Thursday, April 10, 2008

Prayer for the Holy Land

So I belong to an "online chabura" on "Eim Habanim Semeicha" by Rav Teichtal. There has recently broken out in it a minor discussion on the prayer for the state of Israel. One individual expressed their opinion that it was obnoxious that congregations in America don't pray for the State, and the discussion continued about the different opinions on whether the State really is "reishit tzmichat geulateinu" or not. I would like to offer an opposing view, supplied to me by Tobie recently. Which is:
Forget "reishit" - what if this is it? What if all G-d really meant by the Final Redemption was giving us our own land and autonomy in it? Pretty ironic scenario in heaven for the chareidim after 120 (reminiscent of the boat mashal) :

G-d: So, why didn't you guys move back to Israel?
Chareidi Guy: What do You mean? It wasn't time! You were supposed to redeem us!
G-d: Dude, I sent you a country. I sent you a government and an army, which, by the way, I protected and saved from the brink of destruction almost daily. What were you expecting? Me Myself to come down and lead you by the hand?

It's an interesting thought. The opposing view, of course, is, well, what if it really isn't "reishit" at all? What if it's just one of those strange blips in history that happen from time to time? As Tobie likewise pointed out, history blips do happen; and it is a little presumptuous, to assume that we know exactly what our place on the time line is since, really, we don't. Still, it does seem wrong not to pray for the protection of half your nation, whether this really is the beginning of the end or not.

44 Comments:

Blogger Lubab No More said...

> G-d: Dude, I sent you a country. ... What were you expecting? Me Myself to come down and lead you by the hand?

Miri, Miri, Miri. You went to a Lubavitch school for quite a number of years. You know these folks are, in fact, yes, expecting God to literally come down and lead them literally by the hand.

They don't want to pray for the secular government (for fear they will strengthen it maybe?) but, they do pray for the people as part of their general prayers.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

What's the connection between the Jewish nation and the State of Israel?

1:43 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

The operative word is "Reishit." The most ardent Zionist don't believe that this is the promised Messianic utopia.

That conversation with G-d is downright ignorant because the State of Israel is categorically not the Geulah. It doesn't fulfill any of the prophecies in Tanach.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Miri, need to contact you about school/life in Chicago. Important questions and you're the only one I know (or at least that I can think of).

1:53 PM  
Blogger Yoni said...

its especialy weird because doesn't the prayer for the state ask hashem to guide the leaders of the country with his wisdom?

If they're so sure that they're doing what g-d wants wouldn't that render the prayer completely acceptable because of course g-d would want what they want?

or are they that insecure? (which would explain why they're so crazy.)

5:25 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

LNM:
I don't know exactly what Chabbad does; I have been in Chabbad minyanim but rarely in places where I could hear what was going on. It wouldn't surprise me if they did say that tefillah though.
The denominations mentioned in the discussion were pretty wide though which is partly what was behind the writer's indignation; she mentioned Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox congregations, and of the Orthodox ones I believe they were referring specifically to Agudas Yisroel communities.

Nemo:
The connection between the State of Israel and the Jewish people is that the world decided to give the Jewish people a State, and so now we have one.
It doesn't fulfill any of the prophecies except for the ones about kibbutz galuyot, a Jerusalem re-built, and an autonomous and world-recognized land, which happens to be the land promised to us. But other than that, sure.
I would be quite happy to answer any and all questions about Chicago. Or anything else that falls inside my area of expertise. My e-mail address is paperspoonslive@gmail.com.

Yoni:
Yeah, but see that would be the logical way to think of it. G-d knows we can't expect that much from people.

3:22 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Have ALL the Jewish people been gathered in?

"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)

Has the Beit Hamikdash been rebuilt?

"...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)

Is there everlasting peace in the autonomous land of Israel?

"...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)

Kinda far-fetched to think we're there yet, don't you think? And let's not forget that there hasn't been a messianic personage from the house of Dovid.

"And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13)

And finally, the majority of the people living in Israel aren't observant and this therefore cannot be the messianic era.

"My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)

7:06 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"It wouldn't surprise me if they did say that tefillah though."

No self-respecting Chabad Shul says THAT Tefilla for the state of Israel.

There are Shuls that say the Tefillah for Tzahal and every Chabad Shul says Tehillim or incorporates something for the peace and the people in Israel.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

Nemo-
""And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)"

Nowhere in that quote is the word "all" even hinted at. We've got Jews from China, India, Africa, Australia, nearly every known country in the Middle East and Europe, every piece of the American continent and countless other places. How many corners are you looking for dude? We've got more than four already.
I didn't say anything about peace, the beit hamikdash, or a messianic personage; I said kibbutz galuyot, a re-built Jerusalem, and an autonomous nation. It's not everything, it's maybe only half. Nu, that's not enough to justify the "reishit" argument?

Also, what you said about the tefillot in the chabbad community; it wouldn't surprise me that Chabbad prays for the people of Israel, even if they don't believe in the government, bc Chabbadnikim have this concept of caring about every single Jew. So, you know...just saying.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"Nu, that's not enough to justify the "reishit" argument?"

Lends credence, yes, but doesn't justify. And once again, it would only be the beginnings, not a messianic blip.

"THE outcasts of Israel" connotes all, and there are enough Jews (50%+) living around the world that don't even know that they're Jewish, don't want to identify as Jewish, don't want to move to Israel or simply haven't done so already.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

My point is not to argue Reishit or not-Reishit, I'm just addressing the suggestion that you made in the post about this being it. It can't be it, because the messianic era will have to be empirically verifiable and not allegory alone.

