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Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Temple is of Little Importance

The Temple is of Little Importance

One of the most puzzling elements of Jewish Tradition is the institution of sacrificial rites in the Temple. Although the Temple serves many purposes, sacrifices lie at the very heart of its mission. There are profound differences of opinion among the early and later commentators regarding how to understand the meaning of sacrifices. Are they really an integral part of Judaism, or simply a compromise to human weakness and something to be gradually abandoned?

image: http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BIN-OpEd-Experts-300×2501.png

Even more perplexing is the Torah’s demand that these sacrifices be “rei’ach nichoach LaShem” (normally translated as “a pleasant aroma to the Lord”). Commentators are troubled by this strange phrase, especially since it is repeated over and over throughout the biblical chapters related to sacrifices. What could such an expression mean? Since when does the Lord need to be approached with perfumes so as to make our requests favorable to Him? Such simplistic interpretations turn Judaism into a type of superstitious tradition not much different from pagan cults.

This question becomes even more pertinent when we realize that the expression “rei’ach nichoach LaShem” is indeed central to the sacrifices and therefore to the very essence of the Temple.

The definitive explanation of this unusual expression was given by Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1513-1586) in his work Ma’asei Hashem (The Works of God):(2):

The phrase ‘a pleasant aroma to the Lord’ does not reflect the absolute quality of the sacrifices; on the contrary, it conveys a possible flaw in their nature. In case the worshiper imagines that he indeed has achieved atonement for his sin by just offering a sacrifice, the Torah tells him that this is far from true. The sacrifice is only ‘a pleasant aroma,’ a foretaste of what is yet to come. If the worshiper does not repent, the Almighty will then say (Yeshayahu 1:11): ‘For what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’

The concept of aroma is attributed to the Almighty because of its metaphoric connotation. Just as a pleasant aroma coming from afar bears witness to something good in the offing, so every time the Torah uses the phrase ‘a pleasant aroma’ in connection with the sacrifices, [the meaning is that] it should be to the Almighty as a foretaste of the good deeds that the worshiper is planning to perform.

It is called a ‘pleasant aroma’ because anything that can be detected by the senses before it actually reaches the person is called a smell, as is written in the Book of Iyov (39.25): ‘He smells war from afar,’ which implies that he sensed the battle even before he actually reached it. Every human being who wants to bring a sacrifice must know that it should be done for the purpose of reconciling with God. Consequently, the sacrifice is to be brought as a foretaste of good deeds that are yet to come.”

It is in this light that we have to understand the purpose of the Temple. The Temple service is not the ultimate form of worship that Judaism dreams about; it is only the beginning, a foretaste of what still needs to come. Its purpose is to function, through metaphoric rites, as a medium through which people are stimulated to take their first steps toward an inner transformation. The Temple is to be an educational institution. As such, it offers man the first step to perfection, but it is not the culmination. That must take place within the heart of man and can be evident in his deeds only outside the Temple court.

Let's Rebuild the Temple Now!

When the Temple’s educational purpose is no longer understood, or is rejected, its existence is no longer of any value. For thousands of years, on the date of the destruction of the Temple, Jews have the custom of fasting to remind themselves that the first step to real spirituality and repentance is to renew their desire to create a foretaste.

It is not the culmination of repentance that needs to be achieved but its sincere commencement. This is what the Sages had in mind when they said, in the name of God, “Open for Me a gate of repentance the size of the eye of a needle, and I will open for you large gates in which infinite light will enter.”(3) According to this, the Temple has no inherent value. It is only a means to something that no physical object can contain. On Tish’a B’Av, we do not mourn the loss of the Temple but rather the loss of its message, which we no longer seem to grasp.

Whether or not the Temple will be re-built is not our concern, nor is it our dream. It is of little importance. What we dream of is the day when we will be able to transform ourselves and reconstruct the Temple’s message within our hearts.

Read more at http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/45765/the-temple-is-of-little-importance-opinion/#MqlI6VlTJffQr1Pw.99

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Will God or the Messiah Build the Third Holy Temple?

Will God or the Messiah Build the Third Holy Temple?

“And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.” (Exodus 25:8)

Efforts are underway to make the Third Jewish Temple a reality. From preparing vessels to be used in ritualistic service to raising red heifers, controversy arises when questioning who can exactly prepare for and construct the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The opinion that the Third Temple will be built by human hands and that the Messiah will have a major role in its rebuilding is most famously ascribed to the Rambam, a renowned 12th century Jewish Bible scholar from Spain. Rambam taught that the very fact that the Temple is being rebuilt will be a major sign that humanity has reached the End of Days.

There is an opposing Jewish philosophy that asserts that the Third Temple already exists in Heaven and will descend onto the Temple Mount at the time God deems is proper. This position is generally associated with Rashi, the preeminent Biblical commentator who lived in 11th century France.

Which is correct? And what will the role of the Messiah be in building the Third Temple?

