Category Archives: Jewish history

Tikkun Olam

“The Ghetto Mentality” by Y.B. ben Avraham of Zelman Partisans is provocative and worthy of further debate (pilpul). For now, I offer a comment about tikkun olam:

Those with messianic complexes, especially neoconservatives, should reconsider what is meant by tikkun olam. Starting with the barefaced Thomas Friedman, Jews and non-Jews alike have bastardized this beautiful, but modest, Jewish obligation. In an attempt to lend spiritual credibility to hubristic insolence, Friedman once praised Tony Blair for “always [leaving] you with the impression that for him the Iraq war is just one hammer and one nail in an effort to do tikkun olam, to repair the world.”

Developed by the scholars and sages of a dispersed people, tikkun olam was intended as a humble and modest thing – it is the duty of the Jewish individual to help, bit-by-bit, to bring about a better world in unassuming, day-to-day righteous acts.

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I don’t want to hear “Never again!” ever again

You hear it all the time in writings or speeches about the Holocaust: “Never again!”

This is spoken as a war cry, a cry of defiance and determination. Yet how many of the people raising their figurative fists to the sky and shouting that there will be no more Holocausts are actually doing anything to prevent future disaster?

Damn few. Shouting, “Never again!” doesn’t do one real thing to prevent disaster any more than pink ribbons (which my town is festooned with every October) cure breast cancer. The shouts and the ribbons are both fine if they lead to lifesaving action, but without that, they’re meaningless.

One writer referred to the cancer ribbon campaign as “relentlessly pink optimism”, which can actually be very distressing to women whose cancer has metastasized. “Pink optimism” could lead to greater awareness, but on the other hand it could create false hope, divert research from even deadlier cancers, or end up making people feel less concerned about the problem because their attention eventually blanks out from too much bombardment with those ribbons.

Similarly, “Never again!” creates the impression that something’s being done to prevent Holocausts when there’s little or no action. Since Hitler’s Holocaust, there have been genocides in China, Uganda, Cambodia, Rwanda, and other places known and perhaps others unknown.

The “Never again!” people have done an excellent job of reminding the world of what Hitler did. (My nymsake, Feigele “Vladka” Peltel Meed was one of the earliest to make sure the world wouldn’t forget.) Sadly, though, they’ve also helped create the impression that Hitler was some unique monster and his genocide was the one and only. Yet just as there have been genocides since Hitler, there were also genocides before him. We now know that Stalin probably outdid Hitler when it came to killing his own people and his genocides were well under way when Hitler was barely getting started.

That’s the first big mistake of “Never again!” If you see only one genocide and see it as unique, you’ll always fail to understand the nature of genocide. You’ll look forever at Hitler and Germany, trying to figure out how they were different than everything that came before them and everything after them, which means you’ll fail to understand the full pattern of genocide. You’ll never really understand the attitudes, conditions, and laws that create genocide and you won’t see the next one coming.

One big, vital thing you’ll miss is the role that victim disarmament plays in genocide after genocide. You can’t kill millions of people until you’ve eliminated their ability to fight back. Of course “gun control” is only part of disarming people. It’s part of a package that includes destroying their spirit of resistance, getting them to trust authority even when authority intends to kill them, and other things. Taking away their resistance tools is complicated, but it certainly means keeping the victims less well armed than the perpetrators.

That’s another reason I don’t ever again want to hear “Never again!” Too many of the people shouting those defiant words are working for the very thing that leaves victims unable to defend themselves. How many people who cry, “Never again!” are enthusiastic advocates of “gun control”?

How many of them will tell you that only police and soldiers, the very agents who carry out genocides on behalf of homicidal governments, are the only ones who should have firearms?

No, I don’t want to hear “Never again!” ever again, unless it’s coming from the mouths or the pens of people who really mean it. The way to mean it is to educate people about the wide history of government murder of citizens. Don’t just pretend Hitler was some anomaly. The way to mean it is to stand up for the second amendment, to own firearms, to teach children to shoot and teach them why, to encourage a spirit of resistance, and to understand individual rights and freedom.

Do that and I’ll believe you mean it when you cry, “Never again!”

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Faith and Firearms Revisited

Years ago – when I had time to write more than an occasional blog post, I wrote an article on faith and firearms for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association.

Having grown up Jewish, I always wondered why it is that major Jewish organizations were always pushing disarmament, and worse yet, leaning on faith to do it!

