Tears in Heaven
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write this following article. I don’t know why it has hit me so hard because it’s not as if it was anything new that the ultra-Orthodox Rabbanites have said or done but I think it might be the letters of response that they received to the article that disturbed me most. Those in power say many things that they should regret but when the common people spew the same phrases of hatred and condemnation then one can only feel the tremendous sense of shame and recognize that possibly they are lost and irretrievable. The thought that they may possibly be too lost to be made to understand their iniquities I think may be what has hurt most and why as much as I am burdened by the sadness it is with the realization that God now sheds tears of sorrow for his unrepentant children.
Will they never learn? Apparently not and they will repeat the same errors over and over again until one day God says, “No More!” I fear that the time is coming when he will do so and I fear for my Rabbanite brethren that they will be condemned and punished without any chance of redemption. I feel the heavy rain of His tears and the time I sense is at hand.
What has happened you ask to cause this irrepressible sadness? Well it’s all in the following article at http://www.vosizneias.com/40258/2009/10/22/jerusalem-shas-chairman-slams-reform-jews-at-conference-over-assimilation/ . It reads as follows:
‘Jerusalem - The chairman of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Eli Yishai, said on Thursday that Reform Jews in the United States were "disappearing" through assimilation.
Yishai, who is also the Interior Minister, made the comments at the second Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.
The majority of guests attending the conference were American Jews, most of whom were Reform Jews, who reacted with vocal indignation upon hearing the minister's comments.
Yishai said in response that he was only reiterating data that was passed on to him, and that it is a commonly known fact that U.S. Jews are dwindling due to rapid assimilation.’
In itself the comments from Eli Yishai do not appear to be overly sinister nor threatening but it was the not so veiled implication that these Reform Jews were not Jews and more accurately to be considered Goyim or non-Jews in the making. But it is the letters in response that I absolutely found the most shocking and filled me with revulsion. It was the venomous outbursts, the hatred, and the sheer delight in condemning fellow Jews that filled me with righteous indignation to be followed by this overburdening sorrow. If not for the fact that these are Jews condemning fellow Jews you’d swear they were Jew-bashers, guilty of the same prejudices of the Anti-Semites that have persecuted us for centuries. And no sooner did they start their attacks upon Reform Judaism when it was with quickly followed by what is now a compulsive certainty, Karaite bashing. There is an evil, a sickness that fuels their religious infrastructure and what they see as righteous indignation is nothing more than intolerance and bigotry.
What I Have Written
Some will say that I am no different and guilty of the same lashful tongue when I publish my views on Rabbanite Judaism but upon examination of my articles is should be noticed that there is a world of difference. All Jews are my brethren no matter what their set of religious beliefs. I have always made that crystal clear and most certainly any of my Karaite colleagues can attest to that though they may not necessarily feel the same way to the other sects. They know that the universality of Judaism and eventual unification of us all is one of my fundamental principles and I will not tolerate the abandonment of any one of the many sects of Judaism. It is only the Rabbinic leadership for whom I have had harsh words because I feel they continue to lead their followers astray and this news article about Eli Yishai is a typical example. His followers and supporters have in response to him unleashed their all-consuming hatred that has been implanted within them by their teachers over the generations. It is not a discussion, it is not a debate, it is pure unadulterated hatred. The same hatred expressed by Saadiah Gaon by which he stated the summation of his evil heart in the one expression that can never be forgotten, “To kill a Karaite is no different than to kill a dog.” He had reduced us to not even being considered human and sadly he had his followers that did so. So how can I expect these modern day followers to know any better if those are the examples set by their leaders? For that reason I cannot condemn them. But what is being said on the website is only the tip of the iceberg and like any mob given enough time they will become rabid and inflame themselves to the point that they feel justified in transmuting their written diatribes eventually into physical violence once again. They prime themselves like an explosive and then all it takes is one of these bigoted, self-worshipping leaders wrapped in their prayer shawls to unleash that rage and once more it is brother slaughtering brother as the spark becomes an inferno. The ability to commit this fratricide has always been there as it was ever present even at the Beginning as we read in Genesis.