One way of reconciling these points of view is related to the two accounts of Temple construction in the Bible. The details of the First Temple, known as Solomon’s Temple, are described in the Book of Kings, beginning in the sixth chapter. This description is extensive and quite detailed. The First and Second Temples were built according to the directions that appear in the Book of Kings.

Let's Rebuild the Temple Now!

There is another description of Temple architecture in the Book of Ezekiel, beginning in chapter 40. This description is much less detailed, veiled in ambiguous prophecy and much more difficult to understand.

The two descriptions come together in the teaching that the Messiah will oversee the construction of those elements of the Third Temple, which can be understood from the Book of Kings. Following that stage of work on the Third Temple, God will explain the construction elements from the prophecy of Ezekiel that are not currently understandable. It is this knowledge that will come from Heaven, allowing the Messiah and his laborers to complete the building.

Another way to reconcile the two opinions is to consider that the Jewish people are commanded to build a Temple in Jerusalem to serve as a Sanctuary for God. Thus, the physical building is in the hands of the Jewish nation. Once the Messiah and his workers complete the external structure, the Presence of God will descend, filling the Third Temple with holiness.

Until the End of Days, we will not know which of these opinions is correct. However, world-renowned Temple Mount activist and founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation Rabbi Yehuda Glick told Breaking Israel News why he is solidly in the camp of those who believe that the Third Temple will be built by human hands.

“Anyone who understands the concept of Bet Hamikdash – The Temple – knows that there nothing that contradicts this concept more than a Temple from heaven! The whole idea of the mikdash [a holy place] is that we build Him a sanctuary just as He creates us a world.”

Read more at http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/45847/will-god-or-the-messiah-build-the-third-holy-temple/#FziOmdW847dTQ2Ge.99

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Was Jesus Jewish?

Was Jesus Jewish?
The Gospel seems to offer evidence that Jesus was Jewish, but centuries later the degree of his so-called Jewishness is still something to argue about.
By Ronen Shnidman | Feb. 18, 2014 | 11:08 AM | 20

Jesus Christ Pantocrator - ancient mosaic from Hagia Sophia in Turkey.

Jesus Christ Pantocrator – ancient mosaic from Hagia Sophia in Turkey. This ancient mosaic of Jesus Christ is from Turkey, where Aramaic was the common language at the time of his life. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Along with the centuries-old discourse concerning the appearance of Jesus – with descriptions ranging from a Nordic-type man with blond hair and blue eyes, to a black-skinned person – a major subject of controversy still surrounding the founder of Christianity is his Jewishness.

Early on, the Gospel of Matthew (1:1-17) recounts Jesus’ familial descent from the patriarch Abraham. Its author rattles off a list of Jesus’ forefathers, from Abraham through the Davidic dynasty during the Kingdom of Judah, via the Jewish community that was exiled to Babylon by Judah’s conqueror Nebuchadnezzar II, and to the era of Zerubbabel, the leader who led a group of Jews back to the Land of Israel 70 years after the Babylonian exile. It concludes the list with mention of Jesus’ father Joseph, meaning that Jesus was Jewish on his father’s side.

Jesus’ mother Mary is usually considered to be Jewish as well. Indeed, the Gospel of Luke (1:1-40) suggests that her extended family was Jewish as well. When recounting the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, Luke refers to Mary as a cousin of Elizabeth, whom he says came from a priestly Jewish family and was also the wife of a priest named Zachary, who served in the Temple in Jerusalem. If Mary was indeed Jewish, this would make her son Jewish according to halakha (traditional Jewish religious law), and thus even according to the strictest ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel today.

Moreover, if one is to play an ancient version of the game of “Jewish geography” – all Jesus’ disciples and family members have Jewish names that were popular among the Jewish population of Judea in the first century C.E. This might not be obvious because their names in English are taken from the Latin version of the Greek translation of the original Hebrew/Aramaic names.

In any event, Jesus would most likely have been referred to by his followers and contemporaries as Yeshua, the Hebrew equivalent of Joshua. (After thousands of years of using the name Jesus, though, most people would probably find the name “Josh of Nazareth” much less inspiring.) Similarly, “Mary” comes from the Hebrew name Miriam, and so on.

If that were not enough, the Gospel even mentions Jesus going to synagogue on the Jewish Sabbath. According to the Gospel of Mark (1:21), he preached on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Capernaum (latter-day Kfar Nahum) on the banks of the Sea of Galilee – something which the congregants would likely not have allowed had Jesus not been Jewish.

Interestingly enough, the issue of the Jewishness of Jesus, and even of the New Testament itself, preoccupied Jewish communities in Europe and the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) in the early part of the last century. One of the founders of Reform Judaism, the German rabbi Abraham Geiger, argued in a series of lectures that Jesus was Jewish and also promoted a liberal interpretation of Jewish religious law.

In the Yishuv itself, radical Zionist ideologue Y.H. Brenner wrote a column in the socialist Zionist newspaper Hapoel Hatzair on November 24, 1910, arguing that the New Testament was actually an integral part of Jewish culture. The New Testament was “our book, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh,” Brenner wrote. The article was very controversial, with many intellectuals taking sides in what became known as the Brenner Affair.