5:35 PM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

ugh! (I have too much to say!) Nemo; Learn Jewish history man! Learn tanach man! to me it is pretty clearly evident that this IS THE geulah we were expecting. ...though more is always possible..(I can elaborate).

"על כנפי נשרים"

"הבט נא השמיימה וספור הכוכבים -אם תוכל לספור אותם. ויאמר לו, כה יהיה זרעך"

"וירד מים עד ים"

...וכאלה דוגמאות רבים, אין ספור

3:02 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I see you've also written on your blog:

"I posit that spirituality is available anywhere. It’s equally found in Jacksonville as it is in Jerusalem, Tulsa as it is in Tiveria, Chicago as it is in Chevron, and even Bondi as much as it is in Bnei Brak. Spirituality is what you make of it. It isn’t relevant to locale as much as it is to mentale. If a person wants to discover their spiritual side, they might be even better off being out of the “conducive” environment of Israel. At least then they’ll be unhindered by a spirituality that is contingent on transient feelings of connection."

True, but אין א"י מקודשת משאר ארצות אלא מפני מצוות התלויות בה.

3:05 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

Nemo-
(Hi again!)
"THE outcasts of Israel" connotes a specific group, which may or may not be "all" of Israel, and in any case is certainly not clearly one thing or the other.

I know Chabbad adheres to the "and no Jew will be left behind" view of things, but the fact of the matter is there is a tremendous amount of machloket on that issue in non-chabbad rabbinic Judaism. There are many people who believe that only the rightous will be redeemed, a qualification that would apply to maybe 1/4th of the existing orthodox population, if that. So the fact that there are so many Jews who don't identify is not really relevant, since they don't really count. According to most, or at least some of, messianic tradition.

Guy with name in Hebrew:
Thanks for the support. Whatever happened with the whole school in Israel idea?

4:25 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"Learn tanach man! to me it is pretty clearly evident that this IS THE geulah we were expecting. ...though more is always possible.."

I've learned the relevant Tanach, Jewish History, and Halacha and none of it indicates that our present state is the end of days. You can't rely on a few allegorical statements in Tanach to say that this IS it. Like I said, it must be apparent and verifiable. Tanach clearly describes the requisites for the Messianic era. If this is it, we've been lied to and duped by Tanach!!

Miri- "there is a tremendous amount of machloket on that issue in non-chabbad rabbinic Judaism."

There is similarly an opinion in the Gemara somewhere that there is no future redemption for the Jewish people because they've already experienced salvation in the time of the second Beit Hamikdash. Of course that opinion is quashed by everyone.

Not every opinion is fact and besides, there is enough Limmud Z'Chut available- and it is the Jewish way to acquit sinners- that even the worst sinners, who the Gemara itself say have no portion in the world to come, can be redeemed.
--

In any event, even granting the Kibbutz Galiut argument, Israel is still lacking ALL of the prophecies made in Yechezkel 37:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.

7:00 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I love this blog; everyone is so active here!

Well, one thing I should say is that I once did the relevant research, formed my opinion, then slowly forgot what I knew. If I want to somehow retrieve that information from my mind, I'll have to try to formulate an extended blog post about it.

As far as I remember; first of all; we shouldn't bash the opinions of Rav Yoel Teitelbaum (Sat-mar) too much, being that his opinions were based on his understanding (biast though they may have been) of the texts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, of course, is Rav Shlomo Aviner, with his writings paralel to Rav Teitelbaums, which to me honestly, seem to make a lot more basic sense. But then again, the forging of those halachic opinions, is, to a very large extent- sociological. i.e.- The opinions of the 'satmar' rebbe were based on the general opinion of the (majority of) traditionalist Jews in Eastern Europe. And their opinions, in turn, were based on the fact that the majority of the Eastern European Zionists were not religious. And that in turn touched on -what over a great amount of time- became a touchy relationship between the traditionalists and the modernists (and secularists).

With that in mind, I want to elaborate on the verses I mentioned in my last comment. One famous verse that quickly comes to mind, is what G-d told the ancient Israelites through Moses...

ונאשתי אתכם על כנפי נשרים

...in regards to His taking them out of Egypt. Obviously- that was ALEGOROCAL (important word here, and (not in a Philo sense, but) important throughout tanach). He DIDN'T take them out on eagles. They walked. And in the beginning had a big food and water problem going on.

I mentioned also that G-d told Abraham that his descendants would inherit "from the Euphrates till the Nile", and also said regarding his descendants...

הבט נא השמימה וספר הכוכבים- אם תוכל לספר אתם. ויאמר לו כה יהיה זרעך

...Did that happen? CAN that phisically happen? IN OTHER WORDS; USLEAVING is called G-D's "TAKING US OUT" in Biblical language. So our going to Israel today is called G-d "TAKING US from the countries of the north". Also, obviously, when the tanach says things like "ירעה ארי עם טלה" and "ביום ההוא יבקע הר הזיתים" it's not to be taken literally. The rishonim concur.

That's from a scriptural standpoint. From a historical standpoint; first of all I think it's very important to point out that there is a phisical 'galut' and a spiritual 'galut'. Take for example the time of "the chanukah story". in Jewish literature it's called "galut yavan". "Galut"? During the tmes of Bait Sheni? So we see clearly there can be a "galut" while we're still in Israel, and a "galut" even while the beit hamikdash is standing, and the majority of Jews are doing 'Jewish things'.

