Category Archives: Jewish history

It’s The Most MACCABEE Time of the Year!

I am pretty much, without a doubt, the least qualified on the team to write a column about the Maccabees. That is not stopping me.

I first learned about the Maccabees a couple years ago doing a study on the book of Daniel. I was so humbled and impressed by this group of people that loved their G-d so much that rather than submit to what was being demanded of them, that they offer sacrifices to anyone other than the G-d of Israel, or to eat unclean food, they would spark a revolt.

I ask a girlfriend of mine who knows me pretty well, if she knew about the Maccabees. Well, of course she did. “HOW could you know about the Maccabees and NOT tell me?”. She said she figured I learn about them in time. And so I did, and I fell in love.

 

The first thing that captivated me was Mattathias and his response. When he was told by the king’s officers that he was honored, a leader and to come be the first to sacrifice as all the Gentiles, people in Judah and those LEFT in Jerusalem had done(seeing as how Antiochus’s troops had slaughtered 40,000 and sold another 40,000 into slavery when he defiled the temple), he refused. He didn’t form a committee, he didn’t have an emergency conference with is sons, they didn’t do a feasibility study of defeating Antiochus, debate if he would be called racist, islamophobic, homophobic, hoplophobic, xenophobic. He just said

Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments : yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. G-d forbid that we should forsake the law and. the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left.”

And, he really meant it.

As some Jews had been happy enough about blending in with the king’s people (they picked the WRONG king) they had also become his enforcers. They were already breaking the Torah themselves, so what’s a little selling out of your fellow Jews who are trying to hold to the correct King’s law? So while Antiochus was determined to wipe out Judaism, he was perfectly willing to use the religious leaders to  convince the people that the horrible idea of turning away from their G-d was a GREAT idea. Not much has changed today has it?

When an appeasing Jew stepped forward, the kind of person that tries to appease a tiger, hoping it will eat them last, Mattathias killed him. He would NOT tolerate a sacrifice to a pagan idol, a false G-d in HIS name. None of it. He then killed the king’s officer that was forcing the people to do this wicked thing. He recognized evil for what it was. He didn’t try to rationalize it away, make it better or listen to national leaders that didn’t have the people’s best interests at heart. How can I say that? I wasn’t there? Because the people weren’t being allowed to worship THEIR G-d as they had been commanded to. They were being prevented from it, forbidden. In the most horrific of ways. Where in the beginning, perhaps they chose to assimilate, not wanting to be “intolerant” before long, it became mandatory. Horribly mandatory. Convert or Die.

One of the things those that who chose to rebel with Mattathias soon faced was the king’s army attacking them on Shabbat. When word reached the army at Jerusalem they rode out into the desert to stomp out these upstart Maccabee Partisans. The army commanded them to come out. But rather than profane their Sabbath, they chose to die, around a thousand of them, with their wives, children and livestock. They were faithful even unto death. Unfortunately, as my team mate Y.B. has pointed out,

Dying Kiddush Hashem (in sanctification of G-d’s name) is far too big a habit for Jews. We do it all the time. We’re really good at it. We have a backlog of those who have so died good for the next few thousand years, don’t you think?

The Maccabee Partisans then held a discussion and decided

“If we all do as our kinsmen have done,” they said to one another, “and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our traditions, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” On that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kinsmen died in the hiding places.”

I don’t think Satan and the king’s army needed any help trying to wipe Judaism off the face of the earth. They were doing well enough on their own.

Other soon joined the Maccabees, and the rebellion grew. They went after all that were breaking the law. And it was about G-d, Torah and his law. There was none of this, “well, you have friends in high places”, or “they know people” or__________. It was very simple, and very fair. It was a Jewish land, and these were Jewish laws.

Lest you think that the people were converting and violating G-d’s laws because of something taught in Antiochus’s Common Core school, I will relate just a bit of Hannah and her Seven Sons. They deserve Capital letters. The first son made it plain that he would not violate the Torah by eating pork. What followed was having his tongue cut out, he was scalped, his hands and feet cut off, and while he was still breathing he was fried alive. In view of his Mother and Six Brothers, who all encouraged each other to die bravely but not give in. And NONE did, the Mother, after watching all of her sons suffer the same fate, was killed. Many of the Sons informed the king that though he had earthly power over them now, there was a Power greater, and he had NO power over that king. That the king should make no mistake, he absolutely would be called to account for his mistreatment of them and their nation. But that king was as arrogant or perhaps even more than rulers we see today. The battle was arrogance against the courage of their convictions and faith in their G-d. They perceived the horrors that had befallen their nation as punishment for having turned away from him.

