Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling,—1 Samuel 15:3
What is the worst insult a religious Jew may use?* What is the most violent act permitted to a religious Jew? Is rabbinical Judaism related to the Biblical one?
The answer to these three questions is related. Unsurprisingly, they will kill to hide the hideous fact.
On July 14, 2013, the worst insult was uttered by the Head of the Porat Yosef Yeshiva, towards Netanyahu’s Zionist-Religious partners, initiating the next stage in what until now had been a slow and tired war. Not anymore. “Amalek,” the Jewish Weapon of Mass Destruction has been deployed.
Burial Tomb Queen Esther and Mordecai, Hamadan, Iran
Remember Amalek!: Vengeance, Zealotry, and Group Destruction
Taking God out of Judaism
Porat Yosef Yeshiva, Old City, Jerusalem
Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective
The Book of Esther is in Ktuvim (“Writings”), the third section of the Tanakh, the Old Testament. It is set in the third year of Ahasuerus, King of Persia; due to Hebrew peculiarities, it becomes Ahashverosh (“h” as “ch” in “loch”) in that language. The name Ahasuerus is also equivalent to Xerxes, this one is Xerxes I (486-465 BC). The book tells the story of a Jewish girl called Esther, who became queen of Persia and thwarted a plan to commit genocide against her people. The Book of Esther, also called the Megillah (“scroll” in Hebrew), is the basis for the Jewish celebration of Purim. Its full text is read aloud twice during the celebration, in the evening and again the following morning.
This book is highly questionable. It doesn’t mention God even once; that’s odd for what is supposed to be religious literature. Then, it is the only book of the Old Testament that did not show up in the Dead Sea Manuscripts, hinting that it was a late, rabbinical, addition to the Old Testament. Some of the acts described there are so hideous that many Christians refrain from reading it in Church.
If analyzing its content, one can’t but wonder about the similitude of this book with the literature produced by the 2nd century BC Maccabean Revolt (seeEmpire Celebrates Hanukkah). This revolt succeeded; the Temple in Jerusalem was liberated and rededicated. The festival of Hanukkah was then instituted. Hanukkah symbolizes the transition from being oppressed people in the empire, into people organized as a smallish kingdom just next to it. Thus, Hanukkah has the military and nationalistic dimensions that Passover lacks. Hannukah is the Jewish Imperial Feast. Purim, the festival derived from the events described in the Book of Esther, is not only imperial in nature but genocidal in its intentions.
According to the Book of Esther, Haman, royal vizier to King Ahasuerus, planned to kill the Jews. Following an intricate string of events, his plans were thwarted by Mordecai and Queen Esther. Afterwards, the Jews killed not only their would-be executioners, but also their wives, children and relatives. Altogether, 800 were killed in Susa—the capital city—alone, and 75,000 in the rest of the empire. The following day was declared feast, the genocidal Purim we still can see being celebrated today.
There is no way of justifying these killings. This is not self-defence, but violence in the name of violence; brutal vengeance for something that did not happen. One of my readers told me once that it is as if Germany celebrated the Holocaust.
There is another testimony of ungodly behavior in the book; its heroine is evil. Abraham Kuyper analyses in Women of the Old Testament that Esther did not agree to take Vashti’s place, that she refrained from saving her nation until her own life was threatened, and that she carried out bloodthirsty vengeance. The last is the Sign of the Beast, not of a godly hero.
Then, there are heavy signs of pagan influences in the book; Esther is derived from Ishtar—also known as Ashtoret—the Fertility Goddess in the ancient Middle East. The Book of Daniel provides accounts of Jews in exile being assigned names relating to Babylonian gods and “Mordecai” is understood to mean servant of Marduk, a Babylonian god. The more you look into this book, the least resemblance it bears to other books in the Bible.
|Gustave Doré—Morte Agag
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From Esther to Amalek
The book has been expanded by rabbis and transformed into a manifest of Jewish ideology. “Agagite” is used in the Book of Esther to describe Haman. This means that he was from the Persian town of Agag. Yet, the Jewish literature explains that he was descendant of King Agag of the Amalekites. For rabbis and their followers, the Amalekites are symbolic of the Judaism antithesis. Moreover, of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) followed by Orthodox Jews, three refer to the Amalek: to remember what the Amalekites did to Jews, not to forget what the Amalekites did to Jews, and to destroy the Amalekites utterly. The rabbis derived these from Deuteronomy 25:17-18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Sam. 15:3. Rabbis, what about making peace utterly? Do you ever think of that?
