like passing chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
You will be visited by the Lord of hosts….
And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
All that fight against her and her stronghold and distress her
Shall be like a dream, a vision of the night….
So shall the multitude of all the nations be
that fight against Mount Zion.
--from Isaiah 29
The final episode of the nations swooping down on Israel to destroy her has not happened yet. But these wars since her rebirth in modern times illustrate how alone Israel is in this world—how devoid of the help of other nations--how dependent on the Lord God she is for her existence, protection and health. It is He that has chosen Israel, who will renew her covenant with Him; and it is He that is raising her up to be a witness to His Lordship over the nations.
In the early and mid 20th century as the alijahs occurred….(What is an alijah? It is a wave of immigration to the Holy Land and is called such because in Jewish thought, the Holy Land is high above all else.) ….. when Jews emigrated from Europe to Palestine, they were going there to gain safety and security, and secondly, to re-establish a Jewish culture and way of life. Most of these European Jews had left their shtetls and ghettos to become socialists and Marxists. (Remember “Fiddler on the Roof”?)
But things have changed in Israel: Enter “Religious Zionism”
The Jerusalem Post ran an article one year ago entitled: “How Religious Zionism Became a Pillar of Israel.”
Religious Zionism was very marginal before the Six Day War said Yair Sheleg, research fellow of the Israel Democracy Institute. But now, he says, “The religious Zionist community is a pillar of Israeli society.”
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was instrumental in the founding of this group. He said this:
The role of religious Zionists is to help them to establish a Jewish state and turn the religious spark in them into a great light….The real source of Zionism and the longed-for Zion is Judaism and the [teaching of the] Torah with love and kindness.
Today, 30 to 40 per cent of officers in the Israel Defense Forces are religious Zionists, and there are many in the media, politics, theatre and cinema with four members of the Supreme Court who are religious.
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Enter, the Europeans
The West European people are casting off their religion and their identities.
They look forward to the abolition of nation-states (that means no nations—no national sense). They look forward to the situation in which there will be no France or Germany or Switzerland. They are driving towards a full European Union which they believe holds the key to the well-being of both Europe and the world. That would mean that people have to be willing to give up any right to independent action. Yes, that’s right! And they want that eventually other nations will join.
Why should we give up our rights as a nation? Because, these people say, and most Europeans agree, we have, in our recent history, the horrible results of wars conducted by aggressive nations. Example: Nazi Germany. If we would give up national rights, they say, we would have a world of peace. (This way of looking at the world was drawn by Immanuel Kant in a document entitled: "Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch" in which he compared national independence to the lawless freedom of savages producing a barbaric disorder.)
With the drive towards the European Union, the nations of Europe have established a new governing model in which the sovereign nation-state is no longer seen as holding the key to the well-being of humanity. On the contrary, it is seen now by many European leaders as a source of great evil. Yes, under that model or paradigm, the U. S. shouldn’t be a separate nation; we should be a part of a much larger entity, maybe along with Europe, maybe along with Canada, Mexico and others. And eventually, there is the great ideal of a world government. And all the peoples should be willing to give up any right to act on the basis of one’s political independence.
Now, added to that, these thinkers and much of the populace in European countries are also casting off their religious heritage. No Christianity recognized. They can’t be bothered with it. They don’t believe.
In the writing of the new European Union constitution, it was decided that there would be no reference to Europe’s Christian heritage, only to the ever-expanding emphasis upon human rights. So, by this time, the young and middle-age population of Europe know very little to nothing about true Christianity. Their minds are empty of spiritual truth.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Now….it becomes more clear why Europe doesn’t feel good about Israel!
THE CONTRAST IS FULLY EVIDENT
1. The State of Israel is becoming stronger politically as a nation-state.
2. The State of Israel is becoming more religiously aware and active.
3. And the national religious youth of Israel are in the forefront.
Israel’s standing now with the West Europeans and American Liberals is not what it used to be. When Israel first became a state there was quite a bit of acclamation of its new existence in its rebirth. But now these leaders of Europe and the Democratic Party progressives in the U. S. do not look so favorably on Israel. And that is because Israel has a different way of being. Israel is unique and strongly-connected with its past.
As I point out in my book, Israel the Chosen, the Jewish People and the State of Israel have always been separate and distinct from other peoples. Not that all of them subscribe to this separateness, but it’s in their “reason for being.” They are “Chosen.” They are “kosher” just like their food—select, separate, specially set apart. They are like the Sabbath—again, specially set apart.
When you look at this from the Biblical and the Judaism position, they are a “holy people.” One aspect of holiness is to be set apart. Another is to be living a Godly life, pure and clean.