For his part, S.A. Horodetsky, another Zionist intellectual of this era, and a scholar of Hasidim and Jewish mysticism, went even further, writing in the Zionist daily He-Atid (The Future), “Jesus was a Jew in all of his heart, who lived as a Jew and whose thoughts were Jewish.” He compared Jesus’ teaching as similar to those of the 18th-century founder of Hasidism, Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (aka the Baal Shem Tov). Even the then-young David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s future, first prime minister wrote in a Jerusalem newspaper in support of Brenner.

Of course, when it came to the issue of the Jewish nature of the New Testament and the question of whether a Jew could believe in Jesus and still be considered a real Jew – there was (and still is) vociferous opposition. However, all of the various parties to the Brenner Affair agreed that, at least in ethnic terms, Jesus was a Jew.

Taken from, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/1.574873 on 07/28/2015

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Por qué los palestinos no pueden firmar la paz con Israel

Por qué los palestinos no pueden firmar la paz con Israel

Hay dos motivos por los cuales los palestinos no firmarán un acuerdo de paz con Israel.

por Khaled Abu Toameh

Los norteamericanos y los europeos que continúan hablando de la necesidad de resucitar el paralizado proceso de paz en Oriente Medio siguen ignorando estos dos factores, e insisten en que la paz es posible y en que la pelota está en manos de Israel. No se dan cuenta de que, para lograr la paz, los líderes deben preparar a su pueblo para el compromiso y la tolerancia.

De hecho, no es exacto decir que los líderes palestinos no han preparado a su pueblo para la paz; más bien, llevan mucho tiempo incitándolo contra Israel, hasta tal punto que se ha vuelto prácticamente imposible hablar de cualquier forma de compromiso entre ambos pueblos.

Desde su creación en 1994, la Autoridad Palestina (AP) ha consagrado la mayor parte de sus energías y de su actividad propagandística a deslegitimar y aislar a Israel. Resulta irónico que esa incitación prosiguiera incluso mientras la AP negociaba con Israel para tratar de alcanzar un acuerdo de paz.

Si quieres hacer las paces con Israel no le dices a los tuyos una y otra vez que el Muro Occidental carece de significado religioso para los judíos y que, en realidad, es una propiedad sagrada musulmana. No puedes hacer las paces con Israel si sigues negando la historia o los vínculos judíos con el país. Consideremos, por ejemplo, lo que Hanan Ashrawi, miembro de la OLP, dijo como respuesta a unas declaraciones de Barack Obama en las que éste reconocía la historia judía:

“Una vez más, [Obama] ha adoptado el discurso de la ideología sionista. Lo hizo cuando vino a esta región y habló del regreso de los judíos a su tierra, y de que éste es un Estado judío”.

Nunca podrás hacer las paces con Israel si sigues diciendo a tu pueblo y al resto del mundo que el sionismo se creó para llevar a cabo el proyecto judío de dominación mundial. Y eso es precisamente lo que el embajador de la Autoridad Palestina en Chile, Imad Nabil Yadaa, dijo en una conferencia sobre la paz entre israelíes y palestinos celebrada en Santiago.

Imad Nabil Yadaa, embajador de la Autoridad Palestina en Chile, declaró el 15 de mayo que los Protocolos de los Sabios de Sión (una falsificación antisemita) contiene pruebas de un plan para la dominación judía del mundo. En el mismo discurso, Yadaa declaró que Imad Nabil Yadaa, embajador de la Autoridad Palestina en Chile, declaró el 15 de mayo que los Protocolos de los Sabios de Sión (una falsificación antisemita) contiene pruebas de un plan para la dominación judía del mundo. En el mismo discurso, Yadaa declaró que “no hay un pueblo judío” y que los palestinos no reconocen su existencia. (Imagen: pantallazo de un vídeo de ISGAP).

 

Imad Nabil Yadaa, embajador de la Autoridad Palestina en Chile, declaró el 15 de mayo que los Protocolos de los Sabios de Sión (una falsificación antisemita) contiene pruebas de un plan para la dominación judía del mundo. En el mismo discurso, Yadaa declaró que “no hay un pueblo judío” y que los palestinos no reconocen su existencia. (Imagen: pantallazo de un vídeo de ISGAP).

Será imposible hacer las paces con Israel mientras la Autoridad Palestina diga a su pueblo que los judíos utilizaron cerdos salvajes para expulsar a los campesinos palestinos de sus campos y hogares en el Margen Occidental. Es lo que el presidente de la AP, Mahmud Abás, dijo en una conferencia propalestina en Ramala.

Según la Autoridad Palestina, los judíos también han utilizado ratas para echar a residentes árabes de sus casas en la Ciudad Vieja de Jerusalén. La agencia oficial de noticias palestina, Wafa, que informa directamente a la oficina de Abás, afirmó en un comunicado que “las ratas se han convertido en un arma israelí para desplazar y expulsar a residentes árabes” de la Ciudad Vieja de Jerusalén. Según la agencia,

“Los colonos inundan de ratas la Ciudad Vieja (…) las sueltan para aumentar el sufrimiento de los residentes [árabes] y para obligarlos a desalojar sus hogares y abandonar la ciudad”.

