Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pinchas : The Spear




                                                       Parashas Pinchas
                                           Stand and Remember The Law
                                                       Rabbi David Katz

In Parashas Pinchas we lay witness to the Torah's most climatic moment when Pinchas is awarded the famed "Covenant of Peace." This was awarded as a result of his bravery, after having slayed a sinner of Israel and his object of desire, in a display of sin that could have ripped apart the seams of Torah, had it been dreadfully successful. Pinchas rose to a monumental challenge that was facing the Nation [there was a need for correct Torah precedent due to the circumstances], and he followed through with a correct code of conduct [with his justification in the spear he used to kill the perpetrators] that awarded him special recognition from God. To put the situation in simple terms: Moses was compromised over the matter [such that the issue was Jewish Ger relations, and since Moses had married of the daughters of Jethro, he found himself unable to stand] and the Nation needed Truth in the midst of a calamity that was ripping the souls from everyone there; Pinchas saw, he knew, he acted, and he eternally won. For that, Pinchas became Eliyahu, and we all know where the story goes from there. The Torah was restored forever at that time as Pinchas recalled the "Law" and Hashem virtually promised that under no circumstance would the Torah ever be forgotten again from Israel, for Israel was given Pinchas as an eternal heritage.

Here is where the story picks up from that time:

The Jews and Gerim entered the Land and they had their issues. They all got kicked out. Then a bunch came back. Then they got kicked out again. Then the Ger was lost, religions took their ground in place of the Ger, while the Jew drifted away from Israel, Gerim, and all relevant Torah. They became ultra-religious and super technical in theory, forsaking their creative gifts in original Torah.  Creative scholars came and went over the last two thousand years, however each generation saw less and less of this until we arrived in our current condition.

Today we are bereft of giants in the Torah World of Creativity. Instead, we have a nation of pundits and experts who can recall every word said and each letter scribed over the last two thousand years of exile. In some ways Torah has never shined brighter, and I have software that gives me 50,000 books with a search engine that I can have the recall ability given to me as some sort of Torah superior. Every half-educated Jew has access to the riches of riches in scholarship with the likes of mogul publishing companies that have given the keys of tradition to every layman. This was largely the outcome of World War II, and religious Judaism in a sense is thriving like never before. But there is a problem. A big problem. The Torah world is 100% Jewish and you may notice that this figure does not include a Ger outside of a standard protocol of conversion or die mentality.

We have before us the wealth of Torah sweat and tears that will fuel eternal life; and in the midst of the dust, lays the path and code to the Torah of the Ger. It is there, and it there for the taking. The only stipulation is that it was destined to lay dormant until the time of its demand, when the potential Gerim would come to take their inheritance of Shabbat and rights to finally get to know God as a result of their clearing the maze of life's struggles and challenges that were placed by God Himself. And this is our reality. We are back in Shittim, the Jews and Gerim are standing around, and instead of a threat against the Torah through immorality, the tables have been turned. The Ger is here to give beauty to the Divine Way, and yet the situation is confronted with the same scenario. Moses sits, people complain laced with doubt, and the future looks gloomy, as the echoes of a godless encounter, seems pre-destined yet again. All the pieces are set, and all that is left is the spear of Pinchas to burst on to the scene, as the next chapter of hope for the plight of being Ger.

The Ger has a two-fold need in this stage of history being played out by the sitting Moses and soaring Pinchas fractal. The drumbeat is sound and consistent as it moves to the standard beat of "we want to know God [and Israel for that matter] and we believe this [natural spiritual transcendent growth befitting the times] is achieved through the Shabbat." With that said, as Moses sits, the Torah takes its stand here. Those of wise and understanding heart will take notice and act accordingly.

The following is a bullet point of topics that weigh into a rendering of a Shabbat allowance for Gerim, employing a classic halachic process and determination:

***(Please do not be startled by the length and tone of the list to come. The flow is consistent and the message never falters from its theme: "to validate a ger in his world" contrasted with a draconian jew in his world. I recommend taking this slow and easy as a proper form of study; and allow each stanza to build all the way until the end. The agenda never abruptly alters coarse, and its end justifies the initial cause - the ger and his shabbat in todays world.)

