I read a post that deeply disturbed me, and it has taken a couple of days to sort out the implications of why it was so troubling and what this portends.

English: Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil עב...

English: Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil עברית: חטא עץ הדעת – ד”ר לידיה קוזניצקי (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A professor of a recent course I had taken reported encountering an unruly group of hundreds of people protesting against Israel in Los Angeles.  They were chanting, “Bibi and Hitler are the same; the only difference is the name.”  As an educated and intelligent person familiar with employing reason, moderation and facts, he approached one of the protesters to question his narrative, “Whatever you think of Netanyahu and his policies, how can you compare him to Hitler?”

The sign carrier gathered a group of his buddies and asked the professor to meet them at Starbucks to dialogue about their respective viewpoints.  The Starbucks symposium went so well, the group began an initiative to counter baseless hatred and violence with rationality and respect.  Thousands joined hands and sang, “Kumbaya,” and they taught the world to sing in perfect harmony.

The last paragraph above, as you may have realized, is fiction.  More than fiction, it is a delusion.  What really happened was that the professor was verbally threatened, grabbed and narrowly escaped injury.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I have wasted a lot of time and effort attempting to reason with those who are not reasonable.

When I was in college, many years ago, it was believed that education was the answer to all the world’s ills, with the foregone conclusion that ignorance was the root that needed to be pulled out.  But the source of evil is far more ubiquitous and recalcitrant.  C* was a family friend enrolled in a Ph.D. program.  She was an idealistic individual who set high standards for herself and others, living at a time of idealism with all the passion, naivete and a touch of the arrogance of an intelligent,  talented, university educated, “liberated,” woman.  One time she confided to me, devastated at the corruption and deviousness occurring in her competitive Ph.D. program, including fellow, “liberated,” women sleeping with faculty in return for preferential treatment, “But, but, they’re highly educated!”  So what?  Education does not morph a selfish, self-centered person into an altruist, nor does it turn a hateful person kind or a wicked person good.  A plethora of well-intentioned failures should evidence this.

Knowledge and education are useful when gaps in these are the major source of problems.  A parent may be better able to manage a two-year-old if there is understanding of developmental stages.  Simple techniques such as washing hands and boiling water have saved lives.  Superstitions continue in our day, such a common occurrence in some parts of the world, where events such as miscarriages or sickness is attributed to witchcraft, and the targeted, “witch,” is a woman who has no male relatives to protect her, and she is forced to flee to a “witch” refuge sanctuary, where she lives in abject poverty, but is protected from murder at the hands of fellow tribe members.

Conversely, an educated person is afforded the opportunity to cover deviousness with sophistication, as twisted rhetoric cloaks villainous intent.  This is a sword that cuts both ways. A smart evil person is far more dangerous than a stupid evil person.  I would alter the meme, “Don’t underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups,” to, “Don’t underestimate the power of fearful people in large groups.”  A scared animal is known to attack and a fearful, beastly person will likewise attack whatever and whoever is located in its path.  Those who are of death seek to swallow up those who are of life.

The thin veneer of sheepskin is falling away as the sneering  insistence of, “anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism,” is replaced by the more honest, “Kill the Jews; Jews to the ovens.”  Of course, the best lie is the one you want to believe.  (Dan Ariely)  Don’t we want to believe the best of our fellow man and blame all his wicked behavior on poor parenting, bad genetics, and Twinkies?

How do we tread the fine line between, “Answer a fool according to his folly and he will hate you,” with, “Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes?”  I believe one needs to recognize that the (moral) fool will respond with invective and sometimes violence (depending upon what he/she can get away with) when countered or opposed, and those with hopes of self-preservation should keep a safe distance while engaging in corrective activities.  Yet, it is necessary to stand for truth, accepting what may come.  Be careful to gauge the “beast potential,” of those you encounter; you may believe you stand next to a rational human being; he looks at you and salivates before dinner (you).