For an answer in this article, I turned to Rabbi Isaac Leizerowski – a friend of my dad’s and an authority on Jewish law. Rabbi Leizerowski confirmed that the right to self defense is actually mandated by Jewish law.

From the sanctity of Life comes an imperative to safeguard Life. The directive to defend your life is written in the Talmud, the 70-volume Code of Jewish Law, in at least three places. “And the Torah says, ‘If someone comes to kill you, arise quickly and kill him.’”

For a reply on the psychology of disarmament, I turned to another friend, who shed some light on the issue.

Jack Feldman, Professor of Psychology at Georgia Institute of Technology, has one theory: “Jews are called on to care for others who are troubled, suffering, etc. and to stand up for the oppressed,” he says. “It’s a mitzvah. Democrats and socialists (traditional proponents of gun control) have taken that role, in appearance if not reality…A lot of us have yet to get the message about the Left, and [continue to] cling to these fallacies.”

Life is sacred, my friends. We must work to change the mindset that disarmament somehow promotes safety, and is therefore a mitzvah.

It’s not.

Disarmament is death. It’s slavery. It’s tyranny. It’s the antithesis of everything Jews strive to achieve in the social sphere – life, liberty, goodness.

The Nazis knew this, and we should never forget this.

And we must strive to show it for what it is and challenge its proponents – especially in organized Jewish circles!

Because if we allow gun grabbers to control the message and spread the lie that gun control is somehow beneficial, we’ll be swimming upstream for a long time.

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Dreidels & Hedgerows

Imagine you lived in a country where the ability to worship G-d was being outlawed, where your language and culture was disappearing. Where Preachers were jailed or killed for preaching the Bible or Tanakh? You think I’m talking about America, now? Maybe. Because football players are made to remove Crosses from their helmets, because for a time the Navy was told to remove the little Gideon Bibles from the rooms of their guest lodges? Because courts rule a Cross or the 10 commandments can’t be displayed? Maybe. But it’s not the first time in history. Let’s take a little trip back to Ireland.

In Ireland in the late 1600-till the later part of the 1700 there were a set of laws called “The Penal Laws”. The final bits were repealed in 1920. They affected Catholics and other dissidents. They entailed things like:

  • Exclusion of Catholics from most public offices (since 1607), Presbyterians were also barred from public office from 1707.
  • Ban on intermarriage with Protestants.
  • Presbyterian marriages were not legally recognized by the state
  • Catholics barred from owing firearms or serving in the armed forces.
  • Prohibition on Catholics owning a horse valued at over £5
  • ‘No person of the Catholic religion shall publicly or in private houses teach school, or instruct youth in learning within this realm’ upon pain of twenty pounds fine and three months in prison for every such offense.

And this is only part of them. But here’s a couple questions for you to mull over. WHY did they want to prohibit the Catholics from owning weapons? Who got to determine what the horse was worth?

The harsh rules gave rise to the hedgerow schools. Parents who were determined to save their children from being indoctrinated with beliefs other than what they held, and what they wanted their children to learn began to form and utilize “Hedgerow Schools”. This was forbidden because England wanted all the children to be taught the way they wanted them to be taught and what they wanted them to be taught. The Hedgerow Schools thrived. They were sometimes held in barns, homes but often in Hedgerows, with one child acting as a lookout. And they needed a lookout. If they were caught there were fines and imprisonment for all. There was a lot to lose. But the parents wanted their children to learn, the teachers wanted to teach and would travel around conducting these early forms of “home schooling” in defiance of the state mandated education.

Their language, culture and faith were under attack, and this is what they had to do to preserve it. They did it.

Now let’s go even further back in time. Achshav Annachnu b’Ysrael. NOW we are in Israel.

Let’s go back to the time of Antiochus, he liked to be called Epiphanes, although the Jews often called him Epimanes, the mad one. While Antiochus reigned Jews were forbidden to practice their religion, own a Torah, let alone read it, or observe festivals,or even the Sabbath. The people could not even admit they were Jewish. 40,000 were killed and 40,000 sold into slavery when Jerusalem was sacked and the temple was defiled. Animals that were forbidden to Jews were sacrificed on it’s alter. Now, during this time there were observant Jews and Hellanized Jews. Meaning Jews that were fine with what Antiochus was doing. Mainly urban upper crust, they wanted to dispense with Jewish law and adopt the Greek lifestyle. As I understand it for political and economic reasons.

