Monthly Archives: July 2020

The Temple, the messiah and Jesus

Depicting the Temple’s destruction as punishment for the death of Christ has no grounding in Hebrew scriptures’ ideas on messiah

by Dr. Barrie Wilson

The Temple, the messiah and Jesus | Barrie Wilson | The Blogs

‘Distruzione del tempio di Gerusalemme’ by Francesco Hayez (PD-US-expired via Wikipedia)

Tisha B’Av, which starts Wednesday evening, is a time of profound sorrow for us, commemorating the destruction of two great centers of worship. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians; the Second Temple, by the Romans in 70. The Temple in Jerusalem was the hub of national life. It was the primary religious establishment, the most important tourist attraction and a major commercial center. Pilgrims would arrive in Jerusalem three times a year to celebrate the great festivals of Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot. The Temple was the focus of religious and political life.

The destruction of the Temple, however, represents a key dividing point between Judaism and Christianity.

For Christians the Temple’s demise appears to be a time of triumph. The gospels in the Christian scriptures say Jesus predicted the destruction of the Second Temple, the implication being that it was justly deserved. For these writers, the destruction of the Temple was symbolic of the demise of Judaism and its replacement by the Christian church. The 2nd century Gospel of Peter placed the blame for the destruction of the Temple, not on the Romans but squarely on the Jewish people for their role in having Jesus crucified. Thus the linkage is made explicit: the Temple’s demise is tied to Jewish complicity regarding the death of Jesus. For these early Christians, it was retribution, divine payback.

This Christian contention regarding the destruction of the Temple represents a very strange belief. If Jesus were who his followers said he was – the long sought messiah — why would he advocate the Temple’s destruction? Why would he endorse such a catastrophic event? Destroying the Temple is not on messiah’s “to do” list. A messiah was supposed to preserve and purify Temple worship.

Moreover, if Jesus were the messiah, where is the great age of world peace and prosperity that the messiah was supposed to usher in? Social conditions in the Middle East were much worse after the death of Jesus, not better. The Jewish war against Rome in the 60s saw thousands butchered in the Galilee and, according to Josephus, over 1.1 million killed in Jerusalem. Was this the messianic era? Some 20 or 30 years after the death of Jesus, nobody was buying the “good times ahead” message. There was no ideal Kingdom of God on the horizon.

This linkage tying the destruction of the Temple to Jewish complicity in the death of Jesus serves to undermine the Christian claim that Jesus is the messiah. It just doesn’t fit with what we’d expect of a messiah.

If advocating the destruction of the Temple is not what we’d expect of a messiah, what, then, is a messiah supposed to do?

Searching for the Messiah

My upcoming book — Searching for the Messiah (NY: Pegasus/Simon & Schuster. August 2020) — focuses on one fundamental question. What’s a messiah? What’s the job description? If we can’t determine that, then how can we evaluate anybody’s claim that so-and-so is a messiah. Is Jesus a messiah? Is Bar-Kochba? Is David Koresh, the leader of the Waco cult? Is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson?

Searching for the Messiah explores the evolution of the concept of messiah from the Bible to Batman, with many stops along the way. How did the idea of messiah evolve? How is King David, adulterer and murderer, the prototypical messiah? What about savior figures such as Joseph, Esther and Judith? What about End-time scenarios when the world is to be perfected?

Surprisingly, there is not one book of the Bible, not one chapter, devoted to defining a messiah. That’s curious. More attention is paid to diagnosing and treating skin diseases than to the topic of messiah. Many Christians scour the Hebrew scriptures looking for messianic “prophecies.” These seem contrived and passages are pulled out of context in a misleading way. There is no ‘virgin’ in Isaiah 7:14 that would lead one to put forward a virgin birth requirement for a messiah. That’s the Gospel of Matthew’s invention, using a Greek version of the Hebrew Bible that translated “almah” (Hebrew for a young woman) as “parthenos” (a Greek word for someone who is a biological virgin).

Isaiah 49:3 proclaims Israel as the Suffering Servant of God, a community given a new mandate after the dreadful experience of the Babylonian Exile, a nation destined to be a light to the nations. The Suffering Servant is Israel, not, as the gospels proclaim, Jesus. Nor is Jesus God’s son who comes out of Egypt – that’s Israel (Hosea 11:1). These are all misappropriations.

Messiah – the Job Description

In Searching for the Messiah, I analyse a much-neglected ancient and mysterians manuscript known today only to a handful of specialists. It was composed by a pious Jew in Jerusalem just after 63 BCE. He had witnessed the atrocities committed by Pompey’s army – rape, murder, famine, desecration of the Temple. He’s devastated and, in his grief, the unknown author of this important manuscript writes 18 psalms.

Composed originally in Aramaic or Hebrew, the writing survives today in a few Syriac and Greek manuscripts. The few scholars who know of this work dub it, “Psalms of Solomon.” That’s a misnomer — of course this wise ancient monarch who lived nine centuries earlier could not have been the author of a 1st century BCE writing.

Two of the psalms develop the idea of messiah. This important writing helps to firmly root the pre-Christian expectation of what a messiah must do in order to qualify. It gives us the messianic agenda at a crucial time in history. The messiah must be king in Jerusalem presiding over an era of world peace. Jews from the Diaspora will return. The messiah and the whole country will be Torah-observant. Temple worship will be purified. Other countries will honor the Jewish nation. Those are some of the markers of the messianic era.

So now we know what Jews expected of a messiah, prior to Christian times. That’s vital to assessing Christian claims that Jesus is one.

Christians often ask Jews, “why don’t you accept Jesus as messiah?” Now the question can be turned, “Why do you say that Jesus is the messiah? What’s the evidence?” How does Jesus – or anyone else for that matter – measure up to the criteria for being a messiah?

Jesus does not pass the Messiah test

Based on what we now recognize as the Jewish understanding of a messiah prior to the Common Era, we can discern that Jesus did not qualify.

First of all, no one who knew him well thought of him as a messiah. Chapter 8 of the Gospel of Mark tells us how Jesus takes his disciples on a field trip north of Capernaeum to Caesarea Philippi. There he asks them for a report: what do people think of him? It’s a request for audience reaction: what do the crowds who have heard him speak understand him to be. His disciples indicate that some think of him as a prophet like Elijah or like the charismatic John the Baptist. That’s it: those are the categories into which people to whom Jesus had been speaking around the Sea of Galilee place him: prophet, preacher. No one — absolutely no one — thinks of him as a messiah. That just wasn’t the impression he was making.

Second, Jesus rejects the view that he is the messiah. When Jesus asks his disciples a second question, what they think of him, only Peter blurts out that he is “the messiah.” No one else concurs. But, most surprisingly, Jesus immediately and harshly shuts him down. Within seconds of Peter’s utterance, Jesus closes off messiah-talk. That’s significant. According to the gospel of Mark, being messiah is emphatically not a title he favors.

Thirdly, moments before he dies, Jesus asks God why he has forsaken him (Matthew 27:46). In effect, with time running out, Jesus questions God about why the Kingdom of God he has promised his followers as imminent hasn’t come about. A messiah has to bring about a better world. Jesus, close to death, recognizes that this has not happened.

Finally, Jesus’ earliest followers knew he was not the messiah. We know this because they put forward the idea that he’d have to return to complete the task. This represents a desperate theological maneuver, one designed to save the view that Jesus is messiah. Led by Jesus’ brother, James, this group expected Jesus to establish an independent Jewish kingdom (Book of Acts 1:6). This was a clear recognition that they knew he had not done what a messiah ought to do during his lifetime. Their belief sets forth a two-stage messianic model whereby the potential messiah has to return to complete the required task. A two-stage messianic operation is not the Jewish understanding, however.

Paul’s reinterpretation

In spite of all this, Christians claim that Jesus was the messiah. How did that come about? And what do they understand by that claim?

Enter Paul, a person who never met Jesus and who comes on the scene in the mid 30s, several years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Claiming to have had a mystical experience, Paul introduces the notion of Jesus as “Christ” (Christos in Greek).

Ironically Paul was one of the most influential Jews who ever lived. For one thing, he rejected Torah observance. For him that phase of history had come to an end. He also reinterpreted the idea of messiah, not with reference to prior Jewish thought but in light of the Graeco-Roman mystery cults familiar to his audience. For Paul, Jesus is the cosmic Christ. He’s a pre-existing being who, as a divine-human, enters human history as an atonement. That’s a very different notion from that of a messiah.

Just how different the idea of Christos is from Mashiach is explored in Searching for the Messiah.

Paul pulled early Christianity in a vastly different direction from Jesus’ first followers under James and, in time, his views prevailed as his movement attracted Gentiles, not Jews. James’ Torah-observant group vanished in time, although there were 10 Jewish leaders of this movement up until the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt.

So, no, a messiah is not one who destroys the Temple.

But now we know what he must do.

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Posted by on July 31, 2020 in Uncategorized


¡Termina lo que empiezas!

por Alex Corcias

¡Termina lo que empiezas!

3 consejos para mantenerse inspirado o inspirada

Nuestros Sabios aseguran que “todos los comienzos son duros” (véase Rashi Shemot 19:5) y ciertamente, empezar una actividad requiere de mucha voluntad y determinación. Sin embargo, hay otro punto que es igual de importante, pero que suele pasarse por alto: uno debe terminar lo que empieza.

En el mundo del coaching y la psicología del liderazgo se habla mucho sobre la importancia de terminar lo que uno empieza, lo cual se aplica tanto en el ámbito personal como en el organizacional. Terminar lo que uno empieza, sin duda es una fuente de satisfacción, y en contraparte, dejar a medias algo que se ha empezado es un caldo de cultivo tóxico.