When Mattathias died, he appointed his son Judah military leader, and his son Simon as the one to go to for wisdom. Father must have known his children’s strengths. Judah won amazing victories. His speech I love is:

But when they saw the army coming to meet them, they said to Judah, “How can we, few as we are, fight against so great and strong a multitude? And we are faint, for we have eaten nothing today.” Judah replied, “It is easy for many to be hemmed in by few, for in the sight of Heaven there is no difference between saving by many or by few. It is not on the size of the army that victory in battle depends, but strength comes from Heaven. They come against us in great pride and lawlessness to destroy us and our wives and our children, and to despoil us; but we fight for our lives and our laws. He himself will crush them before us; as for you, do not be afraid of them.”

When he finished speaking, he rushed suddenly against Seron and his army, and they were crushed before him. They pursued them down the descent of Beth-Horon to the plain; eight hundred of them fell, and the rest fled into the land of the Philistines. Then Judah and his brothers began to be feared, and terror fell upon the Gentiles round about them.

Judah didn’t fight for fame, glory to meet some celebrity or get a video game name after him. He fought for G-d, for his way of life, and because it was the right thing to do. Some fights are worth having. He suited up, showed up ready to fight and leave the outcome to G-d.

Eventually Judah and the Partisans often using guerrilla tactics retook Jerusalem. They disposed of the desecrated alter, cleansed the temple and built a new alter, new vessels to be made and everything was to be done properly, according to the law. For the Menorah, unadulterated and undefiled pure olive oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol, high priest was needed. The Menorah was to burn through the night, every night. And while only one such bottle, enough to last for one night, was all that could be found, it lasted eight nights, which was the amount of time it took for a fresh supply of oil to be available. Some doubt that miracle to be true. I do not.

But whether or not THAT miracle is true, I think making one bottle of olive oil burn for eight nights is no big thing, ein ba-ya, for the G-d that created the olives, the trees, the land. I think the amazing miracle is that three years to the day that the madmen of Antiochus pillaged Jerusalem and defiled the temple, it was back in Jewish hands, holy and rededicated from what began as a one man revolt. And that one man had raised really good and righteous sons.

Please know, this is the “Cliff Note” version of  the Maccabean Revolt, from a person who has been in love with them for two whole years because she has only known about them for two whole years. I believe you will get a far better column from someone far better qualified to write it.

I know that most people think of Hanukkah as a “Jewish holiday”, some think it’s the Jewish version of Christmas. But I’m telling you now, Christians NEED to learn about Hanukkah! They NEED to know WHAT and WHY it was! They NEED to understand it, and they need to learn it very, very fast. And some Jews need to re-learn some lessons too. Hanukkah is equally as important for all of us now. Why would I say such a thing?

Because in the beginning some of the Jews were fine with the new lifestyle that was being brought in by the Greeks, the new gymnasiums, the “freedom” from all those bothersome holy laws. Tolerance, acceptance, go along to get along. Love, joy, peace and kumbaya and all that. And then the gloves came off. They were forbidden to practice their faith, forbidden to serve G-d, to worship him. Defiance was costly. I consider dead to be very costly.

Mattathias didn’t start the trouble, he didn’t go to Jerusalem looking to right the wrongs when Antiochus and his crowd showed up in Jerusalem and said “Burn this Bitch Down”. But when evil showed up on his doorstep he knew it for what it was and he didn’t muck about sorting it.

This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Yet, in the country there are cities that are being told they can not have a float that had a religious statement on it because ONE person complained to an atheist legal group. The Ten Commandments are removed from schools and government buildings (and if ever there was a place they NEED to be, it would be government buildings). Sometimes by legal action, threats of legal action, or just choice. Army Chaplains are forbidden to use the Bible in suicide prevention classes. Children are told they can’t meet to pray before or after school on school grounds and humiliated for choosing to read a Bible during “free reading” period. So, what can the kids learn about in school? Islam. Several states have had people beginning to talk on FaceBook and to the media about the children coming home with assignments that are proselytizing for Islam. Part of the new Common Core standards lessons. Pamela Geller has been all over this. Reports from Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina all detailing similar events. Apparently there will be no lessons in the classroom on Judaism or Christianity. Unable to practice our religion freely? Check.