I believe the only response to those who have symbolically drunk deeply of the serpent’s venom and gorged themselves on the tree of knowledge of good and evil is the warning to Cain.  Driven by jealousy, he plotted a devious murder of his only brother; his younger brother who he was designated to protect and care for.  Are we our brothers’ keepers?  Yes, we are.  The warning to Cain by his loving Creator (my unscholarly and personal translation) tells us:  Shall you not, with amending and bettering yourself, find a place of dignity and being lifted above all this, and if you don’t do well, don’t do good and are not pleasing (to God) there is a doorway, an opening, an entrance for sin (missing the mark, the target of what is good and right) that lies in wait for you, stretches itself out toward you; it’s powerful, obsessive and ever-expanding desire is to overcome and conquer you.  However, toward you and within you an opposing, corresponding measure has been added, so that you have the ability to rule, master, have authority over and govern that desire (channel it appropriately.)  You must do this!

But Cain didn’t.  As well, few who we warn will overcome that beast whose seed they have welcomed and nurtured.  The next verse reveals that the beast-driven may speak to us.  Now, don’t take that as a sign of progress.  The only reason Cain spoke to his favored brother was to lure him to a place where he could kill him.  Think about that prior to planning your next negotiation.  If we go on to verse Gen. 4:9, we cannot escape that one who has no qualms about murdering his brother who did nothing to harm him, will feel no guilt or remorse about it afterward, and not be troubled with lying about it.

Skipping to verse 14, I can’t find one translation that appears to convey the correct meaning here.  All say, “whoever,” or, “anyone who finds me will kill me.”  However, the Hebrew word here is, “kol,” which means, “all.”  There is no connotation of whether the reference is to a human or a non-human.  Midrash teach that Cain had so lost that b’tselem elohim, the image and reflection of his Creator that made him human, that beasts would no longer maintain the distance they instinctively keep from humans, as they would recognize Cain as a beast like themselves, governed by his instincts and passions, lacking empathy, his reasoning darkened with preference of a lie to truth and a choice to be estranged from both God and his fellow man.

This is not pretty, but it is what we are dealing with.

I would like to somehow end this on a positive note, as the above is rather depressing.  We can be progenitors of light and truth in a dark and delusional world, even if our voice is only for a moment; that voice may catch the wind and spread far and wide.  The Baal Shem Tov taught that, “from every thing a person hears or sees in this world, he must find a teaching in how Man should serve God.  In truth, this is the whole meaning of service…”  Tzvi Freeman, “Bringing Heaven Down to Earth.”


Bibi, Esther and Purim 2015

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician

English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve been treated to quite the partisan polemical spinfest concerning Netanyahu’s upcoming
invitation to speak before Congress on March 3.  Some note the uncanny timing, just prior to Purim, which begins on the 14th of Adar, which is March 4 at sunset in the US.  The fast of Esther, which begins at dawn on the 13th of Adar and continues until sunset commemorates a three day fast the queen, along with the entire Jewish community of Shushan, engaged in prior to her courageous decision to approach her husband, King Ahasuerus II, to plead for her people.  The fast-paced intrigue combined clever subterfuge, divine favor and a surprising plot twist of an ending.  As it happened then, I suspect it will also happen now – but not exactly.

Bibi is not a damsel in distress, although Israel has been in a concubinage of sorts with the US, its powerful benefactor. The Hamans of this age cannot be checked by a powerful ruler or a pretty face.  As the world sees it, Israel’s Prime Minister is seeking the support of the US to prevent a nuclear Iran, with the warning that Israel will not be the only target.  But that is only how things appear in front of the camera.  Behind the scenes, beyond the veil, a different story is unfolding.  Shall we take a peek?

I believe Israel and the Jewish people are not on the chopping block at this time in history.  It is the US and its citizens that are being divinely tried. Israel does not need US money or military aid, Conservative politicians, or the support of American Jews or Christian Zionists.  As Mordechai admonished his niece, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not arrived to royalty for such a time as this?”  Esther 4:14  That other place is the abode of the Holy One of Israel, who has always been the unseen hand guiding and protecting his people.  The powerful allies along with formidable foes are only actors, with bit parts in the scheme of things, who take their cues from a director offstage.  When Esther’s uncle warned that her father’s house would perish, he meant that future generations that would descend from her would be cut off and she would have no surviving offspring.  In the US and worldwide, the trend is to keep quiet in the face of persecution and murder of Jews.

