Jewish Museum Lecture,23/11/06. Lecturer Zohar Raviv, of the Melton Adult Education Institute of the Hebrew University. A young man in his early thirties, graduate of Brandeis University.
HOMELAND VS. A HOME ON LAND. Geography and theography.
While we may love our home on its piece of land, it can be changed at will.
A homeland is a totally different concept.
One needs to understand the meaning of our Torah, -the interpretations of the Torah,- the words of the Torah,- and the differences between geography and theography, between history and narrative to understand the meaning of the Jewish Homeland. The Almighty ‘wedded’ man to the land and this was consummated in the Torah which gave us our Jewish identity for over 5 Millenia,
The (Aramaic) words in the Torah are the roots of Hebrew words which describe the topography of Canaan across the desert to the sea. Moses leading the Jews to the “promised land”, is actually the “magical land”. Zohar gave many examples of the words used in prayer which identified the progress of the people across the desert to the sea, -a land which they identified according to the sun as being very wide,- (when in fact it is only wide E to W,- while we look at it as long and narrow, N-S.)
Zohar commented that we in the Diaspora are in effect more Jewish than our Israeli brethren, why? Because we are at home in lands which are not our homeland and to compensate for whatever feelings we have about this, has created a difference between the Israeli and the Diaspora Jews who celebrate the festivals and identify with their fellow Jews all over the world. Israelis on the other hand, who feel that they live in their Homeland according to the Jewish calendar already, are more intent on their secular enjoyments and take their religious Judaism for granted.
The Jews remained Jewish even when dispersed, dispossessed and in exile for the last 2,500 years by means of a living relationship with the soil in their ancient Homeland through the Torah. There are Agrarian laws , pentateuchal and rabbinic which relate to the land in Israel. The economy which is envisaged for the children of Israel by the Laws of the Pentateuch is purely agricultural. (The Holy Land was to be divided according to tribal areas and each family within the tribe was to receive its portion.) Alienation of this ancestral land could only be temporary; in addition to the cancellation of debts every SABBATICAL YEAR, when the land must be kept fallow; etc.
Many of the Jewish (Israelite) feasts have an agricultural basis and application, particularly Passover, a herdsmen’s and farmers’ festival; Shavuot (Pentecost) was the festival of the new grains; and Succoth (Tabernacles) was the festival for the gathering-in of the autumn harvest. Many religious laws (halacha) apply to agricultural produce and animal husbandry,- in the land of Israel mainly.
Zohar said that Israelis who are “Orthodox-secular” ( the Reform Judaism, or Conservative, or Liberal, etc. are not recognised by the official Rabbinate as being ‘authentic’) don’t consider themselves Jewish first and foremost, but national-Israelis,- while the Orthodox-religious Israelis will always be Jews first and there is a need to bridge this divide.
Zohar concluded with a challenge to us, the Diaspora Jews to engage and challenge the Israelis, particularly the youth and for us to teach them what it means “tikkun olam”, to have a meaningful relationship with world Jewry.
(His refs. “Between God and Man” by Abraham Joshua Heshel;
Herzberg’s “The Jews” and another book whose author escapes me, also called “The Jews”.)
>>The Land:History lesson
From "Blood Libel" to "Land Libel" (Europe)
For a continent that prides itself on the glory and depth of its civilization over the centuries, Europe sure has a lot of work still to do when it comes to its treatment of the Jewish people.
For hundreds of years, European attitudes toward the Jews were essentially shaped by a spiteful and malicious lie.
And in that sense, at least, very little seems to have changed.
For while they once charged us with the “blood libel”, saying that we illicitly used other people’s blood, various European leaders now falsely tar us instead with “land libel”, asserting that we have taken other people’s territory.
And just as they once blamed the Jews for all sorts of catastrophes, such as the Black Death, they now seek to lay various world crises at our doorstep, too.
Take, for example, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's address the other day at a banquet in London, where he outlined his view of how to resolve the crisis in the Middle East.
In an astonishing display of delusion masquerading as analysis, Blair essentially sought to convince his audience that the "core" of all the region's troubles - and yes, even those of Iraq - are somehow connected with the Jewish state.
"A major part of the answer to Iraq lies not in Iraq itself but outside it, in the whole of the region," Blair said, adding that it is necessary to adopt what he terms a "whole Middle East" strategy.
And then, after suggesting that the current focus on Syria and Iran is misplaced, Blair added the clincher: "On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core."
What on earth is he talking about?
To suggest that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow connected with the Baathist insurgency in Iraq, or with Syria's desire to strangle Lebanon, or Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara, or Sudan's acts of murder in Darfur, or any of the myriad other intra-Arab conflicts in the region, is not only intellectually vacuous, it is downright silly.
Worse yet, it is a cheap and transparent attempt to mollify the Arab states by parroting their party line of "don’t blame us for our region's troubles, blame the Jews".
In promoting this hogwash, Blair is deflecting attention from the real, underlying cause of the region's ills, namely, the Arab world's lack of freedom, democracy, tolerance and mutual respect.
While courting the Arabs may prove useful to Mr. Blair as he plans for his retirement next year, we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that it will make the Middle East a safer or more peaceful place.
Instead, it is just one more sorry example of just how Europe's underlying approach toward the Jew has yet to really change.