Estos mensajes llegan a los palestinos no sólo a través de Hamás, sino de la Autoridad Palestina, financiada por Occidente, la interlocutora de Israel en las conversaciones de paz. Dichos mensajes son transmitidos a través de mezquitas, medios de comunicación y declaraciones públicas de dirigentes palestinos.

Esto supone un añadido a la campaña mundial de la AP para aislar, deslegitimar y demonizar a Israel y a los israelíes. Los dirigentes y representantes de la Autoridad Palestina que siguen acusando a Israel de crímenes de guerra y de genocidio no están preparando, desde luego, a su pueblo para la paz. Al contrario: esas acusaciones sólo sirven para agitar aún más a los palestinos en contra de Israel.

Esta clase de incitación, en realidad, es lo que empuja a cada vez más palestinos en brazos de los rivales de la AP, sobre todo de Hamás. Si sigues diciendo a tu pueblo que Israel no quiere la paz y que sólo pretende destruir las vidas de los palestinos y robar sus tierras, no hay forma de que llegue a aceptar cualquier tipo de reconciliación, y menos aún la paz, con los israelíes.

Pero no se trata sólo de la falta de educación para la paz o de la incitación antiisraelí.

Es hora de que la comunidad internacional reconozca el hecho de que ningún dirigente palestino está legitimado para alcanzar un acuerdo de paz duradero con Israel. Ello se debe a que ningún dirigente, ni en Ramala ni en la Franja de Gaza, está autorizado para poner fin al conflicto con los israelíes.

Si Yaser Arafat no pudo aceptar en el año 2000 la generosa oferta del entonces primer ministro Ehud Barak en la cumbre de Camp David, ¿quién es Mahmud Abás para hacer cualquier tipo de concesión a Israel? Se dice que Arafat dijo que rechazó la oferta porque no quería acabar tomando el té con el asesinado presidente egipcio Anuar el Sadat, el primer líder árabe que firmó un tratado de paz con Israel.

En muchos sentidos, Abás no puede culparse más que a sí mismo por la situación que afronta actualmente. Si le dices a tu gente que nunca harás concesiones, ¿cómo vas a firmar un acuerdo de paz con Israel?

Quienes creen que el sucesor de Abás será capaz de hacer verdaderas concesiones a Israel se engañan a sí mismos. Es hora de admitir que ningún líder palestino presente o futuro está autorizado para ofrecer siquiera la menor concesión a los israelíes. Cualquier palestino que ose hablar de ello es considerado inmediatamente un traidor.

Éstas son las dos razones por las que el proceso de paz en Oriente Medio seguirá atrapado en un círculo vicioso. Para poder hacer las paces con Israel hay que preparar al pueblo para ello. Es algo que la Autoridad Palestina no ha hecho. Y por eso no veremos surgir a un líder palestino moderado en un futuro inmediato.

Segun tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/iymj/mo/Por-que-los-palestinos-no-pueden-firmar-la-paz-con-Israel.html el lunes, 27 de julio de 2015.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

El acuerdo con Irán y el calendario judío

El acuerdo con Irán y el calendario judío

No es una coincidencia que el acuerdo haya sido firmado la semana pasada.

por

Se corrieron muchas veces las fechas límite antes de que el acuerdo con Irán fuera sellado la semana pasada.

El acuerdo interino inicial establecía como fecha límite el mes de julio del 2014. Eso fue extendido hasta noviembre, y luego a abril del 2015, lo cual vino seguido de una “última fecha límite” fijada para el 30 de junio, la cual una vez más fue ignorada y postergada para el 7 de julio. Pero incluso aquello no se cumplió. Y no fue sino hasta el martes 14 de julio que Irán y las potencias mundiales anunciaron que habían sellado un acuerdo nuclear final que eliminaría la mayor parte de las sanciones económicas a Teherán y le permitiría continuar con muchos de los aspectos más controversiales de su programa nuclear, así como con su programa de producción de misiles.

Y para aquellos de nosotros que somos sensibles a los mensajes divinos, implícitamente en las aparentemente insignificantes “coincidencias” del calendario, este bizarro aspecto de la fecha en que fue finalmente pactado el acuerdo con Irán representa probablemente uno de los veredictos más poderosos sobre el lugar que tiene este acuerdo en la historia.

La tradición judía dice que Dios hace oír su voz de muchas maneras diferentes. Una de estas maneras es por medio de conexiones entre los eventos y el calendario, mediante la asociación de un día con su significancia histórica.

En pocos días, los judíos de todas partes del mundo observaran Tishá B’Av, el ayuno del noveno día del mes de av. Es un día de trágicos recuerdos. En aquel día fue destruido el Primer Templo en manos de los babilonios. Ese puro hecho habría sido suficiente para que quedase marcado en el calendario como un día de ayuno y duelo. Pero la historia volvió a confirmar la trágica realidad de Tishá B’Av cinco siglos después. Cuando los romanos se aproximaron hacia el Segundo Templo y lo encendieron en llamas, los judíos se impactaron al ver que el Segundo Templo había sido destruido exactamente el mismo día que el Primero.

