Judaism


By: Yishai Ametza

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

It is amazing that while the opposite it true these days, the 20th century black intellectuals prominent before Rev. King had regarded the Zionist movement favorably because of their own strong impulses for self-determination. W.E.B. DuBois in 1919 wrote, “The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews.” In 1941, DuBois elaborated that Palestine was “the only refuge that harassed Jewry has today.”

During Israel’s War of Independence, Menachem Begin recalled that Dr. Ralph Bunche, Jr. conveyed to him, “I can understand you. I am also a member of a persecuted minority.”

Dr. King’s empathic awareness revealed a profound understanding of both the Jews’ complex embrace of Zionism, and the thinly veiled Jew hatred inherent in anti-Zionism:

“After 2000 years of exile, the Jewish People has emerged traumatized. The source of that trauma has been the constant insecurity and fear that characterized most of the Diaspora, in most parts of the world. It is a product of landlessness, massacres, periodic expulsion and flight, persecution by tyrants and abuse by the Church and Mosque who encouraged anti-Semitism to satisfy their own insecurities and political desires. …Physical security for the Jews has traditionally been improved in a number of ways: usefulness, mobility, bribery and assimilation. Psychological responses to this insecurity and trauma are well known: self-hatred and blame, identification with and appeasement of abusers, obsessive fantasy of a future paradise on earth. These solutions and responses are so integrated into the Jewish psyche that they have been passed down from generation to generation, displaying themselves even in relatively free societies, even in America and the recently liberated homeland, Israel. …

“Despite its significance to the Jewish Nation, the State of Israel has failed to alleviate most of this trauma, and has not reduced the levels of anti-Semitism — it has simply allowed anti-Semites to masquerade themselves under the new banner of “anti-Zionism”. We cannot expect anti-Semitism to disappear — Jewish existence and Jewish philosophy will always be threatening to its children: Christianity, and Islam… The trauma and insecurity, on the other hand, is within our power to diminish, should we decide to do so… “And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is anti-Semitism…The anti-Semite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular, in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the anti-Semite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just ‘anti-Zionist’!”

These very true words were the words of Reverend dr. King, people who are sorely missed today. Instead we have these demagogues and anti-semitic fools like Jesse Jackson.

Think… just think, of someone saying that he wants the destruction of America because he sees the American identity as racist. And just think that this person constantly denies being anti-American because he does not hate all Americans, only America and all those who believe America should exist.
Now. replace “Jewish” for “American” and “Israel” for “America” you’ll understand the absudity of the argument that one can be anti-Zionist but not anti-Jewish.

Among the many lies that exist in our world, none is greater (or easier to refute) than the claim that Zionism is not an essential part of Judaism or the claim that anti-Zionism is unrelated to anti-semitism.

In order to understand why, it is first necessary to explain Zionism and anti-Zionism.

A modern secular movement called ‘Zionism’ was founded in the 19th century by Theodor Herzl, but the belief that Jews belong in Zion (the biblical term for Jerusalem) is as old as the Jewish people. Thousands of years ago the very first Zionist as born in Mesopetamia, his name back then was Avrom who later became known as Avrohom Avinu (Abraham our Father), his son was the next ‘Zionist’ leader: Yitzchok, then Yaakov. All of them were the early Zionists. Some hundreds years later another Zionist leader was born, Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher). He led us out of Egypt and brought us to the border of our land where the next great Zionist leader, Yehoshua Bin Nun arose and brought us into to the land. Years after that we had the shoftim (judges) of Israel, the Yishuv (community) leaders of those times who fought against our enemies in the Land, and after that we had our very first Zionist King: Shaul HaMelech who was succeeded by the greatest Zionist leader after Moshe: Dovid HaMelech (King David) from whose lineage Moshiach will come. Dovid was succeeded by his son Shlomo, yet another great and wise Zionist king.

Unfortunately many years after Shlomo HaMelech our ancestors were exiled and the Holy Temple destroyed. But our ancestors kept hoping and praying for our return to Zion, and indeed.. seventy years later they returned to their, to our homeland. That was the first Zionist return to Eretz Yisroel. Now let us make a huge timeskip in history. We are now in the time of Rabbi Akiva and bar Kochva. The second temple had just been destroyed by the Romans and the holy city of Jerusalem had fallen. Bar Kochva’s great revolt was crushed and our people were yet again in another exile, an exile that would last for another 2000 year, and even now we are kind of still in it since we’re lacking the third Beis Hamikdash (temple). From the time of Rabbi Akiva up until now we pray every day, three times daily; “v’techazena einenu b’shuvcha l’zion’ – May our eyes behold Your return to Zion. For 2000 years this is what the religious Jew prays, OUR return to Zion.

