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Crisis in God 2: Wisdom of Kahana
There have been some extremely interesting responses to the first article regarding this Crisis issue. Some of it can be found in the Hubpage Comments section, but most of it has been through an exchange of private emails by several readers that wanted a less public forum to express and discuss their viewpoints. I must admit, I am quite amazed by the particular stand of some of those viewpoints, which in my opinion are representative of the exact dilemma I was trying to pinpoint and highlight. In most cases it was full acknowledgement that the changes to the ordinances, commandments, obligations have occurred but such change was a necessity and in fact a fundamental requirement. There was this presumption on their part that God wanted us to change, perhaps even encouraged us to do so. What we in our modern society perceive as archaic, pagan ritualistic, blatant tribalism, He too must perceive it exactly in the same manner and therefore, though the Lord has not stated outright, there must also be an unwritten commandment to adapt, modify, edit, abandon, exchange, and even overrule all His previous commandments. In some of their responses, the Torah has been referred to as an out-dated, prehistoric document from an age of Barbarism that must be rewritten for modern times and only served as a unifying force 30 centuries ago. Furthermore, these are statements by those that refer to themselves as faithful, religious and obedient Jews that follow God’s will. I don’t know if it’s just me, but do others not see the incongruity of these statements. That if one wants to overhaul the Hebraic faith, rewrite its doctrines then one cannot say that they are faithful adherents to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because those people are no longer following the laws that guided our forefathers. I cannot debate one’s claim to Judaism, because Judaism is more than a religious doctrine, it is a particular genetic determinant characterized by certain haplotypes that suggest it is more a ‘race’ than a religion. Having a narrow gene pool for breeding purposes for three thousand years will tend to do that. But, what I can debate is one’s assertion that they still follow the Hebrew faith, the religion of our forefathers, practice the word of God, even though they are so willing to change those commandments, laws and obligations preserved in the Torah by pronouncing them as ‘outdated.’ This was exactly the point made by the early Karaite leaders in their accusations against the Rabbanites. When you change the articles of faith significantly, then one can no longer say that they are adherents to that faith; they have become something else, perhaps resembling the initial faith but most certainly not the same as their forbearers.
THE REAL McCOY
Firstly, let me say to all those that wrote that the so-called primitive, tribal and pagn practices of the Torah are no longer required by God. I don’t remember when the Almighty told us that so could someone please refresh my memory of the exact date and time it occurred. I must not have been listening that day because I could have sworn that God said something to the effect that, “As it is now, so it was in the beginning and so it will be in the end.” If that is true, then it would suggest that God’s expectation would be that we should be practicing his commandments now, the same way that we were given them at the foot of Sinai. To do otherwise would mean that we have overruled God and have become no different from the many other nations that have laid claim that theirs is the true path towards salvation. In fact, our admission that we unilaterally decided that there was a need to modernize, modify and mitigate our original laws and commandments only serves to legitimize every other religion that bases its origins on the Judaic inheritance because they have done nothing different to what we freely admit to have done. They are mutations, adaptations of the original but yet, we will freely condemn them for doing so. The brush must tar us as well if we truly believe that.
For those of you that are not aware of Mohammed’s original mission, either because you care little for history, nor have you read the Koran, the Muslim prophet considered himself a messenger from God intended for the Jews long before he began his mission to convert the Arab tribes. In fact, he laid claim to be the Jewish Messiah, a claim by which he was quickly rejected, scorned, and physically abused by the rabbinical leaders in Judea, Mecca and Medina. His message to the rabbinical courts was similar to what I’m saying now, that the people have strayed away from the original commandments, are no longer adhering to the ordinances as laid down by Moses, and therefore we are following a corrupted and false version of the Hebraic faith as provided by the Lord. Was he right? The fact that the Karaite movement laid the exact same accusations against the Rabbanites a century and a half later would suggest he was on the mark. The only difference being that Mohammed responded to the abuse and threats by turning against the Jews much in the way a spurned and rejected lover vows revenge.
MOSES THE AUTOCRAT
In those same emails I received, one theme that was raised as a common thread was the accusation that there were those commandments that God gave to us and then there were those that Moses personally created and imposed upon us. Some even suggested that my own articles on Rediscovering the Exodus provided evidence that this Egyptian Prince Thutmose V, would most certainly be autocratic by nature and create laws that secured his power and authority over the people. In my exploration of the historical Moses, at no time that I’m aware of suggested that Moses was anything other than a legitimate servant of God, receiving instruction directly from the Almighty. For us to question that fundamental pillar of our faith is to question are very own existence. When we no longer believe that God directly influenced the Exodus, that He gave us his rules in the desert, issued from his own mouth but written by the hands of the elders, and selected us to be the Light Unto The World, then we have lost any entitlement to call ourselves the ‘Chosen People.’ Have we become so faithless, so cynical, and so corrupted by this modern society that there is no place for miracles and no direct connection between God and man? The moment we start to question our origins, is the day you can no longer call yourself a child of Jacob, a member of the Congregation of Israel, a Hebrew or even Jew in the religious connotation. Because what you no longer believe in is the defining point of ‘us’ as a people of God, the moment that a covenant was drawn between a deity and a group of mortals. It is Sinai and the wandering in the desert that separates us from all other faiths. The events that occurred, the hand of God as it was revealed, and the laws that came to us from God are what make us who we are. Other religions can lay claim to having the same moral commandments, derivatives of Torahitic laws, to be endowed with benevolence and charity for humanity, but the one thing they cannot claim is having passed through the river of baptism under fire that we endured for a generation in exile. Take that away and we are nothing. Proclaim the laws of that episode as no longer binding and we're nothing more than a philosophical branch of humanism. Deny Moses as a direct conduit of God’s will and expression and we are fatherless, and undeserving of being the Lord’s children. We are nothing more the flotsam floating on the sea after a shipwreck; a shipwreck we have caused because we chose no longer to steer by the signs of the heavenly bodies and the maps handed to us at the start of our voyage. That being the case, then how can you voice your concerns of being abandoned, awaiting a never manifesting promised salvation, when you have been the ones to abandon Yahweh by denying what He had ordained and commanded?
We will continue this discussion. Your emails have raised issues that I don’t even think you are fully aware of.
Avrom Aryeh –Zuk Kahana