world’s apart next door

It is in the patriarchal period of ancient Jewish history that the beginnings of Hebrew religion and of a Hebrew identity are to be found. The movement to Egypt of the patriarchs’ descendents, their enslavement there and subsequent liberation by Moses, who led them, as the Children of Israel, toward the land originally promised to Abraham’s descendents, is a biblical story that represents, however entrusted with legend and modified by later redactors, a real historical process.

—Before I had a chance to write about this, Orthonomics linked to a Ynet article about a Rabbi Asher Idan who is trying to get the marriage age lowered to 15. A fifteen-year-old Israeli bride would only have been crossing the street alone for six years, and riding the elevator for one. Signs in elevators prohibit riding an elevator alone before age 14.
Here are Idan’s reasons:
“Some Hasidic communities are already violating the law by marrying at the age of 15-16. Parents of large families who cannot financially support all their children would be able to marry off their daughter earlier so that she can move into her husband’s house,” he added.
“Girls who do not want to study or work are a burden to the household,” Rabbi Idan noted, “In my opinion, these young people will contribute more to the State because they won’t go to nightclubs or waste their time looking for nonsense someplace else.”
Rabbi Idan said that lawyers are currently examining the legislative aspect of the bill, “We will curtail rape cases and violation of the law by allowing marriage a year earlier.
“This one year is significant. Nowadays boys and girls cannot have relations, and we will allow this by letting them marry, while encouraging and guiding them,” he said.—Read More: image:

In the same way, the story of the covenant of Sinai represents something crucial that happened to the religious consciousness of a whole people. When Moses brought God’s ethical code down from Mount Sinai, the mission of the people of Israel  became henceforth to practice this code in their daily lives and by so doing, set an example to the nations. If they did this faithfully, God would regard Israel as his special people. The belief that their view of God and of the moral law was both different from and better than that of their neighbors now became deeply ingrained. They saw themselves as playing out a divine drama whose first act had been god’s promise to Abraham.

The age of David and Solomon, the tenth century B.C., marked the acme of Israelite fortunes in the Promised Land, which the jews had conquered from the inhabitants of Canaan. David’s building of the Temple in Jerusalem served to remind his people that the political and material strength of the country remained rooted in its religious obligations.

Richard Francis Burton, 1873:One obstacle to a matured and detailed ethnological study of the Jew is the difficulty of
becoming familiar with a people scattered over the two hemispheres. Though the race is one,
the two great factors blood and climate have shown it to be anything but immutable, either in
physique or in character. Compare, for instance, the two extremes—the Tatar-faced Karaïte of
the Crimea with the Semitic features of Morocco, the blond lovelocks of Aden and the fiery
ringlets of Germany with the greasy, black hair of Houndsditch. And as bodily form differs
greatly, there is perhaps a still greater distinction in mental characteristics: we can hardly
believe the peaceful and industrious Dutch Jew a brother of the fanatic and ferocious Hebrew
who haunts the rugged Highlands of Safed in the Holy Land. Yet though these differences
constitute almost a series of sub-races, there is one essentially great quality which cements and
combines the whole house of Israel.
The vigour, the vital force, and the mental capacity of other peoples are found to improve by
intermixture; the more composite their character, the greater their strength and energy. But for
generation after generation the Jews have preserved, in marriage at least, the purity of their
blood. In countries where they form but a small percentage of
population the range of choice must necessarily…Read More: image:

On Solomon’s death, about 933 B.C. , the Israelite empire broke apart into the northern kingdom of Israel, with its capital eventually located at Samaria, and the southern kingdom of Judah , with its capital at Jerusalem. About 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered Israel, destroyed Samaria, and carried off the wealthier inhabitants of the country into exile; they never returned, at least not as a recognizable group. Judah survived under Assyrian domination. In an attempt to preserve not only their own cultural identity but the inheritance of the lost state of Israel, the assembled and reinterpreted their principal religious documents, recapitulated the Mosaic Law, and reaffirmed God’s covenant with Israel.

—A bitter confrontation occurred Tuesday between Noa Rotman, granddaughter of slain Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, and nationalist protesters.
The nationalists were demonstrating against an event held in the Rabin Center in Ramat Aviv, marking 20 years since the formation of Rabin’s second government. It was this government that signed the Oslo Accords, which handed over parts of Judea, Samaria and Gaza to the PLO and allowed it to arm itself.
The members of that government gathered at the center to have a picture taken together.
After the event, Noa Rotman went up to the nationalist demonstrators and – they claim – tried to tear up one of their signs – which called for indicting “the criminals of Oslo.”
The protesters said that the participants in the event should be ashamed of what they did, instead of holding a cocktail ceremony. They told Rotman that her grandfather was a criminal who brought a calamity upon the people of Israel. She replied that the murder of her grandfather is a crime. “He has already been murdered and he is dead. You should be ashamed of yourself,” she said and burst out crying.—Read More:

Little Judah, precariously situated amid the struggles of empires, was conquered by Babylon about 587 B.C. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple and deported the population to Babylon. But when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon in 539 B.C., he allowed all the Jewish exiles and their descendents who so desired to return to Judah.

That a considerable number did return is testimony to the tenacity of Jewish national and religious feeling. The Babylonian conquest had been traumatic.That extraordinary group of didactic poets, the Hebrew prophets, had predicted it as a divine punishment for backsliding, and Jews accepted it as such; but as readers of the Psalms can testify, they never ceased to yearn for Jerusalem. Much of what we now know as the Hebrew Bible was compiled during the Babylonian exile, and apparently the first attempts were made to formulate a viable religion for a people removed from their traditional home and sanctuaries…. (to be continued)

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