So, starting in 586 B.C., with the destruction of the first Jewish state, Jews were already Zionists in that they fervently prayed to return to Zion. While the movement known by the specific name “Zionism” is modern, the movement of Jews returning to Zion is more than 2,500 years old. That is why the claim that Zionism – the return of the Jewish people to Zion – is not part of Judaism is a theological and historical lie.

The RambaN (Nachmonides) even writes in his Sefer HaMitzvos Mitzvoh #4, that it is a Mitzvoh(!) to conquer the land of Israel. Just as the RambaM (Maimonides) wrote in his letter to the chochomim (wise Torah scholars) of Marseile, that the only reason that we are still in exile is because the Jewish people did not learn the way of warfare, in order to defend ourselves and to re-conquer the land of Israel.

Judaism has always consisted of three components: G-d, Torah and Eretz Yisroel (the land of Israel), roughly translated as faith, practice and peoplehood. And this Jewish people was conceived of as living in the Jewish country called Israel. One can argue that the modern state of Israel was founded at the expense of Arabs living in the geographic area known as Palestine (there was never a country or a nation called Palestine though); but that in no way negates the indisputable fact that Zionism is an integral part of Judaism. Nor does the fact that some Jews who have abandoned Judaism are opposed to Zionism, nor that a tiny sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews (Neturei Karta) believe that only Moshiach can found a Jewish state in Israel.

When anti-Israel Muslims or any other foolish leftists demonstrate and chant, “Yes to Judaism, No to Zionism,” they are inventing a new Judaism out of their hatred for Israel. It would be as if anti-Muslims marched around chanting, “Yes to Allah, No to the Koran.” Just as Allah, Muhammad and the Koran are inextricable components of Islam, so G-d, Torah and Eretz Yisroel are of Judaism.

But, one might argue, even if Zionism is as much a part of Judaism as any other part of the Jewish Bible, the modern Jewish state of Israel has no right to exist because it displaced many indigenous Arabs, known later as Palestinians.

Before responding to this, it is crucial to understand that this argument – that Israel’s founding was illegitimate – is completely unrelated to anti-Zionism. An intellectually honest person who believes Israel’s founding is illegitimate would still have to acknowledge that Zionism is an inseparable part of Judaism.

But the argument that Israel is illegitimate because its founding led to 600,000 to 700,000 Arab refugees is as anti-Jewish as is anti-Zionism. Virtually every country in the world was founded by displacing some of the people who had lived there, and many of those countries did far worse to far more people than Israel did. Therefore, anyone who calls only for Israel’s destruction had better explain why, of all the states on earth whose founding was accompanied by the displacement of others, only the Jewish state is illegitimate.

Take Pakistan, for example. Unlike the Jewish state of Israel, which had existed twice before in history, there was never a country called Pakistan, nor was there ever any other independent Muslim country in the part of India that was carved out to create Pakistan. Moreover, if the Jewish state of Israel is illegitimate because it created 700,000 Arab refugees, why isn’t the Muslim state of Pakistan, which created more than eight million Hindu refugees, illegitimate?

The answer is obvious. When people isolate the one Jewish state in the world for sanctions, opprobrium and delegitimizing, they are doing so because it is the Jewish state. And that, quite simply, is why anti-Zionism is simply another form of Jew-hatred.

You can criticize Israel all you want. That does not make you an anti-semite. But if you are an anti-Zionist or advocate the destruction of the Jewish state, then let’s be clear: You are an enemy of the Jews and of Judaism, and the word for such a person is and will aways be: Anti-Semite.

Advertisements

destruction.jpg

 

It is said about Yerushalayim that whomever mourns her properly will merit to see her rebuilt. This year we have a new churban on our shoulders, just two years old. Furthermore, we have another one threatening on the horizon. Let us remember and mourn about this churban too – and let itbe an inspiration for us to put a better fight for the upcoming struggle!

It is told of Napoleon, that upon passing a synagogue during the Ninth of Av, looked inside and saw Jews sitting on the floor and weeping. When he inquired further he was told the Jews were mourning over the destruction of their Holy Temple. “How long ago did this occur?”, he asked. “About 1,500 years ago”. “In that case”, said Napolean, “there is no doubt that their Temple will be rebuilt. A people capable of crying for so long over its destroyed Temple and Land will eventually find its way home.”