Los judíos debemos entender que la historia tiene un significado divino e incorpora mensajes celestiales. “Coincidencia” es un concepto extraño para quienes creen que Dios gobierna el universo.

Cuando los judíos se rebelaron en contra del dominio romano creían que su líder, Shimón bar Kojba, cumpliría con sus anhelos mesiánicos. Pero sus esperanzas fueron cruelmente aniquiladas en el año 135 EC, cuando los rebeldes judíos fueron masacrados en la batalla final de Beitar. ¿En qué fecha ocurrió la masacre? ¡El 9 de av!

Los judíos fueron expulsados de Inglaterra en el año 1290 EC, una vez más, el noveno día del mes de av. Y en 1492, la Época Dorada de España llegó a su fin cuando la reina Isabel y su esposo, el rey Fernando, ordenaron que los judíos fueran expulsados de la tierra “por la gloria de la Iglesia y de la religión católica”. El edicto de expulsión fue firmado el 31 de marzo de 1492, y se les dio a los judíos cuatro meses para ordenar sus asuntos y dejar el país. ¿Cuál fue fecha judía en la cual ya no estaba permitido que hubiesen judíos en la tierra en la que alguna vez habían sido bienvenidos y donde habían encontrado prosperidad durante muchos siglos? Ya lo debes haber adivinado… ¡el nueve de av!

¿Listo para una más? Los historiadores concluyen que la Segunda Guerra Mundial y el Holocausto fueron en realidad una prolongada consecuencia de la Primera Guarra Mundial, la cual comenzó en 1914. Barbara Tuchman escribió un libro sobre la primera gran guerra mundial, el cual tituló Las armas de agosto. Si un erudito judío hubiera escrito el libro, probablemente lo habría titulado con una fecha específica en lugar de con un mes. Sí, aunque parezca sorprendente, la Primera Guerra Mundial también comenzó según el calendario judío en Tishá B’Av.

¿Qué debemos aprender de todo esto? Para los judíos, es una profunda confirmación de la convicción de que la historia no es azarosa. Los eventos tienen un significado espiritual. Su correspondencia en el calendario los define.

Y lo que es importante notar es que el período de duelo asociado a Tishá B’Av no se limita a un solo día, sino que en realidad, Tishá B’Av es el cierre de un período de tres semanas de tristeza y pesar. El período de nuestra aflicción comienza con el ayuno del 17 de tamuz. Ese fue el día en que las murallas de Jerusalem fueron franqueadas. Ese fue el comienzo del fin, y nuestros sabios fueron lo suficientemente inteligentes como para reconocer que el sabio está de duelo por la inminente catástrofe incluso antes de que ésta ocurra realmente. La tragedia no sólo ocurrió el día en que el Templo físicamente fue quemado; también debemos llorar cuando se volvió obvio el potencial de su destrucción.

Las tres semanas que sirven en la historia judía como preludio a Tishá B’Av representan un período de duelo por la caída de esas murallas que protegían el Templo y la fuente de la santidad espiritual del mundo. Y esa, creo con toda certeza, es la razón por la cual el acuerdo con Irán —un acuerdo que Charles Krauthammer llamó “el peor acuerdo de Estados Unidos en su historia diplomática” y un acuerdo que el Primer Ministro de Israel, Benjamín Netanyahu, considera que tiene el potencial de generar un holocausto nuclear de proporciones globales— no fue sellado sino hasta que su conexión con el período de duelo de las tres semanas quedara claramente establecida.

Es el calendario judío el que nos da una clara advertencia de los acuerdos que tienen un potencial destructivo. Sólo podemos rezar para que los líderes mundiales presten atención a su mensaje.

Segun tomado de, http://www.aishlatino.com/h/9av/a/El-acuerdo-con-Iran-y-el-calendario-judio.html el lunes, 27 de julio de 2015.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Why Haven’t Jews Rebuilt the Temple Yet?

For thousands of years, Jews have yearned and prayed for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, Now, finally, Israel is in Jewish hands again. Why don’t I see the rabbinic leaders in Israel spearheading a building campaign?

Before We Begin

As anyone who has been to Israel knows, the country is nothing short of a modern-day miracle. At the same time, there are very real political and security issues—issues that get even more heated when there is any discussion about the Temple Mount, let alone actually building anything there. That being the case, this entire conversation is purely theoretical, with no relation to the current sociopolitical state of affairs.

Additionally, there is much rabbinic debate surrounding the building of the Third Temple. To keep things short and simple, we’ll just touch on some of the issues that may be involved.

Who Must Build?

