Saturday, April 09, 2005

Column: Warnings and More

Last week I asked a lot of questions and gave no answers. I guess that’s ok. The point is that a lot of questions need to be asked. As I write, I ask myself what it is that I must convey to you, most importantly at this time.

Last week I also talked about the dire warnings of the Rabbis in the Talmud and specifically in Sanhedrin about the end of days. “Let it come but I don’t want to see it…” is from Sanhedrin 98b – one that I mentioned last week.

To follow up on my promise to bring more relevant quotes from Sanhedrin I bring you the following warnings from the Rabbis about the end of days if the Jewish People fail to return to Hashem and keep the Torah:

"In the generation in which the Son of David will come, there will be a
diminishing of scholars, and those who remain will see agony and sorrow,
and great troubles and harsh decrees will be renewed; before the first
passes, the next shall come" (Sandhedrin, 97a).
"If you see a generation with troubles that come upon it as a river, wait
for him (the Messiah)..." (ibid 98a)
"In the footsteps of the Messiah, brazenness will spread and value will be
debased; the vine will give its fruit in plenty and wine will still be dear
and none will admonish; the house of gathering of scholars will become
harlotry; the Galilee will be destroyed and the people of the borders will
wander from town to town and none will have mercy on them; the wisdom of
the scribes will be despised and pious men scorned and the truth will be
absent and the face of the generation will be as that of the dog; the young
will shame the elderly and the great will have to stand before the small;
the son will deal obscenely with his father and the daughter shall rise
against her mother and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and
the members of his household will be a man's enemies... And upon whom can
we rely? Only on our Father in Heaven..."

"The Son of David shall not come until the informers shall multiply...until
the kingdom shall all become deniers (of Torah)... until they despair of
being redeemed" (Ibid 97a).

"The Son of David will not come until the (evil) kingdom shall conquer
Israel for nine months" (Ibid 98b). Which led Ulla and Rabba to say: "Let
him come and let me not see it". (Ibid)

I often tell people that the Jews in America are more similar to the Sephardim in Israel than the Ashkenazim in their beliefs and approach to Judaism. The Jews in America and the Sephardim in Israel share the experience of drifting slowly away from Judaism because of social and economic reasons and pressures. This contrasts with many Ashkenazim in Israel who left religion out of ideology – rejecting Torah and actually seeing it as the cause of all our troubles – the thing that made us different and separate and drew the hatred of the nations.

Those Ashkenazim have always held the reins of power in Israel and they always spoke to American Jews – whose money and support they needed – as if they were good yidden, Jews that shared basic Jewish values and beliefs.

The truth is quite different. Hertzl dreamed of and Israel in the style of the assimilated Jews of Vienna and Ben Gurion implemented policies that he hoped would fulfill the promise of that dream – bringing economic and social hardship onto the religious community in Israel.

The criticisms that have always been leveled at the religious by the secular – they don’t work, they don’t serve in the army, they were not the leaders of the pioneer movement – were met by the religious Zionists as a challenge and those religious Zionists became the pioneers of Judea, Samaria, and Aza, the best and most dedicated soldiers in the army, and productive members of the economy in every field of endeavor.

For that attempt to be the best citizens they could be they are rewarded now with the expulsion plan – after putting Sharon in power based on the opposite platform. To say that hate is driving all of this still – hate for the Torah and hate for the Rabbis – and those that follow the ancient path of Judaism, is something that I hate to say, but I touch upon the subject to raise yet one more question:

Which side of history and the unfolding of events are American Jews really and naturally on and which side should American Jews be taking in the struggle? There is much at stake and the believing Jews of Israel are again under fire and not just in Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron. Israel’s Jews of faith have few friends and American Jews who drifted away slowly and not because of Marxist ideology are really closer to the believing Jews of Israel than to those that hold the reins and seek the expulsion and destruction of the communities of good Jews of faith.


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