Take for example also the fact that when the Jews came back to Israel to build the second Temple, only the worst ones came from Iraq (Babel). "עד שהשאירו אותה כסולת נקייה" it says in the end of kiddushin. The smarter ones, the more religious ones stayed. Yet they are forgotten, and the one's who came back shaped the worlds history forever. Not to mention they were under constant attack while building it from Israels 'new' natives.

The priesthood and the monarchy were also very currupt at times (in the end the tzadokim, minim and apikorsim just bought the high priest position).

OK, that's about ancient history. In regards to modern history; obviously, like the 'lubab' said- who expects things to be taken literally. The country of Israel is a carbon copy of the social structure of the Jews in Eastern Europe. Who were the majority of the Jews in that time. Democracy prevails today. A "Khomeini" is very unpractical and unreasonable for the Jews today. The Jews themselves VOTE for the leader of their choice today (though i find it hard to believe ANYBODY voted for Olmert...).

Also; again, the "reishit" argument; much has come true until now, it is in our hands (much as it is in Bush's) to make the rest true. If you believe in Biblical prophesy as he does, than live it out- and let prophesy be fulfilled in you!

10:01 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

I'm not sure what you're trying to say, but I feel that my point needs to be reitterated:

I'm not discussing the divergence between the Satmar Rebbe ZT"L and Zionism, and I'm not discussing whether the modern state of Israel is the sprouting of Geulah. That discussion has been had, and frankly I'm not mentally prepared to go that direction.

I am ONLY discussing a point that Miri brought up in her initial post which, interesting as it may be, lacks foundation in scripture. The suggestion was that we are living in the final stage of Geulah and that we should treat it as such. I countered that when Geulah comes there will A. be HAmoshiach, a person, and B. the geopolitical situation, as well as the Jewish dynamic will have to clearly reflect what the Tanach says.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

Guy with long name in Hebrew:
(Your name is Shlomo right? I can never see the beginning of the name, it's blocked by the picture.)Thank you for your enthusiasm. I agree with most of the points you've been making, but I'm not entirely sure about the Jews that came out of Bavel; it seemes to me that I have heard this before, but you have to take into account the fact that among those who did go up were Neviim and leaders like Mordechai. Also, of the people that went up, I think it was those who had nothing rather than those who were nothing. Bavel was an extremely rich and comfortable place to live, and some Jews never did return. (Speaking of which, did you see "one Night With the Kings? The historical context in which they place the Purim story is truly fascinating. Also, it's strangely Zionistic.)

Nemo-
You have a point. Since the idea was originally Tobie's, and I can't remember exactly how she justified it, I would leave that to her. Only she's in America at the moment. So...we'll see.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

I saw 'One Night with the King.' I thought it a horrible, Christianized portrayal of the story- focusing on belief and destiny.

"I would leave that to her. Only she's in America at the moment. So.."

Not such a complication, internet and all..

7:36 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

yeah she just doesn't have the easiest internet access in the states....I sent her an e-mail abt it already.
Christianized? With the intense Zionisitc themes and the inclusion of about a million midrashim? And since when has the Purim story NOT BEEN ABOUT DESTINY AND FAITH? As far as I can remember that's the whole story. Remember how the word Purim means lottery? Maybe our interpretation is Christianized, but except for the nonsense about the necklace and the Star of David and the romance between her and Achashveirosh, it all fell pretty much in line with the story as I've always known it.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

It's been since last Purim since I saw the film, but I remember having tremendous distaste for the movie. I can't remember details of it though..

Amongst other things, Judaism diverges from Christianity in its focus on deed. We serve G-d by doing Mitzvos, by praying, service and commitment. Purim's message is that faith in G-d cannot be passive; it must be augmented by firm action.

Christianity on the other hand, requires no commitment. It's doctrine requires faith alone.

The movie, I felt, was stripped of any Jewish values.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Here I am, to defend my own vague musings!

Alright, Nemo. I can't say that I've fully studied the subject, but I can say the following:

1)As far I have heard, the Rambam believes that the only difference between Mashiach and non-Mashiach is Jewish autonomy. We have that.

2)Likewise, a whole lot of the prophecies that you read about have very much come true- those about children playing in the streets of Jerusalem and the cities of Judah ringing with laughter.

3)I don't claim that all the prophecies are fulfilled just yet. But I don't know how much Mashiach is going to come as a single point- all of a sudden, boom! everything is perfect. That fits neither with my view of reality, nor with how I would like to believe that G-d works. I think that we have been handed down from heaven quite enough and the rest of the Messianic visions- dreams of all humankind, forever, are left for us to eternally strive for. Perhaps believing in Mashiach means believing that we will some day achieve them.

4) I think, also, that a lot of our expectations about Mashiach are the natural result of 2000 years of sitting around and dreaming. We were hurting, we were lost, we could only dream and so we did dream and the dream country that we established for ourselves was one that never was and perhaps never was promised.

5) As for the house of David, I have a hard time being earnestly in favor of dynastic monarchy as the ideal form of government. Holy as Mashiach is supposed to be- and I don't doubt that- good kings have a bad habit of making bad mistakes, and/or having really evil sons. Rambam's ideal government sounds frankly terrifying- every government administrative office hereditary and for natural-born male Jews only? I prefer to believe (as, I think, one can read Rav Yisraeli's opinions) that the commandment's regarding the king refer only to the situation when there is a single monarch and that, in the absence of such a monarch, national political power reverts to the people and any form of government they chose. I pray that our government will be the spiritual heir of David (at his most moral), but I don't really feel the need for a bloodline.

