Monday, November 24, 2014

How Israel's Standards Differ From Her Neighbors in Daily LIfe

Nadene Goldfoot                       

Israel, a Jewish state,  follows rabbis' views based on the Torah, the Laws of Moses.  They have adopted a viewpoint that is broad enough to include every living soul.

This is similar to the USA following their Constitution that was written by 1776 by a body of righteous men with astounding foresight for their day who came from people who chose to brave the elements and social pressures and immigrate to a new land where they could have religious freedom.  They didn't think to include racial freedom.  

The rabbis taught 3,000 years ago, that non-Jews were to be accorded full rights.  Before the throne of G-d there is no difference between the Jew and the non-Jew," said Samuel. "There are good and noble men among all the nations of the world."  This was said 2,876 years before the new Americans wrote similar such ideas into their constitution in 1776.  Strangely, the Puritans in New Amsterdam (New York) didn't want to accept into their land the Jewish Dutch-Spaniards who turned out to own their Amsterdam company They were Jews who owned it.  When this was revealed, they did allow them to land.
 The Samuel who said this lived in the 11th century BCE and was a prophet and the last Israelite judge, for Israel had judges before they had kings.   He was born in a Levitical family, being from the tribe of Levi, one of the 12 tribes of Jacob who were given the special job of being the teachers and helpers of the Cohens, another special position awarded to Aaron, brother of Moses and Aaron's descendants.  We have brother helping brother, in respect.

His family lived on Mt. Ephraim and at Ramah (Ramathaim-Zophim)  in the land of Zuph (a district, meaning of word is honeycomb in Hebrew).  His mother consecrated him  before he was born to be a Nazirite who would serve the sanctuary in Shiloh, where the ark and Tabernacle were kept.   While there he received a Divine call when only a child and later foretold the destruction of the House of Eli, the high priest at the shrine of Shiloh and one of the last judges, a mentor of Samuel.. Eli had fallen from his chair when he heard of the Philistine capture of the Ark.  His family was subsequently deprived of the high priesthood due to the immoral conduct of his sons Hohni and Phinehas.   Samuel  later lived in Ramah and judged the Israelites in the special sacred towns of Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh.  By doing this he was preparing the way for national unity.

It most likely was he who instigated the gathering of prophets to guide people.  It was he who weakened by listening to his people who wanted a king like other people surrounding them, and he chose Saul.  He later anointed David as Saul's successor, so he played a very important part in our history, both religiously and politically by picking  two of our  kings. There was no democracy in those days.  He was a prophet who had a 6th sense through G-d's guidance  who could fill the bill.  He was trusted by the people.  Leave it to his mother; she had everything to do with his future, just like Jewish mothers today play a most important role.

In the philosophy of the prophets and rabbis who followed, they concluded that their religion did not accept an official set of beliefs other than what the Torah had laid down.  While leaders of other religions held bitter debates over doctrine, our rabbis insisted that such matters be left to each individual.  They worked on developing practical rules for daily life so that every phase of it---from doing business to eating a meal---could be conducted with justice and decency, purity and kindness.    Such things as what happens when we die and all the thoughts included in this were not the goal to decide about with the rabbis.  This is a major part of where we differ from Christianity and Islam.  It believes that if you live your daily life correctly, the rest is in the hands of what G-d wants.  

In Israel, the Jews try to live up to a standard set down thousands of years ago of being truly noble in their actions and decisions.  They've taken on acts that help them to live up to this standard but which add a burden to their life that is slightly different from other people.  

1. Samuel forbade merchants to make more than 1/6th profit on a sale.  Such a standard cuts into one's possible profits.  Yet, from living in others' countries and only being allowed to deal with lending money, a distasteful  occupation for their own people so left for the Jews who were not allowed to buy land or be in other occupations, Jews were held in distaste as moneylenders.  Usually the kings that they lent money to managed to weasel out of the debt by banishing them from their country. As it turned out, Gentiles were asking a higher % of interest than Jews were.  Jews had already left their homeland in pursuit of trading.  I found this interesting as the ruling came long before Jews lived in other countries of Europe where the only occupation open to them was moneylending.  Our ancestors were already open to the facts of not charging high interest.  