By and large, I would say that the Europeans hate this idea. They want to wipe out such distinctions. They want to be inclusive with no race or ethnic group better than any other. They want to be “universalistic,” Designations like “The Chosen People,” are distasteful to them.
As I said, Europe is largely secular—godless. They’ve left out any reference to God in their modern constitution. It wasn’t overlooked; it was a decision.
NOTE: Some of the intellectual Israelis want to be like Europe. They think like Europe; they travel to Europe; they strive for Israel to be like Europe. Think of that in relation to the 1940's and the increasing anti-Semitism today.
NOTE ALSO: The European Union is a trading partner with Israel. And that is because what Israel produces is of high quality and the latest technology.
WATCH THEN: How the Europeans and Israelis interact…. in trading, in the United Nations and in cultural events.
BUT: As noted at the beginning, Israel is becoming more and more interested in her relationship with her Covenant Lord God. Allelujah!
But let Israel hear the Word of the Lord…..
Listen to me, you who know righteousness,
You people who have my teaching in your hearts;
Do not fear the reproach of others,
And do not be dismayed when they revile you….
My deliverance will be forever
And my salvation to all generations….
See, my servant shall prosper;
He shall be exalted and lifted up,
and shall be very high.
- Isaiah 51:7-8; 52:13 (NRSV)
In the Book of Numbers, the story is told of King Balak (of Moab) who wants a curse put on the Israelites who are in their wilderness trek towards the Promised Land (Canaan).
He calls the semi-godly and semi-pagan prophet Balaam, to come to him and curse Israel in their presence. He will pay Balaam handsomely and honor him extravagantly. “Just come and do it,” said the king.
Balaam answered “no.” But the king persisted.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? King Balak is afraid of Israel after hearing of the destruction of a large area of Amorite cities and villages--recent military triumphs of Israel. And he is angered that the nation Israel should travel so close to Moab’s territory.
So…the prophet Balaam prepares to go to the Moabite king, thinking of the remuneration and prestige. He will put a curse on the Israelites.
* * * * * * * * * *
The State of Israel is despised and feared, so a curse must be placed upon her…. not just be victorious in warfare with Israel, but be RID of Israel! Curse them!
THIS IS A TALE OF TODAY.
Similar to….. Black Lives Matter--its platform in August of 2016 in which it accuses the State of Israel of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians. They’ve labeled Israel an “apartheid” state and want Israel as a state gone.
Similar to…. Palestinian Sheikh Nasser Maarouf of the Palestine Islamic Scholars Association, in a July 3rd interview who said that the millions of people who were killed in the World Wars died because of the Jews who, he said, tyrannize and corrupt the world, blaming them for world poverty, bloodshed and the violation of women’s honor all over the world. They feed and finance corruption wherever they are. This is very typical of Muslim cleric slander.
And then, there is much of the American academic community which is calling for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
* * * * * * * * * *
BUT…BACK TO OUR STORY
Balaam, the semi-Godly, semi-pagan prophet, is given permission by God to go to confer with King Balak who wants a curse on Israel. Nevertheless, God expressed His displeasure by making Balaam’s donkey stop cold in his tracks. When Balaam strikes his donkey, the donkey TALKS….rebels.
Whoa! Balaam now knows that even though he has God’s permission, that He is displeased. An angel appears to speak the words of God:
“Behold, I have come out to oppose you, because your way is perverse before me.”
GET THIS NOW: Balaam says, “If it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.” Well, duh. The Lord, in the first place, told him not to go. Nevertheless, the Lord through the angel now tells him to go on. Why? God has His reasons.
NOW THE PROPHET BALAAM MEETS KING BALAK. He is present with all his princes. A great Middle East summit meeting.
The prophet had warned: “The word that the Lord puts in my mouth, that will I speak.” (Good for him) And now at their meeting, on a summit viewing the camped Israelites, the prophet Balaam paused as he viewed the encampment of God’s people….paused to listen for the divine voice, and this is what he heard:
“Behold, a people dwelling alone,
And not counting itself among the nations!
Who can count the dust of Jacob,
Or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright,
And let my end be like his.”
Ah, remember what God told Abraham: “Look toward heaven and number the stars…So shall your offspring be.” Fertility was the promise. Here that fertility was seen.
Balaam was so impressed that he desired to die among God’s people. Hm-m.
All right. That wasn’t working for King Balak. He wanted to try a second time to get a curse from Baalam. So he, Baalam, and the princes went to a different vista to try again. “Perhaps it will please God to curse them there,” he said. Remember, he’s very afraid of this nation of people.
And again at that place, Balak anxiously asked: “What has the Lord spoken?” And Balaam said this to the king: “Rise, Balak, and hear:
“Behold, I have received a command to bless:
He has blessed, and I cannot revoke it….