Along time, Purim became a celebration of violence. When Haman’s name is read out in the synagogue, which occurs 54 times, the congregation engages in noisemaking to blot out his name. The practice can be traced back to the Tosafists (French and German rabbis of the 13th century). This is in accordance with a passage in the Midrash, where the verse “Thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek” (Deuteronomy 25:19) is explained. Then, a custom developed of writing the name of Haman, the offspring of Amalek, on two smooth stones, and knocking them together until the name was blotted out. Some wrote the name of Haman on the soles of their shoes, and at the mention of the name stamped with their feet as a sign of contempt. This list goes on and on.
In the same way, rabbis upgraded the Bible with the Book of Esther, they upgraded the abovementioned mitzvot with seven rabbinical mitzvot. Two of them are related to today’s topic, namely to light the Hanukkah lights (in other words to celebrate this non-Biblical feast) and to read the Scroll of Esther on Purim (in other words to celebrate this non-Biblical horror).
Unhappy with the word of God, rabbis added a few things that reversed it, creating a Cult of Empire and Violence. In this unreligious realm, Amalek symbolizes all evil. Many rabbinical insults are related to the People of Amalek.
Annihilation of Amalek
The Amalekites were nomads who attacked the Hebrews at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-10), Sinai, during the exodus from Egypt. Since that moment, they were marked for destruction. Later, King Saul and his army destroyed most of them, but were condemned by Prophet Samuel for sparing a few and their livestock (1 Samuel 15:8-9). Saul also hesitated to kill Amalekite King Agag; thus Samuel executed Agag himself (1 Samuel 15:33). Before killing him, Samuel said: “As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women.”
The name Amalek became a synonym of an enemy deserving destruction. Other names related to the affair also serve the same target. “Hormah”—a place related to Amalekites and Canaanites—is used to describe an annihilation war.
Hassidic rabbis (Baal Shem Tov and followers) claim that Amalekite represents atheism, the rejection of God. Other victims of this unwilling baptism were Armenians, Nazis and Palestinians, who are often referred to as Amalekites. Why Armenians? Because they were the first nation to accept Christianity.
The most famous reference to Amalekites in Israel was by President Itzhak Ben-Zvi. Adolf Eichmann’s wife pled for clemency after he was kidnapped by Israel and sentenced to death. “As your sword bereaved women, so will your mother be bereaved among women,” the savage answered in handwriting.
In February 1980, Rabbi Yisrael Hess, campus rabbi of Bar-Ilan University, wrote in the university’s student paper an article entitled “The Genocide Commandment in the Torah.” He claimed, “the day is not far when we shall be called to this holy war, to this commandment of the annihilation of Amalek,” this was understood as a reference to Palestinians because he developed ideas presented in 1974 by Rabbi Moshe Ben-Tzion Ishbezari, who had equalled Palestinians with Amalekites. The event caused some noise in the media, but he was not arrested. Had a Palestinian made a parallel declaration, he would have been hanged as Eichmann was.
Annihilation of Israel
Today’s event was so earth-shattering that Settler Channel 7 published it a few minutes after midnight. It came as an answer to the new Conscription Law, which is now in advanced stages of legislation by Israel.
The law is supported by Netanyahu’s coalition, which includes the Religious Zionist** “The Jewish Home” party as a key partner. The law attempts to recruit Ultra-Orthodox Jews+ to the army.++
Ultra-Orthodox Jews are out of the current coalition and can do little but protests. Israel is not a democracy, but a Coalitional-Dictatorship. Human rights are not respected by the State.
The event reported here was cataclysmic not only due to its incredible message, but mainly due to its source. Shas is the main ultra-Orthodox party (Ultra-Orthodox Judaism Declares War on Netanyahu). It is led by Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,& who gives a weekly sermon. This Saturday, the sermon was given by a guest, Rabbi Shalom Cohen, head of the Yosef Porat Yeshiva (Jewish College), and member of Shas Council of Sages, the party’s leading body.
The Yeshiva he leads is in the Old City of Jerusalem, predates the State and is considered a central one. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is one of its most notable graduates. In other words, the message came out of the heart of the ultra-orthodoxy. It is the parallel of a formal government decision.
He said: “It is written that God is at war with Amalek. There is no a full chair&& while Amalek exists…as long as handwoven skullcaps (symbol of Religious Zionists) exist, the chair is not full. They are Amalek. When is the chair full? At the moment that there would be no handwoven skullcaps.”
It is not just a request to the Religious Zionists to give up the Zionist part of their identity. By calling them Amalek, he is allowing their execution as it was done with Eichmann.