When discussing the question of rebuilding the Temple, it is important to keep in mind that, in general, this mitzvah is not an individual obligation, like the mitzvot of tefillin or Shabbat. Rather, it is a communal obligation.1

The obligation to rebuild the Temple may apply only when the majority of the Jewish nation resides in Israel, which currently is not the case.2 In addition, it may apply only when there is a Jewish king or prophet.3

How to Build?

Even if we’re not obligated, should we build the Temple anyway, restoring G‑d’s home one earth?

Truthfully, we don’t even know how to construct it. The dimensions of the Third Temple are somewhat described in the book of Ezekiel, but the interpretation of many verses is subject to debate. In fact, when it came time to build the Second Temple, the Jews built it according to the dimensions of the First Temple, and included only certain aspects that are explicitly stated in Ezekiel.4 It is only the third and final Temple that will be built entirely according to the prophecy of Ezekiel.5

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of all is the placement of the altar, which must be in a very specific location, as the verse states, “This is the altar for the burnt offerings of Israel.”6According to tradition, the altar is to be placed on the exact spot from which the earth to create Adam was taken and where he later offered sacrifices to G‑d, and where Abraham built the altar to sacrifice Isaac.7 The altar’s location is so essential that when they built the Second Temple, they needed three prophets to vouch for the location they had planned.8 Accordingly, we’d need at least one prophet to help us in our construction project,9 and prophets seem to be in short supply nowadays.

Who Can Go There?

Assuming that somehow we did get the exact dimensions figured out, there is still one big issue: It is forbidden to enter the Temple area in a state of ritual impurity.10 The only way to become ritually pure is with the ashes of a red heifer, which presents its own set of challenges.11

HR Woes

The Temple was (and will be) staffed by kohanim, descendants of Aaron through a direct line of males. In order for a kohen to actually work in the Holy Temple, his genealogy would need to be verified with certainty, a test very few of today’s kohanimwould pass.12

Additionally, they would need to wear the priestly garments, made of materials such as threads dyed with the special techeilet(blue) dye, and a selection of precious stones for the high priest’s breastplate—but the specifics of both are a matter of great debate.

So How Is It Going to Happen?

As for how the Temple will ultimately get rebuilt, it is a matter of dispute between the classic commentators.

Maimonides teaches that the Temple will be built by Messiahhimself, and in fact its construction will be one of the signs that he is indeed the Messiah.13 One of the Messiah’s first orders of business will be to use his spirit of prophecy to discern who is a priest, as well as the tribal affiliation of each Israelite.14Additionally, we will have the ashes of the red heifer to purify those who are impure.15

Others are of the opinion that in the messianic era, the Temple will descend ready-built from heaven.16

So Is There Nothing We Can Do?

Despite the above complications, without even lifting a trowel, we can actually fulfill the mitzvah of building G‑d’s home. How so?

Our sages tells us that after G‑d revealed the dimensions of the future Temple to the prophet Ezekiel,17 Ezekiel turned to G‑d and asked, “Why should I tell this to the Jewish people, if they are in exile and will not build the Temple now? Let me wait until they are redeemed, and then I will tell them this prophecy.”

G‑d replied: “Just because My children are in exile, should there be no building of My house?! Learning about the description of My house is as great as the building of it. Go and tell the Jewish people to occupy themselves in learning about the Temple, and in that merit I will consider it as if they engaged in building it.”18

Based on this, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, strongly encouraged learning the laws of the Holy Temple, especially during the period known as the “Three Weeks,” during which we mourn the destruction of the Temple. For through this learning, not only do we fulfill the commandment to build the Holy Temple (even during the exile), but we actually weaken the concept of its destruction—and we ultimately merit its rebuilding with the coming of the messianic era, may it be speedily in our days.

A good place to start is with this tour of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

 Segun tomado de, http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3009476/jewish/Why-Havent-Jews-Rebuilt-the-Temple-Yet.htm el jueves, 23 de julio de 2015.
FOOTNOTES
1. Rambam, Sefer Hamitzvot, end of positive commandments; Chinuch, mitzvah 95.
2. See Chinuch, end of mitzvah 95. Some counter this by pointing out that when they built the Second Temple, the majority of Jews lived in Babylonia, not Israel. Others explain that they built it at that time at the behest of the prophets. See Responsa She’eilat David, Kuntres Derishat Tzion.
3. See She’eilat David loc. cit.
4. See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Beit Habechirah 1:4.
5. For more on this, see Did the Jews Disregard Ezekiel’s Prophecy of the Temple?
6. II Chronicles 22:1.
7. Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Beit Habechirah 2:1.
8. Ibid. 2:4.
9. See Responsa Chatam Sofer, Orach Chaim 208.
10. See Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 561:2. Violating this biblical prohibition is punishable by death.
11. Although there are times when we say that if the majority of Jews are impure we may still bring offerings in the Temple, this applies only if we have a high priest who is wearing the priestly garments, specifically the tzitz (forehead plate). See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Bi’at Hamikdash 4:15.
12. Talmud, Yevamot 74b; see also Responsa She’eilat David, Kuntres Derishat Tzion, Essay 2.
13. Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 11:1,4.
14. Ibid. 12:3.
15. See Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Parah Adumah 3:4.
16. See commentaries of Rashi and Tosafot to Talmud, Sukkah 41a, and of Rashi to Rosh Hashanah 30a; see, however, Who Will Build the Third Bais Hamikdash, Man or G‑d? for a number of explanations by the Lubavitcher Rebbe on how to reconcile both opinions.
17. See Ezekiel chs. 40–48.
18. Midrash Tanchuma, Tzav 14; Yalkut Shimoni on Ezekiel 43:10–11 (382).
 