Physical violence? Did you know there is a place in America where it’s not safe for a Christian or Jews to go? The Maccabees were Jews who were able to resist and fight back because they were ARMED. They didn’t win battles with Judah’s winning smile. They fought. Yet we have far too many in America that can’t wait to put us all in a position of being in the position of the Warsaw Ghetto again where only the “State” has the means to enforce either freedom or tyranny. In many countries in Europe there is an increasing rise in Anti-Semitism, and Jews are becoming unsafe and afraid to disclose their religion. These kinds of attacks are something Jews in Israel have been dealing with for a very long time. Author Professor Phyllis Chesler said after 9/11 and the attack on the twin towers she went over and typed in her computer “Now we are all Israelis.” And we are right back where we started out, in Israel. The land of Miracles.

The shape our country is in now, we need Maccabees, we need them badly. People that will not bow down to the false king of “Political Correctness” nor allow the sacrifice good people on the alter of “tolerance” by them being put out of business, or having their TV show canceled because they talk about the Tanakh or the Bible. Nor because they choose to talk about G-d. We need people who recognize evil and teach others how to recognize it. We must become the Maccabees of today.

You know, life has been beyond hectic for me these last couple weeks. Mind numbingly, over-overwhelmingly so. The interesting thing was, as I wrote this column, I began to have a sense of peace, and calmness. The first I’ve had in some time. It was as though G-d wrapped a warm quilt around me and said “My child, I’m still in the miracle making business. They may not be on your time table, or in your way, but I still make them. Every single day, I make them. Breath.” And I did.

Happy Hanukkah

Merry Christmas

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Prelude to Rededication

Matisyahu

Once again the Children of Abraham were in peril… but not for the reasons you might think.

The king of Babylon had allowed their return to Israel, and even allowed the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. One empire defeated another and soon Alexander the Macedonian came. His visit foreshadowed things to come.

An apostate sect known as the Samaritans had long challenged a core element of Jewish belief; the three-part revelation of Torah (Mystical, Oral, and Written). They had come to the point of militating for the destruction of the Holy Temple and the wholesale murder of the Priests and Levites. Alexander, on his way to leveling Gaza and engaging the Egyptians, was about to do their bidding.

Learning of this, a High Priest donned garments reserved for the holiest event of the year; conducting ritual sacrifices, on behalf of the entire people on Yom Kippur. He and a group of dignitaries went out to meet Alexander in a small town.

Upon their approach, even Alexander’s commanders expected the great slaughter to commence, but instead Alexander dismounted and bowed down to the Priest. Alexander explained that before commencing his long series of campaigns a man came to him in his dreams, looking exactly as this man, and had advised him in ways critical to his subsequent success.

The High Priest told Alexander that they had no intent to undermine him and only asked that the Jewish people be allowed to worship G-d in the ways they were intended and to live in peace. Alexander agreed and was taken on a tour of the Holy Temple, and all of the functions explained. The Samaritans had failed.

But, then Alexander, believing the panoply of gods to be essentially meaningless and interchangeable, and more than a bit impressed with himself, declared that he wanted a giant statue of himself erected in the Temple.

Horrified, but wise, the High Priest gently explained that they could not do that within the Temple, as it would deny the fundamental precept that Hashem Elokeinu is G-d and that there is nothing and no one else. Instead, the High Priest suggested that every male child born in to the Priests’ families during the next year be named Alexander. That way Alexander’s name would live on and be known even better than by a mere statue.

As was the practice, Alexander left administrative control of his conquered lands to his generals. These Syrian-Greeks came to be known as the Seleucids. They, in turn sought out local leaders to act on their behalf in day-to-day affairs. In Israel, the Seleucid Generals worked through the High Priest. There were a series of appointed Seleucid Generals, and a series of High Priests.

Sadly, this dual-loyalty relationship corroded the integrity of the Priesthood. Likewise, the material wealth, power, and sophistication of the Syrian-Greeks seduced the Jewish People, away from their Covenant with G-d. They increasingly emulated the Syrian-Greek, culture, appearance, and even worship. When a High Priest who might oppose this evolution arose, he was replaced, and/or murdered.