A continuación quiero analizar tres factores relacionados con este principio para aplicarlo en la práctica:

Visualiza de antemano el beneficio final

Nuestros Sabios enseñan que toda acción que haya sido iniciada por alguien, y terminada por otro, se considera como si el segundo hizo toda la acción (Sota 13b). Ello significa que el peso principal de una acción es su culminación. Un ejemplo impresionante es el del Rey Salomón, quien se ganó el honor de inaugurar el Primer Templo y se quedó con el crédito de esa gran acción, pese a que fue su padre, el Rey David, quien comenzó la construcción y el propio Dios lo privó de terminarla (Sanhedrin 104b). Es interesante tomar nota de que muchas veces se debe vencer una poderosa resistencia para poder iniciar un emprendimiento, y, así como la inspiración ilumina el camino al principio, inevitablemente después llega la dura realidad, el trabajo intenso y las dificultades del camino, lo cual lleva en muchos casos al abandono. El Dr. Akiva Tatz plantea esta idea en sus libros como un principio que se manifiesta en el mundo natural y en la forma en la que Dios pone a prueba al hombre. Saberlo y aceptarlo es una gran herramienta para lograr los objetivos que uno se plantea.

Toma conciencia de tus patrones

En numerosas publicaciones hemos enfatizado que la mente es influenciada por el cuerpo. Las fuentes dentro del judaísmo sobre ello son vastas (véase Mesilat Yesharim Cap. 7, Pele Yoetz sobre la alegría, Sefer Hajinuj en mitzvá 16, y otros). Además, este concepto está ampliamente demostrado por la neurociencia y la psicología moderna. Las acciones que uno hace en el mundo exterior afectan los patrones que crea en su mundo interior. Basado en esos patrones, uno probablemente volverá a actuar así en una situación futura y ello, a su vez, reforzará el patrón. Esto forma un ciclo. Es decir, cada vez que uno pospone la terminación de una actividad o dispersa su atención de ella, está “enseñándole a su mente” un patrón de conducta, el cual se verá reforzado y probablemente repetido. Por lo tanto, cada vez que uno rompe con ese viejo y destructivo patrón y se esfuerza en adelantar y culminar las cosas que empieza (así sea una actividad pequeña) está “entrenando su mente” para convertirse en un verdadero líder de su vida, está entrenándose en la disciplina responsable de terminar lo que empieza. Esto, sin duda, tendrá un impacto poderoso sobre su confianza personal y sus ganas de seguir adelante reforzando ese nuevo patrón.

Identifica a tus enemigos

¿Cuáles son estos “enemigos”? El Ramjal, Rabi Moshé Jaim Luzzato (1707 – 1747), en su libro Mesilat Yesharim (Cap. 9) afirma que uno de los mayores enemigos de las personas a la hora de completar los proyectos que emprenden, es la costumbre de dar excusas. A la hora de inventar una excusa uno se pone muy creativo. A veces culpa al frio, otras al calor, al viento, a la gente, etc. El Ramjal aclara que las excusas provienen de causas naturales reales, pero ello no justifica el abandono de la acción, pues el hombre fue encomendado a luchar por su prosperidad material y espiritual. El Rey Salomón (Proverbios 26:13) adjudica las excusas a los perezosos, quienes alegan que “hay un león en la calle” con tal de no salir a trabajar. Vale la pena “pillarse” a uno mismo cuando se pone a dar excusas creativas y ponerle fin de inmediato.

Querido lector, ¿Cuántas buenas ideas has empezado y se han quedado en el camino? ¿Cómo crees que tu amor y confianza en ti mismo/a se verían repotenciados si dichas actividades fueran terminadas? Sin duda sería un empuje extraordinario.

Te invito de todo corazón a tomar conciencia de estos consejos y ponerlos en práctica en un área especifica de tu vida o en un pequeño proyecto ¡ya verás lo que pasa! Te deseo el mayor de los éxitos.

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Posted by on July 29, 2020 in Uncategorized


¿Qué mantiene unida a una sociedad?

Artistic World Map (Body Painting) | Peace, World peace, Peace on ...

Por Fernando Alvarez-Baron

El Planeta Tierra, que es una inmensa bola que viaja por el espacio a velocidad considerable, está habitada por aproximadamente unos 7,500 millones de seres humanos. En el centro de nuestro planeta existe un núcleo de hierro y níquel de tamaño sinilar a la Luna, que se encuentra a una temperatura de hasta 6,000 grados centígrados. Ni ahora, ni en el pasado, nuestros ancestros (se calcula que hemos pasado por este mundo unos 115,000 millones de personas) prestaron mucha atención a lo que ocurría en el centro de la Tierra. A veces el núcleo de la Tierra se nos manifiesta, como cuando la erupción minoica, ocurrida en la isla de Santorini, originó el colapso de la Edad de Bronce, al desencadenar  una catástrofe ecológica en el Mediterráneo, que movilizó una avalancha migratoria de tribus hambrientas , conocidas como Pueblos del Mar, que en su desesperación, arrasaron la civilización Micénica,  el Imperio Hitita, y  las ciudades Cananeas de la costa,  coadyuvando a que en las colinas centrales de Israel emergiera un pueblo, destinado a multiplicarse como las estrellas del cielo y las arenas de la playa.  Pero, de todas estas catástrofes, dado que los humanos somos más dados al chismorreo que al pensamiento abstracto, los mitos y leyendas del pasado apenas han salvado, las andanzas de Dalila de Gaza y Helena de Troya, dos golfas de aquel entonces, como Corinna Von Larsen, pero de la Edad de Bronce.

Nuestro enorme cerebro posee una maquinaria neuronal que nos incita a formar grupos, y en general, aquellos que han sido capaces de formar grupos más grandes, se han impuesto al resto de pueblos. El Imperio Romano y la China de la dinastía Han, supieron aprovechar unas circunstancias climáticas favorables, (el denominado Optimo Climático Romano, caracterizado por un clima húmedo, templado y estable desde el año 300 AC hasta el 300 DC) para formar las primeras instituciones humanas globalizadas. Hubo una circunstancia, a la que el Imperio Romano apenas prestó atención, que conforme ampliaban las fronteras, y el espacio comercial imperial, contribuían también, al libre tránsito de virus y bacterias que llevan habitando el Planeta Tierra desde hace 3.500 millones de años. Los patógenos aprovecharon la libertad de tránsito para, en tres oleadas, La Peste Antonina, La Peste de Cipriano y La Peste de Justiniano, acabar con las fuerzas del Imperio, derrotándolo desde dentro y provocando la mayor regresión en toda la historia de la humanidad. El daño que estos animales sin cerebro han hecho a la civilización, puede medirse por los XII siglos que tardo en aparecer la Revolución Industrial, después de la caída de Roma, que con Galeno Demócrito había alcanzado un empirismo incipiente.

Hacia el año 1760 empezó, por fin, la Revolución Industrial en Inglaterra, y hacia 1895 en Francia, el Dreyfusard Emile Durkheim contribuyó a sentar las bases de la Sociología, afirmando que los humanos solemos confundir las apariencias con la realidad. Para superar los prejuicios del populacho, Durkheim propuso el concepto de, “hecho social”, que son modos de actuar, pensar y sentir externos al individuo, los que poseen un poder de coerción, en virtud del cual se imponen a él. La sociedad es algo que está fuera y dentro del individuo al mismo tiempo, gracias a que este adopta e interioriza sus valores y su moral. El “hecho social”,  tiene una fuerte capacidad de coerción y de sujeción respecto del individuoy, en consecuencia, la sociedad tiene el poder de determinar nuestros pensamientos y acciones.

En 1859 Charles Darwin publica “El Origen de las Especies” cuya idea básica es que las especies de animales cambian con el tiempo, y que, en todos los seres vivos, se puede rastrear la existencia de un antepasado común. En 1953 James Watson y Francis Crick realizaron un descubrimiento que confirmaba la mayoría de las teorías evolucionistas de Darwin. Encontraron la muestra química gracias a la cual cada ser vivo posee el programa para su propio desarrollo en sus células: el código del ADN. Para los biólogos, pues, los seres humanos somos meras máquinas de supervivencia (cuerpos) de nuestros genes, en las antípodas de la sociología.

En el año 2020, El Planeta Tierra, sigue siendo una inmensa bola que viaja por el espacio a velocidad considerable, enroscada a un núcleo de hierro y níquel que alcanza una temperatura de hasta 6.000 grados centígrados, circunstancia que no ha impedido que, los 7.500 millones de humanos que vivimos en la superficie, acumulemos el mayor nivel de riqueza y bienestar de la historia.  Como en otras ocasiones en el pasado, ha aparecido un patógeno peligroso, que en forma de pandemia, y bajo en nombre de Covid 19 amenaza nuestra forma de vida. Para BIOLOGOS SIN FRONTERAS, los herederos de DarwinWatson y Crick, el problema es sencillo, unos genes competidores han fabricado una máquina de supervivencia (un cuerpo) en forma y apariencia de coronavirus, y nos están disputando los recursos de la corteza terrestre. Era esperable que esto sucediera, pues somos la fuente de comida más abundante (para otros) que existe, junto con las gallinas y el resto del ganado doméstico. De hecho, BIOLOGOS SIN FRONTERAS, sí que había previsto este ataque, hace mucho tiempo y tenia la respuesta preparada, cuyo nombre es Sistema Inmunológico. Como en el caso de Roma o de la Edad Media, cuando el ataque de la Yersinia Pestis, la línea de defensa del Sistema Inmunológico es tan fuerte, que la Humanidad, a pesar de su terrible mortalidad, está lejos de ser derrotada por los patógenos.

