Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Menorah

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

A. Introduction

1. Israel is confronted by implacable foes. This is not well understood or acknowledged by many who profess support for Israel, most importantly, the President of the United States. By advocating a Palestinian state, Mr. Bush reveals that he—like countless others, including Jews—does not understand the nature of Islam, He foolishly calls Islam “a religion of peace,” even though it is obviously a religion of war, a religion whose believers have slaughtered some 270 million people since Muhammad. War or jihad has been the driving force of Islam for fourteen centuries. Islam is inherently implacable. This makes Islam an enemy of civilization as brilliantly articulated in Lee Harris, Civilization and its Enemies (2004).

2. As an implacable foe, Islam is animated by a hatred that can only be described as demonic—a hatred that cannot be assuaged, a hatred rooted in satanic evil. It is this hatred that impels Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to vow, again and again, to wipe Israel off the map. Such, however, is the moral decline of Western civilization, that the supposedly religious President of the United States allows this despot to enter the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave to address the United Nations.

3. Note the irony: the religious toleration for the most intolerant of religions in a country that excludes the Ten Commandments as well as the Menorah from the public sphere. This hatred of religion manifested in a country that gives a forum to the most dangerous spokesman of a hate-filled religion, a Muslim who calls for a world without America and Israel, hence a world without Christianity and Judaism!

4. Without this Persian monster in mind, Bat Ye’or has shown that Islam is a “culture of hate.” Of this culture, Syrian-born Dr. Wafa Sultan has said there are no Muslim moderates, none who are true disciples of Muhammad. To be a devout Muslim, a disciple of the Quran, one must hate and kill or at least subjugate all “infidels.” No infidels are hated more than the Jews, if only because the re-establishment of the Jewish State of Israel constitutes a refutation of Islam, of Quranic doctrine. And of course the scientific/technological success of Israel puts backward Islam to shame. This shame is enough reason to explain neither diplomacy nor economic sanctions will deter Ahmadinejad’s striving to make Islam a nuclear power.

5. Surrounded by some 200 million Muslims, another Holocaust threatens Israel’s six million Jews. Hence, there are many individuals and organizations that empathize with Israel’s plight and support the idea of a safe or a strong Israel. What many of such individuals and organizations do not realize, however, is that only a Godly Israel can be truly safe and truly strong Israel—can confront and overcome the diabolical religion of Ahmadinejad.

6. I see here a testing of Israel, on whose success civilization ultimately depends. The test is marvelously articulated by the prophet Zechariah: “Not by armed might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (4:5). Let us try to understand this verse by means of Israel’s most sacred symbol, the Menorah.

B. The Menorah

1. The light of the Menorah symbolizes knowledge, more precisely, spiritual enlightenment. The source of spiritual enlightenment is of course God. As King David has written: “The Word of God is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). Or, as his son King Solomon has written: “For the Commandment is a lamp and the Teaching a light” (Proverbs 6:23).

2. Israel will be safe and strong only if its leaders are men of Torah. Only if they imbue every heart and home with the light of the Torah will Israel enjoy peace. “For instruction shall go forth from Me, and I will create a quiet abode for My [people], so that it may shine upon the nations” (Isaiah 51:4). “O House of Jacob, come let us walk in the light of God” (Isaiah 2:5). When Israel suffers murder and misery, it is because “they rebel against the light, do not recognize the ways of God and never seek serenity [or peace] in His paths” (Job 24:13).

3. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes: Scripture also uses the words “lamp” and “light” as metaphors for the source of growth and life, of undisturbed progress and happiness. Hence, the spirit of God mentioned in Zechariah denotes not only the means for attaining perception, but also the motivation for action.

4. Now, it should be noted that the Menorah resembles a tree with a central shaft generating three branches from one side and three branches from the other side. The central shaft symbolizes the spirit of God. From Isaiah (11:2) we learn that whereas the three branches of one side of the Menorah symbolize wisdom, counsel, and knowledge, the three branches from the other side symbolize understanding, strength, and fear of God. Imbued with the spirit of God, Israel will unite theory and practice, perception and accomplishment.

5. Unless they stem from the spirit of God, what is called “wisdom,” “counsel,” “knowledge,” “understanding,” and “strength” will be futile. “I am the Lord … that turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25). As for the fear (really awe) of God, this, says King David, is “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalms 111:10). If Israel’s leaders feared God, they would not have made a covenant of death and lies with PLO terrorists. (See Isaiah 28:15.)

6. But merely to critically analyze the suicidal mendacity of Israel’s political elites will have no impact on their behavior, since such knowledge is not linked to the spirit of God. This is why Isaiah says that God “confirms the words of His servant, and fulfills the counsel of His messengers” (44:26). This means that it is not enough for critics to expose the lies and lethal nature of the Oslo peace process. Their criticism must be motivated by the desire to sanctify the Name of God. God’s Name must be in their hearts and on their lips.

7. “Thus said the Lord, your Redeemer and the One Who formed you [Israel] in the womb: I am the Lord, Who has made everything; Who spread out the heavens by Myself, and formed the earth of My own accord; that frustrates the signs of imposters, and makes rulers mad …” (Isaiah 44:24-25). Are not Israel’s rulers mad?

8. We have come full circle. Israel, now led by one kind of madmen, is now threatened with annihilation by another kind of madman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. No one quite knows how to confront this madman. Israel desperately needs a new beginning—may I say a Rosh HaShanah?

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