6) I agree that the claim is a bit controversial. I know that it is not the claim of most Zionists- that, in fact, it would probably annoy Mercazniks as much as it does Charedim. I do not want to believe it- it has some frightening, if exhilerating, practical implications. But it does seem logically possible, and I have yet to discover an inherent flaw in the argument.

7) I have no internet at my parents' house in the US, so discussion is going to be limited. I'm sorry.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

1) The Rambam is the slippery slope for your entire theory. In his restatement of the biblical and talmudic traditions regarding Moshiach, he clearly defines what the prophecies imply, which cannot- even by twisting his words- allow for this being the final stage of redemption.

His insistence in "Biat Hamoshiach" as a fundamental tenet cannot be construed to mean anything besides a person. A cursory reading of Hilchot Melachim will corroborate this suspicion that he meant a literal, and single, human being. Furthermore, this individual will have to bring the Jewish people back to Mitzvos, show the non-Jewish nations that neither Jesus nor Mohammed were true prophets and that there is one G-d.

Besides the fact that the State of Israel's existence has not, and indeed, can't, fulfill any of that, let's examine the statement of autonomy in the Rambam itself:

הלכות מלכים ומלחמות פרק יב

א אל יעלה על הלב שבימות המשיח, ייבטל דבר ממנהגו של עולם, או יהיה שם חידוש במעשה בראשית; אלא עולם כמנהגו הולך. וזה שנאמר בישעיה "וגר זאב עם כבש, ונמר עם גדי ירבץ" (ישעיהו יא,ו), משל וחידה. עניין הדבר--שיהיו ישראל יושבין לבטח עם רשעי העולם, המשולים בזאב...

It would seem that according to the Rambam that the natural biology or geology of the world won't change with the Jewish autonomy, but there will be peace with the nations. In other words, knowing that we're in the Messianic era is contingent on Israel being at peace with the nations of the world. I think we can all admit that Israel is not at peace.

Leave the Rambam aside for a moment; what if Israel would cease to be an autonomous Jewish state? What it current the Arab population continues to swell at it's current rate and they outnumber Jews? As a democratic state, the Jews will lose their majority in the government. This is not theoretical; this is reality.

Will that be the end of the Messianic blip? Is that all we've been promised for thousands of years? Do you like to think "G-d works" in that way?

2) The fact that a prophecy has been "fulfilled" doesn't mean the Geula is here, especially in the absence of other key prophecies about peace and a man from the Davidic bloodline.

It's not hard to adjust events in the world as though they're fulfilling prophecy. Children playing in the streets of Jerusalem is a pretty trite basis to say that this is the end (contrast to "Reishit") of Geula. Logically, its also too general to derive the end from. Does two kids kicking a ball around mean that we have Geulah? Did not one child play in Jerusalem throughout two thousand years? There was never laughter in all the years leading up to 1948?

I hate to draw the comparison, but applying such logic is equivalent to all the Jesus "proofs" and "prophecies." Did you ever read the piece about the guy who saw 60 prophecies fulfilled while making a pot of chicken soup?

Fulfilled prophecy proves nothing without being entirely verifiable by ALL prophecies.

3-7) To come!

4:54 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

3) Geulah was never supposed to be a boom- it's an era. There is no question about that. Rambam says that Moshiach is going to come and establish himself first as Chezkat Moshiach and only after time can we be sure that we're in the messianic era.

And of course we have to work towards a Messianic vision, that was ostensibly the point of Galut. But that doesn't come at the expense of what needs to happen (we can't just decide everything is allegory) for the true messianic world.

4) A lot of yearning and imagination engendered lots of conceptions for the messianic world- candy on trees, dancing in the streets, etc. But some of the things, namely the above quoted prophecies are inherent features of what redemption is supposed to be. It's not wishful, it is promised in our tradition.

5) Firstly, I don't think how you feel or your preference of regime is relevant. Secondly, your casual dismissal of the Davidic bloodline flies in the face of Halacha, history and re-opens the doors to saying Jesus is Messiah, among other things. By your reasoning, we should throw out much of Judaism and replace it with "the spirit of the law," or in other words, whatever we see fit. What happened to G-d in all of this?

6) See above for logical flaws.

7) I've just received word that I'll be traveling far away for Pesach, so you will likewise excuse me if my participation in the discussion is limited by my travels.

5:36 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

As an addendum to #2 above:

The Rambam continues: "

ב וכן כל כיוצא באלו הדברים הכתובין בעניין המשיח, משלים הם; ובימות המלך המשיח ייוודע לכול לאיזה דבר היו משל, ומה עניין רמוז בהן. [ב] אמרו חכמים, אין בין העולם הזה לימות המשיח, אלא שיעבוד מלכייות בלבד."

Prophecies that contradicts nature are considered allegory by the Rambam. But peace between nations and their leaving the Jews in harmony is, as we saw in the first Halacha, essential to the time of Moshiach.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Nemo- Interesting. To me, the Rambam is less opposed to my position than you say. We see that he has a fundamental willingness to view the Messianic prophecies as allegoric, when they contradicted with his beliefs about how nature should or would work. Agreed, for him a vital part of Mashiach is peace with the nations. I would not disagree. I'm just not sure that that's something that's going to be handed down from heaven by a Messianic king. My claim is not that the earthly ideal has already been reached, but that all remaining parts should be achieved through our own actions, in the normal humdrum political ways.