Rabbinical Judaism ignores half the Bible. It modified the first part so that it would be comfy, allowing topics like the abovementioned “The Genocide Commandment in the Torah” to be “kosher.” This is not religion, but the implementation of secularist violence. God doesn’t teach violence; God doesn’t preach for State violence against His creation. Yet, let me congratulate Rabbinical Judaism, in its partial interpretation of the Word, they are bringing an end to their savagery, replacing “Amalek” with “Israel.” Go ahead!
* Three Hebrew horror statements that cannot be fully translated into English and are not directly related to this article are: “shumu shamayim,” “gzerot shemed,” and “yizaharu mivnei ha’avla,” which roughly mean ‘heavens’ destruction,’ ‘annihilation decrees,’ and ‘beware of the unrighteous.’ Rambo wouldn’t shiver.
** Jewish redemption is far from the Spiritual Redemption professed by Christians. Jews expect a physical redemption based on a Godly Kingdom in the Land of Israel. All the religious interpretations until the 19th Century didn’t leave any place to a Zionist party rushing to conquer Arab lands. That was the role of a future Messiah. Thus, any cooperation between Zionists and Orthodox Jews was impossible.
Then a Maoist-styled Giant Leap Forward took place and things changed. Traditionally, the Jewish Orthodoxy believed that the abovementioned redemption would arrive in two stages. The early stage is called “Messiah Son of Joseph,” and would include the physical stages of bringing the Jewish people together; this stage is symbolized by a bull. The second stage is the “Messiah Son of David,” when a spiritual Messiah would restore the Kingdom of God. This stage is symbolized by a donkey; Christian readers would immediately recognize Jesus triumphal entry to Jerusalem riding one (John 12:12-16). In the 19th Century, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, was one of the Orthodox Jews who created the base for cooperation between Zionists and Pharisees.
What he did was simple, and is known as “Hamoro shel Mashiah” (“Messiah’s Donkey” in Hebrew, a book by this name was published in 1998). He claimed the secular Jews (i.e. Zionists) can take the place of “Messiah Son of Joseph” as a collective entity, creating the base that would allow the Pharisees – the Orthodox Jews – to produce the “Messiah Son of David” in the new and secular state. It worked. The political alliance produced a state accepted by most Jews. Neturei Karta is one of the few Jewish groups that do not accept this unholy contraption. Another result is what outside Israel is known as Religious Zionist Movement, and in Israel it is generalized as “kippot srugot,” the “hand-woven kippas,” after the distinctively hand-woven headcovers used by its men in contrast to the black ones favored by ultra-orthodox men. They even have separate education institutions. “Yeshivat Hesder” is a generic name for religious colleges that combine Talmudic studies with military service in the army; they belong to the Nationalistic Religious framework. This, while most religious Jews are exempted from military service; this was one of the main topics leading to the 2013 early elections.
+ Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is divided into two main groups. For unknown reasons, both Haredim and Hasidim favor clothes that were fashionable in the 17th Century Eastern Europe. Even their Mizrahi and Sephardic members dress in such a way. Not only does that make little sense in the hot summers of the Holy Land, but it also makes differentiating between these two groups a Herculean task (please forgive my Greek digression). Yet, they differ in their interpretation of Judaism more than Catholic and Evangelic groups do in Christianity.
“Haredim” owe their name to Prophet Isaiah: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word” (Isaiah 66:5). The Hebrew word “harada” means “fearful,” “anxious.” Thus Haredim are those who fear the word of God and thus are the more legalistic followers of the Jewish religion. Yet, they do not base themselves on the Bible for their observance of the law, but mainly on interpretations appearing in the Talmud and related literature. They are also known as Ultra-Orthodox Jews. Within this large group, there is an important subdivision. There are “Haredim” and “Lithuanian Haredim,” the last belong to groups linked to the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
“Hasidim” owe their name to the Hebrew word “hesed,” which means “kindness,” or “charity.” They separated from the Haredim in the 18th Century, when Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov began preaching for a less legalistic interpretation of the Pentateuch, for a Judaism based on spirituality and joy. Instead, he created a branch that is characterized by the veneration of leadership as intercessors of God. In the past, some Haredim defined them as a sect. The ultra-mystical Kabbalist Jews may be found in Hasidic and Haredi-bound yeshivot (colleges).