For there is no enchantment against Jacob….
The Lord their God is with them…
Now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
What has God wrought!”
“What has God wrought!” The prophet is overwhelmed with awe! He’s so impressed.
King Balak was overwhelmed too, but with anger. He struck his hands together. But Balaam retorted: “Did I not tell your messengers….that I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord?”
Now the final oracle that Balaam gave, not really wanted by Balak was this amazing prophecy:
“The oracle of him….who knows the vision
of the Almighty….I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come out of Jacob;
and a scepter shall arise out of Israel.”
What is being conveyed in this oracle or prophetic utterance?
This indeed is what will come out from Israel--out from the Chosen People: The Chosen Man—the Messiah. God’s blessing on Israel revealed here includes even this!
This is the plan of the eternal God of Israel. This is why God permitted Balaam to go to the summit meeting with King Balak—to speak His very Word.
Balak the king, stands for the nations that wish and work to defeat Israel. But Israel will not be vanquished. Israel will not be cursed. And Israel will be blessed.
* * * * * * * * * *
Israel is a nation that stands out. It is an unperfected nation as the incidents in the Book of Numbers before and after this one show. But it exists in a covenantal relationship with the Lord, and He will bring it to perfection after He cleanses Israel from her filthiness.
Those who wish to annihilate Israel, or slice off more land from her to allocate it to her enemies, or issue slanderous anti-Semitic declarations, or isolate and delegitimize her, or boycott her products, or continually attack her population with rockets, or issue sanctions against her, or issue unfair accusations in the World Court, the tribunals of the world and the United Nations Human Rights Council or the U. N. General Assembly will only hurt themselves and their own people. For God is not pleased.
“Well, of course,” you say. “But Jews are accepted and are part of the white establishment. Many of them are rich, and in the upper class. If you use this slogan on their behalf, you’re just passing off the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement as illegitimate.”
I do believe in taking one’s stand against the racism that de-humanizes the blacks and refuses to include them in the fabric of our society. Yet we must not forget the Jewish people who have experienced racism for their entire existence, beginning as a people in Egypt.
Yes, the Jews have experienced race-based hatred as well as blacks and other people of color.
Just yesterday, I heard this: “The world has always had problems with Jews.” Why? Because they are unique and, when they are truly observant, they are separate.
On Monday of this week, I received a report from the “Daily Alert” which in turn quoted a write-up from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League saying that there have been at least 35 anti-Jewish rallies in American cities since July 1st. They report that these rallies featured speeches and placards with insults and the typical Jew-hatred accusations. Here are some typical slams:
“The Jews are now showing that they learned from the Nazis.”
“The Jews rule the world by proxy; they get others to fight and die
“The Holocaust was not as severe as they say.”
“The Jewish lobby controls our government.”
And more…. like the accusations that Jewish-American politicians don’t know which country they represent—America or Israel. Another: “The Jews are taking over the world’s power centers. They have their hands in the financial holdings world-wide. They’ll eventually control everything."
These tropes aren’t new, so one wonders really when the Jewish takeover is going to happen.
In these rallies, one could hear blatant tropes/clichés/harangues, by which I mean sayings like this: “Then there are the put-downs/tropes/clichés about the STATE of Israel:
“Zionism is racism.” (Zionism is this: the movement of the Jewish people back to their country, most significantly, Jerusalem, which is called Zion.)
Get this: about half of these rallies blamed the Jews for police brutality in the United States!
The report further says that in the July 1st rally in Brooklyn, some in the mob chanted in Arabic, “Death to America, death to Israel.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Then there are the tropes about the State of Israel:
“Israel has an apartheid (absolute segregation on account of race) society."
“They are a colonial power.”
“The Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Canaanites.”
ANOTHER: “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians.” Wrong again. The land was never independent following the expulsion of the Jews in 70 A. D. until the present. It was governed by empires. The population has been replaced many times over the past two thousand years. During the time when Britain controlled Palestine (about 1920 – 1947) there were more than 100,000 Arabs who moved in from neighboring Arab countries. It was never an independent state.
And….the name “Palestinian” for the Arabs who lived there was never used until the Palestine Liberation Organization and Yassir Arafat began their terrorist campaign for freedom from the Jews and their expulsion! Before that, Jews themselves called their associations “Palestinian” such as “The Palestine Symphony Orchestra in the 1930’s which was made up of Jews. The term “Palestinian” wasn’t used only of Arabs until the crew under Yassir Arafat came there from Tunisia in the 1960’s.
And now, the Arabs in Israel are citizens just like the Jews. And the Palestinians who do not have citizenship have much, much more than the Arabs of the neighboring countries and should have even more rights and higher living standards if the recent Trump plan goes into effect, with the West Bank under Israeli law and no more under military administration.