I think that the question is not whether 'mashiach' has come. I do not know what exactly that will look like (or looked like) or how it compares with what we expect that it will look like. I think that the more interesting discussion are the nafka minot- if we insist that G-d has promised us something beyond what He has already supplied us with, then we are setting ourselves up for crushing disappointment at best(solved only by continual pushing off our expectations) and frozen inaction at worst. I don't claim that all the prophecies have come true- that is simply not true. But I do claim that a lot of them may have been referring to this very moment in history and the fulfillment of the rest may well be command rather than promise, or perhaps a promise based on a confidence that we will fulfill the commands.

As for the dynastic monarchy, my preferences are not all that relevant, except inasmuch as I have trouble, intellectually, accepting the fact that what I have been waiting and praying for is an inefficient, and corruption-prone dictatorship. I simply doubt it. (or prefer not to believe it). However, I can't deny that it's really tricky to try to read anything else into the halacha, although I am reasonably sure that if I read all of the sources, I could wrangle something.

On the other hand, I have a hard time understanding how other people think that the whole thing will work- not in fantasies, but in actual step by step plans- something happens, somebody steps off a white donkey and whips out his pedigree, then takes over the government? I'm not saying it can't, I just have a hard time understanding how they envision the messianic process, given that the fact that there will not be changes in human or natural nature.

I'm not sure how my view legitimized Jesus as Mashiach, considering that he never reigned, established autonomy, or accomplished anything political. Besides, I don't really care who was, wasn't, or could have been Mashiach. it's the son of G-d thing that bothers me a lot more.

And lastly, I am absolutely opposed to throwing out commandments anytime you feel like it. On the other hand, when the current interpretation or application of a commandment- and certainly a commandment as vague, unlegalistic, and historic as mashiach- opposes my common sense or morality, I prefer to search for other interpretations that don't. This is done not out of disrespect for G-d's will, but out of conviction that my logic and morality, to some degree, are divinely inspired. Therefore, considering that human morality, in addition to the lessons taught to us by history and Tanach itself, seem to indicate that dynastic monarchy can be a bad idea, I don't understand how the ideal state of reality can call for it, and prefer to see if I can't find some other interpretation consistent with facts, halacha, and my understanding. As you have pointed out, the halachic basis, thus far, is weak. This does indeed worry me. However, there are stronger sources when it comes to each particular nafka mina of the question, as opposed to the vague philosophical wondering done now.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous nemo said...

"unlegalistic"

You sure about that? And Rambam's codification of it was what, allegory?

1:59 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"To me, the Rambam is less opposed to my position than you say."

The Rambam is more fundamentally opposed to your opinion than you're letting on. He's already established the necessity for 1)The King Moshiach 2)a fully re-established Davidic Monarchy, by said King Moshiach 3) a temple rebuilt, by said King Moshiach 4) an ingathering of the Jewish people, by said King Moshiach 5)a peaceful coexistence 6)universal knowledge of G-d and 7) a rejection of other deities and prophets.

Furthermore, he says in no uncertain terms that someone who doesn't believe in the Melech Hamoshiach (a person, not an allusion) and doesn't wait for HIS coming, is denying the Torah and Moshe.

"We see that he has a fundamental willingness to view the Messianic prophecies as allegoric"

We see that the Rambam has a willingness to say that we're unable to predict the actual meanings of prophecies that are supra-natural- but only if they're supra-natural, not thing which he has already defined as necessities.

It's worth noting that the Rambam's statements here are shaky: In fact, Messianic times will be quite UN-natural and saying that there will be no physical difference between now and then is an understatement. There will then be Techiat Hameitim, completely antonymous to current reality.

"if we insist that G-d has promised us something beyond what He has already supplied us with, then we are setting ourselves up for crushing disappointment at best"

And what of our deciding that we've already got all that we were promised?

If there ISN'T something beyond the pitiful state of Israel, with all of its failings, than we needn't wait for the disappointment. The odds are against peace Tobie, and the odds are against messianic fruition coming of its own in the current State. I don't think our input is going to help- the country is becoming increasingly secular, and NON-JEWISH.

"I don't claim that all the prophecies have come true- that is simply not true. But I do claim that a lot of them may have been referring to this very moment in history"

Again, your interpretation of prophecy fulfilled is too simplistic, and forced, to be definitive.

"the fulfillment of the rest may well be command rather than promise"

Do you have any basis/precedent for this?

6:51 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Nemo, I think we may have reached the limit of our (or at least my) ability for fruitful discussion. The fact is, you are almost certainly right regarding the position of the Rambam. I am not denying- nor can I deny- that your understanding is the way in which things have been understood and continue to be understood by just about everyone.

But....

As I said, I believe completely in the legitimate evolution of the law. Evolution of belief is more risky, simply because the law is, by definition, whatever we choose it should be, while reality can only be one thing that we may or may not believe the correct things about. That being the case, there are moments that I wake up wondering if somehow, we as a whole are totally missing the historical bus. People rarely live their lives according to prophecies or divine promises, but in the area of Mashiach and Israel, we are doing just that. And if our interpretation of the Nevi'im- who are, let us admit, a wee bit murky as to detail- are inaccurate, we could be sabotaging the very plan that we are relying on being fulfilled.

In so many issues relating to the State, halacha is forced to thrash about in deep, convoluted, theological waters, which forces a lot more guess work than I like to see in my halacha. And the qustion shave huge nafka minot, so that we cannot simply leave them aside for philosophers and dreamers.