Para SOCIOLOGOS SIN PRONTERAS, los herederos de Emile Durkheim, o Erving Goffman entre otros, el problema es más complejo. Dado que las burocracias públicas y privadas de los Estados de la Tierra no parecen dispuestas, en general, a soportar las tasas de mortalidad del Covid 19, están imponiendo medidas de “distanciamiento físico”, sin darse cuenta que LA SOCIEDAD es, ante todo, y por encima de todo, UNA ACTIVIDAD CORPORAL, ya que cuando unos cuerpos humanos se reúnen en un mismo lugar, ocurre una sincronización física. Proferir el mismo grito, pronunciar la misma palabra, o efectuar el mismo gesto respecto de algún objeto, es lo que nos hace sentirnos en sociedadLas mentes individuales no pueden entrar en contacto y comunicarse entre sí, excepto saliendo de sí mismas, y solo pueden hacerlo mediante movimientos corporales. La mayor parte de la vida social se realiza a través de rituales rutinarios, que son reglas emergentes, que normalizan, exageran y simplifican las conductas individuales, cuando estamos en proximidad física.  Los grandes rituales del consumo masivo, de los deportes de masas, de los conciertos de música, o de otros rituales básicos, como el trabajo, las bodas o los funerales, están basados en la proximidad física, que tanta energía emocional proporciona a los participantes, y que, las medidas de “distancia física”, están amenazando gravemente. El peligro del distanciamiento físico, es que, los rituales que no se renuevan se debilitan y perecen, y que el pensamiento y el lenguaje, también dependen de la renovación recurrente de los rituales, que son encuentros pautados entre personas, que tienen propiedades emergentes (más sofisticadas que sus componentes individuales).

¿Qué mantiene unida a la sociedad? Los rituales, que el distanciamiento físico y las mascarillas impuestos por los gobiernos están amenazando gravemente. LA SOCIEDAD, son esos grupos de gentes reunidos en lugares concretos (supermercados, estadio, discotecas, saunas, bodas, entierros, cafeterías, oficinas, fabricas, hospitales, etc.), que sienten solidaridad recíproca por efecto de su participación ritual, y del simbolismo cargado emotivamente en los rituales. Pero también hay que reconocer, que contribuye a mantener unida a la sociedad, la pereza, la conformidad, la falta de imaginación y el vértigo existencial, por eso tal vez sería más barato para todos, encontrar la forma de entablar un dialogo de especie a especie con el Covid 19, dado que el animal no pretende exterminarnos, sino vivir a costa nuestra, como su primo la gripe. Es más, en ocasiones anteriores se llegó a algún entendimiento entre patógenos y humanos (o pre humanos), dado que los rastros de ese pacto se encuentran en tramos concretos de nuestro ADN. En el pasado, llegamos a compromisos con muchas bacterias que actualmente se alojan en el intestino humano, y que colaboran lealmente con nuestro Sistema Inmunológico, en combatir a otros patógenos. Es más, ¿no estarían los chinos en el Instituto de Virología de Wuhan intentando entablar un dialogo inter-especies con un grupo concreto de Covid-19 u otros patógenos?

Los humanos de hoy nos parecemos más a nuestros antecesores de cromañón y de neandertal, que a los humanos del futuro, que interconectarán sus cerebros, y no tendrán que recurrir a las explicaciones corporales, como la risa, los gestos, las posturas, la mímica o los gritos, a los que recurrimos hoy día, en las situaciones de co-presencia. Una anticipación muy rudimentaria de la futura conexión inter- cerebral, la tenemos en las formas de comunicación implementadas a través de Facebook, WhatsApp, o el resto de redes sociales. Actualmente nuestro cerebro monta un espectáculo para cada uno de nosotros, transformando colores, texturas, sonidos y aromas, en señales electroquímicas. En el futuro, probablemente podremos compartir las señales electroquímicas cerebrales con nuestros amigos, sin necesidad de recurrir a la ayuda de la   actuación corporal pautada y coercitiva, en que consisten los actuales rituales humanos. Todo indica que las sociedades del futuro serán mucho más sencillas de coordinar que que las actuales, y siguiendo con la tendencia a la reducción de la capacidad cerebral que nos acompaña desde que comenzamos a ser agricultores hace 12.000 millones de años, inteligencias como las de Donal TrumpJair Bolsonaro, o Pedro Sanchez (y por supuesto también las de Joe Biden, Lula da Silva y Pablo Casado),  no tendrán problemas cognitivos insalvables, para atender a las labores de gobierno. Y dado que todos los seres vivos, descendemos de un antepasado común, los políticos que nos gobiernen, acabaran poniendo entre sus prioridades políticas, el dialogo inter-especies, con otros seres vivos con los que compartimos el espacio en la corteza de esta inmensa bola, que viaja por el espacio a velocidad considerable, enroscada a un núcleo de hierro y níquel, que alcanza una temperatura de hasta 6.000 grados centígrados.

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Posted by on July 29, 2020 in Uncategorized


The Pope who Printed the Talmud

by Dr. Ivette Alt Miller

The Pope who Printed the Talmud

Pope Leo X allowed a remarkable group of men to produce the first printed set of Talmud.

A volume of the Talmud – dedicated to the Pope? It seems unlikely but the very first printed edition of the Talmud was in fact dedicated to Pope Leo X, who reigned as pope from 1513 until his death in 1521.

For millennia, copies of the Talmud had been painstakingly written by hand. It could take many years to complete a set of all 63 masechtot, or tractates, of the Talmud.

In 1450, a German bookmaker named Johannes Gutenberg invented the very first printing press. He used it to print pamphlets and calendars, and several copies of the Bible. The “Gutenberg Bible” is considered the very first printed book ever produced in Europe. In the ensuing years, other printers copied Gutenberg’s invention and began printing books. Several Jewish books were printed using the new mechanical invention but nobody ever attempted to print an entire copy of the Talmud. For years, sets of the Talmud continued to be written laboriously by hand.

That changed in 1519, after years of bitter debates, when the very first complete edition of the Talmud was produced using the new invention the mechanical printing press.

Daniel Bomberg: Christian Printer of Hebrew Books

One of the very first printers to produce Hebrew books in Europe was Daniel Bomberg, a Christian printer who moved from his native Antwerp to Venice in 1515 and opened a printing press business there. Venice at the time was home to a vibrant Jewish community, and Bomberg realized that he could prosper by catering to this under-served market.

Printing Jewish books wasn’t so easy. His initial requests for a license were repeatedly turned down by Church and city officials. Bomberg started offering local officials ever larger bribes to allow him to print Jewish books. After paying 500 ducats – an enormous sum – he was granted a ten-year license to print Hebrew books.

Bomberg got to work immediately, hiring learned Jews to help him. He petitioned Venice’s officials for permission to hire “four well-instructed Jewish men”. Jews living in Venice at the time could only live in the Ghetto and were forced to wear distinctive yellow caps whenever they left the Ghetto’s gates. Bomberg’s assistants were granted permission to wear black caps like other non-Jewish workers.

Together, they started printing copies of the Chumash, the Five Books of Moses, and other Jewish books. Bomberg and his Jewish assistants decided to include the text of Targum Onkelos, the translation of the Hebrew text written by the celebrated First Century Jewish scholar Onkelos, a popular custom still in practice today.

Jacob Ben Jehiel: Jewish Nobleman Advising an Emperor

Bomberg’s pro-Jewish business activities were made somewhat easier by the climate in Europe overall, which was becoming more tolerant of Jews, thanks in part to an Austrian Jewish physician named Jacob Ben Jehiel (also known as Jacob Lender).

Very little is known about Jacob Ben Jehiel’s personal life. What’s clear is that he was a learned Jew, fluent in Hebrew, who worked as a doctor. He died in about 1505 in Linz, Austria. Unusual for a Jew, he rose to become one of the most influential men in the Holy Roman Empire, working as the personal assistant of Emperor Frederick III, who ruled from 1452-1493. It was noted that the two men were fast friends, and Jacob Ben Jehiel’s friendship influenced Frederick III to be sympathetic to his Jewish subjects. At the time the emperor’s enemies complained he was “more a Jew than a Holy Roman Emperor”. Jacob was so beloved by the Emperor that Frederick III knighted him, raising him from a lowly Jewish outcast to the ranks of the nobility.

One day, a young German nobleman named Johann von Reuchlin contacted Jacob, asking for his help in learning Hebrew. He’d studied with a Jew named Kalman in Paris, von Reuchln explained, and had learned the Hebrew alphabet. Now he wanted to learn more. Jacob Ben Jehiel agreed to tutor the Christian nobleman and taught him to read and write Hebrew. They struck up a friendship that would lead to von Reuchlin defending Jewish scholarship across Europe and to the first printing of the Talmud.

Johann von Reuchlin: Defending Jewish Books

Now fluent in Hebrew, Reuchlin championed Jewish books, defending Jewish scholarship from Catholic zealots who wanted to ban Jewish literature and burn Jewish books. He had many Jewish friends and was remarkably tolerant of Jewish viewpoints and scholarship. When Catholic officials demanded that he and other scholars condemn the Talmud, von Reuchlin replied contemptuously that one not condemn what one had not personally read and understood. “The Talmud was not composed for every blackguard to trample with unwashed feet and then to say that he knew all of it.”

Johann von Reuchlin

In the early 1500s, von Reuchlin engaged in what was known as the “Battle of the Books,” arguing that Jewish scholarship had merit and that Hebrew books ought not to be banned.