Ultimately, in greed and power-lust, a true madman arose to rule. He was named Antiochus. He styled himself Antiochus Epiphanes, seeing himself as a god in the form of a man.

A series of edicts followed. Observing the Sabbath was prohibited.  Possession, much less study from, of a Torah Scroll was a capital offense. Brit Milah (ritual entry into the Covenant of the Jewish People with G-d) , aka circumcision was banned. If a circumcised male child was found, both the child and its parents were put to death.

Temple sacrifices; the focal point of communal interface with G-d at his “place” on Earth, was banned. The Temple itself was defiled and filled with idols. The monies used to support the Holy Temple services and the families whose job it was to conduct them, not to mention the destitute, and infirm, had been seized.

These things were entirely approved of by the vast majority of now thoroughly assimilated Jews. A Greek gymnasium had been erected in Jerusalem. Nude athletics were commonplace. The veneration of physical beauty was now elevated and the purification of the soul, in service to G-d, was despised.

At towns throughout the land Jews lived as Greeks and worshiped as Greeks. The G-d of Israel was for bumbling rustics and dying old people.

Once, a Syrian-Greek patrol was out looking for renegades who continued to worship at tiny rural altars to Hashem Elokeinu, the True G-d. They found such a place and demanded that they both stop and that instead they worship as the Greeks. A young man rushed to abide and started to sacrifice to the Greek gods.

Witnessing this was one of those “old rustics”, a Hasmonean named Matityahu ben Yonatan. The weight of his world upon him, in an uncontrollable rage, he drew his sword, slew the young man and many of the Syrian-Greek patrol. He loudly declared, “All those who stand for G-d, follow me.”

A revolt against one of the mightiest empires on earth, and more importantly, against the spiritual suicide of his people, had begun.

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Follow The Leader

I’ve been following the increase in attacks on peaceful citizens in Israel. It seems the Arabs cant’ throw a rock without hitting a Jew in Israel. This is because that is their aim, along with throwing firebombs, and fireworks being thrown at citizens, and now the “peaceful” muslims are adding in knife attacks.

What could be behind this? Well, perhaps the leader Mahmoud Abbas? With Abbas, the reward from terrorism is good.

A Hamas member used a van to mow down pedestrians at two points along the capital’s light rail line midday Wednesday, killing one and wounding some 14 others, several critically. The fatality, Cap. Jidan Assad, 38, a Border Police officer from the Druze village of Beit Jaan, and the wounded were crossing the street when they were hit by the speeding vehicle, according to police. Assad is survived by a pregnant wife and a three-year-old son, according to Ynet News.

Abbas, in a condolence letter to the family of a Hamas terrorist who shot and severely wounded an Israeli-American last Wednesday, called the return fire by police which killed Muataz Hijazi a “sickening crime,” and “assassination which was perpetrated by the murderous, terrorist gangs of the despicable Israeli occupying army…”

Nor are attacks confined to groups of people with 3 month old babies. People traveling home from work on routes they usually take are finding things far more dangerous.

A brave group of Arab boys attacked a menacing group of Jewish School girls on a field trip by throwing rocks at them injuring one student and a teacher.

And now we have the latest horrific attack on Jews in Israel at Har Nof Synagogue. It is a escalation of what has been going on for some time. I’m so cynical I don’t even ask “why” anymore.

Well, ok, I ask why a lot. In fact, that is kind of how the genesis of this column started last week. I was talking to someone Friday, and I think if he heard “aval lama”, “but why” one more time I was going to have a pair of socks in my mouth. I was asking about the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is the first holiest site in Judaism, the third holiest in islam, and they persist in calling it the al-aqsa mosque. It has always baffled me that the Temple Mount is located in Israel, the Jewish state, is the holiest site in Judaism and Jews are not allowed to go there to pray. For that matter Christians aren’t real safe there either I don’t think. And part of what keeps the Jews from being allowed to pray on the Temple Mount are the Israeli police. Huh? These are their own people, they keep them from praying? The Israeli Police it seems, are trying to keep a bad situation from erupting into riots. Too late! Although the lack of anything other than muslims on the Temple Mount has not stopped muslims from carrying out attacks on civilians. And using the Temple Mount as they have hospitals and schools in Gaza as a terror base. In October the Police were forced to lock rioters in a building on the Temple Mount as Jews were allowed in for Sukkot.