And into this hot mess comes The Maccabees. I adore the Maccabees! It all started when Jews were ordered to offer sacrifices to Greek idols. A rural Jew know as Mattathias Maccabee refused. Not only did he refuse, but he killed the Hellenized Jew that stepped forward to offer a sacrifice to the idol in his name. Mattathias REFUSED to allow his name to be put on the offer of a sacrifice to an idol. From there the Maccabees took flight to the Judean wilderness. After Mattathias’ death about one year later in 166 BC, his son Judah Maccabee led an army of Jewish dissidents to victory over the Seleucid dynasty in guerrilla warfare, which at first was directed against Hellenizing Jews, of whom there were many. Judah Maccabee is noted as one of the greatest warriors in Jewish History, alongside David, Gideon and Joshua! So that’s how the Maccabean Revolt began. The Maccabees retook the city of Jerusalem. Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made. According to the Talmud, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol (high priest) was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. The story goes that one flask was found with only enough oil to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. A great miracle, nachon (right)?

Which brings us to this, a Dreidel/Savivon. Remember the Hedgerow Schools of Ireland? Well, while Jews were forbidden to study their Bible/Tanakh, forbidden to pass their faith onto their children they would go up into caves and hide. They would begin to teach the children, and they themselves would study. When they heard the Greek soldiers approaching they would put their Torah away and whip out the Savivon/Dreidel and begin to play. It could be a childrens game, or a gambling game. So it would appear to to the soldiers they were merely hiding and gambling. This is what they had to do to hold on to their faith, to pass it on to their children. To retain their culture and customs, they were willing to hide in caves, risk being caught by the soldiers and pay the penalty, death. Like the Irish, they found a way, and they did it.

If you look at what lengths the Irish and Jews went to back then to ensure the survival of their culture and religion it seems pretty sad now that some voices can be shut down by screeches of “racism” or “intolerance” or “hater”, simply for wanting to discuss an issue, preach from the Bible or Tanakh doesn’t it?

We are losing our culture so fast. When I was young, you saw rifles in racks in pick-up trucks everywhere. No one really thought anything of kids getting a .22 rifle. My Grandpa taught my cousin and me how to shoot his. My sisters and I all knew where Dad kept his revolver and shotgun. We KNEW if someone tried to break in and harm us either he or my Mom would do whatever needed to be done to keep the children they brought into this world safe. We knew not to mess with them when we put the clean clothes away, and we didn’t. It baffles me that I am more willing to protect my pet chickens (my little feather darlings) than some people are their flesh and blood children. I look at it as I bought the chickens, I’m responsible for them. I have no idea how they look at it, but I suspect they have bought into the culture shift of “no one is safe with a gun around”. If you get in trouble you just call the Police. Then they will come with guns and if you’re still alive, they’ll help you with their guns. Following their logic, I hope they forgo a smoke detector or fire extinguisher. After all, they can call the Fire Department and wait for them to come.

If you don’t think Hollywood has had an effect on this country, watch the following clip!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evSC-WZFw1c

Can you imagine Gwynth Paltrow or Ben Affleck singing something like this? NO! Ben Affleck still thinks ISIS is peaceful and no threat. Obviously, I see very few movies as I have no desire to put money in the pockets of people someone like Paltrow who thinks Mr. Obama should be given all the power he wants.

Now if a child’s picture is posted on Facebook proudly posing with a new gun it may merit a visit from the Police. Gnaw your pop tart into what a teacher decides is a gun shape and you would think the world was ending. Now we aren’t just talking about consequences of real crime, but consequences of “thought crime”.

This is an actual ad from 1961.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMoLdjFWd2s

Can you imagine such a toy being advertised today? I had a hard time finding a cap pistol when I wanted to start getting my horse used to gunfire.

For those of us raised in a culture of freedom, responsibility, and self-defense, the changes we see are not only disgusting, but alarming. Think about what you can do, to preserve the culture. To recognize the threats, and push back. I used to work gun shows with a man who gave out pocket copies of “The Citizens Rule Book”. It had the Bill of Rights, a Jury Handbook and The Constitution. On the back is a warning, “This Document May Be Hazardous To Bad Laws.” and II Chronicles 7:14.

