Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mattos Massei: An End to Bilaam is Elijah's Fire

                                                        Parashas Mattos Masei
                                              The Real Truth [un-hypothetical]  
                                                           Rabbi David Katz

In these Parshiot, Pinchas, [the same Pinchas who stood up, remembered the Law, and killed the betrayers to Moses and Israel] continued his onslaught by killing Bilaam as a purely holy functioning Priest Anointed for War.  This was a raw and animated display of Pinchas' new spiritual identity – that of Elijah the Prophet, the level that he earned through his famed Covenant of Peace. [The Midrash says Pinchas actually used angelic attributes to succeed in the chase of Bilaam, thus bringing justice and closure to the Book of Bamidbar and thus the whole Torah.] Bringing this Torah Light into greater focus, please compare these Parshiot with that of Parashas Pinchas; in other words let's contrast the theme of the last article and this one through the lens of Pinchas vs. Elijah – the man and his spirit.

Pinchas represents the Law, the straight Law, and such that it represents the rabbis and the Ger – as evidenced by the famous "broken letter 'vav' contained in the word 'Peace.'" Whereas this article tells the story through the zealous nature of Elijah – taking the gifts of Pinchas and avenging the Brit! The following is a Law discourse that serves as a response to the Law remembered in a painful truth as was articulated in Parashas Pinchas. This week we will experience the fire of Truth, in the merit of sanctifying God's Name; as the Vilna Gaon says – "setting up Men of Truth and redeeming the truth" [Kol Hator].

The task at hand is three-fold and all intertwined:

·       Ger Toshav moniker today  [and in association with Shabbat  as a consequence]
·        Is it Akum or Ger [based on Rambam and others]
·        The Ger from left field
·        And an extra bonus track
Just as last week's article mapped out a specific flow of Torah highlighting the Ger from the unique perspective of the traditional Halachic Rabbi, this week expresses truth over agenda. Not all Rabbis view the world in halachic and ultra-practical terms. Some are interested in reality, logic, philosophical – view- of – serving – God [hashkafa], real learning, etc.

I now present the Torah views of the other rabbis that we don't hear about. As is always the case in Law, there are always at least two views and two schools of thought. The halachist is a rationalist at heart, not taking into accounts multiple dynamics and meditative learning [Which is great in its arena; however philosophical discussions with Gerim are not the appropriate arena for rationalist thought. Discussing strictly the 7 laws IS the arena of the halachist, and that IS NOT what we are here to discuss], whereas the views presented in this article allow for the Neshama [Godly Soul] to come in, and frankly,  that's what the World needs, and that's what the Gerim will deserve and are entitled to.
The consistent goal has been to find halachic precedent of a Ger Toshav in today's World, even if it is not fully enabled by the statutes of Law and reality.

The reality and Law most are acquainted with:

·        No Ger Toshav until Jubilee [Rambam]
·        Ger Toshav  Shabbat only functions if one is enlisted as a type of Ger Toshav [Krisos 9a]
To stress again, the rational view says the non-Jews are halachically Akum, can't keep any type of Shabbat, can be Noahides who keep only 7, etc. This is based on a radically limited view of the Rambam and in face of a plethora of the highest rabbis of credibility due to a lack of interest to progress forward in an area that God clearly has and is radically moving forward before our very eyes. The irony is every source on the planet has predicted this movement [from King David, Rashi, Tosfos, etc.] will come, and it is clearly upon us.  To not act accordingly, is a crime against the Torah, God, and humanity.

To put this in clear terms: the non-Jews are either Akum or if by their choice Gerim; the following will justify their claim. Should one realize that he is indeed a Ger, they would have the deep responsibility to also act accordingly and to learn about what that means – for Life, as they anticipate redemption, along with the rest of Israel. The success that comes with being granted like a Ger Toshav [and full status until the Jubilee] will allow the Ger to partake of the Shabbat [not like a Jew] by not guarding against Creative Labor [Melacha; Krisos 9a] and under the terms of not performing idolatry as a Jew guards in this way [and thus not making a new religious innovation that goes against Noahide Law], for now he is being stringent to not serve idols, and completely within the scope of accepted Torah Judaism.

Settling the Rambam on Ger Toshav and Jubilee

There are a million views on this, and 90% of them understand the Rambam or agree with the idea that there is a Ger Toshav today; however it is a halachically lessened state, for it does not carry with it its stringencies such as "a command by Jews to sustain him and to perform severe penalties in his disgrace." The merit that does come with it is in the performance of additional commandments, closer-to-God relationship, and access to the innards of Israel [the people and the Land; again, without any binding obligations either way where that is concerned].