How can this be? On June 7th, 1967 Jerusalem was reunited and The Temple Mount came under Israeli and Jewish control from the first time in about 2,000 years. The Shofar was sounded at the Western Wall by General Rabbi Shlomo Goren of the IDF to announce the liberation. It was considered a gift from G-d.

“We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned never to be parted from it again.”
–Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, upon reaching the Western Wall

Unfortunately, “never” is a very short time in Dayan’s world at that point. Within days he had unilaterally ceded control of the Temple Mount back to the Jordanian Waqf, I find just thinking of them as “wack-o” works.

So while Prime Minister Levi Eshkol envisioned a committee made up of the various religions overseeing the Temple Mount, from the moment Dayan ceded control to the Jordanian wack-o faction, the dream of all faiths being allowed to worship and pray at the Temple Mount basically died.

A prominent Israeli Rabbi and activist Yehuda Glick works to allow increased access for Jews to the Temple Mount and has been doing so for a number of years. The absurdity of the situation is in full display by his arrest with his goat by Israeli police. This year it lead to an assassination attempt on his life.

I would count Yehuda Glick as a leader.

Far from the Temple Mount being a place where all faiths can now come to pray, it is becoming yet another terror stronghold for muslims. Not because they treat and value it as a Holy place, but because Jews and Christians do.

And this fight is not about religion, although that is certainly an element of it. Muslims are commanded in the quran to give “infidels”, that would be non-muslims, a chance to convert before they kill them.

If this were only about the Temple Mount, you wouldn’t hear statements from Hamas and Hezbollah denying the right of Israel to exist, and that they want to drive them into the sea. Nor would you be seeing attacks like the horrifying one in Har Nof. This is about killing people, a blind hatred.

I respect and admire Bibi Netanyahu, but I think he is off the mark when he says they will maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount. Although what that is, is hard to say. It’s certainly not what it was meant to be.

But when there are terrorist attacks in Israel, Bibi does respond, and he does take action. The houses of the terrorists are to be demolished. And he calls it what it is, a terrorist attack.

I do think there is absolutely and element of Spiritual warfare going on here. If attacks like the one in Har Nof can prevent people from going to Synagogue to learn, pray and worship? Then evil wins. But those people were no where near the Temple Mount when they were butchered. This was an attack on people because of who they were. Part of what makes them who they are is what they believe.

Another source of terror is “infiltrators”. In America they are called “undocumented democrats”. The difference in Israel is that the “infiltrators” are looking for jobs. In America, not so much. The areas where there are large groups of infiltrators the residents of the area live in fear. Israel has passed an infiltrator law but the point has been raised that the solution is even simpler than that. And they do need a solution, one Synagogue has been shut down, and Holocaust survivors are afraid to leave their apartment building. Again, preventing people from worship.

“I think the law is like treating cancer with Tylenol,” Komash, who is active in Tel Aviv, where infiltrators have largely taken over the central bus station, said.

“Putting the illegal infiltrators in detention for three years, building facilities, investing so much money for 10,000 infiltrators or 5,000 – that’s just not the solution,” he added. “What will they do with the remaining 40,000?”

“I think we simply need to send them back to their country,” he said. “The left simply defends them because most of them are Muslims, Christians and the left wants a state of all its citizens. But there’s no connection here. They’re not refugees, they’re infiltrators. They say themselves that they’re looking for a job here. It’s a simple solution: Sudanese to Sudan, Zionists to Zion.”~~Avi Komash

I do not believe for a second that Bibi is a stupid man, I think he knows and sees what is going on.

I think Bibi is a good leader.

What could be some of the issues that are constraining him from perhaps taking action against segments of the population that are terrorizing and killing his citizens?

Well, one answer I would think would be obama. Look at how obama responded to the attack at the Har Nof Synagogue. His statements seemed to imply that both sides were responsible, and called for both sides to rein in extremists. I am unaware of any Jews or Christians breaking into mosques and slaughtering innocent people. This does not serve Israel well, in my opinion.

A long time ago, I learned in a class about “shark bumps”. A shark will bump prospective victim (dinner) before it attacks, to see what will happen. If it fights back, it’s possible the shark will move on to easier prey. If not? It gets out the BBQ sauce. It is the same with criminal sharks. The guy that puts the hair up on the back of your neck when he asks you for the time? Or wants you to come closer to his car so he can ask for directions? Or stares you in the eyes and makes you uncomfortable? Do not respond meekly. It’s probably your intuition trying tell you “shark bump”. There have been SO many “shark bumps” in Israel. And the violence is getting worse because they haven’t been addressed with a harpoon.