·        There is no official Ger Toshav [who has a prescribed Shabbat observance different than a Jew as stated in Krisos 9a] in the current state of affairs until the Torah Jubilee takes place in the future as a result of a majority of Jews living in the Land. Note, that a Ger Toshav is technically a plain Ger by definition, and the "Toshav" additional status [in vernacular] is a qualifier that he has certain unalienable rights given to him. In a Jubilee condition, he has a function on the Land and outside the Land he is a halachic Ger Toshav. An obvious application is a commandment to sustain him in communities for the Jews - a fully engaged relationship status, and the Ger Toshav Shabbat of Krisos 9a, etc. [Note, that all of the Ger rabbinic terminology awakens as do the entitlements that increase as the light grows towards the Akum, as he ascends towards recognized status among Israel.]
·        In the fallen state of exile of Jews and Gerim, Jews being without the Temple are lowered into a lesser Judaism of exile standards, and the Ger is halachically determined to be considered Akum [an idolater by default].
·        The Jew may not enter any type of relationship [such with halachic ramifications] with the Akum. Any attempt to falsely upgrade a potential Ger's status could be detrimental [halachically] to the potential Ger. For example, should he go into a great time of need, he would become a responsibility upon the Nation of Israel, that Israel without the Temple is not equipped to handle. The simple reason is that the Torah promotes the relationship with a standard in mind of national unity and established holiness with the Land and Temple secured. The relationship in these times is detrimental to both sides to exist as a commanded mitzvah upon Israel.
·        The Mitzvah of Israel in the relationship with the Ger is "a commandment to provide full support and sustenance to the Ger in the prescribed fashion that is specified in the Torah. The Ger functions as an active member of Israel proper.
·        Any acknowledgment of the Ger on Israel's behalf would be a relationship in nature. By this right, there must be no acknowledgment of the Ger, for by doing so, is perforce a relationship. Any act of relationship would carry weight of Torah prescription and demand, and as stated this cannot be a possibility today. It would be a hypothetical that is not possible; an example would be, "If I was 5 years old again…" – This is a 100% moot point because I am not 5 years old, nor would it be possible to be as such. To consider such an example in any context is an illogical fallacy and must not be entertained. Such is the Ger, it cannot be entertained on any level, and by doing as such would be in great error, irresponsibility, and impossible before it would ever be executed.
·        The Jew may not enter any arena with a Ger in concept as a result, and to his knowledge all potential remain Akum.
·        The Akum / potential Ger according to the Brisker Rav a foremost scholar in analytical thinking apropos to the concept at hand [Ger Shabbos] suggests that the obligation of reaching Ger Toshav status never left the Akum World. In as much as a pipeline may not extend out of Israel into camp Ger – The would-be Gerim of the world have an unwritten [perforce] and unspoken [ibid.] moral / self-obligation and underlying Torah commitment to Hashem [to Honor Him under these conditions, although it is not an implicit command and does not come with any specific merit or penalty, etc.] to act and engage as any Ger Toshav would, save for the relationship to Israel aspects, for that is beyond the scope of possibility for the Ger. Just as the Jew is removed from the Temple in its destruction, the Jew should be seen as in a state of destruction to the Ger, and "out of service" in the technical sense. Note Jews can still ascent the Temple Mount today, however the experience carries a different context and tone than as it would with a Temple of Zion.
·        The newly found territory of "Ger [Toshav]" comes with the need [to relate with God] to keep a type of Shabbat as prescribed by Krisos 9a. This will be shown in absolute terms to pose no issue with "Making a new religion for oneself" which is strictly forbidden in Noahide Law. There is no additional Mitzvah given; only a greater observance of the existing 7 in the prescribed fashion. The gain is through a service to God with a heightened sense of clarity and articulation within the standard 7 laws. The Torah is one for Humanity, while Jews and Gerim [very male female in nature] each have an ordained path to follow bestowed by God for the good of the soul of each faith. In the end they both achieve a relationship with God, and the good that comes from the graces of God as He sees fit, for He is the true Judge. 
·        Krisos 9a states that the Ger Toshav must perform prohibitive labor to a Jew one of three ways. He may either perform according to a Holiday, Intermediary day, or a mundane day; see inside for details.
·        The Shabbat of the Ger Toshav is not a considered in the command form of the Shabbat of a Jew in any way, and his keeping his prescribed Shabbat is not recognized as a Shabbat in any sense. He is performing a commandment of not doing idolatry as an Israelite would, for a Jewish breech of Shabbat can be seen as idolatrous, at least in nature and in spirit. Thus the acting Ger is by law [in keeping his Shabbat] not serving idols, which is by law the truest definition of a Ger.
·        The Ger is to follow the spirit of Jewish Law in performing commandments [Rambam] and thus he is refraining from idolatry as a Jew would by keeping a Krisos 9a Shabbat.
·        The Rambam states "who is a Ger Toshav" – he who keeps the 7 laws of Noach without taking a ritual bath and/or not being circumcised. He uses and references language directly from the source of this law, Avodah Zara 64b.
·        He goes on to state that as we do not "bring in" [accept, intertwine within Israel on every and any level] Ger Toshav without Jubilee, we do however consider this definition of Ger Toshav to be considered "Of the Righteous of the Nations" [Hasidei Umot Ha-Olam].
·        By this definition every Ger Toshav today is a Hasid…but every Hasid…may not be a Ger Toshav, for the distinction is a choice made available to the Akum who has taken on the 7 Laws and wishes to elevate from an Akum fallen state. In the strict sense of the Law, a Noahide elevates out of Akum with the 7 laws to Ben Noah, and under ideal circumstances is further removed from Akum/Goy and enters into a state of Israel with Ger Toshav.  This applies most simply when there is a relationship with Israel and the Mitzvah of sustenance, and today many authorities recognize the Ben Noach status. However this is where the Shabbat issue remains a question and the elevation to Ger Toshav non-Jubilee status needs articulated, and is the scope of this position.
·        The Rambam states that the term Toshav [assuming the Hasid is simply a generic non implicated "Ger"] comes to say that this Hasid, although we have no relationship with him, he may live around Jews/Israel if he wishes. We do not stop him from his actions in this area or associations, but at the same time the Jew does not recognize the choices that he makes. It must be said that the Hasid termed Ger Toshav in these terms is acting for God and is in relationship with God, and the Jewish People or the Land of Israel proper.