The sheep and goats are being separated and the dividing line is Israel.  Career politicians and the well-connected, including the Court Jews among them, are knashing their teeth at Netanyahu and his Congressional supporters for forcing them to declare their hand.  It was so much nicer to sing Hava Nagilah to the Jewish community while pandering to their resources of funding and influence.  Now they must declare which side they are on, and will face attack no matter which path they choose.  Jerusalem is the cup of trembling.  Don’t they wish, “that shitty little country,” a phrase coined by a former French ambassador to the UK, would just go away? Perhaps covert negotiations will allow Iran to take care of that pesky Jewish problem in the Middle East in return for guarantees it will stop at the little satan and not bother with the big one?  Jews who trade their birthright and blessing for a mess of political pottage have so quickly forgotten our history; the capos went to the ovens as well, just a bit later, once they had done the dirty work of their masters.

Pay attention to what Netanyahu says and note the reponses worldwide.  Everything that has happened in his life to this point has shaped him into the man he is and brought him to the place he is today. The Israeli Prime Minister is a man of many faults and has significant detractors even among his own citizens, but I believe this speech will be prophetic, and a spiritual vortex will open up around him, for good and for evil.  This day will be a dividing line; it will no longer be business as usual.  This is where the hearts of men will be revealed.  Every word of hatred, disdain, false accusation will be judged as well as those who treat the chosen land and treasured, covenant people as insignificant.  The voices of those who choose to stand with Israel, whatever may come, also ascend to the heavens and will not be forgotten.  Remember that the purpose of a prophet is both to provide warning and admonition for all who are willing to listen and to stand as a testimony to those who refuse.  Think of it as an other-worldly, “I told you so.”  The US Capitol Building and/or the White House were targeted on 9/11, and I believe were divinely spared at that time, but perhaps a time is coming when the dishonored and disdained hand of protection will be removed.  As US and other authorities conspire together for Israel’s distress and harm, so shall distress and harm come to them, measure for measure.

In Esther 4:14, the Hebrew word that is translated, “relief,” is, “revach,” and the only other place in scripture where there word is used is Genesis 32:16, where Jacob (Yaacov) decides to separate his family members, creating a space or interval between groupings as he prepares to face his retribution seeking brother Esau along with his army of 400 fighting men.  The intention was, that if Yaacov could not make peace with his brother, some among his wives and children might possibly be able to escape and survive.  Now, in another time, a space is also being created to determine who might escape and survive and who will not.  Some will be judged worthy and some will not.

We know that all the nations will be driven to fight against Jerusalem, and that includes the US. Those who believe they can save the US, replace compromised leaders and restore the nation to a nostalgic past vision are delusional and see what they wish to see.  *Warning, a very offensive statement is about to come next.  Some, even those who profess love and support for Israel, do not understand that Israel is not just important, it is central in the divine scheme of things.  If you have the chance, look up Haym Saloman, the Jewish revolutionary war hero that saved George Washington’s army from starvation, and perhaps was responsible for the freedom of the fledgling nation.  He was driven by the belief that this new country would provide a haven for the Jewish people until they were able to return to their own homeland.  This was the purpose of heaven for America, and everything else was collateral blessing.  Once its six million Jewish citizens have been vomited up out of their diaspora guest homes and returned to the land, all blessing, all protection all divine favor will leave with them.  Test this for yourself by observing countries where the Jewish population has left or is in the process of leaving.  One social media poster quipped, “We have enough room in Israel for all of you American Jews, but you may have to share a room with a Frenchie.”

Purim is celebrated on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar, and in Hebrew, the number fourteen is written as yud, dalet, which spells, “yad,” meaning, “hand.”  While the name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther, the hidden hand is seen throughout.  The name Esther, while its Persian meaning is likely, “star,” in Hebrew, “hester,” means, “hidden,” as in the biblical phrase, “hester panim,” which means, “the hidden face of God,” or, “God hiding his face (from us.)”  The month of Adar is also related to the word, “adeer,” which means, “strength.”  It is a time of hiddeness and hidden strength; things are not always as they appear and neither are men.

In every province and in the entire city, in the place the word of the king’s decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday. And many among the peoples of the land became Jews, for the dread of the Jews had fallen on them. Esther 8:17

May there be joy among the Jewish people and among those who join us as the word of the declaration of our king arrives in our provinces and cities.

This is from   Yet, on Purim one experiences this great wonder…the truly infinite essence of God’s transcendent light entering into the finite context of physical reality and revealing itself in full to the Jewish soul.

May we all understand why we have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.