Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A Call From Shiloh To Rabbis, Leaders and Educators

I address these thoughts to Rabbis, educators and leaders of Jewish organizations who have been caught up with a renewed wave of critical attacks on Israel from within the Jewish community.

You are familiar with them if only because on these times of social media platforms but also because of the aggressive invasive nature of these attacks and the wide support certain Jewish media and members of the Rabbinate and academia lend to them.

We have completed the Ten Days of Penitence between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Most of you, at one time or another in the past few years, probably had occasion to comment on the Haftarah of the first day of Rosh Hashana.  The story of Hannah awakens thoughts of mercy, of pain, of being socially outcast, of feminism, of misogyny and other issues to which American Jewry especially is attuned.

The childless Hannah accompanies her husband with his second wife to the Tabernacle and in an act of courage, she prays at the Tabernacle for a son:

Hannah rose up...and she was in bitterness of soul--and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore...remember me, and not forget Thy handmaid...Now Hannah, she spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice could not be heard; therefore, Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her: 'How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.' And Hannah answered and said: 'No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thy handmaid for a wicked woman: for out of the abundance of my complaint and my vexation have I spoken hitherto.' Then Eli answered and said: 'Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.' And she said: 'Let thy servant find favor in thy sight.' So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad.

The Talmud states that "on Rosh HaShana Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were remembered by God and conceived sons" and in a braita explanation, Rabbi Elazar said:

"This is derived by means of a verbal analogy...it is written about Hannah: 'And the Lord remembered her' (I Samuel 1:19). And...the term remembering is derived from another instance of the term remembering, with regard to Rosh HaShana, as it is written: 'A solemn rest, memorial proclaimed with the blast of a shofar' (Leviticus 23:24). From here it is derived that Rachel and Hannah were remembered by God on Rosh HaShana."

Furthermore, "the meaning of one instance of the term revisiting is derived from another instance of the term revisiting. It is written about Hannah: 'And the Lord revisited Hannah' (I Samuel 2:21), and it is written about Sarah: 'And the Lord revisited Sarah” (Genesis 21:1). From here it is derived that just as Hannah was revisited on Rosh HaShana, so too, Sarah was revisited on Rosh HaShana.

You may wondering where I am going with this.  

My intention is simple: do you know about Shiloh?

The Tabernacle to where Elkanah, Penina and Hannah walked was located at Shiloh.

The Tabernacle was erected there by Joshua:

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled themselves together at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there

The tribal portions were divided amongst the tribes:

And Joshua cast lots for them in Shiloh before the LORD; and there Joshua divided the land unto the children of Israel according to their divisions.

Shiloh was where the tribe of Benjamin was permitted to unite with the rest of the tribes at the:

feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh...And they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying: 'Go and lie in wait in the vineyards; and see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin...And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives

Shiloh was where the Prophet Achiah berated a King of Israel when he was visited by Jeroboan's wife:

when Ahijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door, that he said: 'Come in, thou wife of Jeroboam; why feignest thou thyself to be another? for I am sent to thee with heavy tidings. Go, tell Jeroboam: Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel: Forasmuch as...thou hast not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments, and who followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in Mine eyes; but hast done evil above all that were before thee, and hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke Me, and hast cast Me behind thy back; therefore, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam,

And it where the children of Israel were told that

the land was subdued before them. 

and from where three men appointed from the tribes were told that they would be sent, to

arise, and walk through the land, and describe it according to their inheritance

We've recited these past two weeks the "Mi Sh'Anan, Hu Yaneinu" prayer numerous times, and among the geographic places mentioned in the 20 verses are Mount Moriah in Jerusalem (or perhaps East Jerusalem as some of your call it), Bet El, Mitzpah, Gilgal and Jericho, all located in what several Jewish leaders call the "West Bank".

What all this indicates, in all simplicity, is that a Jew cannot ignore that Judaism's religious, moral, ethical and philosophical values cannot be separated from our people's geographic history.  Not only time but place are essential to the reality of Jewishness.

As you are in the positions you are in, you should point out to the students, the youth and others who have been caught up with recycled non-to-anti-Zionist positions as if predicated on something called "occupation".

The land "occupied" is part of the historic Jewish homeland, first and foremost.  Not some far-flung colonial enterprise.  Indeed, it was the area intended to enjoy the right of "close settlement on the land as per the decision of the League of Nations and continuously confirmed.

Those who employ a veneer of "Judaism" in order to negate that reality, historical and contemporary, should and need be corrected.  Do not allow them to proclaim falsehood.

And that is your job.



"There is no Jewish existence without the Bible; it doesn't exist," the prime minister said. "In my opinion, there is also no Jewish future without the Bible."

And without the Bible and subsequent Jewish continuum of residency in the Land of Israel, the Jewish People loses its ability to grasp its geo-political Jewish identity.


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