Johannes Pfefferkorn: Condemning his Fellow Jews

Reuchlin’s main adversary in the “Battle of the Books” was Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Jew who converted to Christianity. He turned on his fellow Jews and caused years of pain and misery for Jewish communities across Germany.

Pfefferkorn was a butcher by trade but he was also in trouble with the law. He was arrested for burglary in his 30s, spent time in prison, and subsequently found himself unemployable. In order to reverse his ill fortune, he volunteered to convert to Christianity and to have his wife and children convert as well. Pfefferkorn embraced Catholicism under the protection of the Dominicans, the strict Catholic order that administered the feared Inquisition. The Dominicans wasted no time in using Pfefferkorn to help bolster their attempts to persecute Jews and to ban Jewish books.

In the years between 1507 and 1509, Pfefferkorn wrote a series of booklets claiming to illuminate the secret world of Jewish thought. Although Pfefferkorn’s writings show that he had a very poor grasp of Jewish scholarship, that didn’t deter him as he churned out booklet after booklet excoriating Jews and the Jewish faith. His pamphlets were written in Latin and aimed at Catholic scholars and priests. They had names such as Judenbeichte (“Jewish Confession”) and Judenfeind (“Enemy of the Jews”), and Pfefferkorn falsely claimed that Jews were devious and blasphemous and that their literature ought to be banned. Though he wasn’t educated enough to study it himself, Pfefferkorn demanded that the Talmud be banned in Europe.

Using Pfefferkorn’s booklets as “proof”, Dominical authorities demanded that Jews be expelled from towns which had large Jewish communities, including Regensburg, Worms and Frankfurt. Their campaign succeeded in Regensburg and the city’s Jews were expelled in 1519.

Pfefferkorn and his supporters managed to convince Emperor Maximilian I to briefly ban the Talmud and other Jewish books in cities across Germany and to destroy any and all Jewish books that could be found. This alarmed more liberal Catholics, including Johann Reuchlin, who’d spent so long learning Hebrew and studying Jewish holy books with Jacob Ben Jehiel. Reuchlin objected and wrote passionate defenses of the Talmud and other Jewish books. Eventually, Maximilian I reversed his decree.

Pope Leo X and the Battle of the Hebrew Books

The “Battle of the Books” raged across German cities and was debated among the educated class: should the Jewish Talmud and other holy books be banned, or were they worthy of preservation and study? Historian Solomon Grayzel notes that “There was not a liberal Christian in Europe, nor a single critic of the forces of bigotry within the Church, who failed to range himself on the side of Reuchlin in defense of the Jewish books… Everyone who was not a peasant in Europe was thus ranged on one or the other side in the controversy. The only people who were forced to stand aside and not participate were the ones most directly concerned – the Jews.” (From A History of the Jews by Solomon Grayzel. Plume: 1968)

Reuchlin eventually gained a powerful ally: Pope Leo X. A cultured, educated man, Leo X came from the fabulously wealthy Medici family. He was disposed to be tolerant towards Jews – so much so that at one point the Jews of Rome wondered if his benevolence towards them was a sign that the Messiah was on his way: community elders even wrote to Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel asking if they, too, had seen signs of the Messiah coming.

Pope Leo X

In 1518, Leo X took a public stand in the Battle of the Books: not only should the Talmud not be banned and burned, he stated, but he gave a Papal Decree allowing it to be printed using the new mechanical printing presses that were all the rage in Europe. Some individual volumes of the Talmud had already been printed; now, the Pope was allowing a complete set of all 63 volumes of the Talmud (called Shas in Hebrew) to be produced. Joannes Bomberg, who’d already built up a Jewish business at his printing press in Venice, was given the commission to print this first complete set of Shas on his printing presses. It was an unprecedented show of support for Jews in Europe.

Jacob ben Chaim ibn Adonijah

But Pope Leo X imposed one crucial condition: Daniel Bomberg could print the Talmud only if he included anti-Jewish polemics in the books. Realizing that this would alienate potential readers, Bomberg successfully lobbied against including anti-Jewish screeds in his Jewish books. He did, however, make one concession to the Pope’s generosity: the first four volumes of the set of Talmud he was printing were dedicated to Pope Leo X.

Bomberg Babylonian Talmud, Venice Pesachim

Local Jews were reluctant to buy expensive new volumes of the Talmud dedicated to a Catholic leader whose Church regularly persecuted Jews and Jewish communities across Europe, even if Pope Leo X himself was sympathetic towards Jews. Sales were sluggish and Bomberg realized he had to make some changes, including dropping the dedication to the Pope. He also turned to Jacob ben Chaim ibn Adonijah, a Jewish proofreader from Tunisia, for help. (There is some evidence that ibn Adonijah might have converted to Christianity, like some other printers who specialized in Hebrew books in Venice at the time.)

Bromberg and ibn Adonijah devised a layout of their printed editions of the Talmud that is still in use today. They placed the Talmud text in the middle of the page, and included key commentaries on the Talmud around the central text. The commentary by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (known as Rashi), a Medieval French scholar was printed on one side of the page. Commentaries by a group of other Medieval Jewish sages known as the Tosefotists are found on the opposite side of the page.

This layout made it easy to read and study, and proved an immediate hit with customers. Though their title pages no longer carried a printed dedication to Pope Leo X, these beautiful books continued to be printed with his permission, enabling even more Jewish communities to study and learn from complete sets of the printed Talmud.

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Posted by on July 23, 2020 in Uncategorized


Salónica, el refugio de los judíos sefardíes

Fue el gran lugar de acogida de los judíos expulsados de la península en 1492. Ellos enriquecieron esta ciudad hoy griega.

Por Julián Elliot

Detalle de una postal de Salónica de 1917, probablemente antes del gran incendio de aquel mismo año

Diario Judío México – En 2019 caducaba el plazo para que los descendientes de los sefardíes expulsados de España en 1492 pudiesen solicitar la nacionalidad española. Cinco siglos después de que los Reyes Católicos echaran a los judíos de Sefarad (como la Biblia denomina en hebreo a la península ibérica), una ley sancionada en 2015 por unanimidad en el Congreso buscó enmendar esa deuda pendiente.

Los sefardíes emigraron a diversos destinos tras la expulsión. De todos ellos, ninguno preservó tanto el espíritu y las costumbres de su añorada Sefarad como Salónica. Esta capital llegó a ser por momentos la segunda metrópolis más importante del Imperio otomano, gracias, en buena medida, a esos exiliados.

Salónica, perteneciente a Grecia en la Antigüedad y de nuevo a partir de 1912, fue durante medio milenio, hasta el exterminio nazi, lo más parecido a una patria hebrea cuando no existía el estado de Israel. De hecho, se convirtió durante su apogeo, bajo los musulmanes, en el hogar de la comunidad judía más grande, próspera e influyente del planeta por el impulso sefardí.

Fotografía de una familia judía en Salónica en el año 1917

Un imperio multiétnico

Aunque los sefardíes no fueron la primera comunidad judía en radicarse allí. Siglos antes lo habían hecho los romaniotes, procedentes en gran parte de Alejandría . Y a finales del siglo XIV llegaron los asquenazis huyendo de las persecuciones en Europa central y oriental.

Además de ser un puerto muy dinámico, hacía de bisagra entre Italia y los Balcanes, al oeste, y el Imperio otomano, al este. De ahí que este quisiera la plaza. La anexionó en 1430 bajo el sultán Murad II.

La población islámica ocupó en adelante la mayoría de los puestos clave institucionales y sociales. Sin embargo, las nuevas autoridades garantizaron las prerrogativas habituales en estos casos a los judíos y los cristianos, en tanto “pueblos del Libro”.

Cierta libertad de culto, un alto grado de autogobierno de su comunidad y algunas exenciones fiscales se contaron entre esos privilegios.


Judíos bienvenidos

Los sultanes, de hecho, recibieron a los sefardíes con los brazos abiertos. No entendían que España se desprendiera con tanta facilidad de este preciado capital humano. Solimán el Magnífico llegó a comentar que “se maravillaba de que hubiesen echado a los judíos de Castilla, pues era echar la riqueza”.

Fue una jugada magistral. Los judíos enseñaron a fabricar a los otomanos de arcabuces a artillería pesada. También crearon imprentas, las primeras del Imperio. Una minoría de traductores, médicos y banqueros judíos prestaban servicio al propio sultán.

Hubo una proporción de un sefardí por cada otro vecino de Salónica hasta entrado el siglo XX. Ningún otro lugar del mundo reunió tantos judíos en ese medio milenio.

Grabado de mujer judía en el Siglo XIX

La metrópolis se benefició de ello. Hubo que levantar barrios enteros y modernizar el suministro de agua. Más cuando, entre los siglos XVI y XVII, se sumaron a los sefardíes originales muchos otros desplazados de Occidente por asuntos internos de cada reino o por la pugna entre islam y cristiandad.

Debido a su gran número, los sefardíes de Salónica se mantuvieron segregados de otros compañeros de religión. Miraban con desdén a los “griegos”, como llamaban a los romaniotes, y a los “alemanes”, o asquenazis. Sobre todo, los sefardíes procedentes directamente de la península ibérica.

Los judíos eran ciudadanos de segunda en comparación con sus vecinos musulmanes. No obstante, su comunidad fue siempre autónoma. Gracias a esta libertad, los sefardíes pudieron desarrollar una especie de próspero microestado dentro del otomano.

Podían dictar leyes para su congregación, siempre que no chocaran con el orden jurídico imperial. El rabino mayor de Salónica podía incluso encarcelar a los delincuentes judíos.