* * * * * * * * * *
Well, the Europeans have had long periods of cruel anti-Semitism in their history. Following World War II and the Holocaust, it lessened significantly. But in this 21st century anti-Semitism has revived, and the influx of Muslim immigrants has exacerbated the problem. The nations from which they originate are soaked with anti-Semitism in their culture and their platforms. In their countries the people continually hear that Jews are a cancer, that they are descendants of apes and pigs, are sub-human, etc. and that those who kill a Jew will be honored by Allah.
And now most European politicians are slow to denounce this poison in their midst and are feeble in their actions to combat this racism against the Jews. Their timidity is disheartening to the Jews living there.
And in America, it is heavy on our university campuses and among the far left and far right political activists. With the Muslim population increasing and so much favor shown to them and so much criticism against anyone who criticizes Islam, anti-Semitism is sure to increase.
So it has been in France. And Great Britain.
It would be nice if the Islamists could change their tune about the Jews. But it’s firmly ensconced in Muhammed’s life, in the Koran and in their tradition. Their children are taught to hate them and to kill them.
The question is: Will be take our stand against this virulent form of anti-Semitism?
* * * * * * * * * *
I must relate this incident. I know a young man who attended a large university in Pennsylvania and who had friends, both Muslim and Jewish. One day, as the young Muslim was visiting my friend in his apartment. All at once the Muslim young man flew into a rage: “How could you do this to me…I thought you and I were friends,” and on and on he went with his diatribe. What was it about? The problem was this: he happened to see on my friend’s desk a photo of two Jewish friends whose pictures made it evident that they were Jewish. The Muslim friend was actually a friendly personable fellow, but his rage erupted at the sight of Jewish people who were friends. He accused my friend of being a traitor to him. Thus: “If you’re my friend, you cannot be a friend of Jews!”
So who can we count as our friends, and whose lives matter to us? Will we take the way the world is moving— heedless of God’s election of the Chosen People? Or will we respect the Chosen of God, regardless of their shortcomings, because they represent the Torah--that Mosaic Law, the prophets, the Blessed Messiah and the apostles of that Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus.
It really does matter….a lot.
“I will bless those who bless you,
and him who dishonors you I will curse,
and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
-- Genesis 12 (ESV)
THE POSSIBLE ANSWERS COME FIRST:
1. The CoronaVirus
2. The demonstrations and rioting
3. The developing division in the Democratic Party between the traditional Democrats and Socialist-Progressives.
THE QUESTION: WHAT IS THE RECENT CAUSE OF ANXIETY AMONG AMERICAN JEWISH LEADERS?
ANSWER 3 IS CORRECT!
God is calling His people from the earth’s farthest corners to return to their land.
But the American Jews are not, for the most part, responding. About fifteen to twenty-thousand per decade are moving to Israel.
And now, anxiety is besetting them.
Their grandparents and forebears chose America, not Israel, as their new and glorious homeland.
Then these Jews from Europe and Russia chose the Democratic Party as their political home. During the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, no other group was more supportive of his presidency than were the Jewish people in America. And, as a whole, they’ve never moved.
So….fine. They made that political choice. But, it is only now….of late….that anxiety has set into Jewish democrats.
In a conversation with Rabbi Mark Golub in a YouTube broadcast, Hank Sheinkopf, Democratic Political Consultant from New York City, just last week, aired his anxiety. What’s happening? The democrats are heading leftward to radical positions and pushing the traditional democrats out of the political arena.
In New York City, Sheinkopf’s man, Eliot Engel, who represented his congressional district in the Bronx and Westchester, was democrat and traditional and had served for sixteen terms in the House of Representatives. He had been chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Now the votes are in, except for mail-ins. It’s clear--Eliot Engel’s opponent is a shoe-in.
His replacement is farther left. It’s a indication of what’s happening. Hank Sheinkopf says: “There is a takeover of the Democratic Party.”
The Jews of New York could depend on their man, Mr. Engel; but now he’s on his way out. Engel is a Jew-- thoroughly vetted and honored by the Jewish community in New York…supported by its big money. In the primary, he has been voted out. His replacement is an African-American school principal.
Gone are the times when New York’s Jews could depend on their Democratic Party to further their liberal programs and keep a watchful eye on the State of Israel…oh, and watch over all the Jews of New York City. And furthermore, Engle has been Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. That is important because he has been a watchman in Congress on behalf of the State of Israel! But now he is on his way out.
The winner looks to be Jamaal Bowman, a Middle School Principal. The district is partly Hispanic and black as well as Jewish. His campaign was like that of Occasio-Cortez’.