The Curse of Cain
A Karaite knows and understands that the Torah (Old Testament) is not a book about the past only. Every story, every parable, every lesson is also about today and more so about tomorrow as well. It was never to be read with the comment to follow that those were in the days of the patriarchs, or that was a long time ago in the days of the prophets. It was presented as a book containing current and eternal lessons but sadly that has been lost on a lot of people and especially those that are so quick to condemn their fellow Jews.
What do they think the story of Cain and Abel was about? Two brothers of which one killed the other and nothing more? How pointless that would be if that’s all the story was relating. No, God wanted to teach us a lesson that mankind has a jealous and evil nature that he must subdue otherwise the Curse of Cain will be borne by him forever. Open your eyes my brothers and read the story! Both brothers wished to make a sacrifice to God. Abel was a herder while Cain was gatherer and crop farmer. We already know from other stories and the laws for the sacrifices to be performed in the Temple that God favoured animal sacrifice. Of the horticultural tithes, only small amounts were ever burnt on the altar. Generally they were provided to the priests to make the sacred loves for shew breads and then split amongst the Kohens and Levites as their due. So why then did God set up a task that was obviously biased and in the end He was going to reject one sacrifice which would then lend itself to murder? Examine the story closely rather than superficially as most do and the significance will be apparent.
Cain and Abel are no different from the Rabbanites and what they in turn would refer to as the lesser sects of Judaism today. As a tiller of the soil Cain would have worked endlessly on his crops. From ploughing the fields to sowing the seeds; building the irrigation system and fertilizing the soil. Then with each frost, flood or drought he’d be striving around the clock to preserve his precious crops. And when the harvest time came, he again would be in the field, working without end in sight, cutting, bailing, willowing, gleaning, and finally placing it into containers for storage. But there would still be no end to his chores as it would be time to prepare the soil for the next season of planting. That is the life of the crop farmer; hard, enduring and never ending.
From time to time, as he marched behind his plough Cain would gaze over at Abel and see him sleeping on a hill while his sheep and cattle grazed upon the fields of grass that grew without tending. And when the rains or the drought came, Abel would take shelter in his tent, while the animals withstood the elements all on their own. Every now and then Abel would peak his head outside the tent flap to see if there were any that had succumbed to the weather. If they did, he would toss them down the offal pit and not worry because there were plenty more that survived. And if some of his animals went astray, he would send out his herding dogs and they would bring them back to the herds while he waved his arms and whistled providing them with directions to do his work.
As you can see, there was far more to the story than the short chapter provides. The Rabbanites are like Cain. They work hard to show off their righteousness. They debate over the length of the fringes, argue over each word in the Torah as to its significance and meaning, see how many times they can wrap their sidecurls around their ears, etc. Upon their heads they place crown upon crown in an effort to show the world how meticulous they are in their studies and how deserving they are of God’s praises. How frustrating it must be then to watch others in their eyes who are so undeserving receive the same blessings from God. Who in their minds put in so little effort to their worshipping of God and yet are rewarded in their efforts. We lesser Jews as they consider us are like Abel. Sitting back and receiving the benefits much to their disgust. They cannot understand this, they cannot accept this, and in their hearts stirred by the jealousy of Cain, they will not permit this.
The story from Genesis is a lesson to be applied to what exists today. But what have they missed? Why is their reward not provided? Why have their efforts not been appreciated any more and sometimes even less than those they consider inferior Jews or even worse, non-Jews? The answer is simple and is buried within the story of Cain and Abel itself. God asks only that you approach him with an open heart and humility. A man that adorns himself with crown upon crown is not telling the world to praise God, he is actually saying, “I have made myself special! Aren’t I deserving of God’s blessing because I do so much more than you? And like the squawking magpie, his song is a never ending, “Look at me!” In all his efforts he has missed the point.
What is a Jew?