2. They were to show mercy to criminals.  They felt that life comes from G-d and that only G-d should end life, and so they all but abolished capital punishment.  Israel follows this.  Now an atheistic country such as Russia would not believe in this.  They have replaced mercy with Siberia.  This shows how Israel was able to live with their decision of releasing Palestinian murderers  in a trade for peace with their neighbors, a decision unfortunately that wasn't so good.  One knows that Israelis will show mercy whereas I'm yet to see their neighbors follow suit.  Israelis are called Sabras; hard on the outside but soft on the inside.  The Sabra is a prickly pear, common in Israel.  They may come on harshly, but have their soft heart.  

3. They would lose some of their natural sleep.  It was said by rabbis that those who wake early to study a chapter of sacred text of Torah or other works brings a special blessing on the people of Israel.  We just lost 4 rabbis in their special morning prayers.  We will miss their blessings.  They died while following their teachings.  The friends of the terrorists who slaughtered them with butcher knives celebrated their death by passing out candy to each other and cheering.  This shows how utterly different we are in our philosophies.  Our experience in seeing the Egyptian soldiers drowning in the sea chasing the people of the Exodus taught us not to ever cheer at someone else's pain and death.  Every time I see our neighbors doing this about a death of a Jew, I shake my head in wondering how people could think like this  

4.  They would feel some discomfort at times.  All animals are to be treated with the utmost consideration.  Their masters, pet owners, are to feed them before we have our own meal.   Jews are to think of others first before themselves from this teaching, even though it makes one a little uncomfortable at that moment.   It would be in what you say to them, how you treat them.  Here's where the Golden Rule comes in.  "Don't do to others what you wouldn't want done to you."   

Well, we're used to doing these things.  It's 2nd nature to us.  No big deal.  Are these acceptable ideas with our neighbors?  Right now all I see is that they think of taking over our Israel and this is their main goal in life.  The worst thing is that the rest of the world seems to think that's okay. They show it with their BDS movement and with how they vote at the UN.  We're a small group of a crazy people who still believe and trust in G-d and follow the 3,000 year old rules of the man who led us out of bondage, of slavery.  By not giving up our standards, we have achieved the impossible.  We're back home-against all odds again. 
 Do the odds figure that we could?  What were the odds  that the Jews are the only ancient people of the area who survived as a people?  No, not the Palestinians.  There never has been a state of Palestine.  Arabs aren't even one of the ancient people.  They're fairly new as a people who inhabited the Arabian peninsula and certain adjacent regions.  .  Have your ever read that Joshua fought the Arabs?  Did you know that Arabic is a cognate to Hebrew and is a branch of the Semitic languages?  It was Eber that was the forefather of Abraham as well as of Joktan, the ancestor of the southern Arabs.  Arabs trace their line back to Ishmael, half brother of Isaac.   Syria is a land that goes back in the Bible but was called Aram.  In the 8th century BCE Syria (Aram) was overrun by the Assyrians.  Jews lived there as well as in Israel and Judah.  The Phoenicians were in the Bible but do not exist today.  Bagdad was in the Bible and was not a friend. they attacked and took away Israelis as slaves in 597 and 586 BCE.   Iran was called Persia.  It was the scene of Queen Esther and our Purim Story where Haman plotted to kill all Jews in the realm.      

               The Jewish Homeland as voted on by League of Nations included blue and gold in map of Israel and Jordan

We needed our state and prayed for 2,000 years, mainly because of anti-Semitic acts against us  until the right time came for us to return.  We didn't attack a nation in order to achieve this great need.  The League of Nations agreed with us and in the division of land at the end of WWI, awarded the land back to us.  

What fighting we had to do was in defense of our lives and  in regaining land rightfully already decided to be ours.  We stood up for our rights  decided by the whole world.  We even had to do it with the British acting as a deterrent to our rights. Now that  we're back, we are facing  the very reason that brought us back, anti-Semitism,  because we exist.  .  

Resource: My People, Abba Eban's History of the Jews
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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