One of the biggest- and I think this is perhaps the critical difference- is the question of what will be done by us and what by G-d. It is precisely your attitude- that current Israel is mediocre, hopeless, and entirely G-d's problem- that disturbs me, because i think it is the inevitable result of our thinking about Mashiach and, if we have made mistakes in our reasoning, the thing that will thwart its improvment.

As I said before, my general theology is that man is central to G-d's plan and creation and that it is human action, rather than divine intervention, that must create the reality that we want to see. To me, to say anything else is to abdicate our chief responsibility on earth. As such, i feel that it is our duty to see Israel- in all its desperation and mediocrity and inefficiency and so forth (and trust me, I am all manners of aware of all of those)- as our mission. To shrug our shoulders and wait for G-d seems wrong.

Again, I don't know. This is not one of the many issues on which i pretend to have a valid opinion. I have only the worry and the question mark.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Tobie- I, by nature, am a defeatist. I too can't imagine how Moshiach can possibly come nowadays, logistically and because of the world's spiritual platitudes. But don't let my pessimism represent the pervasive attitudes of Orthodox people. There are still plenty who actively strive to bring Geulah one way or another.

The difference is in the application. While you say it's done by perfecting and imperfect democracy, Lubavitchers say it's by spreading Mitzvos, MO say its through Tikkun Olam and the Yeshivish say it's by learning Torah.

Is any one method right? Yes, depending on who you ask :)...

The point is that the consensus of Jews understand our mission in Galut is to rectify our world somehow. There is a universal mission and an expectation. They all strive to do their part in building this ideal world, as they understand the need. But not everyone agrees that it involves building a state. Others see the responsibility as personal- changing their Middot and spirituality.

On the other hand Tobie, I could argue that your approach, being satisfied having a state and only working to better it, might allow someone to rest on their laurels. If you already have your basic goal, the State, then why must the person struggle further. The objective has been achieved, albeit imperfectly. Responsibility can easily be shirked and forgotten about.

But, when the mission is universal, and the goal seems achievable, and when the expectation for Geulah is still clear, one will always recognize that their is more to work for.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

While I appreciate the notion that my views are somehow not crazy, I'm not so sure that they are that parallel to the mainstream. True, we all think that we have to do stuff to bring the geulah. But there is a big difference between saying "We have a problem X, a problem too large for us to try to solve. Instead, let us perfect the world by doing Y and Z, causing G-d to swoop down miraculously and solve problem X" and saying "Uh oh. We have problem X. What must we do about it?"

My view may lead to being lazy about all the other things that we must do to make this world perfect, but it would mean that our politics and policy would be governed by real world concerns instead of a vague sense that nothing can ever be done until G-d comes to solve things Himself. It might, I concede, make our mitzva observance somewhat lax (if we believe that the only purpose thereof is to bring Mashiach), but I think it could only help the State.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Sorry for trying to end off with everyone agreeing!

I hear you...

6:35 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

הערה: הרי אנו אומרים בתפילות המשלשים את יומינו "תקע בשופר גדול- לחירותינו, ושא נם לקבץ גלויותינו. וקבצינו יחד מארבע כנפות הארץ לארצינו". וכמו שכבר נאמר- וכי נתפלל על דבר שביכולתינו לעשות, ואיננו עושים?! וכי מחכה אדם שיתקע הא"ל בשופר של ממש ואז ילך?!

הערה נוספת: בברכה הבאה בתפילת הי"ח מתפללים אנו שיוסר ממשל שאינו הגון מארצינו "מלכות הרשעה מהרה תעקר" ושיוחזרו הצדק והמשפט למקומם הראוי. -אבל תמיד היה נראה לי שהבקשה הזאת באה דוקא אחרי הגיענו לארץ, כי כך נראה מסמיכות הברכות (וגם שנתקן בהיות ישראל שרויים על אדמתם)-. ורק אחרי זה אנו מבקשים "וכסא דוד עבדך מהרה לתוכה תכין".

רצוני לומר שלא תלי הא בהא: החזרת מלכות ישראל הראוי, או מלכות בית דוד בחזרתינו ארצה. אדרבא החזרה לארץ קודמת בתפילה לישועות הבאות לעם ישראל.

משל למה הדבר דומה? לאשה שסטתה, ובעלה עזבה, ועזב את ביתם. לימים גם האשה בחליטה לעזוב את הבית. אבל אחרי זמן רב נתעוררה געגועי בעלה עליה, וחזרה לביתם, בחשבה "אם יבוא בעלי, הנני מחכה לו". כך עם ישראל, אחרי שגורשנו מביתינו ובעלינו עזבנו- הכי פחות שאנחנו יכולים לעשות זה לפחות לחכות ליד הבית הישן- שמא עתה ישוב בעלינו לנו. י

11:25 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

משפט נוסף ששחתי להוספה לנקודה הראשונה שכתבתי: והלא כבר נישא נס שאין להכחישה המכריזה ואומרת "תקבץ גלויותיכם!". י

11:31 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

nemo: "You can't rely on a few allegorical statements in Tanach to say that this IS it."

- Again; how does this kind of stuff ever take place? We mount our horses, kill a bunch of Canaanites and take their houses and land, and whala! What do you see in Tanach? "And G-d sent his mighty hand against the Canaanites and smote them down like bowling pins"!. The Talmud says in Kiddushin that many Israelites even harbored negetivity against Moshe! the Gemara quotes them as saying about Moshe "kama a'vin shokav!" ("how thick are his hips!"). i.e.- they thought he was a currupt and despotic leader who had no charisma and didn't know what he was doing. And as I mentioned before, how does it come out in the Torah? "And they believed in Moses". How does a bunch of sweaty people walking through a desert look on paper? "And I carried you out on wings of eagles!". So again, you can stick around in the forest, waiting for the lion to go lying down with a goat "וגר זאב עם כבש, וגדי עם אריה ירבץ", I'll follow the Rambam with these other guys!

nemo: "On the other hand Tobie, I could argue that your approach, being satisfied having a state and only working to better it, might allow someone to rest on their laurels. If you already have your basic goal, the State, then why must the person struggle further. The objective has been achieved, albeit imperfectly. Responsibility can easily be shirked and forgotten about.

