Friday, 29 May 2015

Maschiach, conversions and rabbis

 I am not an authority on Halachic conversion. Nor am I a Rabbi. I am just a little Israeli woman who has a relatively good familiarity with the Tanach having been raised in a traditional Jewish home with a father who was a Yeshivah bochur (a young man) before WWII. It is through his guidance and direction that I went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Judaic Studies. That, of course, does not make me an expert on Jewish issues but it certainly granted me a firm understanding of them.

Two of the pillars of that firm understanding relate to the most basic difference between Judaism and Christianity only and are well known to many. The first is that Jesus or Yeshua, as some refer to him, is not the Maschiach, a concept which is a fundamental part of traditional Judaism. He simply did not fulfill the description of Olam Ha - Ba, the World to Come as outlined in some biblical passages (Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 11:6 – 111:9; Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5 ; Isaiah 2:3; 11:10; Micah 4:2-3: Zechariah 14:9). 
The second pillar of Judaism which naturally follows from the first is that anyone who chooses to enter Am Yisrael has to give up their belief in Jesus and/or any other proclaimed Messiah in history. One must give up one’s religious beliefs which were taught to them by any other religion which they followed. Judaism does not compromise on that. It is non – negotiable and is a pre-condition to anyone considering conversion to Judaism. I trust every member of Am Yisrael knows that especially Rabbis who take upon themselves the hard task of performing conversions.
If that is indeed such a basic common knowledge, how then can a Rabbi, one who is expected to have a better understanding than many, even slightly suggest, or hint that Jesus may be the Maschiach?
Recently, I have been following the controversy over Rabbi Shlomo Riskin whose service as the Chief Rabbi of Efrat in Judea may be terminated for whatever stated reason. Rabbi Riskin was allegedly quoted (see article and video links below) as talking about the “resurrection of god” and “grafting” of Christians to Judaism, both of which are associated strictly with the Christian belief in Jesus, specifically Jesus’ “messiah-hood” and which Riskin, incidentally, has since retracted.
My question is this: how can a Rabbi who claims to be converting people to Judaism according to Halacha, EVER, even vaguely hint at and give credence to any of the very same concepts that Christians are supposed to disavow when embarking upon the journey of converting to Judaism? Does it not present a contradiction and further confuse an already very complicated and controversial issue?
Moreover, does not every Rabbi, especially one of Riskin’s stature, have a duty to oppose any semblance of lending legitimacy to the arguments of the proselytizers and Missionaries who are stealing Jewish souls every day in Israel and around the world in a new  Spiritual Holocaust?
That in itself should be a reason to discontinue his service as a Rabbi in a Jewish community, let alone stop him from converting people into Judaism where these notions are  foreign to Judaism and are as far from it as East iss from West.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Torah, a Divine pledge exclusively to Am Yisrael, the People of Yisrael

It is not a selfish proclamation. Neither is it an arrogant, patronizing or a condescending one. It is simply a historical fact which was created for a reason.

The Torah, written in Hebrew, the language of Am Yisrael, was given to Am Yisrael only. Whether one believes that it was given on Mount Sinai at this time of year or not is irrelevant. Am Yisrael has possessed and owned it for several millennia, followed its directives and taught it to the world which on more than one occasion refused to follow its universal moral compass. Any attempts by foreign doctrines or creed to claim it as their own is a lie and an infringement of copyright.

I realize that to some the above may sound confusing or contradictory. If the Torah was given exclusively to Am Yisrael and is owned by its members, how then can we expect others to follow its universal ethical guidelines?

To answer this valid question, here is a definition of what the Torah stands for.

The Hebrew Word, Torah (תורה) is derived from the root yareh (ירה). Yareh means to shoot an arrow at a target. The Torah is, therefore, the arrow aimed at the target which is the truth about G-d and how one relates to Him. It teaches us what He expects of us, Am Yisrael, in particular and humanity in general.

To me, a teacher, this is akin to a teachers’ manual, that text we teachers receive as part of any curriculum. The manual is designed to help us prepare students for the challenges they may face in various subjects.

The Torah, authored by G-d, published and practiced by Am Yisrael is a manual in the art of living. It is a two - part manual. One part carries a lesson plan for Am Yisrael only. It spells out its duties, practices and rituals as part of its relationship with G-d as expressed in the covenant, contract, that it entered with Him on Mount Sinai. It also lists the rewards and punishments for failure to comply with it. The members of Am Yisrael accepted that manual in pure faith and unconditionally as expressed in their words נעשה ונשמע, accepting its commandments without questioning them.

The second part of the Torah applies to all, Am Yisrael and others. It is the moral, ethical code that should concern all humans wherever they are. That part is universal, one that belongs to all regardless of creed, colour or race. It is the part that is supposed to unite us humans in dignity and a shared fate. Am Yisrael has been entrusted with the hard task of teaching it.

The concept of the two parts of the Torah is clearly and nicely reflected in the Ten Commandments. The first four apply strictly to the relationship between G-d and Am Yisrael. The others are universal and speak about the relationship between Man and his fellow Man.
Am Yisrael did not choose to receive the Torah, rather it was chosen as its exclusive recipient. Am Yisrael was not selected because it was better or worse than others but because its members were different. They were chosen because they agreed to assume upon themselves the responsibility of being G-d’s tool to help make this world a better place.