That is the bone of contention. That is where the Rabbanites have failed to understand that all their adornments do not make them Jewish. Those that wrote in to the site, castigating the Reform, shunning the Karaites failed to understand that a Jew is not something you wear upon your sleeve. It is not a black hat, or excessively long fringes. It is neither how many times in a day you pray, or how well you can shake and bow when you pray. A Jew is who you are when you wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. It is knowing that there is one God and he is the creator of the universe. It is having no other gods beside him and honouring his commandments. It is knowing that when someone is in need you will help, and when someone falters you will pick them up. It is about bearing the suffering and being thankful for the good times. It is knowing how you live is intended to be a beacon not only for your fellow Jews but to all mankind. It is worrying not so much about what goes into your mouth as what comes out of it. It is providing love to your wife and guidance to your children. It is not about covering your head with a cap but knowing instead when God looks down upon you there is no reason to be ashamed. It is not about hanging prayers upon your doorpost but instead inscribing them upon your heart. It is not about singing in your synagogues with the loudest voice but about rejoicing in your home. It is not about keeping those of other nations at bay but instead bringing them in to your life and sharing your hospitality. It is not about setting one day aside each week to praise God but seeing every day as a reason to be grateful and be thankful. And it is not the fear of assimilation because if you do these things others will come to practice your ways for they will see the abundance of God’s gifts that He has showered upon you.
In this manner it becomes obvious that less is more and more is less; a lesson that Cain could not understand even though he was the one who went on to build cities and have civilizations sprout from his descendants. It is still a lesson that needs to be learned. Those that are Reform and came to Israel to celebrate their Jewishness are neither less nor inferior. They are Jews in heart and soul. They are not Nazirites making their oath for 30 days and then returning to whatever life they held before the oath. Instead these Reformers have made their oath for life. And they have done so without the sheltering walls and barricades that the Orthodox have raised to shut out the rest of the world. So think carefully before you condemn them because to do so means you still bear the mark of Cain.
If you must learn, then learn from King David. So many of your Rabbis attempt to trace their lineage back to David as another sign that they are raised above the rest of the multitude. But in doing so, they are not glorifying themselves but demonstrating once again that they are progeny of a sinner. God loved David but David was far from the model they should emulate. Conspirator, adulterer, murderer, committer of regicide, son-killer, womanizer, and the list goes on. But why did God love him so? Because with all his faults, David knew within his own lifetime that he was guilty of all these things admitting it plainly as read in Psalm 6, yet God weighed this in the balance and found that David was still worthy of His blessings. It was because God understands that all men falter but so few recognize their failings. But those that do acknowledge their weaknesses and strive to resolve them are far more deserving than those that see themselves without fault. David still received his punishment, his eternal kingdom was split in two after only one more generation, his descendants wavered between righteousness and idolatry, his people were scattered to the corners of the earth, the Temple he had dreamed about was destroyed twice, the nations he had subdued are now a constant threat against what remains of his people, and for most of his latter life he physically was stricken with a constant coldness that plagued him. A coldness that not even the bodies of young girls in whom he once took great pleasure could no longer rid him of.
And David also witnessed the vanity of those that proclaimed themselves better than the rest because they considered themselves more observant, more proud in their displays of worship and he wrote about them in Psalm 12 so that all should see and know of them. And as he stated, “The wicked walk on every side when the vilest of men are exalted.”
So my brothers you have chosen to speak against us, we who you consider the lesser Jews, a people that you revile and fill yourselves with disgust for. Since it is David you wish to claim kinship with, then it is David’s own words written on God’s behalf that will condemn you until you change your ways. Psalm 50 he dedicated to you. From sentence 20 it reads in case you have forgotten, “You sit and speak against your own brother; you slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent. You think that I supported as one with yourself. But I will reprove you and set them in a position of order before your eyes.”
What sadness you have caused with your disparaging remarks will be judged and admonished by God. Enjoin us in debate; partake in lively discussions of faith; learn that Judaism was not set in your image but in the image of God. My prayers this day will hope that you too will eventually see the light and in so doing I pray that the sadness you have caused will lift from my soul.