++ Jewish Orthodoxy and the Army. On August 22, 1999, the then Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appointed the Tal Committee, which dealt with the special exemption from mandatory military service in the IDF given to ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Hasidim). It was headed by retired Justice Tzvi Tal; thus it was named after him. On July 23, 2002, the Tal Law, based on the committee results, was passed in the Knesset. It enabled the continuation of the IDF service-exempt given to yeshiva members (“yeshiva” means “sitting” in Hebrew; it is the name of Jewish religious colleges). At the age of 22, yeshiva members would receive a year of decision in which they would need to choose to continue their studies or to go to work. Those who choose to go out of the yeshiva and work would need to choose between a minimalist army service of four months, and then reserve duties according to the army’s needs, or a civilian service of one year. The service would be done in special IDF units organized according to religious needs, like Nahal Battalion 97 (the IDF has several ethnic units, see Explosion in Sinai).
Secular Jews opposed the law, claiming that it discriminated against them by being forcing them (by default because they don’t get a similar exemption) to serve at least three years in the IDF. Yet, using half-hidden laws, secular Jews can also get service exemptions. In 2005, the State admitted in a response to a Supreme Court bagatz petition, that the Tal Law had failed to change enlistment practices of Orthodox Jews. Back then, only a few dozen ultra-Orthodox Jews enlisted in the army as a result of the law; by the beginning of 2012, the number was still below 900. In 1974, only 2.4% of high school graduates about to enrol in the IDF were exempt because they were yeshiva members. In 1999, they were 9.2%; it was 15% in 2012. These numbers are a clear sign of a very benevolent discrimination by the State of Israel towards Haredim and Hasidim. Yet, the same secular Jews who petitioned the High Court on their own behalf do not oppose other types of discrimination enforced by the IDF towards other minorities.
On February 21, 2012, the Supreme Court of Israel annulled the “Tal Law,” with a majority of 6 justices against 3. Dorit Beinisch, then President of the Court supported the decision: “we can help to bring a gradual change,” she said.Asher Dan Grunis, who later replaced her, opposed the decision. He said that the thought the court would bring Haredim to serve in the IDF is “an illusion.” “It doesn’t help the status of the court, we won’t bring change,” he added. In August, the law expired and became one of the main reasons that forced Netanyahu to call for early elections. The main argument of the Orthodox leaders is that they care about their youth, who want nothing but to study Torah. In the West, politicians are expected “to lead” their people. It is never clear what that means. “Lead” to where? “Lead” to what? Don’t expect practical answers in their speeches; don’t expect to find any practical way of measuring their performance. Their system is defined to facilitate lies. In contrast, Asian leaders are expected “to take care” of their electorate. There is no clearer evidence that Christianity is an Asian religion, it couldn’t have appeared anywhere else; Jesus is portrayed in the Bible as the Good Shepherd who takes care of the people. Jewish Orthodoxy behaves to some extent in this fashion while Jewish secularism is busy “leading the people” to perdition. This behavior wrongly sounds manipulative to the secular crowd.
However, this is not the entire picture. An important part of the religious Jews is made up by the abovementioned Religious-Zionists, who go to the army as seculars do. For the sake of American readers, I must emphasize that all of them practice Orthodox Judaism; Reform and Conservative Jews are not part of this. Following the elections, Naftali Bennet, their leader, is in a tough situation. He has a long history with Netanyahu; it began with love and ended with hatred and a wild attack on him by Netanyahu in the last days of the campaign. Contacts, between Bennet and Lapid in an attempt to form an alliance against Netanyahu were announced publicly. Yet, this is not something Bennett can sell to his electorate. The Bible is above the secular state, allying a heretic “rabbit eater” is absolutely non-kosher. On the same day, leading rabbis belonging to Religious-Zionism caused a major earthquake, signalling a realignment of Israeli politics. The donkey of the Messiah is about to be dismissed.
& Yosef holds a Halakhically ambivalent view towards Zionism, considering it “Atchalta D’Geula” (“Redemption’s Beginning” in Aramaic). In 2010, Rabbi Yosef and Shas’ “Moetzet Chachamei HaTorah” (Council of Torah-Sages) approved the party’s membership in the World Zionist Organization, transforming it into the first Zionist-Haredi party in Israel. Yet, that’s only due to political interests. In an interview, Yosef said,
“What is a Zionist? By our understanding, a Zionist is a person who loves Zion and practices the commandment of settling the land. Whenever I am overseas, I encourage Aliyah [immigration to Israel]. In what way are they more Zionist than us?”
&& Ultra-Orthodox Jews consider a chair as symbol of government, in this case a Theocratic rule. “Full chair” (kise shalem) symbolizes a complete rule, without dissidents.