Of the various views, most of which agree and come with little variation [again, not many stand out to say under no condition is there any type of Ger Toshav – for the lack of progression is in lack of Jewish institution and infrastructure/responsibility/philosophy], the logic of the "Brisker Rav" [a famed rabbi of esteemed lineage was part of a tradition that became known for superior exegesis in Talmudic Study; the Brisker style is noted as the Harvard of Talmudics in this day and age] resonates perhaps the loudest and responds with the most simplicity and clarity.

To paraphrase the Rav, he says, "Where most say the Akum could be at best 'like a Ger Toshav' (and seen as a worthless endeavor) 'I' say he is a Ger Toshav 'like an Akum.'" His point is the Ger is in exile just as much as the Jews, and thus just because he can't fully express himself until the Jubilee comes, and he is reduced to "like an Akum." By inference and in a consistent lens of the Brisker, he is actually a Ger Toshav who can't operate as one, much like a Priest who can't function as one with the lack of a Temple. The Priest today philosophically functions as an Israelite without the Temple, and to act in this fashion could be seen as a major offence to God! The Priesthood must be acknowledged even in its lesser state, and one could compare with the Ger, and apply the Talmudic teaching, "an Akum who learns Torah is as the High Priest!" [Now this saying comes with some bang for its buck!]

Staying consistent with the Brisker Rav, he sees no problem with the Ger Toshav [in its reduced state] and says of the Rambam [notice that he states - all agree with the Brisker view of the Rambam, as he goes on to show] that [the Rambam] is only coming to state the effects of the Jubilee, and certainly not to eradicate the Ger Toshav chas v' shalom. He proves this by offering the words of the Rayvid Commentator, [a contemporary of the Rambam who challenges and clarifies the words of the Rambam] that the Ger Toshav of today lives on and is only lacking certain stringencies [such as the sustenance mentioned above and severe penalties should they occur]. He notes particularly that the case example Ger Toshav may settle into the Land of Israel – even today, of course in a lesser level, but still nonetheless a [type of] Ger Toshav. And as the Brisker would say, "like an Akum" – and not the other way around, inferring that he in fact is absolutely not an Akum, but an "exalizational-ized" Ger Toshav [thing person etc.] Point being, although in exile, we have not produced an Akum only existence, but rather one that recognizes a faint Ger Toshav in the distance.

And finally – a long, long drive out to left field…and i-t-s --g-o-n-e-!

Welcome to Zionism and the Ger

I am going to state this in a succinctly clear and concise fashion:

·        The Vilna Gaon invented Zionism around the year 1750.
·        The Vilna Gaon, Chabad Rebbe, and Baal Shem Tov – all sent students to settle Israel – together, despite any disagreements.
·        This was Zionism, and it has been documented and written about.
·        Herzl came with secular Zionism in the mid-late 1800's.
·        Aliyah to the land intensified in the 1900's.
·        By 1948 Zionism became reality on the World Stage.
·        Rav Kook was the first Chief Rabbi of the Settlement [Israel was referred to as that in its Creation].
·        Rav Kook had to solve halachic issues justifying how the State of Israel could house Jews according to the Traditional known Law(s). This is the debate of Zionism among the rabbis who question the validity of Jewish existence in the Land before the Messiah comes; as to if it could be done in a satisfactory way or not. Rav Kook tackled the issues, and even though it isn't perfect, he succeeded and it has allowed all Jews to live here in the Land while being represented by all of Judaism. There are still grumblings on this issue, but it does work on a minimal level, and it allows us to function as Jews on the Land in a true [but exiled] way, and in the eyes of the Nations, as was prophesied. And as we are currently witnessing, it is winning over the hearts of the presumed "Akum" and they are rapidly realizing the Ger reality of the World, along with providing the Noahide movement a wish for a home base once Moshiach comes to redeem.
The challenge was presented to Rav Kook, and this is what he and his Beis Din came up with [in short]:

·        The new country would be halachically valid for dwelling.
·        He solved every major issue/stumbling block.
·        This was achieved around a strong stance of particular Jewish Law that made the entire equation possible to function to a pre-requisite standard. Of course there are many angles from which one could look at this, but the following was the most striking and pertinent based on current affairs.
Rav Kook saw that for the country to operate, he would need to institute our quasi-Ger Toshav according to the understanding of the Rambam that it is allowed even without Jubilee in a lower level, supported by the stance of the Rayvid – with explicit rights of dwelling on the Land.  This was seen as valid and possible even to current standards. Thus he saw that the local Muslims, according to their Law, as it naturally follows an accordance of keeping the 7 Laws, would be able to qualify as the type of Ger Toshav necessary for this to work [and it should be known that the Rambam declared Muslims not to be idolaters].  

