יום ראשון, נובמבר 13, 2005

My case for Israel - Part I

A few weeks ago I went to a play with some friends. It was more of a political monologue against the State of Israel. I mean the country, not the current "state" it is in. The steriotyping was awful: The overweight army officer, the "Barking" Jews (no joke), and choreorgrphed beatings to the tune of Hava Nagila. It was even bad art. When a play resorts to monolouges, I feel that's bad art. But even bad art leaves an impression. In response for my friends (unspoken questions) I felt I had to share answers to the accusations that were laid out that evening.

I'll try to post parts 2,3,&4 when I've written them. If you have any feedback I'd love to hear it. My assumption for this is zero Jewish knowlidge.

Anyway, here is part 1 of my response. Please comment 'cause I'd love
to hear what you have to say about these thoughts.

"So why should the Jews be living in Israel? By what right? And what are you people doing to those poor, downtrodden Arabs?"

After seeing that play with the two of you I realized I had to do a few things. One, to tell the Israeli side of the story. Two, to correct a few historical inaccuracies. In order to do that I will try to give a bit of a history lesson and I'll try to source as much as I can. I think I'll have to break this down in to a few sections:

1)Religious - God created the world.
2)Historical - Jewish connection to the land
3)Modern history - Establishment of the state
4)Accusations against Israel - Arab Refugees.

I realize that this first part being the religious perspective might not convince anyone who isn't Jewish but it is an underpinning of the Jewish perspective and important to understanding the story.

{Note: The following piece does NOT prove why the land belongs to the Jews more than to the Muslims. It is an explanation of the Jewish religious belief that God gave the land to the Jews. In order to explain this belief I have included some information on Jewish belief in the divinity of the Torah and it's uniquness. The existence of God is, for this disscussion, a given and can gladly be disscussed on another occasion.}

1)I'll be honest. Part of why Israel is the inheritance of the Jewish nation is that God said so. I won't make any excuses for that, it is part of why we want to be there. This sounds very fundamentalist so I'll give you a little background...

Jewish belief is that the five books of Moses given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. They are not a history book. This is not a book of cute stories or legends. It is a manual for life. God created man, wrote an instruction manual, and in front of 3 million people, presented it. (I'll get back to the 3 million people later) We believe that God doesn't waste words. Everything appears in the Torah(5 Books of Moses) for a reason. Even the name Torah has the root Hora'ah - instruction.

I'm now going to insert a short pargaraph about God's giving of his Torah on Sinai.

One of the tenets of Jewish faith (and I think here we may part ideological ways from Baha'i) is that the revelation of God on Mount Sinai was a one-time, never to be repeated event. That's not to say that there have been no prophets since Moses but Moses's is seen as definitive and unchangeable. Meaning any prophecy post-"giving of the Torah" can not contradict what is written in the Torah.
I'll be honest - I can't prove it. But if you would like to read what I feel is a %95+ proof then please look at this Aish article "Did God speak at Sinai?"
If you don't want to read the article the main points are as follows (but please read the article):

The case for the historical reality of a public revelation at Siani was first put forward in Rabbi Yehuda Halevi's book "The Kuzari (1140CE).

The outline is as follows:

1. God's revelation to the entire ancestry of the nation of Israel is without parallel in all history. No other religion makes such a claim.

2. The reason it is without parallel (or claimed parallel) is that such a story cannot be fabricated.

3. Only private revelations and miracles can be fabricated; a public revelation must actually have happened.

The main issue is whether a public event, all the more so before an entire nation, could be told without having happened. This refutes the allegation that the revelation at Sinai is a result of myth formation. Also it indicates that the revalation was unique. If Sinai was unique among religious revalations it should posses a certaint veracity.

Having explained that the Torah (in Jewish belief) is a unique, God-given, manual for life, lets return to our topic...
If this is all true, that the Torah does not waste words or tell stories, then why start the Torah with the story of creation? Shouldn't God just cut to the chase and tell us how we're supposed to live our lives? What is the relevance to our lives in knowing that the fish were created before the elephants?

An explanation might be that a prerequisite for all of the things written in the Torah is "God created the entire... everything". Meaning if he tells us our souls are best nourished by some foods and not others, well he created it so it's understandable that he knows. And if he says the following patch of land is to be given to the children of this family, then so it should be 'cause it's all his and he can give it to whomever he wants.

Now the kicker. Did God give the land to the Jewish Nation? Muliple sources from the Torah indicate yes.

In the Torah (remember: The dictated words of God in a public revelation) God said:

* Genesis 15:18-21

* In that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates; {the lands of} the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.’

* Exodus 23:31

* And I will set thy border from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.

* Numbers 34:1-15

* And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Command the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land of Canaan, this shall be the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to the borders thereof. {The verses continue on and deliniate the borders}

* Deuteronomy 1:6-8

* The LORD our God spoke unto us in Horeb, saying: ‘Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the Lowland, and in the South, and by the sea-shore; the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.’

* Deuteronomy 11:24

* Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border.

I realize, as a friend has pointed out, I'm using verses from the Torah to defend my position against people who do not belive in the divinity of the Torah. This is part of the reason I included the above section on the historicity of the revalation on Mt. Sinai. The other reason I included it was to show it's uniqueness. This is in response to those (Christian or Mulsim) who say "God might have given the land to the Jews but he has since changed his mind." Over the years this has been said. First by the Christians (1500 years post-Sinai). "The Jews were God's nation and no longer are." Muslims (2100 years post-Sinai) might make a similar statement: "God gave you the land and now he's changed his mind." or "My prophet post-dates your prophet."

In a legal sense, you can understand that in order to overturn a prior ruling you need a "better" (as per the case) proof. In our case I would say that to "overturn", or to contradict, a previous statement of God you would need a greater prophet/revelation than before. Especially if you are looking to contradict a statement of God.

In summary, if you belive that there was a definitive revalation of God in which he dictated his code of laws to Moses, you can belive that the land belongs to the Jewish Nation.

This concludes part one of our series:
The Pessoptimist Saeed, the Donkey, & the Israeli Big Man.
The Revisionist, the Car keys, & the "Palestinian".


At 7:25 לפנה״צ, Blogger Elizabeth said...

As you know I do not believe in any type of deity that suggests people attack, massacre or drive out peoples from their homes. What a horrifying vision of a supreme being.

But even assuming God did give the land to the Jews, it is now the Jews' property. There is nothing stopping Jews from now doing the right thing--acting with compassion and respect for other peoples, and allowing other peoples to have a decent life and self-determination on land they have lived on for hundreds of years.

At 1:00 אחה״צ, Anonymous YS said...

Correct. The same God writes in the same book that we must be compassionate and have respect for all people. The Torah speaks about how non-jews may also live in the land. The only issue (and I risk sounding very fundamentalist) is self-determination. The Torah allows for anyone to live in the land so long as they accept the rule of the govenment.

Just if you are wondering, the Israeli Govenment we have today is not (sadly) an example of the Divinely run Govt that the Torah speaks about. But that's a different topic.


הוסף רשומת תגובה

<< Home