Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Hand of the Eternal

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Overwhelmed by the treachery of the Olmert government, as well as by the impotence of the opposition parties, many Jews here and abroad despair of Israel's future. They are dismayed by a prime minister allied with Israel’s enemies, a prime minister who lies about peace and plans to surrender Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people, to the descendants of Ishmael.

In the midst of despair, Jews look for encouragement. Consider, first, the words of a Gentile written in the mid-nineteenth century, hence long before the Nazi Holocaust:

There is a mysterious power which rules the destiny of humanity. Once the hand of the Infinite Power has signed the decree of a nation to be banished forever from the face of the earth, the fate of that nation is irrevocable. But when we see a nation, torn from its cradle in its early childhood, and having tasted all the bitterness of exile is brought back to its land, only to be tossed again into the wide world; and that nation, during the eighteen centuries of its wandering has displayed such remarkable powers of endurance, suffer age-long martyrdom without extinguishing in its heart the fire of patriotism, then we must admit that we are standing before an infinite mystery, unparalleled in the history of humanity.

Commenting on this passage regarding the Jewish people, Moses Hess writes:

What an example! What a race! You Roman conquerors led your legions in battle against the already ruined Zion and drove the children of Israel out of their ancestral land. Your European, Asiatic and African barbarians lent your ear to superstition and pronounced your curse upon them. You feudal kings branded the Jews with the mark of shame the Jews, who, in spite of all your persecutions, supplied you with the necessary gold wherewith to arm your vassals and serfs and who provided your markets with goods.

You grand Inquisitors, searched among the children of the dispersed people of Israel for your richest victims, with whom to fill your prisons and coffers, and in order to feed your auto-de-fe'sִִand you revoked the edict of Nantes [which guaranteed Protestants of France liberty of conscience and freedom of worship] and drove out of the land the remnant [of Jews] that had escaped the destruction of Apostolic fanaticism....

What persecution! What tears! What blood you children of Israel have shed in the last eighteen hundred years! But you sons of Judea, in spite of all suffering are still here! You have overcome the innumerable obstacles which the hatred, contempt, fanaticism and barbarism of the centuries have placed in your way. The hand of the Eternal has surely guided you.

The hand of the Eternal still guides the people of Israelִִ even now when they are oppressed by a government of Jewish scorners on the one hand, and threatened with destruction by Arab barbarians on the other. Ponder, therefore, these words of the Prophet Isaiah (28:14-18) which I shall partly paraphrase:

Hear these words, you scorners who rule in Jerusalem: Your covenant with Israel's enemies is but a covenant with death and an agreement with the devil [translated by the Targum as a "covenant with terrorists"]. You believe that this covenant will spare you from an overflowing scourge. But you have only made lies your refuge, and under falsehood have you hid yourselves. "Therefore, saith HaShem: Behold ... the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies ... Your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with the devil shall not stand. When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, you shall be trodden down by it."

Rashi explains the "overflowing scourge" as on-going violence. Hence, it were as if the Prophet Isaiah and his commentators were saying: "You believe you have nothing to worry about because you have a signed an agreement with the messenger of the devil." The Malbim explains that the devil's messenger is always barking "hav! hav!" (meaning "give-give"); he will never be satisfied. (After getting Gaza he will bark “hav! hav!” for Jerusalem, etc., etc.)

Finally, consider two passages from the Zohar. From the first (Exodus 7b) we learn that in the "end of days," some wicked Jews will ally themselves with Israel's enemies. In the second (ibid. 32a) we learn that the children of Ishmael shall be eliminated from the Holy Land. The time is in the hand of the Eternal.

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