The new leftward faction is shoving the traditional Jewish democrats OUT….and these New York Jews are nervous. Why? Because they are no longer in control. Another faction is in there pushing and yelling and taking over one big traditional base of the democrats. But more than that: there is anti-Semitism in this new faction!
We know of the quartet in the House of Representatives: Alexandria Occasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashiha Tlaib. They do not appreciate Israel, and they seem to care nothing about its welfare and survival.
Eliot Engle did. He had power, and he used it on Israel’s behalf.
The Jews, if they had started sooner, could have had a larger Jewish population and thus more clout; but they didn’t have enough babies! Then, when their babies grew to adulthood, they married outside the Jewish race. It’s been that way on both coasts—east and west. On the East Coast, so Mr. Sheinkopf said, 70 per cent of Jews marry Gentiles, and on the West Coast, 80 per cent on the East Coast.
* * * * * * * * * *
Only about 2400 Jews emigrated from America to Israel in 2018. But I believe that is soon going to change. We’ll see.
Nonetheless, it looks very much like American Jews are losing their influence here—at least politically—in the United States. Oh, it may take a while longer before their numbers go down precipitously and we view the ramifications of this.
But I believe that God, the Lord of nations and the Leader of His Chosen People, is wanting those people to go back home. And I think they will become more uncomfortable here, because anti-Semitism is getting worse and nowhere more so than on the university campuses. I intend to write of that menacing situation for young Jews very soon.
Irreligious though many of them are and sinful though they may be, still they are a witness through the Lord’s covenant with them and their survival in human history.
“They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.” (Romans 9:4-5, ESV)
Great Archeological Finds: Coins, Seals, Fragments and Steles Unearthed in Israel
Archeological finds from Palestine, Mesopotamia and other countries in the Lavant have been made for a couple of centuries or more. But of late they have been coming thick and fast, one reason being that Israel now controls its own land—its own ground.
Let’s focus on the little stuff, like coins, seals and fragments of which there are tens of thousands being collected and preserved. They shed a lot of light on the bureaucracy and governments of ancient Israel, the nations surrounding it and the empires controlling it.
The sealings—bullae—from which the Hebrew word for stand (“bul”) is derived are small pieces of clay which in ancient times served a seals for letters and official documents. A letter which arrived with its seal broken was a sign that the letter had been opened.
These seals bear the names of people involved in transactions, notarizations, agreements and burial places. The senders used moist clay that would be imprinted with a seal.
Although the letters in Palestine themselves did not survive the fires of destruction from the Roman armies in 70 A. D., the seals that were made of clay did survive, thus attesting to the existence of the letters, the senders and receivers. Also, seals might be made to be pendants.
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Just recently, Israel News Digest reported that “several dozen seals and seal impressions from the First Temple period (Solomon’s Temple which lasted until the time of Jeremiah and the Babylonian) have been found….where?...right in their capita of Jerusalem.
Many influential archeologists have insisted that Jerusalem in biblical times was simply a small town—perhaps nothing more than a chieftain’s center, not a buzzing capital of an Israelite kingdom. And….nowhere and at no time was there to be found the name of a “King David.” Stories about him were possibly just folktales.
So they said.
But there is an archeologist, heading up the work in “The City of David” in that south part of Jerusalem named Dr. Eilat Mazar, a woman, of the Hebrew Institute of Archeology. Her work has been extraordinarily productive. One important find is a fragment which appears to be part of a larger tablet.
SEAL. In that ancient Royal Quarter where Dr. Mazar works, there has been much digging activity where structures built by King Solomon are preserved. Seal impressions were found in the debris on jar handles and on a piece of clay. Pieces of clay called “bullae” were found with names on them—stamped on soft clay. One of them had the name of King Hezekiah on it, and close by, the name of Isaiah! The name for “prophet” is likely there too, except for one missing letter caused by damage. So, the probability is that the names of both Hezekiah and Isaiah are close together there in that damaged room. So meaningful is it given the fact that, according to scripture, there was no one closer to King Hezekiah than the prophet Isaiah, both names in English ending with “iah” signifying “the Lord.”
This amazing discovery reinforces interest in the crucial incident when the Assyrians came and threatened Jerusalem and the king at the very gates. Hezekiah appealed to Isaiah, Isaiah prayed, and the Lord delivered His people.
Hezekiah is described in II Kings 18:5 as the greatest: “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah.” (ESV) He trusted in the Lord, and his closest confidant was Isaiah the prophet. Thank God for this archeological find as a remembrance of that great victory over the Assyrian host.
(This information taken from Biblical Archeology Review, March-June, 2018.)