But, when the mission is universal, and the goal seems achievable, and when the expectation for Geulah is still clear, one will always recognize that their is more to work for."

- No one said the PURPOSE is to have a state for the Jews.

tobie: "but it would mean that our politics and policy would be governed by real world concerns instead of a vague sense that nothing can ever be done until G-d comes to solve things Himself. It might, I concede, make our mitzva observance somewhat lax (if we believe that the only purpose thereof is to bring Mashiach), but I think it could only help the State."

- I, at least, don't think I understood this statement. How is doing active things to make the world better making our observance lax, and "help the state"?

nemo: "If there ISN'T something beyond the pitiful state of Israel, with all of its failings, than we needn't wait for the disappointment. The odds are against peace Tobie, and the odds are against messianic fruition coming of its own in the current State. I don't think our input is going to help- the country is becoming increasingly secular, and NON-JEWISH."

- Again, the odds were 10 times more against us in the beggining of the second Jewish commonwealth. The ODDs seemed to be with us in Helenized Alexandria 9it was destroyed one day, as well as sacked). The ODDs were seemingly very with us in the prosperity of Jews in cosmopolitan Germany (as well as in Poland, Lithuania and Hungary. The Belzer Rebbe said one should stay in Poland, not to leave to Israel he said. Well, they did. And died. And he went to Israel and survived!). The ODDS were against us 1948. The ODDs were against us1967. The OODs are seemingly with the Jews in America- let's see how that turns out!


Comment to tobie in general: From the sorces things are obviously as you say they are, it's just that the Jews became waaay supernaturally-oriented in our long exile (obviously partially out of non-Jewish influence and because they feel disillusioned that after all they went through they're not going to get something really special), and are still waiting for the "rapture" described in the book of Revelations.

Comment to nemo in general: In regards to the premise of this discussion; no one said this is "סוף גאולתינו", we, again, only say it's "ראשית צמיכת גאולתינו". I'll see you on Yom Hazmaut- I don't want to see you saying tachanun!

As an aside; There is a big "chiluk" between the physical geulah and the spiritual geulah. i.e. True we're still very much in a spiritual galut in Israel, that doesn't mean that we're not trotting on the same ground our holy ancestors did before they were exiled to Poland and Lithuania and came up with all kinds of inane ideas...

12:21 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Shlomo, by now I'm pretty sure that you didn't understand the substance of this argument. But, because you've brought up the issues, lets give it some attention:

"וכי נתפלל על דבר שביכולתינו לעשות, ואיננו עושים?!"

Who said it was our's to do? How can our feeble doings even compare to that of Hashem? The Tefillah itself is asking Hashem to do something for us, presumably, because its his to do.

"שיוסר ממשל שאינו הגון מארצינו "מלכות הרשעה מהרה תעקר"

This Tefillah has nothing to do with Eretz Yisrael per se. The word 'Eretz' isn't said nor implied in the entire blessing.

"אבל תמיד היה נראה לי שהבקשה הזאת באה דוקא אחרי הגיענו לארץ"

It didn't occur to you that this was about all the oppression that Jews went through for 2,000 years before Hahatzara'at HaAtzma'ut??

"משל למה הדבר דומה?... לחכות ליד הבית הישן- שמא עתה ישוב בעלינו לנו. "

Ein Hamoshol Domeh L'Hanimshol- The inconsistencies with this comparison are too many to list, but suffice it to say that the biggest two problems with this are that:

1) unlike the husband who, if he decides to forgive his defiant wife, won't be able to find her if she runs away, G-d A) knows exactly where each individual Jew is and B) has already promised that he's coming for them wherever they are.

2) it creates a new need- lacking historical or traditional authority- that one must wait in some geographic place for G-d to come to them, also presenting a weakness in G-d.

That Moshul, if anything, assuages human guilt and longing for redemption.

"והלא כבר נישא נס שאין להכחישה המכריזה ואומרת "תקבץ גלויותיכם!""

What happened to the other 8 million Jews that didn't move to Israel? What about estranged Jews who aren't going to pick up and come on their own?

How do you know that the banner is lifted telling everyone to come? What if Iran runs Israel into the sea?
----

Will have to get to the English stuff later...

3:51 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"you can stick around in the forest, waiting for the lion to go lying down with a goat "וגר זאב עם כבש, וגדי עם אריה ירבץ", I'll follow the Rambam with these other guys!"

You once again failed to understand; I was referring to alleged prophecies about children playing in the streets being the badge of redemption.

And if you were reading, according to the Rambam, "וגר זאב עם כבש" means universal peace... which, I think, hasn't happened yet.

"Again, the odds were 10 times more against us..."

We're talking about manifest Geulah, not whether we can overcome odds. If there's one unifying point to all of what I said it's that (forgive the comparison... Lehavdil, yadayada), like the FCC's classification for what's deemed porn on TV- you'll know it when you see it.

