To Gather & Avenge His People

by Eugene Narrett

“They shall dwell securely upon their Land that I gave to My servant Jacob, they shall build houses and plant vineyards and dwell securely…” (Ezekiel 28:25-6, haftara to Torah portion Va’eira, Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Ehud Barak and his subsidiary knaves, David Levy and Elyakim Rubinstein are in a town in Virginia with William J. Clinton, President of the United States. With Syrian diplomats lurking in the wings, the destroyers of Israel are fashioning a rationale by which the dismemberment of the Holy Land can be promoted as “peace.” As the haftara for the New Month that will begin this Sabbath indicates, such ‘leaders’ are those forever boasting that “by [their] reputation, Hashem is glorified” (Isaiah 66:5). To inflate their credentials as “peacemakers” for their covenant of death, the new, godless world order that is the antithesis of renewal and return (teshuva) to God, these politicians hide from the public many salient facts. Fact one, Israel owns all the Golan with its ancient city of refuge (Devarim 4:41-3) and much of adjacent “Syria,” not only by God’s bequest to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and his descendants but through purchase by Baron Rothschild the 1890’s.1 The politicians and their media minions also are hiding the intense Jew hatred of Syrian leaders like Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass and his book, The Matzah of Zion (1984) whose blood libel was repeated November 27 and, again January 01 by the Damascus weekly Al-Usbu Al-Adabi.2 Neither politicians nor major media address the ongoing excoriation of the Temple Mount by the Muslims with the acquiescence of Barak’s police. Indeed, Barak has just approved opening two ancient archways from the second Temple as entrances for a new mosque within the Mount.3 “I have spoken, but they did not hear. They have done what is evil in My eyes, and what I did not choose” said the Lord about politicians like Barak (Isaiah 66:4-5). The Israeli surrender team will not impress upon the American media, and thus the American people that Israeli law expressly forbids its government from entering into any agreement that surrenders Land fully under the jurisdiction of Israel, as is the Golan. Attorney General Rubinstein probably is present to suggest how yet another codicil to the covenant with death may finesse Israeli law. Or perhaps he will re-interpret existing both history and law to match “enlightened opinion” as Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, Aharon Barak terms the views of his caste. Rubinstein is personally involved in the state’s intimidation and suppression of the views and legal actions of Israelis opposed to surrendering their land to their enemies.4 Via all these maneuverings, Barak and his mini-men have their hands open for the Nobel Prizes and fiduciary emoluments that will exalt them for selling out their Land and people and for mocking God. They are in effect, if not in fact, lobbyists and agents for the American corporations who will get rich building American military installations on the Golan and rebuilding Syria’s armed forces to reward it for accepting “peace,” just as they previously has rewarded Iraq and Egypt. In exchange for American military aid to Syria, Israel will receive worthless guarantees of money, security co-operation and oil supplies.5

Professor Louis Rene Beres recently wrote, there can hardly be “any more hideous expression of Jewish self-loathing than Israel under Barak.”6 The full magnitude of the diplomatic and moral failures that have plagued Israel in recent decades stand out by contrast with the way of life inscribed in Torah. The fact that we are at a turning from one Jewish month (Tevet) to another (Shevat) highlights the blessings and instructions that can change the terms of current political designs and leave in the dust the faithlessness of the Land’s current ruling cadres. This shift of perspective from death to life inheres in the redemptive purpose of each new Month (the same Hebrew word means “month” and “new” with slight difference in vocalization). The Lord associates this monthly return and renewal with His House of Prayer, “joyful dances upon My holy mountain” and with the utter defeat of those who oppose His purpose for Israel (Isaiah 66:20-4).

It is the restored power and status of the tribes that Isaiah notes in the closing verses of his book, read before each new moon for each month of the Jewish calendar is associated with one of the twelve tribes. The month of Tevet just concluding, the tenth month is associated with the tribe of Dan, the tenth in the line of march and leader of the northern corps of the Camp of Israel (Numbers 2:22-31, passim). This month begins with the lights of the 7th and 8th days of Hanukah that refer respectively to the dominion of David and the era of Messiah. The glow of this precious treasure relates to Israel’s status as “a holy nation” and illuminates the month like a seed of light sown beneath winter ground.7 It signifies the saving radiance of Israel amid the darkness of the world, the voice of God reassuring Israel amid night visions of His eternal faithfulness (Genesis 46:1-4). More explicitly, the blessings of Dan by Jacob and Moses indicate the month of Tevet’s particular relevance to dealing with Israel’s perennial foes to the north. “Dan will avenge His people,” Jacob foretold, “like [the unique] one [David] of the scepters of Israel.”8 In his tribal portion that stretches from the Golan to the Euphrates in northeastern “Syria,” Dan is to be “as a serpent in the highway, and a viper on the path,” Jacob said. And Moshe confirmed with a complementary blessing, “Dan will be like a lion leaping forth from the Bashan” (Devarim 33:22). In “stinging” the horse and causing its invading rider to “fall back” Dan is like Samson, A Danite who destroyed the Philistines by pulling down their idolatrous temple.

