Thursday, October 31, 2013

How It Was Decided Who Went to Europe and Who Went to Neighboring Judean States in 70 CE

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                            

People lived in communities before 70 CE when Jerusalem was destroyed for long periods of time.  They davened (prayed) together in their communities, whether they were at the Temple or in their own community groups.  The First Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE and rebuilt in 538-515 BCE.  This 2nd one was not destroyed until 70 CE when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.   These groups that prayed together would have needed to have at least one Cohen in their midst.  The Cohen was the very important leader in prayer and first to read from the Torah.  Neighborhood groups would have made sure that this traveling group would have had a Cohen in their midst.  They would have wanted at least one Levite as well.  The rest could have been who we call "Israelites, "  or the rest of the Jews of the tribe of Judah and maybe others, like Benjamin and such who still lived with them.

Each community or block of homes had its own leader.  He would have been probably a Cohen, or if none lived there, a Levite, or another Israelite.  These leaders were the richest and smartest with leadership qualities.  They would have been the one to settle arguments between people,and  handle all the problems.  They were the person looked up to, a cross between a G-dfather like the Italians had and a Rabbi.  It became an inherited position, from father to son.

When Jerusalem was burned down, after starving the people first, and much bloodshed in 70 CE, those that survived would have followed their leaders.  Some had seen and heard of the green grasses of Europe in trading expeditions, and might have thought of leading his charges there.  Other leaders would have had  connections nearer to Judah  and would have led people in that direction.

This is how we separated from each other.  Groups would have followed the Mediterranean into today's Turkey and crossed over into Europe that way while others went eastward or down south back into Egypt , Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc.  Syria had been explored and lived in by Jews from King David's days, so that was probably chosen right away as a good place to find refuge.

Today the idea of neighborhood leadership still exists in Syria, at least before the Civil War.    They haven't had to call the police at every trivial problem like we do in the USA.  Instead, they have this neighborhood leader who settles things, something like a wise King Solomon.  The position happens to be hereditary, and it is an expensive position, because after settling some big bruha, the leader is expected to treat everyone at a restaurant or hall for a big party, depending on the depth of the problem.  It's a great way to celebrate a decision.

This way of handling neighborhood events happens in Egypt, as well.  One recent disagreement in a new residential district was settled by a group of the elderly men  of the neighborhood who came as a group to the parties involved and stayed until the 2 with the disagreement shook hands.  Everyone was  made to feel better about the whole thing this way without losing face.  It's very diplomatic.

The United States has not had the luxury of such comradeship in neighborhoods because of its newness and being settled by a conglomeration of people from all over the world.  We only hear about such decision making from being in on an interceding of someone who has a problem such as alcohol and needs an intervention of family and friends.  Only instead of a neighborhood g-dfather, they have a counselor in charge.

Note that from 70 CE, both Ashkenazi Jews, Mizrachi Jews and Sephardic Jews were all just from the tribes of Judah, the biggest and strongest of the tribes from the very beginning and now were still  remaining after being attacked by Babylon and Assyria and taking away tribal members.  The 10 tribes had wound up being scattered all over the Middle East and a little into the Far east, with Pakistan and Afghanistan  being farther away.  They were taken to  Persia and were there for a long time.  Some wound up in India.  There was not a place in the Middle East that the 10 tribes were not taken into for one reason or another.  And yet, we still had Jews remaining in the destroyed state of Judah and Israel, holding down the fort.

France was not that far from Judah.  That was a place they most likely landed at after being in Rome and the rest of Italy.  Whether they wandered there on their own or were taken as Roman soldiers or slaves, they got to France and then Germany.  And that's the story of how Ashkenazi Jews came to be.  From there it was a time of wandering from place to place, England, up the eastern European land into Russia, and then even to Khazaria where it was like another Jewish state, a place of refuge because their Bulan (king) decided to become Jewish.  Khazaria is on the south side of Russia.  That state lasted a while, then was taken over by Russia.

And who replaced those leaders?  The rabbis did, of course.  No longer having the Temple didn't mean the end of Judaism.  The people improvised with their g-d given intelligence and created synagogues and Rabbis.  That was the center of Judaism and the Rabbis had to settle all the  problems.

Ashkenazis tramped through unknown territory whereas the Middle East was pretty well occupied.  Comparing the two, Europe was the wild west.  You didn't know who you were going to meet up with;  Barbarians, tattooed men, painted men, they didn't have an inkling, so young men who were not married, being the most adventurous, would venture forth.  Sometimes they got lost and didn't make it back to a main established group and so somebody would marry into the pagan group, teach them about Judaism, and thus establish a Jewish family.  They were forced into this early on in their adventures until their women were brave enough to accompany them.  It was not an established practice but did happen occasionally.  So there was more intermarrying amongst Ashkenazis than Sephardis and Mizrachi Jews.

Even if Mizrachis did intermarry, where they were, they could have been marrying up with a lost tribal member anyway.  By 600 CE, Islam was spreading causing Jewish tribes to become Muslims.  Before that, people were carried away and others were brought in to take their place and back again, so people were completely mixed up in that one area called the Middle East.  Iran's population probably is carrying a lot of Jewish genes.  I'm sure there are many Syrians with Jewish genes.

One of the practices of Arab people is to marry within the family.  That happened with many Jews as well.  Cousins married cousins.  Where it is not prevalent in today's Jewish society, it still is practiced in the Arab society in certain cases.  Jews, if from the same neighborhood for a long period, can go back at least 5 generations to find out they are related to their spouse to some degree.

Reference:  My Syrian Rabbi; lecture.

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