While the Jewish People remained in the Exile, this was a nice story. Without a doubt, its optimistic message encouraged our people during times of severe hardships. Napoleon was keen enough to realize that a people who relives its past will succeed in conquering its future. Indeed, our sages have already stated that, “He who mourns for Jerusalem will merit to share in her joy”. (Tractate Taanit, 30)

However there exists one little problem. All this mourning was appropriate when we were forced into the Exile, being held at the mercy of the gentile nations and thus unable to forge our national destiny. In such a case, it was fitting to mourn “whole-heartedly” over our destroyed Temple and land. And today? One need not to have a Ph.D. in history to see how things have changed since the times of Napoleon. Then – the land of Israel lay desolate; today it is rebuilt. Then – Jews dreamt about coming to Israel; today Jews not only live in Israel, but they rule over it. Then – all we could do was cry… but today???

Is mourning the only imperative for today? Is it not a bit absurd to lament in the synagogue of the Exile, beseeching G-d for a speedy redemption, when all one need do is packing one’s bags and board an eastbound El Al. Is it enough to stand down by the “Wall” of the Temple Mount wailing over the destruction when it is in our hands to erect the fallen city; in our hands to purify the site from the foxes who degrade it, and yes, even in our hands to rebuild the Holy Temple! The historic opportunity to rebuild and renew burns in our hands, and instead we find 101 excuses to disregard it.

Fellow Jews! Let us open our eyes and appreciate the wondrous miracles that Hashem has granted us – miracles we have not witnessed since the days of our exodus from Egypt! He who cried, and only cried in the days of Napoleon did right; his tears were sincere. But today, he who only cries and does not combine his tears with real action – his lamentations leave much to be desired. His entreaties go unheeded, for G-d urges us on as he did to the Jews before their crossing of the Red Sea: “Why do you cry to Me? Speak to the Children of Israel – that they go forward!” What are you crying for? Go forward and determine your destiny! Arise and act to sanctify G-d’s Name!

Yes, something has happened since the day Napoleon walked into that shteeble on the Ninth of Av. Let us join those who are ready not only to cry, but also to do!

be-jewish.jpgI just read an article on Arutz Sheva about the weakening of Jewish roots in the world Jewry. While the Israeli Jewry feels more Jewish. This is an perfect example of how chutz l’aretz is affecting us. We can sit in shul whole day, we can eat kosher and live in Brooklyn, Boro Park, or wherever we have our communities. Yes, we can even have our own community at SL, but it’s no Eretz Yisroel. Our soul, the Jewish soul is yearning for it’s return to Eretz Yisroel. We even have a kotel and some Zionist organisations at SL… And all of this is because of the yearning of our soul.

So… what are we waiting for? “We see that the Jewish attachment of millions of Jews around the world is getting weaker,” Jewish Agency chief Ze’ev Bielski said Thursday at the Ruppin Conference for Immigration and Social Integration. “In the past, every Jew [sic] spoke Hebrew, but today many Jews prefer to have their children study physics instead of Hebrew, so that they will be able to go to university.”

So.. since we cannot fit in the goyische society less we assimilate. That left us with only one option, and a Torah option! Make aliyah, leave, go, emigrate to Israel. As you know we a chazon, a ‘vision’ of shivat Zion. Every day we pray three times daily “Va techazena einenu b’shuvcha L’zion” (May our eyes behold thy return to Zion). With Pesach we utter the joyfull wish of “L’shana habo b’yerushalayim!” – next in Jerusalem. But why do so many of us, stay in chutz l’aretz? The Jew, whose sojourn in an exile two milenia old as corrupted and perverted the most basic of real Jewish values. Bearded and piously payotic, clean shaven and woolly skullcapped, knittedyarmulked they all join with all the others in the ecumenical worship of the Golden Calf of our times: The Golden Exile.

Go up to the Land concerning which they shed hot tears every Tisha B’Av, anniversary of the national day of national mourning? Actually uproot themselves from the Exile and go dwell in the Zion and Jerusalem they piously seek every year, “next year?”

But the chandeliers and the expensive shaitel wig and the quicksand, which is the good life are far more powerful than commandments.

“For you are to pass over the Jordan to go in to possess the Land which the L-rd your G-d giveth you, and you shall possess it and dwell therein…” Deuteronomy 11.