ANOTHER SEAL. In the Wall Street Journal in October of 2015, there was the story of a 10-year-old Russian boy who made an “extraordinary discovery in Jerusalem while working as a volunteer in the Temple Mount Sifting Project. FOUND: a 3,000-year-old seal of engraved limestone about the size of a thimble, buried in hundreds of tons of earth and rock. It is dated from the time of King David and confirms the Jewish presence there more than a thousand years before the Muslim Dome of the Rock was constructed.
It had been illegally excavated from below the Temple Mount in the late 1990’s by the Muslim Waqf who has been given authority by the Israelis. But that illegal excavation turned to be a blessing for Israel. It dates from the era of David’s conquest of Jerusalem and the building of the first temple by Solomon. The Muslims, of course, contend that there is no historic Jewish connection with the Temple Mount. But there it was—a three-millennial old artifact that refutes that lie of Muslim officials.
STELE FRAGMENT IN THE NORTH
At Tel Dan (“Tel” is a mound where there is digging by archeologists)….at the foot of Mount Hermon a team of archeologists found a fantastic inscription from the 9th century B. C. that refers both to the “House of David” and to the “King of Israel” This is the first time that the very name of David has been discovered in any ancient inscription outside the Bible. The inscription refers both to the “House of David” and to the “King of Israel.” Therefore, it has to refer to THE David of the Bible. The “House of David” refers to the dynasty of the great King David. So awesome!
So now there is a seal with the name of David on it, and the evidence from all these seals lends credence to the idea of a major administrative capital of the Judean kingdom--JERUSALEM!
In my daily devotional readings, I always include a chapter from the Old Testament prophets. Yesterday, I began with chapter one of Isaiah; and I wondered: Are there any…ANY modern American or European rabbis who in front of their congregations would lecture or preach from such biblical material as this-- read it, and acknowledge that this material FITS modern Judaism and preach a sermon that convicts his congregation? Knowing what I know, I don’t think so.
ISAIAH CHAPTER 1
---“Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity.” (1-4)
--- “Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! (1:10)
--- “Bring no more vain offerings…I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly… They have become a burden to me…” (1:13-14)
--- “Your appointed feasts my soul hates.” (1:14)
--- “How the faithful city has become a whore.” (1:21)
This is a chosen nation, but now they are characterized by God as a “sinful nation.”
The very feasts that God instructed them to keep have turned into a burden for Yahweh (the Lord).
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For the past three generations or so, the liberal American and European Jewish establishment has disregarded God. They left their previous life in the shtetl (Jewish villages) from the eastern borders of Germany to the deep regions of Russia. And then….
Well, way back in June, 1953, The Jewish Spectator stated: “There is little faith in God in the American Jewish community.” (Arthur Kac: The Rebirth of the State of Israel)
Now, I hesitate to say it, but the liberal Jews are contributing to the decline of the West—America and Europe. And the way they do it? Some examples:
--They are sacrilegious; and it’s easy to see it, because they have no respect for the name of God which they are taught to honor. (In fact, the traditional Jews are taught to say “THE NAME” (Hashem) instead of saying “God” to make sure they do not dishonor His name.) They dishonor Him further by not giving thanks to Him. They remain as ignorant as children in things pertaining to the scriptures—the revelation of God to man. And so…. on we could go with this criticism.
-- They join with other “liberals” to promote diversity, tolerance and multi-culturalism without considering core values from the Torah-- their previous source of values.
-- They contribute to societies’ permissive stances on sexual sins—fornication, adultery and homosexuality.
-- They join with secular liberalism to champion abortion rights and gay marriage,
ignoring basic biblical ethics in which their ancestors believed and practiced.
-- In living this way, many are self-satisfied and arrogant.
ISAIAH: “For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty.” (2:12)
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Mark Golub is one of my favorite YouTube conversationalists. He is a liberal Jewish rabbi. To him, defining a Jew has nothing to do with faith or God. To be Jewish is to be a family. And the one pre-occupation of this family is….get this: “to be a beautiful person.” That’s it in a nutshell!
He says: “The Jewish Tradition does not begin with God.” Also: “The Jewish tradition is all about people.”
He further says: “The Jewish Tradition cares little about what a person believes.”
As for salvation from sin—delete “sin” and use this definition of “salvation”—“achievement of an integrated personality.”
This, he says, is classical Judaism. The rabbis taught this 2,000 years ago. Actually, from the 3rd century before Christ to the 6th century after Christ, classical Judaism evolved.
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So, does the beginning of the prophecy of Isaiah apply to 20th century Western Jews? It certainly does. Because it is still the same God who calls the Jewish people out of their stubborn rebellion.
The problem of all problems concerning the American Jewish community is that no one seeks after God. They may say that they “have a faith,” and they may “have a synagogue and a rabbi,” or “they are spiritual.” But that doesn’t count for anything, because they are blind.
