Micha, I’m Not an Anti-Semite and the Torah is Not About Land

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Part 1 of the Continuing the Dialog – Take 2 Series begins with me responding to: Micha, i am not an anti-Semite, i just feel sorry for the Jews who got their religion painted and turned into this. just as i feel bad and sorry for Muslims who turned to terrorism because they’ve been lied to and used, or for any other senseless reasons the Torah is not land, its a holy book that teaches you how to cleanse your soul from all evil, at least the Jews who are protesting against Israel will tell you so.

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I always love when people preface or follow their comments with “I am not an anti-Semite.” Then, they usually have no issue with ascribing horrible actions and conduct to the only Jewish state and to over 50% of the Jewish people. Without hesitation, they also deny Jewish history and the Jewish people’s right to sovereignty and self-determination.

These same people often – as you do – dig their hole even deeper with claims that they aren’t Anti-Semites because they “like” the tiny percentage of Jews who also prescribe to their mendacious (hate-filled) views on the world’s only Jewish state or on the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty and self-determination in their indigenous homeland (aka Zionism).

You may not know this, but your form of tokenism is common. During the Civil Rights movement there were many Whites in America, including in the South who swore that they were not racists and would seek to get cover for their bigotry by citing to the views of the few African-Americans who agreed with some of their contentions.

Pointing to the proverbial “Uncle Tom” or “Court Jew” is not exactly a novel approach for people seeking to camouflage or obscure their bigotry.

I also find it both remarkable and remarkably offensive when a non-Jew, particularly one who writes the most capricious claims about Jewish behavior tries to explain to me what it means to be a “good Jew” or what our “Torah” is about.

To be perfectly blunt, it is quite evident from your writing that not only do you not know Jewish history (or Arab history for that matter); you certainly don’t understand our tribal faith.

Without getting into a discussion of how Judaism and our holy books address the nature of evil and how it is both similar to and different from the other major religions in the world, which could take many pages, the Torah and the Talmud are certainly in many respects about land, in particular the land of Israel, the Jewish people’s historic, religious and indigenous homeland (irrespective of what Jews “who are protesting against Israel” may tell you).

One of the greatest Jewish sages of all time, Moses ben Nahman commonly known as Nachmanides, who moved back to the land of Israel from Spain and passed away in the city of Akko in 1270 A.D., wrote that one of the Torah’s 613 Mitzvot (deeds or commandments) is for Jews to be sovereign and have self-determination in the Land of Israel. Nachmanides also wrote that according to the Torah and the Talmud we Jews have an affirmative duty not to leave the land of Israel in a state of desolation.

That we are to develop the land so it once again blossoms, which is exactly what Zionists did in the 19th and 20th Century, when they took a land that barely produced anything, a neglected backwater province of the Ottoman Empire with barely any water or trees and turned it into the amazing, food producing, water technology marvel and economic powerhouse it is today.

 Nachmanides quotes many passages from the Torah that confirm his contention, including in Numbers 33:53 where the Torah says: “You shall take possession of the Land [of Israel] and settle in it, for I have given you the Land to dwell in.”

Another of the greatest sages in Jewish history, Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon), who predated Nachmanides by a few generations and spent much of his life in Spain and North Africa (though he is buried in Tiberius, Israel) was of the view that a Jew should live in the land of Israel, and that even if it is easier to be an observant Jew in a city outside of Israel (because there are more observant Jews there), that a Jew who lives in the land of Israel should never leave. In addition to the many passages in the Torah, which expressly refer to living and settling in the land of Israel, there are at least 26 Mitzvot/Commandments that only apply to Jews when we are in the land of Israel.

Of course, the most famous Torah commentator is Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, commonly known as “Rashi.” He lived in France nearly 1000 years ago (1040 to 1105 A.D.) and he is widely considered the most wise and influential Torah scholar of all time. His commentaries on the Torah are the most widely studied and serve as the basis for hundreds of sub-commentaries. The “first Rashi” or first commentary on the Torah addresses the question about why, since the Torah is first and foremost a book of laws for the Jewish People, the Torah doesn’t begin with the first law given to the people of Israel. Why does it start with a history lesson about creation, Noah’s Ark, our forefathers’ lives and all of the other stories that preceded the sections about the law? Rashi’s amazing answer, almost 900 years before today’s United Nations and its band of tyrannical dictatorships first ever voted on one of their “flat earth” resolutions against Israel: there will be a time when the nations of the world will claim that the people of Israel “stole the Land of Israel.” So the Torah starts with the story of creation in order to first establish the fact that the world and all of its creations belong to G-d. Thus, only G-d has the right to apportion the land of Israel, the Holy Land.

So those Jews who are telling you that Judaism is “not about land” and that it is somehow “not Jewish” for us to strive to be sovereign and free in the land of Israel are quite mistaken. Interestingly, the Arab Muslims who – to their own detriment – continue to seek to dispossess the Jewish people of being sovereign and free in our indigenous homeland (in approximately 1% of the entire Middle East) also seem to ignore their own holy book, which provides in Sura 5 Verse 21 that Allah assigned the land of Israel to the Jews until the Day of Judgement, and in Sura 26 Verse 59 that the Jews are the inheritors of the land of Israel.

So while from a literal perspective it is accurate that the “Torah is not land,” as the Torah is about a great many things, including our relationship with G-d, our fellow humans, and how we should treat animals; it is also the case that yearning for Zion is intrinsic to being a Jew. The Torah and the Jewish people have always been expressly and even intimately intertwined with our relationship with and our devotion to the land of Israel, to living as a free people “in the land of Zion and Jerusalem,” something any Jew who is not a “token” for Anti-Semites can tell you is something we Jews have said in our prayers for millennia.

Related Posts from Series 1

 

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One Comment

  1. Elliott Steinberg

    Absolutely correct Micha. I’ve studied Tanach, but have been told many times by ignoramuses what the Talmud is about and what Jews believe. Ridiculous. And, I maintain, Jews who don’t understand the longing for Zion embedded in our cultural DNA have no clue about their own culture and don’t speak for the Jewish people.

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