As this Times of Israel article points out, the response coming out of the obama administration seems to differ depending on who the victims of the crime are. I am afraid because of the close relationship Israel and America have had in the past, pressure from the obama administration may affect Bibi’s responses.

Let’s look at how obama handles these types of situations in America.

Because obama is consistent. When the muslim nidal hasan murdered 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, obama deemed it “workplace violence” rather than a terrorist attack.

Just as all religions are not treated equally on the Temple Mount in Israel, the same double standard seems to apply in America.

Jews are afraid of muslims on the Temple Mount, and they are not to pray there. In America if you are Jewish or Christian, you are not to pray in school. A recent change that one is. I can get you quite a few more of those. On the other hand, let’s see how schools are handling the religion of peace. Well, it seems there was an exercise, shall we call it, where a Nation of Islam document was used in a classroom that portrayed the founding fathers as racist. And, as I suspect we will see this more often now that many of the states have sold out to Common (rotten to the) Core. The children were told not to take the handout home, or talk to their parents about the exercise. Or the assignment where 10th graders made up islamic pamphlets to be designed for 3rd graders. No one seems to be able to find which week the schools will be teaching about empathy for Christianity or Judaism. Or this delightful exercise in a California school where based on the information the 8th graders were given, they came to the logical conclusion that the holocaust was fabricated for political gain, another common core exercise that one. You really should read that story, but make sure you have something to settle your stomach and outrage handy when done.

They reached that decision based upon the information the teacher gave them, and they were denied access to check other sources. If you look at how CNN, a faux news station covered the murders in the Synagogue, not only once, but twice, you begin see the specter of Julius Streicher arising. Those headlines go so well with obama calling on both sides to restrain extremists. Sounds sensible except again, one side isn’t slaughtering anyone. One side is just trying to survive things like rockets being fired out of a hospital or school in Gaza.

So in Israel and America, I think we see quite a difference in how the different religions are treated. How and what the people are allowed to do. What the state will and will not allow differs for the different groups quite a bit.

What do we see that is similar? Well, at the top of this story, the section from the story on how Mahmoud Abbas handled the killing of a terrorist by sending a letter of condolence to his family is quite similar to how obama chose to deal with a similar situation. There was a muslim in Oklahoma that beheaded a co-worker and was attempting to kill another one when he was shot and killed by the business owner who had a CCW. Rather than sending someone to investigate the mosque that spawned the killer, the DHS sent a Director with a “Thank You” note from obama to the mosque. It read in part

“Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice.”….

Yes, well.

Obama is not a leader worth following. Obama has an agenda that he is trying to ram down the throats of Americans, and for that matter, to an extent, Israel. Abbas is leading, his people are following and CNN, MSNBC and probably most of the lamestream media refuse to show it for what it is. My question last Friday was answered with “Poor leadership”. How, why could these things happen. “Poor leadership, not a strong leader”. Why would we in America think that things will turn out differently for us? Do you not think that we will begin to see attacks like the one at Har Nof? Most Church, and Synagogues are gun free zones. I hope and pray that will begin to change, and soon. Both in America and Israel.

But for that to happen, we will have to have real leadership. The kind of leader that loves this country and her freedom and wants to ensure it. As my esteemed colleague Y.B. Ben Avraham points out, we must strive to be leaders. I would add we must confront evil, to confront it, we must recognize it. We must do these things if we wish to live in a free society, to worship and live as we choose. And again, Y.B. is correct. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.

This video was shot at Berkley in CA. These are potential future leaders. This lunacy is part of what we strive to confront and stop.

The future leaders of the muslim world? They were eating candy to celebrate the massacre at Har Nor Synagogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOHJ06bsSow

 

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So How Could This Happen?

As I look at the massive amount of “change” our country has endured since I was a child, I’m not feeling a lot of “hope”. I had long wondered how our country had gone from one of fierce independence, strong work ethic and Judeo-Chrisitian values to one where living on the dole is viewed as an entitlement to some people, and it comes with a free obola-phone. The fierce independence and looking after yourself and your family has become “let the government do it”,  “wait for the police” and “there ought to be a law”. We are to have been a country ruled by law, not mobs. And we have moved so far away from that. “How could this happen?” A friend of mine on Facebook asked that the other day. This column was already percolating in my brain when he did. I may have some insight into it.