Calle de Labadika, en uno de los antiguos barrios judíos de Salónica

El oro pañero

La clave inicial del bienestar sefardí del siglo XVI pasó por la artesanía. Pero el gran despegue económico ocurrió a partir de una contrata otorgada por el sultán: la confección de los uniformes de los jenízaros, su guardia pretoriana. Los judíos locales se especializaron en trabajar la lana, con todas las industrias derivadas. Una vez servida la infantería de élite, eran libres de continuar fabricando textiles para otros clientes.

No tardaron en vestir a toda Salónica y a otras ciudades otomanas, e incluso exportaron tejidos a las actuales Hungría e Italia. Fue gracias a una feliz combinación de demanda, telares mecánicos de vanguardia, buen oficio y una valiosa red de lazos familiares e intercomunitarios que conectaban el mundo islámico y la Europa cristiana.

El sector lanero era el más destacado, pero también se dedicaron al algodón y la seda y, fuera del ámbito textil, al trigo y la sal, así como, más tarde, a la manufactura de pólvora y artillería. También importaron artículos suntuarios italianos y balcánicos para aprovechar el regreso de las flotas y caravanas.


La extracción de plata fue una contrata como la pañera. Pero en este caso desastrosa. Los hebreos de la ciudad a quienes se les endilgó no sabían cómo rehuirla.

Inmigrantes muy rentables

A mediados del siglo XVI, Salónica ya generaba los mayores ingresos urbanos del Imperio otomano tras Estambul. La integración social y la prosperidad potenciaron la cultura sefardí. Se abrieron escuelas rabínicas. También se imprimieron los primeros libros en judeoespañol. Se formaron, en realidad, dos idiomas mixtos de lenguas peninsulares y hebreo: el ladino, más culto y usado sobre todo en textos religiosos, y el judezmo, de empleo cotidiano. Ambos se han conservado hasta el presente, cargados de arcaísmos y de palabras en hebreo, turco y griego.

Los sefardíes de Salónica acompañarían el declive otomano a partir del siglo XVII. Los fracasos militares del sultanato, el boom de las rutas atlánticas en detrimento de las mediterráneas, un repunte de la piratería, la escasez de grano y varias galopadas inflacionistas minaron el apogeo del siglo anterior. La decadencia judía se agravó, además, por la mayor carga impositiva con que Estambul trató de compensar la debacle.

Vendedor de limonada de origen judío en Salónica a finales del Siglo XIX

Un segundo esplendor

Sin embargo, los sefardíes iniciaron una remontada a mediados del siglo XIX. Obedeció a múltiples causas. Desde contextos globales como la Revolución Industrial y el mayor peso político de las clases burguesa y trabajadora hasta la construcción de una línea férrea que, a partir de 1871, conectó Salónica con la capital imperial, por el este, y con Europa, por el oeste.

Pero el mayor dinamizador socioeconómico fue legislativo. Se trató de la Tanzimat, una serie de leyes sancionadas de 1839 a 1876 para modernizar el sultanato. Estas reformas implantaron una ciudadanía igualitaria, sin distinción de etnia o de religión.

El cambio diluyó la identidad cultural y erosionó la autonomía de los hebreos. Pero ganaron libertad de acción. Una mayor igualdad de oportunidades, mecanismos optimizados de producción y distribución y una comunicación más fluida con el exterior enriquecieron y modernizaron a la sociedad sefardí y, con ella, a Salónica.

Rabino en Salónica en el año 1918

La población de la ciudad creció exponencialmente. De 30.000 habitantes en 1830 pasó a 157.900 en 1913. De ellos, en 1908, los judíos alcanzaron un pico de entre 80.000 y 93.000, según autores.

Arte y parte de los nuevos tiempos, los sefardíes se politizaron. Bien apoyaron, o bien se opusieron al otomanismo, hasta el punto de convertir Salónica en el bastión principal de la revolución de los Jóvenes Turcos. Pasiones parecidas despertaron ideologías como el socialismo y el sionismo.

De pronto, griegos

La vitalidad cultural se resintió y terminó desapareciendo por una cadena de acontecimientos. La revolución de los Jóvenes Turcos ya había espoleado cierta emigración en 1908, al abogar por un servicio militar obligatorio que algunos judíos rechazaban. Mucho más traumática fue la anexión a Grecia en 1912, tras la conquista de la metrópolis en la primera guerra de los Balcanes.


Atenas forzó con torpeza una helenización que damnificó a la población judía. Los hebreos debieron aprender un nuevo idioma, descansar los domingos en vez de los sábados o servir bajo bandera. Estas alteraciones de su estilo de vida centenario afectaron tanto alos sefardíes que sus líderes intentaron negociar, sin éxito, un estatus de autonomía para Salónica, hacerla una ciudad libre.

Una sucesión de desgracias

Para colmo, en agosto de 1917, un incendio gigantesco se ensañó con la urbe, base aliada durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Iniciado en una cocina, el fuego arrasó un tercio de la capital, el más antiguo. Ardieron tres de cada cuatro manzanas judías. Sin hogar, sin trabajo y sin siquiera donde rezar, muchos emigraron. Los sefardíes iban dejando de ser mayoría.

Fue el inicio de una serie de calamidades. Los edificios nuevos ya no serían suyos, sino propiedad de vecinos griegos. La población helena, además, se multiplicó en 1923, cuando Atenas intercambió con Estambul cristianos por musulmanes. Se disparó la competencia por un empleo.

Un grupo de familias después del ataque sufrido por los judíos de Salónica en 1931

Empezó a haber episodios de antisemitismo. El incidente más grave tuvo lugar en Campbell, un barrio obrero judío asaltado y quemado en 1931 por dos mil exaltados. Hubo una víctima mortal, quinientas familias perdieron su casa y se profanaron decenas de sepulturas. Fue un leve anticipo del horror total. Porque, en el transcurso de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, en 1941, el ejército alemán tomó el mando de la ciudad. Con él viajaba la Gestapo.

Como en tantos otros capítulos del Holocausto, primero se desposeyó a los judíos de derechos. Después se les confiscaron los bienes y se los confinó en un gueto. Allí, los trabajos forzados, las palizas, el hambre y las enfermedades los mataron a cientos. Hasta 1943, cuando comenzó a aplicárseles directamente la Solución Final. Los trenes salían de Barón Hirsch, un barrio contiguo a la estación ferroviaria. Su destino, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Un par de cifras: en el gueto de Barón Hirsch se contabilizaron en torno a 56.000 judíos en febrero de 1943. Al cabo de la guerra no quedaban más de 2.000 en toda la ciudad.

Registro de los judíos de Salónica por los nazis en julio de 1942

Regreso a casa

Algunos supervivientes permanecieron en Salónica. Otros, traumatizados, prefirieron poner distancia. Emigraron a diversos puntos de Europa, Estados Unidos, Argentina o un flamante estado de Israel. Hoy hay unos 1.400 judíos en una ciudad que sigue siendo importante, el segundo puerto de Grecia tras El Pireo ateniense.

Algo más de 132.000 descendientes de aquellos sefardíes expulsados de España en 1492 solicitaron la nacionalidad peninsular en los cuatro años en los que estuvo abierto el plazo, de 2015 a 2019. No se han resuelto aún todas las peticiones, pero varios miles han podido ya regresar a casa. Algunos traen consigo incluso las llaves de aquellas cuyas puertas cerraron en Osuna, Toledo o Zamora hace medio milenio.

Fuente: La Vanguardia 17.7.2020

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Posted by on July 21, 2020 in Uncategorized


Why 42 is the ultimate answer to life and everything

by Dr. Chana Tannenbaum

The Israelites made 42 stops in the wilderness on their way to conquer the Land of Israel; the puzzle is why the Torah lists all of them (Masai)

The order of the Israelite camp in the wilderness. (Jan Luyken,1700 Amsterdam Museum cc 1.0, public domain)

“The ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything is… 42!”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Parshat Masai begins with list of the 42 different stops at which the Jews encamped during the 40 years in the desert. Most readers just skip these verses or run through them quickly. Maimonides writes in his Guide to the Perplexed (3:50):

Know that every story that we find recorded in the Torah is there for a reason. It is essential, whether it is intended to affirm a principle that is one of the foundations of the Torah, or whether its purpose is to [help us] correct some or other action, so that there will be no injustice and cruelty among people. And I shall arrange this in order for you… Hence, the order of the record of the “journeys” would appear – on the surface – to serve no purpose at all.

On the one hand, every word in Torah is there for us to learn from, yet this list in our parsha presents us a challenge to unveil its deeper meanings.

According to Rashi, the list teaches the great compassion that God has for His people. Even though they were punished with 40 years of wandering, they were not actually always on the move: in 38 years, there were a total of 20 Israelite encampments. Taking Rashi’s interpretation several steps further, R. Yitzchak Arama explained that every one of the places listed was a place that God did a very specific kindness for the people, usually in the form of a miracle. Rambam (Maimonides) similarly noted the miracles in the wilderness, maintaining that people may well underestimate the miraculous nature of the Jews’ stay there.

In order to remove all these doubts and to firmly establish the accuracy of the account of these miracles, Scripture enumerates all the stations, so that coming generations may see them, and learn the greatness of the miracle which enabled human beings to live in those places 40 years.

But even without moving around a tremendous amount, life in the desert was difficult for the Children of Israel, not the least because they never knew when they would be moving along. Their camping experiences varied – from a week to a month or a year or even 19 years. Instead of focusing on the mercy of the Divine, R. Ovadiah Seforno explained that this list of encampments highlights the greatness of the people — that they had followed God in the wilderness blindly, never knowing if the next place would be better or worse than the one they were departing, never knowing when the next call to pack up and move out would come. Their residence was totally instable and unpredictable, yet they threw their lot in with God and developed a deep-rooted faith.