Some peaceable folk (and all Jews long for peace with fervor and love) may wonder why Israel climaxed his fierce, prophetic blessing of Dan by crying out, “for Your salvation I do long, Hashem,” one of the prayers that Jews recite upon retiring. But the apparent discord contains a deep congruence, connoting two primary truths in the writings. First strength, then peace as stated in the familiar closing verse of Psalm 29, “Hashem will give might to his nation [thus] Hashem will bless His people with peace.” In elaborating this point, King Solomon explained in famous verses that before the promised time of peace there is “a time for war,” a time when Israel must “break down, kill and rend” its enemies, just as they want to do to Jews (Kohelet 3). “There is no peace for the wicked” God said through Isaiah (48:22) and David said of the enemies that surround Israel, “they encircled me, they even surrounded me. In the Name of Hashem I cut them down! They surround me like bees; I extinguish them as a fire does thorns!” Moreover, in the pattern of Jacob-Israel, David chose his own precious last words to impress upon his anointed son that peace must be surrounded by vengeance and strict justice, even when long delayed (1 Kings 2:1-12, haftara for Torah portion Vayechi that contains Jacob’s prophetic blessings). The Seventh Shepherd emphasized in his dying breaths that Israel must never confound war with peace as its politicians have been doing for 32 years (as Ahab did with Ben Hadad and Saul with Amalek). The serpent-like fire of Dan (whose tribe tradition says will provide the General for the armies of Messiah) is meant to lead in burning out the enemies who wish to kill Jews and steal Jewish land. In this sense, Dan partakes of the glory of Judah, “a lion, springing forth from the Bashan,” the area of the Golan and southern “Syria.”

The blessings of peace and abundance that flow from this assertive, regal and warlike posture are the qualities of the tribe of Asher, associated with the eleventh month, Shevat that begins this Sabbath, immediately following the qualities of Dan and Tevet. In fact, Tevet has but 29 days as if hastening to join its strength and judgment to Asher’s grace. Jacob foresaw and bestowed upon Asher that “his bread will have a richness. He will provide kingly delicacies” (Genesis 49:20). This alludes to the profusion of olive trees that will grace the territory of Asher. The sacred letters from which God formed the tribes of Dan and Asher respectively, the ayin and the tzadi together spell eitz, “tree.” Spelling out the “filling” or sounds of these two letters yields the Hebrew phrase, “fountain of righteousness,” the grace of the olive and its oil. This fruit of the Land is associated with Joseph whose blessings are those of abundance (Genesis 49:22-6) and sovereignty (Devarim 33:13-17) and who joins Judah in confirming the dominion of Israel (Genesis 44-46, parsha Vayigash and its haftara, Ezekiel 37,). When Jacob sends Judah ahead of him to prepare for his sojourn in Egypt, the Torah spells the place of his meeting Joseph in Goshen (Goshnah) such that the word has the numeric value of Messiah, as it does when Israel is re-united with his beloved son (Genesis 46:28-9). Just as Joseph whose fruit is the olive provides for his brothers, “to sustain them for a momentous deliverance,” so Asher whose banner is the olive and whose heritage bursts with olive trees “will be most pleasing to his brothers. He will dip his feet in oil,” said Moshe (Devarim 33:24).