You know the old saying there is nothing really new under the sun? Well, many of the things we see in America now have been done before, and succeeded brilliantly for those that implemented the policies.

Let’s do a little compare and contrast, shall we?

There is a traveling exhibit from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education called “nazi Propaganda”. No, I didn’t mean to capitalize nazi. There was an exhibit of artifacts and a lecture series that explored different aspects of the Propaganda.

“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert”~~adolph hitler 1924
hitler had one of the best at propaganda Joseph Gerbils (Goebbels, yes, I enjoyed doing that too), who said that “Any man who still has a residue of honor will be very careful not to become a journalist”. That’s pretty rich coming from a one time journalist.

When hitler came to power in 1933, Germany had a very well developed communications system. There were 4,700 daily and weekly newspapers, a total circulation of 25 million. Of these 81%  were locally owned, although there were some national ones that had even attained international recognition. When the nazis came to power in 1933, they owned less than 3% of the 4,700 papers. Through the elimination of the multi-party system the nazis gained control of the newspapers that had been run by those parties. The nazis used the press and radio to create fears of a communist uprising and then the populace was willing enough to accept limits and the curtailing of their liberties.

The nazis had a great ally in Julius Streicher who produced Der Strumer, a virulently antisemitic “newspaper” and I use that term loosely here. Mostly it ran articles on how the Jews were to blame for everything wrong, and they wanted to start a war while the rest of the world wanted peace. They ran horrible cartoons by “Fips” designed to isolate and dehumanize Jews. It ran from 1923 to 1945 and during the Weimer Republic was the receipient of many lawsuits by politicians and Jewish groups. It did not stop them though, and when hitler came along, it thrived.  The nazi regeime also embraced the new technology of radio and television. They already had a thriving movie culture. With the creation of the people’s radio, hitler’s speeches could be broadcast everywhere, factories, homes and even the streets, and they were. The cheap mass produced radios had very few stations available on the dial, quite the shocker that, eh?

The German propaganda machine was also at work in the US and Britain believe it or not. In many news stories of the time the writing was done in such a was as to create fear among Americans and the British and leave them wanting to just get it over with and give in. Interestingly to me anyway, most of these stores came from the AP. Germany also forbid it’s citizens from getting any news from sources outside of Germany. But with the great radio shows on, why would they want to? I mean who could turn down hitler speeches and home making tips all in one broadcast?  Besides, listening to the BBC was considered very treasonous, and punishable by prison time.

Propaganda was used to sell the majority who hadn’t voted for hitler (was it racist back then to demand voter ID?) that there would be this national community, it’s just that a few people wouldn’t be part of it. Germans by in large it seems, ate that National Community Hope & Change stuff up. It was necessary to convince them not to intervene when they saw their neighbors of many years being hauled off and their belongings taken away. The ghettos were posted with signs warning of health dangers, that was meant to discourage non-Jews from entering and seeing conditions for themselves. With the lack of sanitation, people starving and lack of medical care, that was somewhat true, but not why the nazis posted the ghettos. Films were staged in the ghettos to show the German people that the Jews bred and carried diseases. The goal with that would be to decrease any sympathy the Christians might have felt and any desire to help the Jews. The Jews were also portrayed as not caring about anyone but themselves. Films were also staged to convince the world that the Jews were being treated very humanely, and just in the camps for “re-education” to the nazi way of the thinking and life. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Part of the goal of the propaganda was not so much to enlist ordinary Germans in killing the Jews, but to convince them not to intervene on the Jews behalf. After all, they weren’t REALLY human were they?

So, why is this relevant today? People would recognize the dangerous conditions and do something about it before it ever got this far again, right?  No set of Americans would sit idly by while one segment of the population was marginalized and attacked by leadership would they?

How about people who believe the Constitution should remain the law of the land, and not ruling by pen and cell phone?