Yet another understanding of why the Torah lists all the encampments is found by the medieval Tosafists. They explain that the list is necessary for halakhic reasons. Namely, one is required to make a blessing in every place a miracle happened to one’s forefathers. The Torah therefore gives you the names of the locations so that you can fulfill this obligation.

The kabbalists see no coincidence in the fact that there are 42 stops. After all, one of the many names of God consists of 42 letters. (Hence, it is customary when reading these verses not to have any break-to reflect God’s unity).

The Baal Shem Tov, the father of the Hasidic movement, is quoted as saying that every individual Jew in each generation has to take a 42-step journey from birth to death. All human beings have to know where they came from and where they are going. Don Yitzhak Abarbanel says that this idea hearkens back to the 42 stations that the nation passed through on its way to redemption. Making that real, the Hida (Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai) observed that the first letter of the first four words of the parsha represent the four exiles of the Jewish people: Eileh — These are: Edom (Rome); Masai — the journeys: Madai (Media-Persia); B’nei – children: Bavel (Babylonia); Yisrael – Israel: Yavan (Greece).

The list also highlights four events; the sweet water in Elim, the lack of water in Refidim, the death of Aaron, and the war with the Canaanites. Rabbanit Sharon Rimon has suggested that the list of travels represent the process that the nation must undergo to transform from a group of slaves to a nation that will be able to fight for the land of Israel. The events in the two water stories identified here helped develop the special mutual love relationship between God and the Children of Israel. As that dynamic deepened, Aaron died, and his death came to represent the demise of the entire generation that left Egypt. And finally, the war is the first successful battle of the new generation. Thus, these four events summarize the entire period of wandering and the significance of the trip.

Life is a journey, not a destination. It may be cliché, but it is also true — namely, we should always be moving. There are no shortcuts. Each individual and the nation as a whole must take the long trip, sometimes difficult sometimes unstable and unpredictable and maybe even appearing meaningless, but the challenge of the journey is perhaps necessary, as it ultimately leads to redemption.

A postscript: One of the reasons that progressing toward success can feel particularly difficult is that our role models generally achieve their own success over many years. We often encounter our leadership as role models, especially religious leadership, in their shadow years. They have achieved greatness over the full period of their lives, through many years, and a myriad of experiences. We are remiss when we default into concluding that they were born great — we often know nothing of the road traversed by those who are successful prior to their states as the great ones, and rabbis and rabbinic scholars are no exception to that. How many failings and back-slidings did those who emerged as great Jewish leaders experience before they could hold their own? The chapters of growth in their lives are generally hidden from the eyes of spectators, and we who find them to be leaders miss out when we cannot identity the travail that built up each great individual. If nothing else, this parsha makes sure we know exactly how important is every step of the way.

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Posted by on July 18, 2020 in Uncategorized


How Did Our Biblical Characters Gain Legendary Status?


Moses and King Solomon are two of the most popular figures in the Hebrew Bible, but what do we really know about their lives, and how did they reach such legendary status?

Let’s begin with Moses.

According to the Bible, Moses led our ancestors out of Egyptian bondage and received the Torah from God on Mt. Sinai. Historians, however, have found no evidence of a real Moses in any of the ancient Near Eastern texts. There seems to be a parallel between the birth stories of Moses and of the Assyrian king, Sargon the great (third millennium BCE), including how they were each placed in a basket and found in a river by a young woman.

Rabbinic literature is replete with stories about Moses that are not found in the Bible.

The sages say he was born and died on the 7th of Adar, that he was born six months after conception already circumcised, and that he rejected many Egyptian women who wanted to nurse him. As a young child, he would grab Pharaoh’s crown and put it on his own head. To determine if baby Moses was a threat, the rabbis tell us, Pharaoh ordered a shining piece of gold and a hot coal placed before Moses to see which of the two he would choose. The angel Gabriel guided Moses’ hand to the coal, which Moses put into his mouth – burning his tongue but saving his life.

In the New Testament, Moses is quoted frequently and always positively.

In Acts 26:23, it is even claimed that Moses foretold the arrival of Jesus. In the Quran, Moses (“Musa”) is mentioned 115 times, more than any other person in the book. Even though it repeats some of the most popular stories about him, there are striking differences between the Quranic and Biblical versions. For example, in the Bible it is the daughter of the Pharaoh who acts as a savior (Ex. 2: 5 ff); in the Quran, it is Pharaoh’s wife, Asiya, who tells her husband to adopt the baby (28:9).  

Moses, the charismatic leader of the Israelites in the Exodus story, became the subject of numerous legends across religions and time.

As for King Solomon, another legendary hero…

According to the Hebrew Bible, King Solomon was the son of King David and the second son of Queen Bath-Sheba. He reigned for 40 years (a popular number of years attributed to other kings, like Saul and David), and died at the age of 80.

He built the first temple of Jerusalem and represented the Golden Age of the United Kingdom in ancient Israel. Because of his reputation as a wise person, a number of books were attributed to him, such as the Song of Songs and the Book of Ecclesiastes, and The Wisdom of Solomon (second century BCE). The Jewish historian Josephus (first century CE), portrays King Solomon with a great deal of exaggeration: Not only was he one of the wisest men on earth, but he was also known as an exorcist, knowing how to expel demons.

Like Moses, King Solomon is not mentioned in any ancient Near Eastern text; yet both the Talmud and the Quran consider him a major prophet.

The Greek Orthodox Church views him as a saint. In the Midrash, rabbinic imagination about Solomon knows no bounds. According to Genesis Rabba, he was so wise that he even knew the mysteries of heaven. Deer and gazelles were his forerunners, lions, and tigers his armor bearers. Rabbinic legend also tells us that Solomon was punished for his overbearing pride and removed from the throne by the demon king, Ashmedai.

Also like Moses, King Solomon became the subject of legend across religions and time. What we know (and don’t know) about them raises some fundamental questions about who is ushered into the great hall of heroes in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Let’s take a look at some of those questions now.

“Who wrote the Bible?”

Most traditional commentators argue that the books of Hebrew Scriptures were written by the person that appears in the title. Namely, Moses wrote the Five Books of Moses, Joshua wrote Joshua, Isaiah wrote the Book of Isaiah, etc.

The majority of modern biblical scholars would disagree, maintaining that scriptural stories were transmitted orally for many generations, building upon legends upon legends. Some parts, they argue, were composed before the others, reflecting the ideologies of different schools of thought (known as Jahwist Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly) before the entire text was finally written down by unknown individuals. 

“Is the Bible historically accurate?

The Bible, as we know it, was completed sometime around the second century BCE. Modern liberal biblical scholars maintain that it is impossible to assume the accuracy of biblical stories because we have no way to verify them.

Were Moses and Solomon perfect leaders?

No personality in the Hebrew Bible is flawless. Moses comes off as an angry leader who berates his own people and, as punishment, is denied entry into the Land of Israel (Num. 20:10ff). Similarly, King Solomon is chastised for building temples to idols (I K 11: 7) and for associating with foreign women (I K 11:1).

“Does it matter that Moses and King Solomon may not have actually existed?”

Even if we can never prove that these biblical characters actually existed, they can still serve as role models for us. Despite their shortcomings, they became paragons of perfection.

In Rabbinic literature, for example, Moses is described Mosheh Rabbenu as our teacher par excellence, and King Solomon emerges as the personification of wisdom.

“If the biblical text is not historically accurate in all its details, how should we read it?”

When we attempt to understand and interpret an ancient text, such as the Hebrew Bible, we must first figure out its meaning and scope within the context of the ancient Near East, follow the literary development of the main personalities involved, and pay attention to their positive as well as negative traits.

It is only then that we can begin to figure out what their relevance may be for our time.

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, Ph.D., is the rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, MA, and teaches Ethics at Framingham State University. He also writes at Sonsino’s Blog.

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Posted by on July 17, 2020 in Uncategorized


What Sigmund Freud Knew (But Did Not Understand) About Jews

Sigmund Freud, the “father of psychology,” was thoroughly secular in his professed beliefs and practices. Throughout his writings he expresses a marked disdain, if not outright hostility, towards all religions, including Judaism. “Religion is a universal obsessional neurosis,” he once wrote, and described himself as a “godless Jew” and “one of the most dangerous enemies of religion.”

You get the picture.

In 1930, Freud penned a preface for the publication of a Hebrew translation of one of his works, “Totem and Taboo.” In it he characteristically declares himself as adopting “no Jewish standpoint and making no exceptions in favor of Jewry” and describes himself as having abandoned “all common characteristics” of his fellow Jewish people.

In light of that, what he writes further can only be described as remarkable.

“No reader … will find it easy to put himself in the emotional position of an author who is … completely estranged from the religion of his fathers … but who has yet never repudiated his people. Who feels that he is in his essential nature a Jew and who has no desire to alter that … If the question were to be put to him: ‘Since you have abandoned all these common characteristics of your countrymen, what is there left to you that is Jewish?’ he would reply: ‘A very great deal, and probably its very essence.’ He could not now express that essence clearly in words; but some day, no doubt, it will become accessible to the scientific mind.”

The “author” of whom he speaks is, of course, himself.

Truly remarkable! Freud is telling the world that regardless of his seemingly complete and utter disaffection from the ideas and practices of Judaism, he remains Jewish in his essence — and admits that this is something his scientific mind cannot fully explain.