After all, let us face it, how many would have accepted such a gigantic task, such an enormous responsibility, without making even the slightest of effort to contest or challenge it?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

“For we have heard that G-d is with you….”

And education is what I believe will keep our future as Jews and a Jewish nation alive.
Recently, these values and traditions have again been put to the test. Attempts have been made, some successfully, by foreign elements, guided and camouflaged by declarations of love and unrelenting support for Israel and the Jewish people, to infiltrate through some of the cracks in our few millennia old sanctuary of the Jewish Spirit. I am referring to the vicious efforts launched by Christian Missionaries and their collaborators, those that I refer to as the Eleventh Plague. In our desire to accept anyone who would love and support us, we, Jews and Israelis, have allowed them to fill every available void that our sometimes neglected Jewish education has created.
It is time to repair the cracks, restore our glorious tradition, educate and train our youth to fight this invasion and prevent further spiritual larceny of our Jewish identity. It is towards that end that I, as a Jewish teacher in Eretz Yisrael, spend a fair share of my time.
Two days ago, as I was sitting in my home thinking of ways to reach that goal and supply ammunition for young fragile and less knowledgeable Israeli Jews to counter any attempts made at luring them into the false promise of foreign creeds, I suddenly saw it. It had been staring at me many times as if saying, I am one of the means, I am one of the tools, I am just another one of those pieces of ammunition that you are looking for.
I am referring to a memento given to me by a Hebrew class of Bnei Noach which I volunteered to teach in Houston Texas in 1992. One of the students was Trace Guthrie, a Texas Sculptor. He sculpted Zechariah 8 verse 23. It reads “This is what the G-d Almighty says: ‘In those days shall ten people from all languages and nations take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that G-d is with you.'"

Now, for those of you not familiar with Hebrew, the original language of the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, as opposed to the twice removed English translation of it, let me present an important fact. The word meaning “with YOU,” “Imachem,” which appears twice in this verse is in the plural form. The reference is to “with you JEWS,” NOT one Jew.
We hear much about the Book of Isaiah, mainly Chapter 53 of it quoted over and over again by followers of Jesus/Yeshua as “proof” of his being the messiah. Not much is heard about the above verse in Zechariah which is proof of the opposite, meaning that he (you) is not one, let alone THE One.
Why, you may ask?
Considering that the book of Zechariah was written about 200 years after the book of Isaiah, why would Zechariah not reinforce the view that Christians believe is so clear in Isaiah? Very simply. For us Jews, the Messiah has not come yet. It is this strong message of Zechariah that I believe we Jews need to stress; the message that G-d is with us, that He has never forsaken us and any Jew who wants to be with G-d needs to remain with the Jews for  G-d is with us!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

And yes, Jerusalem is the Capital of Only Yisrael

I grew up in Yisrael and never even once had one sliver of doubt that Jerusalem was the capital of Yisrael. Why should I? It was as clear to me as Cairo being the capital of Egypt or Washington D.C. the capital of the U.S.

For some, however, the opposite seems to have been clear and still seems so to many others.
I first encountered such reluctance to accept Jerusalem as Yisrael’s Capital when I was teaching high school in Texas in the late eighties. It happened by accident.

As part of teaching Hebrew, the curriculum required that I also teach Yisraeli culture. Naturally, I introduced the students to many aspects of Yisrael, geographical, economic and culinary. Politics was expected to be kept out of the classroom.

In one of my exams, the students were asked simple questions which included naming the capital of Yisrael and its neighboring countries. Much to my surprise, many students named Tel Aviv to the former question and “Palestine” as one of Yisrael’s neighbors to the East.

Those who know me can picture my countenance and my blood temperature when reading those answers. They were certainly not what was taught in my class. I was perplexed.

“The Arabic teacher told us that Jerusalem cannot be the capital of Yisrael because the world does not recognize it as such,” one of the students told me in response to my query. “And this is a map she gave us,” another volunteered as he produced a map of the Middle East in which there was no mention of Yisrael and both Judea and Samaria and Gaza were referred to as “Palestine.”

There was no point in approaching the Arabic teacher and discussing the issue with her. I needed to address it in my own way. Since Google and other search engines were not available then, I decided to approach one of the social science teachers and get from him an objective definition of what constitutes a Capital City. I received the answer I knew was right, the answer that made most sense.

The following definition which I found with a recent basic Google search is very much the one I received then, in 1986.  A Capital City according to the is “the city or town that functions as the seat of government and administrative centre of a country or region.”

Some facts just do not change only narratives do! Jerusalem was then and still is the Capital city of Yisrael because by the above definition, it is. Whatever everyone else thinks or whether the world recognizes it as such is irrelevant.

Moreover, according to the above definition, Jerusalem is the Capital of ONLY Yisrael. The only government seated in Jerusalem is the Yisraeli government. Likewise, Jerusalem is the administrative centre of Yisrael only.

