Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Israeli History Began Thousands of Years Ago

This is supposed to be the "pro-Israel post" West Bank Mama requested for a special round-up.  I'm not quite sure how to approach the assignment, and I'm still not sure what I'll write even as I type this.  I hate the defensive type of article, because it legitimizes the attack by going over the negative points.  I'm of the "Never complain and never explain" fans. 

Each of us has a different approach to defending/promoting the existence of the State of Israel.  A few months ago I was interviewed by Ben Hubbard of the Associated Press.  My interview got very mixed reviews by friends and fellow Hasbara, information corps, members.

Since I generally like to get to the root of problems and not just "whitewash" them, I'll concentrate on history, simplifying it best as I can.

Today's modern, Twenty-first Century world has few nations with histories thousands of years old.  The State of Israel is the modern country for the Jewish Nation/People.  That's the nitty-gritty of the situation, ha'eekar, the main point.  For some peculiar reason, that has always bothered people, other nations.

This coming Shabbat is Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat we're commanded to remember that the world is against us and wants us destroyed.  In Maftir, the final Torah reading on Shabbat, we hear of how the Jewish People were cruelly attacked by Amalek as they/we exited from Egypt.  It's customary to reread it over and over in different accents and tunes so that everyone understands.  Is it translated into various languages abroad?  I should hope so.  Every Jew must understand what happened to us thousands of years ago and how it still happens today.

Yes, in simple words, that's what it's all about.  No country, no international organization can be counted on to help us!  I'm not paranoid, I'm just plain pragmatic when I say that we can only count on G-d and on ourselves.

The Haftara, (Biblical versus 5 book Torah) reading this Shabbat will tell how Saul, the first Jewish king sinned by not immediately executing all of Amalek.  For this awful sin, we're paying until this day, because our enemies are the descendants of king Agog who managed to impregnate a woman during those forbidden hours King Saul gave him to live.  That's what happens when one is merciful to one's enemies. 

Samuel the Prophet had been mentoring King Saul, a very disastrous and ill-conceived plan.  A leader must be a leader through and through, not a figurehead.  Saul was succeeded by King David, and Samuel retired.  King David didn't need that sort of intense and detailed mentoring.  It's clear when you read King David's T'hillim, Psalms.  He had a direct connection with G-d, like Moses did.

Samuel, Saul and David were our main historical figures during the first stages of the Jewish Kingdom, after our tribal federation, after our slavery in Egypt and after our Forefathers, Abraham, Issac and Jacob wandered around our HolyLand.  We are their descendants in every way.  None of the nations that had been here in our HolyLand then exist today, only us.  We are forced to fight new enemies for the same reasons we fought Amalek thousands of years ago.

Our very survival is proof that we're supposed to be here.  We were exiled as a nation, but Jews always lived in the HolyLand.  Now we have returned as a Nation as a People, not just individuals.

The public readings of the Purim story as told in Megillat, the Scroll of Esther which took place historically after King David, always has me amazed.  It reinforces the fact that we're the direct descendants the continuation of that ancient people and the ancient story.  Jewish People all over the world read it and celebrate our historic victory over Haman and all those who wanted us totally destroyed.

Today the simple fact that there is a State of Israel for the Jewish People proves that we are supposed to be here.  The fact that we have survived with our history, tradition, religion, language etc is totally extraordinary and inexplicable by normal laws of nature.

Let go of the goyishe non-Jewish culture and mind-set.  Soon we'll be celebrating Passover.  "Avodim hayeenu l'Paroh b'Mitzrayim..."  We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt..."  The problem was/is the enslavement to Pharaoh, to that foreign culture.  Free yourself of foreign values and priorities!

Chag Purim Sameach
Have a Truly  Joyful Purim


Keli Ata said...

Chag Purim Sameach!

"In Maftir, the final Torah reading on Shabbat, we hear of how the Jewish People were cruelly attacked by Amalek as they/we exited from Egypt."

Yes indeed. It's not about land but destruction of a people. Amalek made it clear. Hitler made it clear. Iran is making it clear.

BTW: You don't really need a pro-Israel post. Your love of Israel shines through all your posts:) And especially that picture of you that the AP ran!

Keli Ata said...

The public readings of the Purim story as told in Megillat, the Scroll of Ruth which took place historically after King David, always has me amazed. It reinforces the fact that we're the direct descendants the continuation of that ancient people and the ancient story. Jewish People all over the world read it and celebrate our historic victory over Haman and all those who wanted us totally destroyed."

I am oversimplifying but it still blows my mind that there are in the world people who resemble physically Ruth, David, Samuel etc.

And with each generation, each persecution, each victory...there is the face of these names we read and hear about. It makes the Torah so alive! Perhaps why I have always regarded each Jewish person with a sense of awe.