Who can blame them? Who is their judge? We cannot. However, we can, with open eyes, see what is taking place. Only the Lord can redeem. Now, says Paul, “apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed and is attested by the law and the prophets” (Romans 3:21)-- apart from the Torah, the synagogue, the Talmud and its studious rabbinical schools, the Messiah fulfills all the law. He outshines all efforts to save ourselves and the world around us.
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But now, Isaiah quickly lifts our eyes from spiritual sickness to a vision of the future in the first part of Chapter Two—just one poem five verses long—as a ray of sunshine gladdens us in a stormy, cloudy day as if to indicate that iniquity and arrogance will not forever prevail. The Lord is at work. He has a day that is coming.
It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the Lord
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it,
and many people 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 teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths….
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.
--Isaiah 2:1-3, 5 (ESV)
A basic problem among Jewry: mixing—assimilation.
A basic principle of Judaism--separation—one to which the Old Testament and orthodox rabbis return obsessively.
That is very different from American society: we celebrate e pluribus unum--from the many one. Most Americans believe that mixing is good, though we have white nationalists among us. But we refer now to the Jews.
In the story of the Tower of Babel, everyone got together. Easy, wasn’t it? Why? Because everyone spoke the same language. Did the Lord God approve? No indeed. He fixed them….and He did it by causing them to speak many different languages. He wanted distinct groups. There you have a divine prohibition on being One People, especially when the purpose was to make themselves like gods. So, the people scattered and necessarily broke into groups. Thus, the modern movement of One Worldism is one of Godlessness.
After that separation, God called Abraham to move out of Chaldea and led him to Canaan, promising him that a new, separate, distinct ethnic group would emerge from his loins. And Isaac was born, then Jacob/Israel.
Israel was to remain apart from the nations. When they took on the life style of other nations, it displeased the Lord. They were intended to STAY APART.
Remember how King Balak of Moab hired Balaam the prophet to place a curse on Israel as Israel was approaching Canaan. And God said, “Oh no you don’t.” So Balaam didn’t. And as the king and the prophet together looked down from a mountain, they viewed the beautiful and orderly camp of Israel below. And the prophet Balaam said:
“How can I curse whom God has not cursed?....Behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations.”
It was obvious to what Balaam had learned about Israel—they lived apart. And that very incident is often referred to by Jewish scholars and rabbis, and for all I know, some observant, faithful Jews. They are aware of this. They are not to MIX. They are separate.
David Gerlertner says: “The rabbis see the dangers clearly; they see chaos in the inevitable rising tide. They have always seen the danger that Judaism will vanish, as kosher [now]mixes with treif (non-kosher food), holidays [mix] with normal days, Sabbath [mixes] with the rest of the week, as they marry [mix with] Gentiles, do as Gentiles do, and sink back, with a well-earned sigh of relief into the muddy ocean of mankind….”
It can be likened to the physical process of entropy – a gradual decline into disorder. The universe runs down, mixing the elements together. In human society, a people disperses—mixes with other peoples—and gets lost like a little mound of earth into the whole mix of material, earthy things…losing distinctions.
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Sorry to say: even in Israel, the highest priority for liberal Jews there is that their new state will be democratic. That means that if the Palestinians would outnumber the Jews, it would be wrong and impossible to have a Jewish state democracy—the highest priority in Israel for liberal Israelis and their liberal counterparts in America and Europe.
But most Israelis believe that Israel should be a Jewish state. In 2013 the Israeli Knesset passed a bill which stated that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. The Jewish State” is mentioned five times. But note this: the bill was highly controversial, says Daniel Gordis, the author! Controversial? Yes, even among many Jews. Why? Because it singles out the Jews instead of being like America. Because it makes constitutional the second-class status of Arab citizens.
But as Daniel Gordis wrote: “The United States was created to welcome to its shores people from around the globe, whatever their backgrounds. Israel was created to foster the recovery and renewed flourishing of the Jewish people.” (We Stand Divided, p. 169)
QUESTION: What helps keep the Jewish principle of separation?
ANSWER: The Jewish people have retained their identity all these past millenniums first, because of rabbinical training. This is lacking in America. But secondly, the principle of separation has been greatly assisted by the persecution of Jews. Conversely, where the Jewish people are fully accepted, as in America, there you have the gradual loss of Jewish identity.
Check the statistics: In America, the number of liberal Jews, which is most of them here, is decreasing, causing a sense of alarm among the larger Jewish denominations—Reform and Conservative. Many American Jews simply want to be known as “Jewish”. Don’t call them “Jews”—just “Jewish.” Just another of all the ethnic groups in our society. American Jews want to mix, to assimilate… without a lot of concern for their identity as a Jew (Hebrew), without any interest in the Hebrew language, or with the rich traditions of their ancestors, or with the Jewish witness in the world….and certainly not any interest in the coming Messiah.