So dear Arabic teachers, European NGO’s and agenda pursuers the world over, memorize that definition before you walk into the classrooms or college campuses and twists the minds of young people with your made up narratives and disinformation. Remember, you can try and rewrite history but as long as there are people like me, and there always will be, you will never be able to get rid of the facts.


Artwork by Liora Golda Rotem

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Eleventh Plague

They call themselves friends of Israel and the Jewish people. They can be found all over Yisrael and seem to be growing in number. They claim to support us, to stand by us and to love us.
What does love and support mean to you?
Let me endeavor to answer.
To many of us Israelis, especially Yisraeli Jews, it means accepting who we and our tradition are, aiding us to survive, succeed and thrive as Jews and as members of the only Jewish state in the world. It means helping us fight anti-semitism, hatred and an ongoing desire by many to eradicate us.
Though, outwardly, those friends declare their unending and unconditional devotion to us, a closer look reveals a very dark and sinister undercurrent. It has all the attributes which point at a very well oiled machine aimed at achieving just the opposite, the removal of Judaism as the essence of Israel, the Jewish Homeland.
Whatever one chooses to call them, Christian missionaries, disciples or messengers, one fact is clear; they are a plague, a virus that has permeated into the very foundations of Yisrael, infected many of its institutions and continues its course unchecked, uncontrolled.
I call this virus JSM (Jewish Spiritual Mutilation) because that is what it is. The methods used by those who spread it are deceitful. They maintain “that a Jew can keep their religious identity, even after converting to Christianity.” They also claim that “ [a] convert can believe in Jesus, partake in baptism, celebrate Christmas and remain Jewish, all at the same time." They also hold services, address their ministers as ‘rabbi,’ and host Seders. “Evangelists….. have been trained to use Yiddish words so as to convince potential converts that [they]maintain Jewish traditions.”  (1)
That is where the Mutilation of the Jewish Spirits commences. Those who have a better understanding of the Tanach know that the concept of Judeo-Christian tradition is not part of it. They know that it is a made up concept aimed at facilitating the process of smashing the theological barriers that separate between Judaism and Christianity. They also know that Jesus, Yeshua or whatever his followers choose to call him is not part of the Jewish tradition and that one does not become a “complete Jew,” as they would like the convert to believe but merely just another Christian in yet  another effort in the long timeline of history to rob us of our Jewish souls and mutilate our wonderful Jewish Spirit.

How does one immunize oneself against this virus, which if left untreated would bring a Spiritual Holocaust upon the Jewish people?
The answer rests on one word, Education. We need to educate our youth in Torah, in our Jewish values and a better understanding of the principles and foundations of the Jewish tradition. We need to strengthen their minds and expose to them the fraudulent means through which the Eleventh Plague proliferates and even mutates to destroy the very fabric of our Jewish essence.
  1. Persin, Stephenie, “Jewish-Charistian Relations: Jews for Jesus,” Jewish Virtual Library.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Has the Mother-Ship been saved?

“Britain is the mother-ship for American values and the brand leader of English-speaking culture. The Londonistan mindset is being replicated in America: on campus, in the media and in official circles. If Britain goes down under this assault, the forces in America now holding back the tide of cultural immolation will be immeasurably weakened.” Melanie Phillips, The Londonistan Mindset, June 2006

Last week, much to the shock and surprise of many, the tables were turned in Britain and the Conservatives headed by David Cameron won the national elections by a landslide victory. Even the upstart party, the UKIP,  which calls for Britain to leave the European Union and limit immigration, came strong in a number of constituencies. Though it failed to win its targeted seats, their actual percentage of the vote was much higher than the number of seats they actually got.

Many , myself included, who had been following the elections welcome the news with much joy, relief and renewed hope in the mother-ship and those that steer her.

It was not that long ago that many of us stood with folded hands unable to change its course while lamenting its nearing, untimely demise. It was not long ago that we witnessed Nazi like policies instituted in the District of Bradford where Israelis, a clear euphemism for Jews, were declared unwanted and unwelcomed. It was not long ago long ago that we heard the voices of well respected crew members, who caved in and were calling for recognition of certain guests onboard and granting them special rights, rights to conduct their own rites even when these contradicted the long standing marine rules and laws that had been guiding the mother-ship. It was not long ago when the mother ship was attacked from within that it was the other innocent passengers who were blamed for those attacks. It was not long ago when we stood on the luxurious decks of the mother ship and did nothing while certain elements onboard of it declared a mutiny. Assisted and encouraged by our silence, they were setting up their own bridge with the sole purpose of steering the ship into a different course, one that called for the destruction of other ships, other children of the same mother-ship, a course that, undoubtedly, would have eventually brought her down and along with her the whole English speaking culture.

The passengers must have woken up from their long reverie. The anaesthetic numbing effect of their guilt ridden past actions was finally wearing off. They shook off the shackles of Political Correctness to which they had been subdued for so long. They decided to stop the madness and the lunacy that were taking over their world, cloaking it with a total eclipse. Last week they had their say. The rays of democracy enlightened the dark universe of their divided mother-ship.

The only questions that are yet to be answered are, will it last? If so, how long? And last but not least will the rest of the English speaking culture follow suit?