If My people which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.

I personally carry a Dreidel/Savivon in my purse. All the time. It reminds me to be vigilant and committed to doing everything I can to ensure freedom.

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Look closely at those who seek to lead us

Greetings!

My name is Y.B. ben Avraham. I am honored to have been asked by the inestimable Claire Wolfe to join this new venture; the Zelman Partisans.

~~~

Nearly twenty-six hundred years ago the once-great land of Israel was a shambles. After generations of internal strife, the mighty army of Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II had utterly defeated Judah, sacked Jerusalem, and destroyed the focal point of the Jewish People; the Holy Temple. Their last King, Zedekiah, was blinded and led into exile. The wealthy, industrious, and educated were marched towards Babylonia, stopping briefly at an encampment at Riblah, wherein the majority of these exiles were simply slaughtered. Most of what remained was a scattering of dispirited farmers & shepherds.

Hoping to rebuild his new colony, the Babylonian king appointed one Gedaliah ben Ahikam as territorial Governor. Gedaliah’s father had saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah. When given the option of staying, or accompanying the remaining exiles to Babylonia, Jeremiah stayed and helped Gedaliah govern from Mizpah. Their intent was to rebuild from scratch, and in following Torah, fulfill the Covenant with G-d.

So successful was this effort that many Jews, having fled the war to neighboring lands, began to return and rebuild. One Ishmael ben Netanya was among the refugees. A descendant of Zedekiah’s household, he was also a close ally of the King of Ammon. Intensely jealous of Gedaliah’s successes, ben Netanya plotted to kill Gedaliah and with the help of Ammon, gain power over the colony.

The plot was discovered and reported to Gedaliah, but such was his nature, that he refused urgings that the plot be ended by the capture and killing of Ishmael ben Netanya and his men. Instead, Gedaliah accepted Ismael’s request to attend the Rosh Hashanah feast at Mizpah. Gedaliah arrived with ten men, and when opportune, Ishmael and his men killed the garrison, murdered Gedaliah, and taking hostages, fled towards Ammon.

Terrified that Nebuchadnezzar, in revenge at the murder of his appointed governor, Gedaliah, would order the wholesale slaughter the rest of the Jews, the people fled, in a stunning reversal of the events which forged their Covenant some nine hundred years before, towards Egypt.

At the urging of the prophet Jeremiah they stopped at Beit Lechem for his advice. Jeremiah prayed to G-d for ten days and obtained a divine message. G-d told the people that if they remained in the land he would rebuild them and that Babylonia would not destroy them, but that if they fled to Egypt their misfortunes would follow and they would suffer the very fate they feared.

The people abjectly refused. Furthermore, they accused Jeremiah of plotting to turn them over to Nebbuchadnezzar’s Chaldean Guard himself, and forced Jeremiah to accompany them. At the border, he tried again, and they refused again. The people settled in Egypt, abandoning faith in G-d and descending once again to the practices of the Egyptians.

A few years later the Egyptian Pharaoh Hophra was assassinated and Nebuchadnezzar seized to opportunity. He invaded and destroyed the land, and most of the Jewish exiles died in the invasion and war. Jeremiah’s prophesy had been tragically fulfilled.

~~~

Several lessons might be learned from this tragedy. First and foremost (for those so disposed) is that faith in G-d and obeying his will is the only truly successful path. Second, is that civil war carries horrific, long-term consequences, often worse than war in general, and should be strenuously avoided.

Also, strangely, is the lesson that sometimes collaborators can be good and nationalist rebels can be bad. Gedaliah was unquestionably a collaborator; an appointee of a savage invader, protected by their garrison. Ishmael ben Netanya was from the royal family. He sought an alliance with Ammon to kill a puppet governor, defeat the garrison, and drive out the Babylonian invaders from his ancestral lands.

And yet, what was Gedaliah’s true goal? It was to slowly, yet inexorably, restore the people, the land, and the Covenant. So firm was his conviction and his love, that he risked his own death in seeking the noble goal. On the other hand, Ishmael’s true heart was revealed as he fled to the protection of Ammon and faded into history. His goal was merely glory and power over others.

As this nation slides again towards probable civil war, we should look very closely at those who seek to lead us, influence us, or speak for us.  While standing on principle is crucial, it is very easy to be both manipulated by others and to fall victim to passion, fear, and rash judgement.

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