When unpacked, I believe that this remarkable statement reflects a critical idea that holds the key to understanding one of the Jewish People’s most puzzling characteristics.

A Pattern of Discord

There’s the well-worn quip about two Jews having three opinions, which actually holds a great deal of truth. We Jews are not in the habit of agreeing with each other about much of anything. Euphemistically we refer to it as Jewish diversity, but it really seems more like we’re just hard-wired with a penchant for discord. What’s more, it has been this way for the longest time, going back to the hair-splitting Talmudic debates between the Houses of Shammai and Hillel, and even earlier. The Talmud seems to suggest that this is the way it was meant to be: “Just as their faces are not alike, so their opinions are not alike.”1

That’s just the way it is.

Jews can argue about almost everything under the sun, and we do. We not only debate how to observe Shabbat, what kind of food we should eat, or what our synagogues ought to look like. We also argue about how to achieve peace for Israel, immigration policy, and what to do about gun violence, growing assimilation and anti-semitism. And we have nearly as many prayer liturgies as there are Jews…

Is Jewish Unity a Realistic Objective?

What is so utterly baffling about this phenomenon is that at the same time that we relentlessly squabble with each other, most of us sincerely crave Jewish unity. We long for it, we moralize to each other about it, and we wring our hands in despair when it eludes us. (Then we turn around and blame each other for that…) Conversely, we exult over any fleeting manifestations of Jewish togetherness. We get goosebumps every time we witness a momentary coming together of Jews from differing persuasions, ancestral traditions or modes of practice.

So, what gives? How can a people so divided into philosophical groups and subgroups, schools of thought, affiliations and what-have-you even talk about being an Am Echad — a unified, singular people, a nation of one? How can we be expected to “love our fellow as we love ourselves”, when we can hardly identify any commonalities between us?

Am I expected to love that fellow who makes me cringe every time he opens his mouth? The one whose understanding of Judaism I think is completely off the rails? The one whose behavior I consider to be an outright disgrace?

With such intense discord, how can we realistically aspire to Jewish unity?

The Soul Factor

Enter the concept of the Jewish neshamah, the soul, which the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman (1745-1812), teaches is the enduring spiritual core of every Jew. The place of our unvarying and indivisible Jewishness, he writes, is a spark of Divinity identical within each and every Jew. This is the essence of our Jewishness, and it supersedes and transcends the many differences that separate us.

It is true that we differ about matters of vital importance. We may be oceans apart when it comes to the fundamentals of Judaism: G‑d, Torah, mitzvot. But remarkably, those differences don’t define the core of our inner Jewishness. What defines our Jewish selves is the neshama, by which we are all essentially and equally Jewish. Repeat: essentially and equally Jewish.

Despite our profound disagreements about what being Jewish is supposed to look like, and how our Jewishness ought to be manifested, our underlying Jewishness is absolute and uniform.

The same concept applies on the individual level. We all experience ups and downs in our day-to-day Jewish performance. Some days we just do better Jewishly than others… But despite those variations in our “doing Jewish,” the nature of our “being Jewish” remains unchanged. Even more: it is unchangeable. It is a constant. It is who we are. Each and every one of us. All the time.

Freud, the self-described “godless Jew,” understood this about his Jewishness. And while he acknowledges his inability to explain it, he readily accepts the existence of his Jewish essence and fully embraces it. Rabbi Schneur Zalman and the Rebbes of Chabad would hardly be surprised. I can imagine them smiling knowingly…

The Key to Unity

Now, returning to the puzzle of Jewish unity. How can there possibly be Jewish unity In the face of all the discord and disunity that exists within our people? It is by realizing that as Jews our kinship is not the product of similar ideas or shared values, or even our commitment to Torah and mitzvot. Realistically, those vary from time to time and from individual to individual. Rather, our unity is a reality far deeper, far more enduring and far more consistent than any of our ideas or behaviors. Our unity is the oneness of our essence.

If we would take the time to reflect on the lofty inner nature of every Jewish soul, we would discover that the imperative to “love our fellow as we love ourselves” is not an idealistic exaggeration or a poetic platitude, but a reality that sits within each of us, which we are urged to uncover and to embrace. To be sure, the path to reaching that destination is not an easy one to navigate, but it is very much within our ability to achieve.FOOTNOTES1.

Berachot 58.

By Yosef Landa

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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Uncategorized


Dershowitz: Beinart’s Solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Is an Invitation to Possible Genocide

by Alan Dershowitz

Peter Beinart. Photo: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

Peter Beinart’s New York Times op-ed advocating the end of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is a study in historical ignorance, willful deception and arrogant rejection of democracy.

Beinart’s Historical Ignorance

Beinart proposed that a single bi-national, bi-religious state in what is now Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip replace current Israel, whose Jewish population would then be given a “homeland” within the new nation. But Beinart is woefully ignorant of previous attempts to create or maintain bi-national or bi-religious states. He ignores the lessons of history surrounding the former Yugoslavia—Tito’s failed effort to create a single artificial nation from different ethnicities and religions—which ended in genocide, tragedy and its breakup into several states now living in relative peace. He omits any mention of Lebanon—a failed experiment in sharing power between Muslims and Christians—which ended with the expulsion of most of the Christian population. He writes as if Hindu India still included Muslim Pakistan, instead of having been divided after considerable bloodshed and divisiveness. He focuses instead on two countries, Northern Ireland and South Africa, which bear little relationship to current-day Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Northern Ireland is a country whose population is ethnically similar, with only religious differences at a time when religion is playing a far less important role in the life of many secular Northern Irish. South Africa was a country in which a tiny minority of whites dominated a large majority of Blacks, and is now a dominantly Black nation.

Israel and the Palestinian territories are totally different. The population of Israel is a mixture of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, Muslims and Christians. The West Bank and Gaza are comprised almost exclusively of Muslim Arabs.

There used to be a mixture of Muslims and Christians, but most Christians have been forced out. The combined population of the West Bank and Gaza is close in number to the Jewish population of Israel. If Israel were to end its existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people—as Beinart advocates—and become a Jewish “homeland” in a single bi-national, bi-religious state, a demographic war would become inevitable, in which Jews and Muslims would compete to become a majority. As soon as a Muslim majority materialized, the Jewish “homeland” would become precisely the kind of “Bantustan” that Beinart has railed against in the context of South Africa. The Jewish minority would be ruled by the Muslim majority, even if it were given some degree of autonomy. Their protection would be largely in the hands of the Muslim majority, many of whom believe there is no place for a Jewish entity anywhere in the region.

It was precisely this fear that led to the creation of political Zionism in the 19th century. Theodor Herzl and others experienced the antisemitism of Europe and the inability of the Jewish minority there to protect itself against pogroms and discrimination. Placing the safety of Israel’s Jewish population in the hands of a potentially hostile Muslim majority would be an invitation to possible genocide.

Beinart is insistent that today’s Israelis and Jews must ignore the lessons of the Holocaust. But those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. And Jews cannot afford to see a repetition of their tragic past.

Beinart never discusses the issue of who would control the armed forces and, most particular, Israel’s nuclear arsenal, under a bi-national and bi-religious state. Recall that the current Palestine Liberation Organization constitution demands that a Palestinian state be an Islamic nation bound by Sharia law. Even if the Palestinian majority state would allow the Jewish minority homeland to have its own domestic laws, the state itself, with its Muslim majority, would presumably control the armed forces. This would create yet another Islamic state, among the many that currently exist—but this one would have a nuclear arsenal. A Palestinian majority would also not allow persecuted Jews from around the world to seek asylum, as they can today under the Law of Return. Instead, the Palestinian state would enact its own law of return that would allow millions of exiles to “return” and assure a permanent Muslim supermajority.

Beinart’s Willful Deception

Beinart’s article is maliciously deceptive insofar as it places the blame for the absence of a two-state solution largely on Israel, willfully omitting Israel’s willingness over many decades to accept a Palestinian state. In 1937 to 1938, the Peel Commission recommended the division of British-controlled Mandatory Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. The proposed Jewish state was far smaller and less contiguous than the state offered to the Palestinian-Arabs. The Jews reluctantly accepted the two-state offer, while the Palestinians adamantly rejected it—concluding they wanted there not to be a Jewish state more than they wanted their own state.

The same is true in 1947 and 1948, when the United Nations partitioned Mandatory Palestine into two states for two peoples. The Jews once again accepted that proposal, in November 1947, while the Arabs rejected it and went to war against Israel after the latter declared its independence in May 1948.

In 1967, the Israelis accepted United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which would have returned the vast majority of the disputed lands to the Arabs. The Arabs convened in Khartoum, instead, and issued their infamous “three no’s”: no peace, no recognition, no negotiations.

In 2000 and 2001, President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a state on more than 95 percent of the disputed territories. Yasser Arafat rejected it and commenced an intifada that killed over 4,000 people.

In 2008, Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians even more than did Barak.

You wouldn’t know any of this from reading Beinart’s biased and deceptive “history.” Beinart willfully omits these facts because they don’t serve his biased narrative. He claims to know what is best for both Israelis and Palestinians, without regard to what they want. He ignores the wishes of those who have the most at stake.

Beinart’s Rejection of Democracy

Beinart arrogantly rejects democracy and the polls that show most Israelis and Palestinians are opposed to his proposed one-state solution. He has it exactly backwards when he argues that only “Palestinian and Jewish hardliners” resist his one-state solution. In reality, it is only hardliners who want one state: many Muslim hardliners want one Palestinian state “from the river to the see,” and some Jewish hardliners want a Jewish state in all of biblical Israel.

Beinart rejects these democratic preferences.