“And they scorned the desirable land…” Psalm 106

And so they invent all kinds of rationales, all cloaked in a tallis that is all blue. “Israel is also Exile…” “This is not the beginning of the redemption, merely the footsteps of Moshiach…”

Can one look at a state that rises miraculously after two millennia and watch an ingathering of exiles from a hundred lands and not see in this the beginning of the great vision and redemption? Regardless of the sins and abominations in the land? No, that which we do not wish to do, we do not. But first, we must stamp the swine with the halachic label of kosher…

Nothing moves the “religious…” they have been inordinately twisted and corrupted by twenty centuries of abnormality. One simply cannot live as a minority for twenty centuries, two thousand years, supping at other’s tables, pleading for a smile, a tolerant act, love, and remain normal. One cannot live in a stranger’s home and remain stable. A minority must, of necessity, inherit insecurities, complexes, fear, and instability. A minority must, of necessity, be exposed to and influenced by the majority culture that insidiously enters, corrupts, changes, lays its permanent hand on Judaism, so that the Jew assumes the Gentile value and assumes too, that it is Jewish.”

But on the other hand in Israel, a recent poll shows that half of Israelis feel they are Jewish first, and 45% says they are Israeli first. The remaining 5% told the pollsters – of the Mutagim Polling Institute, in honor of Israel‘s 59th Independence Day – that neither title represented them. The poll found that 82% of those who are religious (92% of Hareidi-religious) and 64% percent of those who said they were right-wing, said they were more Jewish than Israeli. On the other hand, 72% of secular Israelis said they were more Israeli. These numbers says great deal about the goyische influence of chutz l’aretz on the Jewish people. We get influenced by the goyischkeit, and the only way to avoid this, is to make Aliyah and live in a Jewish state.

New immigrants to Israel also feel more Jewish. The numbers in a recent Ruppin Academic Center survey that nearly 85% of Ethiopian olim (immigrants), 80% of those who came from the former Soviet Union, and a bit more than 60% of Western olim characterize themselves as more Jewish than Israeli.

So… let us not wait to be a victim, twice over..

Why are we there, why are we in SL? Ofcourse for some people it’s a fun game, for others it’s more then just a game. We all have our own reasons for our second life. But even knowing this, the question remains… “why did we make a Jewish community in SL?” , “Why did we build shul’s, yeshivos, etc.” And WHY do we celebrate our (Jewish) holidays both in RL (which is logical) and at sl… It’s ‘just’ an digital world, a Matrix.

Ever since the churban we – the Jewsh people – had a desire to cling on to our tradition. During the siege of Yerushalayim, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai knew that the city would fall. So he asked Vespasian for Yavneh. There the foundation was laid, for the survival of the Jewish people in dispersed communities without a central Temple. Their proclamations included the replacement of sacrifices by charity, repentance, and the fixation of initially set prayers (the Amidah, Shemah and Aleinu). In addition they began the establishment of an educational system for children and the fixing of the Biblical cannon. All of this was because of their (the rabbi’s) love for the tradition.

Later in the history we see that everywhere we came, we build yeshivos, shul’s, mikve’s, we ate only kosher and kept the Torah.

So… what was this, that made us keep the Torah. Even when we went astray, we came back to Yiddishkeit. Like this pope in the middle ages who found out that he was Jewish and finally returned to the religion of his forefathers. Or this anti-semitic Russian-orthodox archbishop, who was in reality a Jew who was abducted by the soldiers, and in the end gave his life to save the Jewish community.

This, my friends… is the Jewish soul. In the Tanya the Jewish soul is described as “An actual part of the supernal G-d.”

To understand this, picture a thick black cloth held over a lit flashlight. Now, prick a hole in it with a sharp-tipped object–and a pinpoint of light shines through. The light is G-d, the cloth is the body, and that little pinpoint of light – the “portion of G-d”- is the soul. This means that the Jewish soul is a spark of G-dliness within every individual. It is the person’s responsibility to allow that spark to express itself through one’s thoughts, speech, and action, which are collectively known as the garments of the soul. Since the soul is a spark of G-dliness, it is considered to be infinite in its own right. The soul represents the individual’s eternal and unbreakable connection with the Almighty.

So… even though many of us are not observant yet, they still have the neshomme. And that spark of G-dliness is shining through their not yet observant life.

This is what made us build frum communities all around the world, this is what made the ‘secular’ Zionists fight for a Jewish state. And this is exactly the reason why we’ve build shul’s, mikvaot, a kotel, etc. in second life.

May we merit to see the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash (in RL and SL) soon, speedily and in our days…

B’ahavas Yisroel,