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Posted by on July 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

The inconvenient truths of Orthodox Judaism

The inconvenient truths of Orthodox Judaism
New book by Marc B. Shapiro shows how far Orthodoxy has gone to make its textual legacy consistent with its present culture.
Photo by Dreamstime

“Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History,” by Marc B. Shapiro, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 360 pages, $39.95

Orthodox Jews — especially Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox Jews — like to think of their religious practice as the most authentic form of Judaism. “We traditionally observant Jews… seek to observe the Torah’s mandate, as it has been preserved by the traditional Jewish transmitters over the ages” wrote Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for the Orthodox umbrella group Agudath Israel of America, in a 2012 article for the Forward. “Our differentness reflects only our fealty to the Judaism of the Ages,” he wrote in another piece last year. That was a public relations professional in the Forward; similar and stronger language is ubiquitous in Orthodox media.

In fact, historians and sociologists have long debunked the changelessness of Haredi life; differences in dress, lifestyle and ritual practice between contemporary and historical orthodoxies are well documented. Like other forms of fundamentalist religion, Haredi Judaism isn’t a strict continuation of the past, but a reaction against modernity. Its belief in its own authenticity is a theological self-conception, not a historical reality.

But there is a good reason that observant Jews feel so deeply connected to historical Judaism. As Marc Shapiro writes in his new book, “Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History,” the Orthodox community is a “community of scholars” for whom “the written word is central.” Familiarity with traditional texts fosters an intimacy with tradition; the study of rabbinic literature creates a feeling of continuity with the Jewish past, whatever caveats might apply.

But what if those texts are not the unchanging repositories of wisdom their readers assume them to be? What if they have been changed — censored, even — in order to reflect the needs of the present? This is the question underlying “Changing the Immutable.” And Shapiro shows, through an impressive accumulation of evidence, that Orthodox censorship is not an exception, but a rule.

Shapiro, chair of the Judaic studies department at The University of Scranton, has long been a thorn in the side of the ultra-Orthodox establishment. His first book, “Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884–1966,” published in 1999, examined a complex rabbinic figure whose acceptance as a halachic authority belied his more idiosyncratic views and associations. Even more significantly, Shapiro’s 2004 book “The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles Reappraised,” argued that Maimonides’s principles of faith, commonly understood to be the underlying dogmas of traditional Judaism, were never universally accepted. Rather, Shapiro contended, different versions of Jewish belief have always been possible, even within a traditional framework.

Shapiro’s scholarship has been so important, in part because of Orthodoxy’s own success at covering up inconvenient aspects of its past. And in his latest book, Shapiro shows how far Orthodoxy has gone to make its textual legacy consistent with its present culture. Granted, the number of texts that have been overtly censored is relatively small in comparison with the overall corpus of rabbinic writing. But even a relatively small number turns out, on the whole, to be rather large. And what Shapiro demonstrates is that this kind of censorship is programmatic, intentional and has a history going back to the Bible itself.

Consider, for example, a change made to the Shulhan Arukh, Yosef Karo’s authoritative 16th-century code of Jewish law. In discussing the pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kaparot, in which one’s sins are symbolically transferred to a chicken, Karo refers to the practice as a “foolish custom.” (Other authorities went further, calling it a pagan practice.) Although that comment appeared in the first 18 printings of the work, it disappeared in the 18th century and is still generally omitted — a decision based on the fact that kaparot is now a normative Jewish observance. But should this change in practice justify distorting the historical text of the Shulhan Arukh? The goal, seemingly, is to give the false impression that one of the most important legal authorities in Jewish history had no problem with a now-commonplace ceremony. And “If Karo is not safe from censorship,” Shapiro writes, ”I daresay that no text is safe.”

This observation was borne out a few months ago, when Shapiro pointed out on The Seforim Blog that the Orthodox publisher ArtScroll had deleted a passage from the 12th-century commentator Shmuel ben Meir, or Rashbam, in a new printing of the Mikraot Gedolot Bible. The problem? The Rashbam had interpreted Genesis 1:5 — “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” — to mean that the day ends (and thus begins) in the morning, rather than according to the talmudic interpretation that the day begins (and also ends) at night.

In its defense, ArtScroll argued that those passages of the Rashbam were of dubious authorship and had been condemned as the work of heretics by Abraham ibn Ezra, another medieval commentator. Yet ArtScroll’s failure to alert readers to the omission (whose justification was not as clear-cut as they claimed) made it seem as though 21st-century editors had censored a medieval rabbi for arguing with the Talmud. In an even more egregious example, raised by Shapiro in “Changing the Immutable,” ArtScroll removed a comment by Rashi, one implying that the talmudic rabbis had themselves engaged in editing of the Bible — another verboten belief according to contemporary Orthodoxy.