To make a long story short, Rav Kook saw the Ger Toshav, in the way it is allowed to be used today, it is qualitatively NOT an Akum, and by this right, World Zionism, The Current Noahide movement inspired by Israel's existence [from 1948/67], and the State of Israel in every way – literally has within its DNA the Ger Toshav [lessened state obviously]. To remove it is impossible; thus the only way to continue responsibly, if we support the previously mentioned, is to continue where Rav Kook left off [a continuation of the Zionism of the Vilna Gaon – Torah of The Land of Israel], and further the development of the Ger Toshav, working to achieve our long lost Jubilee, Moshiach, and Full Redemption.  

History says that it looks like redemption is happening, albeit in its partial stages. Some have chosen to reject this, while others have supported this; and this debate is not without its controversial nature. The discussion can ultimately boil down to two schools of thought: the Torah of diaspora vs. the Torah of The Land of Israel. This is actually an age old debate, one that the Talmud goes into great detail over [as in the difference between Talmud Bavli vs.Yerushalmi], and the rationalists will gravitate towards the Bavli/Diaspora approach, while the soul searchers will gravitate towards the mystical nature of the Yerushalmi/ Zohar – Land of Israel view point.

And, now, for the bonus track.... 

Rav Kook's proof and justification in coming to this conclusion of Ger Toshav and the State of Israel: he found a "Radvaz explanation on the language of the Rambam" concerning  Ger Tzedek. His findings you may find familiar: there is a Ger Tzedek who is certainly not a traditional Ger Toshav, but not a complete Ger Tzedek; a quasi-level has been found.  In other words, there can be a non-Jew who is a Ger Tzedek.  On that note he surmised, that there must be a middle ground between Ger Toshav proper and Akum, and that is the Ger Toshav that he instituted into the fabric of the Land of Israel, for one could argue that IT in fact never even left.

As a result, the Akum discussion is a concept for the diaspora rabbi devoid of the Land of Israel as his inspiration and motivation, but should we find ourselves involved in Israel, certainly there is precedent to conclude as did Rav Kook. History and rabbinic writings concur on this point, to the tune that a strict minority held [and still hold], in opposition of this novel Light that has come down in our unique time in Jewish history, that all should be resoundingly clear that we are in! Times are ever becoming Biblical and Prophetic.

All that had been missing from the equation was an opportunity to shine, and Rav Kook, standing before Hashem with all eyes on him, hit it out of the park…and the rest shall be given to history…while the Nations finally are able to see that hidden light shine through. Who are we to attempt a conspiracy against the illuminated truth. I stand with Rav Kook, who followed in the holy steps of the Vilna Gaon – the father of Zionism, and the source of the very Noahide movement we are staring at. To say there is a valid opposition is to contradict and undermine the very cause we give our lives to; Jews and Gerim working together towards Moshiach and the Materializing of the Final Temple.  

By Rav Kook and the Gaon, Israel is coming into proper "mumshelah" [ruler ship] on the Land, and this alone has generated the Noahide movement and Universal awakening. The choice is evidently clear: do you see an Akum or a Ger before you? Do you see Israel or Dayton, Ohio as a home for the Ger? Do you stand with pure motivation or a return to an old status quo? The answer is simple – Gaon, Kook, and a path to redemption. Case closed.

Pinchas may be the concept of standing up and remembering the Law, declaring the truth/reality, etc. But it is forever and always Elijah that stands alone as a representation of the fiery zeal that God loves in Man. Rav Kook and the Gaon have that fire in them, and is evident through their self-sacrifice to usher in the final redemption. We have all seen and understood the "spear of Pinchas" in Parashas Pinchas with the Akum stance.  And as we recall, in the word "Shalom" when Pinchas is awarded his eternal covenant, the vahv was separated or broken - Vahv Ketia!  This break is not forever but to eventually be repaired and bring shalom or wholeness to it. Things, places and people that had become estranged are forged into a greater and stronger bond. Pinchas is Elijah and Elijah brings the fire to reconcile or weld the pieces together. It forges a stronger bond than the original vahv (staff, spear, etc.) Ger and Jew are re-introduced and bonded.  Now, I think we can all recognize and relate to the "fire of Elijah" – for as it is said, Pinchas is Elijah, and as the prophet speaks, "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of Hashem."

"Give to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning."

Click for related Audio Class - Mattot-Masai


Anonymous said...

Excellent, Excellent, Excellent.

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