In any event, looking into the face of someone whose ancestors celebrated that first Pesach etc. It really does blow my mind.

Batya said...

thanks, keli
westbankmama is doing a special post, and I wrote for that.

Sammy Finkelman said...

>> Is it translated into various languages abroad? I should hope so.


No Torah reading is now translated. How could you think it was? The Torah reading USED to be translated over a 1,000 years ago when most Jews spoke Aramaic. It was translated and also translated into Aramic in other countries where Jews did not speak it - they stopped it and did not replace it with translations into other languages.

Parshas Zachar is a reading that must be heard bny both men and women at least once a year (because once a year is a criteria for remembering) but it has to be heard in Hebrew I beleive. the rules for ioit date from before people didn't understand Hebrew.

Sammy Finkelman said...

It is the book of Esther taht is read on Purim, not zruth!

Sammy Finkelman said...


Sammy Finkelman said...

Originally the operson called up to the Torah read the portion of the Torah he was called up to. Technically the Torah is not actually part of the davening really. But that doesn't mean people should be ignoring it.

To avoid arguments and implicit embarassment the rule was sinsttuted that only men over 13 read and first a Kohen reads and then a Levi and not a Kohen after a Kohen. Then it became universal for someone to read ionstead of everyone.

Maybe around then the transaltion was instituted in Bavel. That could be maybe 1700 year ago or more.

When the Torah used to be translated, the Torah reader would read one Posuk and the Meturgemen would translate that verse, the Torah reader would read one verse and it again would be translated and so on. I think this was dione ina way so as to not have an official text of the translation - at least it shouldn't look that way.

But when this was stopped because nobody understood Aramaic any more - when they stopped understanding it would be when Arabic replaced Aramnaic as the vernacular in most of Bavel circa 750-825 and when the Jewish population grew in Italy and in western Europe. At some point they stopped and I don't know exactly why but they duidn't replace it with other languages maybe because theer was no authoritative translation they could use. So the Torah reading did lose a lot of its value but it could have that value now in Israel except people who know nothing generally don't attend I guess and I wonder how much attention is paid and if it is loud.

What every must understand: That there is such a thing as Sinas Chinam. - hatred for nothing. If there is Hasbara that must be the number one element of it.

Interestingly people understand that a little, but not enough and they tend to think it can only happen in the developed world. No people theer are no dfferent tahn people in Germany. Not that they are no different in the sense they are evil, but they are no different in the sense that anything evil can happen whether their countries have a low GDP or high. This point cannot be overemphasized.

The point probably isn't made because too many secular people don't beleive it themselves. They either believe that the hatred is justified or that it is not real.

But any fool can see it is not justified because it is full of lies. Now it is also not true that everybody believes the lies but disbelief is always private, and the culture is full of it. And what goes on in the public sphere matters.

No possible compromises by israe can bring about peace until this hatred for nothing is gone,m and it must disappear FIRST and with no preconditions attached. I think someone would laugh at the idea of negotiating this.

Israel has actually put things like this in its treaties but of course it is useless and ignored.

So anyone who wants peace must go to Arabs and say: Stop lying about Israel, defend Israel against false attacks, and rebiuke peopel who make them, and don't use a different standard of morality with regard to Israel than you do for anyone else. And after that happens, it is possible to think of negotiations. This will not follow negotiations but must precede it and it annot be part of it..

Samuel actually retired before. He named Saul king AND SAUL KIND OF IGNORED IT FOR TWO YEARS.

Haters of Jews are never the same people who hated Jews 20 or 30 years before.Evil people are drawn to Jew hatred and to attempting to destroy Jews like moths to a flame.

Even Communist China may not escape.

Word verification is tordthe. I typed it wrong?

Batya said...

Corrected to Esther, thanks

Zachor is read in various accents, to make it more comprehensible. Why shouldn't an additional "reading" be a translation? Don't call it a "reading;" call it a translation.

Hadassa said...

I prefer to think in terms of education rather than explanation, which is the literal meaning of hasbara. IMHO the term hasbara was a bad choice of words.
Like it or not, Aramaic has a special status determined by the Sages and is considered to have a certain degree of holiness, unlike any other language other than Hebrew, THE Holy Tongue. Perhaps translations are best incorporated into a drasha given before or after the Tora reading?

Batya said...

Hadassa, re: "hasbara," whatever term used for it, we're failing.

and about "zachor" in different languages: Today, at least in the English-speaking world, Hebrew comprehension, and Jewish History knowledge, are going down, so there should be an effort to translate and explain the special portion. The problem is that it's a tough concept for many rabbis, going against pc ideologies.