"Comment to nemo in general: In regards to the premise of this discussion; no one said this is "סוף גאולתינו""

And thus verifying, to me at least, that you really don't get it.

"I'll see you on Yom Hazmaut- I don't want to see you saying tachanun!"

Yeah, I'll be the one in shrouds and ashes!!

"As an aside; There is a big "chiluk" between the physical geulah and the spiritual geulah. i.e. True we're still very much in a spiritual galut in Israel..."

Dude, wake up, we're still sunk deeply in physical Galut. As long as we're being oppressed whether it's by Arabs in Israel in black kids in Crown Heights, Geulah hasn't come. It doesn't matter where you're walking as long as people are still getting beaten up or dying.

"that doesn't mean that we're not trotting on the same ground our holy ancestors did before they were exiled to Poland and Lithuania"

Um, that's pretty obvious! What has Geulah got to do with where you're walking around? What happened with peace and universal knowledge of G-d??? We're still in Galut.

"exiled to Poland and Lithuania and came up with all kinds of inane ideas..."

Like which ones??

4:17 PM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

You repeat that I did not comprehend the essence of the differences of opinion manifest in this discussion. What then were they?

"Who said it was our's to do? How can our feeble doings even compare to that of Hashem? The Tefillah itself is asking Hashem to do something for us, presumably, because its his to do."- Again, it's like praying "רפאנו" and eating crap and not exercising. What on earth are you asking for in that case (that's not how things work)?

"It didn't occur to you that this was about all the oppression that Jews went through for 2,000 years before Hahatzara'at HaAtzma'ut??"- האמת- שידוע שנחלק נכבד ממנו נתקן על הנוצרים היהודים...י

In regards to my mashal; there seems to be a big difference of opinion between you and I in regards to the importance of the geographical location of Israel to the Jews. My understanding -based on what I believe to be evident from many parts of the Tanach Mishna and Talmud- is that being one inch outside of the "spiritual border" of Israel is a big spiritual deficit for Jews. But again; that's not the purpose- it's a means- albeit a necessary means.וצ"ע

"What happened to the other 8 million Jews that didn't move to Israel?"- There were always Jews outside of Israel. They're missing out on some important sh-t.

"What if Iran runs Israel into the sea?"- Man, we were talking about that over 2000 years ago! What if Paras change their minds? What if we're destroyed by Greece? Things work out the way G-d wants them to. But we still got to put in our 100%. Bar Kokhava did 100%. sitting and preaching in 770 is great, but I don't think it's 100% in that sense...

Re: Odds vs manifest geulah- Again; if it was up to you there would have been no bait sheni. Somehow Bar Kokhava comes to mind again; Ribi Akiva wouldn't have supported him if he sided with you (he would say "Things look bleak here. There are barely any Jews lest here. Torah is blooming on the banks of the Euphrates. The Romans are in charge here now. If G-d wanted us here there would still be a beit hamikdash etc. etc...).

"no one said this is "סוף גאולתינו- And thus verifying, to me at least, that you really don't get it." - הואיל נא בטובך לבאר

"Dude, wake up, we're still sunk deeply in physical Galut. As long as we're being oppressed whether it's by Arabs in Israel in black kids in Crown Heights, Geulah hasn't come. It doesn't matter where you're walking as long as people are still getting beaten up or dying."

- Again, in my lexicon physical galut is anywhere outside of Israel. One of the benefits of "עידן הגאולה" is that the Jews should be the masters of our own lands- which we are. (Even in the best of times things were never PERFECT in Israel. It says by Sh'lomo "ותשקוט הארץ 40 שנה", and after that?! It's always been a bit of hard times. Our neighbors never moved, just changed names (Philistines- Palestinians. Amon u'Moav- Jordan. Bavel- Iraq. These guys aren't going anywhere man. It doesn't matter if mashiach the Mahdi and Jesus all come to Ahmadinajad together and tell him Israel is a wonderful country- things cannot change). "שיעבוד מלכויות" כתיב ברמב"ם, אבל לא שעשיו לא ישנא עוד את יעקוב- "עולם כמנהגו נוהג כתיב". י

"...Poland and Lithuania and came up with all kinds of inane ideas..." Like which ones??

- Like the ones you espouse, I suspect, from Traditionalist Eastern European Jewish influence. Particularly perhaps, that of Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneurson.

2:52 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Paragraph 3- תיקון: "שחלק" נכבד ממנו

2:55 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Sorry bud, but I write my own thoughts, not those of Rabbi Schneerson. I take offense to that.

There was only one point I made in this entire discussion which was influenced by the Lubavitcher Rebbe (about Techiat Hameitim).

"שיעבוד מלכויות" כתיב ברמב"ם, אבל לא שעשיו לא ישנא עוד את יעקוב- "עולם כמנהגו נוהג כתיב". י"

Go read the Rambam, the enitire Hlichos Melachim 12, which speaks about the state of world harmony that will exist, and the Jews' relationship with the nations of the world.

6:55 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

you; seriously, sorry man. It's just that most people I met who were even slightly connected to Chabad got everything they know about Jewish thought from "the rebbe" (I said 'perhaps'!).

9:50 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

correction; "you"- should be "yo".

9:51 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

The only thing I offered were sources in Tanach and Rambam as well as my own crafted arguments. There wasn't exactly any "Jewish Thought" there.

10:46 AM  
Blogger הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

yo man; it can't be for real! I mistook ברכת המינים for ברכת המשפט! I meant (in my original Hebrew הערה) to make reference to "השיבה שופטינו...ייועצינו וכו"...

12:18 PM  

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