Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Invitation to a Friendly, Dispassionate Discussion.


I am compelled to write something that may offend a lot of you. I certainly hope not but it is necessary that it be said. Sometimes it is important that we be told not necessarily what we want to hear but what we ought to hear.  I assume that many of you who frequent this site have had mothers who’ve told you what you didn’t necessarily want to hear, like “go to your room” or "wait ‘till your father gets home”, yet as a consequence, you probably turned out relatively well adjusted.  And so, it’s in that spirit that I write what is to follow.




Israel has known a "war on terror" for 68 years now. That war, of course, has waged long before then. The early pre-Israel Palestinian Jews were well aware of that.  The United States just really became conscious of this "war" since 9/11/2001, ‘though the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon and the USS Cole were not exactly mere unfortunate accidents.




Many will say that this war is driven by economics, education, etc... Such thoughts are an utter denial of reality. Osama Bin Laden, for instance, was wealthy and well-educated. Jews endured the Pale in Russia where they were poor, beaten, endured many pogroms, but never resorted to violence or terrorism. In fact, the only time that I can recall when we resorted to terrorism within the past 1500 years or so was when we had to fight the British in order obtain a little piece of earth that we could call our own after facing annihilation.




This "war on terror" highlights a reality that we cannot deny or ignore.. The basis for this war is not economics or even culture, but religion.  The entire world is filled with inhabitants influenced to varying degrees by religions and/or philosophies by which we guide our lives.  Some of these world views are extremely presumptuous, such as is the case with Islam which is so arrogantly confident in its own veracity that its adherents are willing to take the lives of others who have a differing opinion.

 


One of my favorite refrains in the synagogue, growing up in Chicago, was found in the Aleynu.  The melody which fit the lyrics, like a glove, is something that I joyfully sing to myself  almost daily even to this day.

 

“Bayom Ha hu, Bayom Ha hu, yi-hi-yeh Adonai echod.  Oo-Sh’mo, oo-Sh’mo, oo-Sh’mo echod.”

 

“On that day (the day when peace reigns on earth) the L-rd shall be one and His Name shall be one”.

 

The refrain of the Aleynu tells me, in practical terms, that the day (or age) marked by peace will be a day when there’s a universal consensus concerning whom G-d is, what He’s like and what He expects from us.  I would go even further and say that each individual living during that time will be able to speak to God in the second person (calling Him "You") just as King David did in the psalms.

 

Isaiah, spoke for G-d when, at the end of the first chapter of his monumental opus, he wrote:

 

“Come, let us reason together, says your God.

Though your sins be like scarlet they shall be as white as snow.

Though they should be like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

As I recall, in my freshman logics class in college many (many) years ago, violence was one of the logical fallacies.  In other words, truth cannot be attained via the use of violence.  Hence, if indeed, the god of Islam is an advocate of violence in order to gain “converts”, he is not the same god as the God of the Bible… the God of the Jews and of Israel.  The God of the Bible calls us to reason.  Argue with Him.  Carry on a debate with Him.  He doesn’t mind.  He spent a night wrestling with our father Jacob He’d be delighted in spending a night wrestling (metaphorically or otherwise) with you.


The God of the Bible calls us to reason.  Argue with Him.  Carry on a debate with Him.  He doesn’t mind.

 

And now here’s the “punch line”. .. In 1971 I drew the conclusion that Jesus was, in fact, our Messiah… the Messiah of the Jews.  All too often, when I’ve presented my case, it was met with irrational vitriol marked by fideism.  I believe that we Jews are better than that.  It is assumed that faith is simply something that one believes and does not require logic or rational thought.  I contest, on the contrary, that faith ought to be rationally derived and that G-d, as Isaiah affirms, implores you to come to Him via a rational means. 

 

If the Jewish community simply tacitly rejects Jesus without wrestling with the arguments in favor of His claim to Messiahship, how can we even start to approach this ideal of universal consensus spoken of in the Aleynu?  How will we ever begin to approximate pursuit of this direction of universal peace?






Please feel free to write whatever sincere comments, questions, even objections that you may have in the “comment section” below.  I'll try to correspond with you.


Best regards,





Benyomin

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