Another famous verse links Asher and 15 Shevat (Tu B’Shevat) to Messiah and the ingathering, unification and dominion of all Israel. “I see it, but not now; I behold it, but not near. A star shall go forth from Jacob, and a staff [sheivet] from Israel” (Numbers 24:17). In Hebrew, this end times verse has twelve words, one for each of the tribes whose branches interlace in the New Year of Trees at the center of Shevat. Note that Hebrew uses the same word for “scepter, tribe, branch and dwelling,” qualities unified in Asher. Accordingly, the fourth word of this verse, ashurenu (“I behold it”) denotes Asher and his link to the fourth son, Judah, the son of dominion. Furthermore, the 11th word of this prophecy of Messiah is sheivet, “a scepter” will arise indicating that it is in the 11th month, Shevat the month of Asher and the olive that the sovereign merits of Joseph will be mustered by Dan to unite, sustain and deliver Israel, the 12th and completing word of the verse.9 The very next word in the Torah, u’machatz inscribes that Israel thus will crush (machatz) its enemies. This word of conquest is a precise anagram of Tzemach (“flourishing”), a nickname of Messiah as it is written, “he shall crush [machatz] the leader of a mighty land. He shall drink from the river by the way” (Psalm 110:6-7). War must be recognized and enacted for what it is, as it was by the Maccabees, thus opening the way to peace and the splendor, treasure and grace of the olive. It is in the sense of “I will behold a scepter arise in Israel” that Asher “is most pleasing to his brothers” and “will dip his feet in oil.” Then “they will bring all your brothers [Israel] from all the nations with joyous dances upon My holy mountain, Jerusalem, said Hashem, just as the children of Israel bring their offering in a pure vessel to the House of Hashem” (Isaiah 66:20).

It is also by providing the oil used to prepare pure meal offerings and for illumination of the Menorah that Asher is the “most blessed of children.” The holiday at the center of his month, Tu B’Shevat signifies the entwining of the qualities of all the sons of Israel as it is written in Psalm 133, “how good and how beautiful is the dwelling together of brothers, moreover, in unity” (shevet achim gam yachad). Thus, Asher is the perfect complement to flank Dan who will avenge and gather the tribes, “in him the tribes (“scepters”) of Israel are as one” (Genesis 49:16) to enjoy the fruits of the Land. It is just as Ezekiel states in this week’s haftara that begins describing the redemption of Israel and God’s judgments on Pharaoh, “they shall dwell securely on their Land that I gave to my servant, Jacob, and build houses and plant vineyards and dwell securely.” The sequel promise also resonates for today: “when I execute judgments upon all roundabout them who disdain them, then they shall know that I am Hashem their God.” First strength, then peace.

As you enjoy eating the seven fruits of the Land during Shevat, think of these promises and instructions eternally inscribed in the qualities of the tribes of Israel, their geographic portions and the seasons of the year with which they are aligned. Remember that the word for tribes, branches and scepters (shivtai) shares its root with “seven” and Sabbath. The seven fruits of the Land entwine with the twelve sons of Jacob for life, for good and for rest when “they are zealous regarding His Word” as Isaiah states. This includes being mindful that Hashem “will broaden your boundaries [Israel] when you go up before Him to honor Him” on His pilgrim feasts. The Lord reiterates that “the Land will give its fruit and you will eat your fill and dwell securely upon it” when he instructs Israel that the Land must not be alienated from its designated owners (Vayikra 25:18, passim). This is the essence of Jubilee. Moshe stressed the link between dwelling securely and redeeming and tilling the Land when he blessed Gad whose inheritance stretches east from the Jordan. “Blessed be he who broadens Gad,” said the man of God. “He dwells like a lion, tearing off arm and head. He chose the first portion for himself, where the lawgiver’s grave is hidden. He came at the head of the nation, carrying out Hashem’s justice and ordinances with Israel” (Devarim 33:20-1). Gad, whose month of Elul is when “the King is in the field” preparing for the renewal of the year and return to its Source shares in the regal and militant posture of Judah and Dan, respectively sovereign and leader, avenger and gatherer of God’s beloved people. Their blessings denote that peace in God’s word and knowledge requires that Israel inhabit its “measured inheritance” as the waters fill the sea.

A time for war, and then a time for peace. Syria is and has been at war with Israel through its numerous proxies since the time when the Yom Kippur war nominally was settled by the “Disengagement Act” of 1974. The overt hostility in Syrian attitudes toward Israel and Jews remain white hot so remember, “when you go forth to battle your enemies…confront them as enemies. Just as they show you no mercy, so should you not show them any mercy.”10 President Clinton is a terrible enemy of the Jewish people, “dedicated to Israel’s truncation and eventual oblivion.”11

But “now we praise wanton sinners, for those who tested God and did evil were spared,” so it seems, “and are even built up,” with lethal honors (Malachi 3:15), campaign funds, etc. The sages of the Mishna foretold that “in the generation that the son of David will come, those who fear sin will be hated, truth will be lacking, and [political] leaders will have the nature of dogs. The young will mock the old, insolence will increase, and all governments will turn to false beliefs.” It is even so. “More than ever, the Israeli negotiating team seems characterized by group-think…that works against rational decision making. Information is filtered through distorted lenses, and data that contradict the prevailing conception do not register. Analysts who raise alternative scenarios are dismissed as being motivated by ideological or political considerations.” As the sages said, “truth will be lacking, and criticism will be of no avail.” The end of days require new leaders to return Israel to its original path.12