Such instances of censorship are not limited to obscure legal or theological matters, either. Recent years have seen bans, censorship, and suppression of books and other documents that have challenged an increasingly extreme status quo. Shapiro points to the now-notorious practice of Photoshopping women out of news photos, as well as to the censoring of historical pictures of prominent religious women who are not dressed according to present-day standards of “modesty.” “That perhaps these ‘chosheve’ [important] people had different views of tseniut [modesty] matters is not even considered,” he notes dryly.

Shapiro pays particular attention to shifts in religious politics, and to the treatment of figures like Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Abraham Isaac Kook, who, though widely admired in their lifetimes, have fallen out of favor since their deaths. In the case of Kook, who is considered to be the ideological father of religious Zionism, hundreds of books have been censored in order to remove his approbations from the books’ front pages, despite the fact that the authors of those works desired to include them. “The fear of associating with Kook… is a reflection of the extremism that has taken root in Haredi Judaism,” Shapiro writes. As a result, he argues, Kook “has been the victim of more censorship and simple omission of facts for the sake of Haredi ideology than any other figure.”

All this could make for a hearty polemic against the Orthodox scholars, publishers and editors who are more concerned with enforcing ideological conformity than with dealing with historical truth. Yet for all his provocative material, Shapiro is no polemicist. Although he compares Orthodox censorship with the Soviet kind — “what was accepted as fact one day could be entirely rewritten the next” — he also shows how its practice is consistent with classical and medieval conceptions of historical truth that predate contemporary notions of academic scholarship.

So, too, Shapiro goes out of his way to show that censorship of Jewish texts isn’t just an Orthodox practice. In many cases, non-Haredi publishers have been guilty of similar distortions, sometimes out of concern for what liberal readers might think. Finally, in the last chapter of the book, Shapiro examines the concept of lying in Jewish law, and shows how some authorities believed it permissible to lie in order to encourage obedience to rabbinic leadership. Shapiro warns us that these examples might be shocking, but he often seems to be defending Orthodox censorship by showing its consistency with traditional practice. Maimonides himself warns, in the introduction to his “The Guide for the Perplexed,” that not everything he wrote was the pure truth, but was still a “necessary belief” for the masses.

Shapiro’s evenhanded, evidence-heavy approach will perhaps make the book more convincing to its detractors. But his argument could also have benefited from a more critical thrust. Although he claims that censorship has increased in recent decades, he does little to analyze the causes or consequences of this phenomenon. In a recent interview with radio host Zev Brenner, he noted that part of the rise in censorship is due to so many more books being published and to older books being reset, and in “Changing the Immutable” he notes the rise in Orthodox publishing for a nonscholarly readership, including many works of biography and history.

But he doesn’t go far enough in examining what role Haredi fundamentalism may have to play, and whether current Orthodoxy is more or less inclined to censor texts than Jewish communities of the past were. The phrase “da’as Torah” — an arguably contemporary notion that implies obedience to rabbinic authority independent of halachic justification — appears just once in the book, and is explained only in a footnote. And although Shapiro does address the particular role translation plays in censorship, he does little to address the phenomenon of increased Haredi literacy, whether through access to yeshiva education, English translations by publishers like ArtScroll or the return of Hebrew as a vernacular language in the State of Israel. Most noticeably lacking is any consideration of the effect that censorship has had on the Orthodox community itself. If Orthodox censorship is comparable to the Soviet variety, what does that say about the intellectual conditions of Orthodox life?

Still, if Shapiro is not himself a polemicist, polemics can be written based on his research. This is especially true when it comes to the Orthodox tendency of presenting itself as historically authentic, and of appealing to that authenticity as a source of authority, while simultaneously rewriting history to suit its own purposes. Indeed, this approach was explicitly recommended by Shimon Schwab, a prominent 20th-century German Jewish rabbi who argued that “a realistic historic picture” is good for “nothing but the satisfaction of curiosity.” Rather, he claimed, “every generation has to put a veil over the human failings of its elders and glorify all the rest which is great and beautiful.” If that means doing without factually accurate knowledge, he continued, “We can do without.”

It’s not hard to draw a line between this view and the tens of thousands of young men and women in Israel and the United States who are living lives of desperation and poverty in order to fulfill an ideal of piety and scholarship that is presented as an age-old ideal but is in fact a recent invention. Covering up some minor deviation from theological dogma may not be of interest to more than a few academics, but the wholesale rewriting of history is a basic social concern. And as Shapiro writes in his introduction, “The acts of censorship… and telling a story which one knows to be false are simply different stops along the same continuum….” Here we have not just isolated examples of textual tampering or censorship, but also an entire ideology built on historical misrepresentations and half-truths. The consequences are already devastating.

Segun tomado de, http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-features/1.665838 el sábado, 18 de julio de 2015.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Uncategorized