Secondly, there would be much more mixing of the Jewish people with Palestinians if they, the Palestinians, were not a fiercely antagonistic people. This antagonism insures against assimilation and the loss of Jewish identity. My opinion: the Lord God is behind this.
And so, the State of Israel stands as separate from other nations of the world, because it is the will of the Lord of Nations that this prevails.
What do you think?
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“You are a people holy unto the Lord your God,
And the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession,
our of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
-- Deuteronomy 14:1-2 (ESV)
QUESTION: Did you know that among the Jewish people there are different ethnicities?
ANSWER: Yes, Jews from different parts of the world have developed distinct cultures and customs, with different languages and skin color.
1. Jews from Germany and Eastern Europe are known as “Ashkenazim”. The Jews of America are mostly of this group that has made the Yiddish language, matza balls and black hats familiar to us. Ashkenazy Jews were the first to return to Palestine and whose leaders are well-known, such as Theodore Herzl and David Ben-Gurion.
2. Jews from Spain are known as “Sephardim”. Then when they were expelled from Spain and Portugal in the 15th century, they fled to other parts of the world.
3. Jews from North Africa and the Middle East (even India) are called Mizrahim. They hail from such countries as Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Morocco. Their Jewish communities are probably the very oldest, dating back to the Babylonian exile in Jeremiah’s time.
The Mizrahim are the ones who have our attention here. Without a European education their way of life was not as refined. They spoke Arabic, Persian, Kurdish and other languages. Most lived under Muslim rule since the Islamic takeover in the 7th century A. D., some in relative peace, but many living as 2nd or 3rd class citizens.
The Mizrahi Jews Expelled
In the 20th century these Jews, though they were thoroughly assimilated into their societies, experienced an increase in harassment especially when the Jewish nation was being formed in Palestine. Their adopted nations in which they had lived so long, became furious that Palestine would be opened to the Jews of the world.
And few Americans and Europeans heard about their plight.
The great fires of intended annihilation of the Jews was transpiring in Europe, making those Jews who were against Zionism--against the return to their homeland--change their minds.
Arab leaders conspired with the Nazis to annihilate the Mizrahi Jews. After the United Nations voted to recognize Israel as a nation in 1947, many Mizrahim (plural) were massacred in government-sponsored rioting. Yet, some of these governments made it a crime for the Jews to leave! Many who tried to escape were hunted down and tortured in prisons.
Those who decided to leave, or were forced to leave, their adopted countries sacrificed all they had, knowing that the emigration officials would take all their possessions and money. So they left as paupers—850,000 of them—and fled, some to America, but most to Israel.
For the new State of Israel, this created problems. The Jewish Agency which was in charge of immigration balked at taking in so many at one time. I get the feeling that they hadn’t considered beforetime the possibility of all these Mizrahi brothers and sisters moving in to their native land.
But, someone WAS thinking of them. The Lord who called Israel into existence was calling the Mizrahis as well as the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim. Yes, the Mizrahis were a lower-class people, but…they were loved by the God Who had chosen His people.
God was calling as the nations were expelling. And these precious Mizrahim were chosen to bring THEIR own special style and abilities to mix with the rest of the Jews.
But the Mizrahi are from Africa, the Middle East and Western Asia—many from big cities like Bagdad, Aleppo and Casablanca. They are good storytellers and have a special kind of music to share. They are people of color, literally and figuratively.
Israel’s story is that she welcomes all Jews from the ends of the earth. But at certain times after her independence, she was a poor nation and therefore could not admit all the Jews wanting to immigrate.
Then, as Wikipedia reports, Mizrahi immigrants and refugees were placed in rudimentary and hastily-erected tent cities, often in development towns on the peripheries of Israel. Many had to live in cooperative farming villages even if they knew nothing of farming. They brought with them their more lowly culture and customs and spoke Arabic.
QUESTION: Is there “racial discrimination” in the State of Israel today?
ANSWER: For decades there has been segregation and some discrimination—yes, against the Mizrahi. That’s not a well-kept secret. But things are changing for the good—changing through acceptance, intermarriage and sharing the workplace.
Yes, in Israel, there have been difficulties in accepting this lower class of Jewishness.
But it is happening.
God has called them, though they are different, one ethnic type from the other—the Ashkenazi, Sephardim and the Mizrahi. He has called all His chosen people from 100 nations including some tiny islands of the seas—called them home.
But you, Israel my servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
the offspring of Abraham, my friend,
You whom I took from the ends of the earth
And called from its farthest corners,
saying to you: ‘You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off…’
-- Isaiah 41:8-10 (ESV)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.