·        One should remember however we do accept the Hasid [accept him] and albeit in a lower state, i.e. no official relationship prescribed by Torah, practical associations are assumed to be allowed within the jurisdiction that nothing is binding or imposed upon the Jew, as this is the free will of the Hasid who wishes to function as an exiled Ger Toshav with minimal rights and freedom to express Ger Toshav in Torah. For all intents and purposes, he is a Hasid Umot Ha-Olam who has a privilege to use the confusing moniker of Ger Toshav. By definition of its confusing connotation, the Jew has yet another reason to not engage in a Torah relationship to preserve the integrity of both sides.
·        The Hasid now may take up Krisos Shabbat 9a as it is not a mitzvah in any way connected to the Jewish Shabbat.
·        A Jewish Shabbat is a covenant with God that exists only for Jews. An Akum who keeps it is delivered to the hands of Heaven for a death penalty not to be carried out by the hands of man below.
·        The confines of a Jewish Shabbat, only exists in a realm of accepted and performed Torah Shabbat that dwells in a reality without prohibited labor. Any consciousness outside of this prescription is not considered a Jewish Shabbat by right of covenant. For a Jew to break this tradition carries its proper penalty at all times, and for an Akum to perpetrate this carries with it its penalty at all times. A Ger Shabbat that is not in this prescribed way is not a Jewish Shabbat by definition and no perpetration has occurred. However it may be performed in poor taste and yet trespass, to which is forbidden. Thus the [Hasid] Ger is given a fence for Shabbat [Krisos 9a] that grants him a privilege of enjoying something like Shabbat while biblically keeping a non-idolatrous lifestyle authorized by the rabbis in Torah tradition.
·        As much as the Ger is not performing idolatry through shabbat Krisos 9a, in spirit [and not command] he has a right to act holy in his behavior, and entertain holiness as he is fit to understand its meaning and implications. The Rambam states that a Ben Noach may perform the rest of the allowed commandments. It is advised to the Ben Noach to avoid commandments such as Tefillin, Sefer Torah, and Mezuza [and of course Torah study and Shabbat when in the trespass state of performance; the Hasid may learn Torah in a similar fashion as the Shabbat that he takes up – keeping the institution of the cause among Israel, while striving to achieve a relationship with God and not the Jewish people for an  unholy cause] as they involve an added knowledge of purity required to perform the commandment correctly. The additional leverage of the Hasid is an expression of his holiness and can be employed at proper times as he has become regular to and in good spirit with God.
·        The Hasid [Ger Toshav] has a right to enter into a relationship with Hashem and the Torah has granted that right, for it is merciful. The lack of precedence is due to timing, knowledge, ability to articulate the accumulated knowledge, demand, etc. The strict guidelines are to preserve the Torah and guarantee a good working foundation that will be viable in bringing a redemption status to the World and an ultimate Jubilee that frees the Torah into a greater expression of its full grandeur. Under appreciation of the severity of protocol is antithetical to what a Ger Toshav is, and to breech this articulation is an expression of a non -compliance with the 7 Laws and all that comes with a Krisos 9a shabbat – relationship with God existence.
·        This walk is a prescription for the Hasid only; the Jew is not required to [and won't] acknowledge any relationship with the Akum. Akum will only disappear with the Jubilee. Notice that the potential Ger can be called Akum and Hasid and Ger Toshav at the same time, and it is not a contradiction. The Jew calls him an Akum, from his point of view. This is a 100% condition and will not falter until Jubilee. In his own terms and mind he may think of himself as a conditional Akum [pre-destined Ger Toshav] who under certain unilateral conditions see himself as a Hasid Umot Ha-Olam. This is not a contradiction, rather two separate worlds and unrelated points of view. He may further use a limited and borrowed language to help him navigate a Torah existence in times of learning Torah and observing non-idolatry [Krisos 9a]. This helps him identify with the Torah and its meaning to strengthen his relationship with God. He is in effect connecting with his higher/future self that is fully functioning in a redeemed setting.
·        He must realize the reality of each domain and its limitations. The Ger Toshav, Hasid, and Akum labels all come with apropos responsibility and Fear of God. The default is always Akum, until stability is maintained. Even in such affairs, the Jew will see the Ger [ideally] as Akum, for that is his reality, and he is totally unaware of the reality of the Akum who acts according to a higher calling.
·        This entire discourse exists only in the world of the Akum, and in the Jewish domain there is only theory until the Jubilee, for anything more than theory, is seen as a commitment and a relationship, which is forbidden. This too, is not a contradiction, for both worlds are quite real, and are only under ban from cooperating. The Akum have upper hand because they are in position to recognize the Jew, but not vice versa. This is reminiscent of Joseph and his brothers – for he recognized them, but him, they did not see.
·        This Halacha is not in the mold of simply choosing what I see fit from a myriad of sources. This has been articulated as a thought out process to articulate the innate wisdom and expression of meaning that has been illuminated out of the entire course work of the Ger – Noahide – Hasid – Akum – etc. This is a product of all things equal while taking in the demands and reality of the times we are in. We know the Halacha once Jubilee comes, and until now there was no forbidden nature; we simply have waited for all elements to present themselves through time and history, allowing finally a vision of dawn to commence that will allow some breathing room and progression towards Moshiach in these enlightening days ahead. And as always concerning the taking on of new facets of service to Hashem, one should be in mutual cooperation with a competent authority on the relevant and pertinent matters at hand. The goal is always aimed at mercy and light as opposed to restriction and darkness. With the lowest common denominator of the times now having been presented in a clear and articulated fashion, we can only progress and ripen from here on out. The goal can be nothing short of a temple on Zion along with its cronies in Jubilee, Prophecy, and all of that which is accompanied in a full redemption - i.e. the aspects that a potential Ger lives for, and yearns to see as a full return to glory and stature for Israel as the Nation of Priests functioning as Light to Nations. This will hopefully aide in beginning that process further.
·        Every now and then in history, we come across Moses sitting either at the well of kindness [as with Tzippora] or in matters of judgment [as with Pinchas]. May we swing the pendulum back to the waters of kindness through this act of clarity for the Noble Ger, and witness miracles of redemption in our time.
·        Be wise, be responsible, and help bring Jubilee and Moshiach close.