Would the government ever paint such people as “the enemy”?

http://www.theblogmocracy.com/2012/08/08/us-army-using-tea-party-insurrection-scenario-to-train-officers/

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/10/23/does-army-consider-christians-tea-party-terror-threat/

http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2012/08/bringing-war-back-home-full-spectrum.html

Would the government ever single out those people and use the force of the government to go after them?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2711039/Emails-IRS-official-Lois-Lerner-called-conservatives-crazies-holes-Eric-Holder-gets-new-pressure-investigate.html

http://www.commdiginews.com/politics-2/erev-rosh-hashanah-lois-lerner-degrades-conservatives-now-judaism-26594/

Remember all the antisemitic cartoons? Some of these appeared in newspapers, some were made up by readers.

http://lumberjocks.com/topics/34254

The Media Research Center put together a lovely list of some of the worst attacks by the mainstream “media” on ordinary American Citizen. Curiously, the “media” was very supportive of Occupy Wallstreet.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mike-ciandella/2014/02/27/5-years-after-7-worst-media-attacks-tea-party

What happens when a reporter actually tries to do the job, and report on Government and investigate stories? Um, doesn’t turn out well.

http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/102714-723693-former-cbs-news-reporter-blows-whistle-on-pro-obama-bias.htm?p=full

So, while in Germany many of the newspapers MAY have been forced to regurgitate the party poop, in America it seems we see this kind of reporting, not because of being forced into it, but because the media itself is on board with the ideology of the current regime.

Anyone remember Candy Crowley from CNN a “moderator” (chuckle, chuckle, snort) helping the President out during the debate against Mitt Romney? Or who can forget the classic of CNN making it appear a semi-automatic rifle is a automatic by the way they talked during the “report”.
Speaking of ideology, when the media constantly calls a semi-automatic rifle an “assault rifle” and report on someone shot breaking into a house as a “gun shot victim” because the home owner shot him? Does that not seem to be allowing their ideology to drive the story, to influence people that haven’t a clue about guns? To convince people that the ability to defend themselves and their families from any kind of a threat is not something they should want.

Nice blog post about CNN and guns.

http://dustinsgunblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/cnn-lies-fakes-story-once-again.html

And a great video to show anyone who doesn’t understand about a semi-automatic and fully automatic.

If you want to compare how the obama infatuated press handles a story think about what you are hearing now that there was a Republican landslide on Tuesday. The media is marginalizing that, saying the people want Republicans to work with obama. The British press presented the story a bit differently.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2822484/WHAT-LANDSLIDE-Obama-threatens-vetoes-executive-orders-Americans-reject-giving-Republicans-historic-gains-Congress.html#ixzz3IIYedBh1

As did the Candadian http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/67371

I discovered the first time I went to Ireland and listened to the news on the radio as I was driving that the way I heard stories on the radio in Ireland was vastly different than the way they were presented at home.

Why would the media do this? Lie to citizens, target certain individuals (think Sarah Palin or Phil Robertson) certain businesses (Chik-fil-A or Hobby Lobby) try to isolate them, polarize and demonize them?

Some pretty good answers can be found in the film Grinding Down America. You can watch it on YouTube, but you have to find the different sections. Or, if you don’t mind the Spanish subtitles, the movie is in English, and it is well worth watching.

So, my first villain in “How could this happen”, is the media. And unlike Germany, the mainstream media in America is part of the problem, not the watchdog.

I mean seriously, if they can’t even report a story involving a gun correct AFTER it has happened, why do we even listen to them give a weather FORECAST?

Der Sturmer

Just create the indifference
Just create the indifference
Allow none to show sympathy
Allow none to show sympathy

 

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That Certain Jewish Je Ne Sais Quoi

On his bio, Y.B. ben Avraham claims he cannot write:

“Among Mr. ben Avraham’s panoply of noteworthy skills, writing is, sadly, not included.”

Self-deprecation is refreshing in the Age of the Ego and the Idiot. However, Avraham’s style reminds me of two Yiddish writers whom I studied in Hebrew, of course (I hope Israeli kids still study these remarkable, quintessentially Jewish writers): Sholem Aleichem and Yitskhok Peretz. This is a very good thing indeed. But don’t let what I’ve said go to your head. <grin> And don’t become too aware, or else you’ll lose the gift some older Jews still have.

Myron Pauli, a contributor to Barely A Blog, also has that certain Jewish je ne sais quoi. The younger generation of writers, Jewish and gentile, is like dessicated dust by comparison. Or dry good, which is how Irishman Oscar Wilde referred to American books.

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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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