Beinart’s attempt to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people would undo decades of sacrifice and hard work by Zionists since the middle of the 19th century. Despite its imperfections, Israel is a wonder to the world. It has given more to humankind—scientifically, medically, technologically, literarily and in so many other areas—in the 72 years of its existence than have the overwhelming majority of far-older countries throughout their entire histories. No nation faced with the threats comparable to those faced by Israel—including terrorism, rocket and terror tunnels attacks as well as Iranian aggression—has ever had a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law and concern for enemy civilians than has Israel.

In a world with so many Islamic, Christian and other religious and national states, why does Beinart believe there is no room for one nation-state of the Jewish people capable of protecting its citizens from aggression, capable of welcoming oppressed Jews from around the world and dedicated to equal rights for all of its citizens?

Beinart’s nasty and ignorant article belongs in the waste basket of history. He has lost all claim to speak for any segment of the pro-Israel and Jewish communities by siding with those who would end the existence of the only nation-state of the Jewish people.

Fortunately, Beinart’s anti-Israel arguments are likely to be accepted only by left-wing Jews who are embarrassed by Israel’s strength and determination to protect the Jewish people against a repeat of history’s tragedies. It was this history that led to the widespread acceptance of Zionism and the formation of the democratic Jewish nation-state.

The citizens of Israel—both Jewish and Muslim—will be the ones to decide on the appropriate solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. They overwhelmingly support a two-state solution, and they overwhelmingly reject Beinart’s perilous solution. If the Palestinians want to have input in these decisions, they will have to come to the table and negotiate. Their fate and the fate of their Israeli neighbors will not be decided on the op-ed pages of The New York Times. It will be decided on the ground by direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus at Harvard Law School, is the author of The Case for Israel and Defending Israel.

A version of this article was originally published by Newsweek. 

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Posted by on July 14, 2020 in Uncategorized


Una familia musulmana y otra judía se salvan mutuamente

 por Menucha Chana Levin

Una familia musulmana y otra judía se salvan mutuamente

Durante el Holocausto, la familia Hardagas ocultó a la familia Kabiljo en Sarajevo. Ellos les devolvieron el favor 50 años más tarde.

En 1941 los nazis invadieron Yugoslavia, se apropiaron de Sarajevo, saquearon la antigua sinagoga y quemaron los valiosos Rollos de la Torá de 400 años de antigüedad.

Los judíos de Yugoslavia nunca fueron forzados a vivir en guetos y los trataron mejor que a los judíos de la mayoría de los países de Europa Occidental. En los años 30, había unos 12.000 judíos en Sarajevo y otros 2.000 en otras ciudades. Aunque la población judía fue diezmada durante el Holocausto y unas 10.000 personas fueron asesinadas por los croatas pronazis, algunos musulmanes trataron de proteger a sus vecinos judíos.

La Sinagoga de Sarajevo, 1941

La Gestapo abrió una oficina frente a la casa de un musulmán que vendía muebles, Mustafá Hardaga y su esposa, Zejneba. Por las noches, los Hardaga oían los gritos agonizantes de los prisioneros que eran torturados en la cárcel.

Mustafá Hardaga, foto de la colección de Yad Vashem

Iosef Kabiljo, un judío, era el socio de Mustafá Hardaga y un buen amigo. Cuando la casa de los Kabiljo fue destruida durante un bombardeo nazi, los Hardaga invitaron a la otra familia a vivir en su hogar, a pesar del terrible riesgo que eso implicaba para sus propias vidas.

“Ustedes son nuestros hermanos y tus hijos son como nuestros hijos. Siéntanse en su casa y todo lo que tenemos es de ustedes”.

Un día la Gestapo apareció en la puerta de los Hardaga para revisar sus documentos. Iosef Kabiljo, su esposa y su hija se escondieron en un enorme armario, detrás de la ropa. Milagrosamente no los descubrieron.

Los Kabiljo permanecieron ocultos en la casa de la familia Hardaga hasta que pudieron reubicarse en la ciudad bosnia de Mostar, bajo gobierno italiano, que en ese momento era un lugar seguro para los judíos.

Rivka Kabiljo con sus hijos y Zejneba Hardaga (a la derecha) caminando en Sarajevo. Colección de Yad Vashem.

Iosef Kabiljo se quedó para liquidar el negocio, pero eventualmente los nazis lo atraparon. Debido a la fuerte nevada, no pudieron transferir a los prisioneros de Sarajevo al infame campo Jasenovac, cerca de Zagreb. Allí los croatas mataban a serbios, judíos y gitanos por igual. Al salvarse de ese destino, los prisioneros fueron obligados a limpiar la nieve de las calles con sus piernas encadenadas.

Un día, Iosef Kabiljo notó que Zejneba Hardaga estaba parada en una esquina. Ella lo miró con los ojos llenos de lágrimas. A pesar del peligro, Zenejba le llevó comida para él y para los otros prisioneros.

Iosef logró escaparse y huyó a la casa de los Hardaga.

Los nazis descubrieron que los Hardaga ayudaban a los judíos y ejecutaron a Ahmed Sadik, el padre de Zejneba, quien había falsificado documentos para familias judías.

La familia Kabiljo logró sobrevivir la guerra y eventualmente se establecieron en Jerusalem. Ellos pidieron a Yad Vashem que reconocieran a la familia Hardaga y a Ahmed Sadik como ‘Justos de las Naciones’, y plantaron un árbol en homenaje a su valentía.

Tras el fallecimiento de Mustafá Hardaga en los años 60, los Kabiljo se mantuvieron en contacto con Zejneba y con su hija Sara.

Pasaron los años. En 1992 comenzó una guerra espantosa en Bosnia, cuya población era una mezcla de bosnios musulmanes, serbios ortodoxos y croatas católicos romanos. Cuando Yugoslavia se separó, las divisiones raciales y religiosas que habían estado controladas bajo el comunismo finalmente hicieron erupción. La guerra de Bosnia, con sus masacres, barbaridades y genocidio, se convirtió en el peor conflicto de Europa después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial.

Durante los años 1992 y 1994, casi tres millones de personas se vieron obligadas a abandonar sus hogares, más de 100.000 personas fueron asesinadas y miles de mujeres fueron atacadas. Las tropas serbias rodeaban Sarajevo, y los francotiradores le disparaban a cualquiera que intentara salir de su casa.

En medio de ese sufrimiento estaban atrapadas Zejneba Hardaga, su hija Sara Pecanac, su yerno Branimir y una nieta de nueve años, Sacha. Al ver a sus vecinos asesinados en las calles, vivían con temor a ser las próximas víctimas.

Sin tener alimentos, la familia sobrevivió durante semanas comiendo una sopa preparada con césped que juntaron en un parque local. Tenían que refugiarse en el sótano de su casa que estaba sitiada.

Sarajevo en ruinas, 1992

Desesperados, asustados y aislados, perdieron las esperanzas de lograr sobrevivir a esa espantosa situación. Pero entonces llegó un mensaje desde Israel.

En Jerusalem, sus antiguos amigos, los Kabiljo, escuchaban ansiosamente las noticias sobre Bosnia y se preguntaban si la familia Hardaga seguía viva. Ellos se pusieron en contacto con un periodista israelí que viajaba a Bosnia para cubrir la guerra. Este periodista transmitió a una organización en Sarajevo el mensaje de que la familia Kabiljo estaba buscando a Zejneba. Ellos se alegraron mucho al descubrir que Zejneba, su hija Sara y otros dos miembros de la familia seguían con vida.

Sara Pecanac se sorprendió al oír que los Kabiljo trataban de ayudarlos. Ella sólo descubrió la historia del heroísmo de su familia durante el Holocausto en 1984. “Mi padre había fallecido y mi madre no hablaba mucho de eso”, dijo Sara sobre la valentía de su familia. Sin embargo, su madre le había dicho: “Uno no puede controlar cuán rico, cuán inteligente o cuán exitoso será. Pero sí puede controlar cuán bueno será”.

Zejneba (la cuarta desde la derecha) en la ceremonia en que plantaron un árbol en honor a su familia. Yad Vashem, 1985.

Los Kabiljo se pusieron en contacto con Yad Vashem para pedir ayuda en el rescate de la familia que los había salvado a ellos. Yad Vashem pidió permiso al presidente de Bosnia, pero él se negó a permitir que la familia saliera del país en guerra. Los Kabiljo no se dieron por vencidos y siguieron luchando para ayudar a los amigos que consideraban como su propia familia. Ellos llevaron el caso ante el Primer Ministro Itzjak Rabin. Eventualmente, a comienzos de 1994, Sara Pecanac, su esposo, su hija y su madre Zejneba se unieron a otros 300 refugiados en un convoy de seis autobuses que partieron desde las ruinas de la ciudad de Sarajevo. Cuando tuvieron que elegir un destino, de inmediato escogieron Jerusalem.

Sara Pecanac

“Imagina que estás en esa terrible situación, necesitas ayuda y la recibes de la misma familia que tu familia salvó 50 años antes”, dijo Sara Pecanac. El profundo lazo que conecta a las dos familias fue probablemente el ímpetu que inspiró a Sara y a su familia a convertirse al judaísmo. “Fue natural que deseara ser judía. Para mí es un honor pertenecer a este pueblo”, explicó Sara. Ahora Sara trabaja para Yad Vashem, donde la historia de su familia es exhibida como parte del museo, donde el registro de su familia se encuentra en el archivo de los ‘Justos de las Naciones’, y donde su madre plantó un árbol en honor al coraje y la humanidad de su familia.

Según tomado de,

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Posted by on July 8, 2020 in Uncategorized