This is an articulated path to revelation for making Gerim. For a Jewish rendering of law in the normative sense, would constitute an acknowledged relationship, and as seen/proven - this is an impossibility...even to hypothesize as such is still a prohibited relationship. Thus until redemption the truth must come from a place that is not easily discernible.

[The main point expressed is making a law of progression from pre-existing facts; as time opens towards redemption, the Ger of the Torah will speak for itself, for the Jews will be at liberty to acknowledge him.]

As an example, Reuven had good intentions by placing Joseph into the pit, hoping to return  and save him later. Reuven would be judged by this by Jacob, losing the firstborn rights to Joseph, and having the Torah show him in a poor light, seemingly overlooking his good intentions. Only in the Torah's closing words, does Moses vindicate Reuven by declaring, "May Reuven Live."
Such is the swinging pendulum of Moses and His Torah.

...and in closing where Pinchas is/was concerned: he was able to process and calculate a law that was for whatever reason elusive to those present, and the spear was the action necessary, or the fruit of the labor [that was destined to sanctify God and His Torah]. This article is served to emulate the mind-function in similar situations to be zealously honor God and His Torah when no one else looks to rise up and do so. May my actions be seen as a smile upon Heaven.
Amen.
Rabbi David Katz
2 Av 5774
Tzfat Israel
Yeshiva Shem V' Ever

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

Literally, Reuben's faltering is fascinating. The implications of the incident with Bilhah, based on what is known of Ethiopian Israelis, are yet to be resolved ie Atlantic Slave Trade, Civil Rights Era. Why else would Moses insist Judah be numbered with the eldest, errant brother, but to set things properly?

Irene Griffin said...

Thank you. With your masterful insight & study and Rod's ability to articulate it to us at NETIV, it is bearing fruit and there is much more to come!

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