As Ehud Barak attempts to deliver Israel into the hands of its enemies and its beloved people to death and exile, it is more important than ever to remember the instructions, inspiration and blessings of Torah. All who love Israel and appreciate its irreplaceable role in ordering the world, should help now, mindful of the Lord who said, “I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham I will remember, and I will remember the Land.” As it is written in the haftara for the New Month, “the hand of Hashem will be known to His servants, and He will be angry with His enemies. For behold! Hashem will arrive in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind to requite His anger with wrath, and His rebuke with flaming fire” (Isaiah 66:14-15). In the midst of today’s distress and soul searching, recall God’s works, ancient wonders and redemption of Israel, as bids Tehillim 77 read with Torah portion, Bo that recounts the final judgments on Egypt and the Exodus of Israel. The portion’s haftara declares, “be not afraid, Jacob, My servant, and be not frightened, Israel…the word of Hashem, for I am with you” (Jeremiah 46:27-8).

The great Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (“Maimonides,” 1135-1204 CE) wrote that just like the soul, the tasks of Messiah are fivefold. He must return the hearts of all Israel to God and Torah. He must fight the wars establishing Israel’s unquestioned and eternal sovereignty on all its Land. He will build the Third Temple as “a House of prayer for all peoples,” complete the ingathering of exiles and turn all humanity to recognize the God of Israel, creator of heaven and earth. As the first buds lift their heads in Shevat signaling the succession of the tithes one recognizes the vision of Amos: “behold days are coming when the plow man shall overtake the reaper, and he who treads grapes shall meet him who sows seed” (9:13). This is the meeting of the branches in Asher that is most pleasing to his brothers. Even so, “truth will sprout from the earth, and righteousness shall peer from heaven. Hashem too will provide what is good and the earth will yield its produce. [The man of] righteousness will walk before Him, and set his footsteps on the way,” the five tasks of the soul of Messiah (Psalm 85:11-14).

Those 1200 Rabbis who on 26 Tevet issued a halakhic ruling forbidding surrender of the Land and the uprooting of Jews from it are mindful of these words and tasks. They are invoking “a sun of righteousness, with healing in its wings” whose other face will “burn like an oven for the wanton and evildoers” (Malachi 3:19-20). The governments will go their way with Syria and Clinton, and the people will take the paths leading upward, “for there the tribes ascended, the tribes of God” (Psalm 122). They will settle in their place to dwell securely, build houses and plant vineyards. As proclaims the Tehillim read with Torah portion Vaeira, “Hashem, Master of Legions is with us, a stronghold for us is the God of Jacob, selah” (Psalm 46:8,12).13 And “selah” means “forever.”

Eugene Narrett, 27-9 Tevet 5760

NOTES

  1. Globes magazine, 4-part series, January 1996. Barry Chamish, web posting, 12/19/99.
  2. Anti-Semitism in the Syrian Media, Middle East Media Research Institute, #66, 12/22/99. See also MEMRI report #67, 01/06/00 and Anti-Defamation League report of January 2000. Identification of Jews with Satan and claims that Jews invented the holocaust and served in Hitler’s high command are frequent on Syrian radio and Syrian newspapers, all of which speak for the Syrian government.
  3. Arutz-7, January 03, 2000.
  4. Elyakim Rubinstein, letter to Attorney Elyakim Ha’Etzni, 11/04/99 after the latter called for “non-violent civil disobedience.” Published 01/05/00, IMRA (Independent Media Research & Analysis), Dr. Aaron Lerner. See also recent Arutz-Sheva reports like 01/03/00, “Freedom of Expression in Ma’alot?”
  5. Ha’Aretz, “Israel open to U.S. military aid to Syria,” Aluf Benn, 01/05/00.
  6. Beres, “Israel, the Golan & the Force that does not kill, just yet,” Internet posting, 12/18/99.
  7. In Exodus 19:5 God terms Israel his “precious treasure” (segulah). The term recurs in the prefatory prayer to kindling the Hanukah lights, u’vikhoach segulat nair Chanukah (“by the precious [or “hidden”] strength of the Hanukah lights.” Siddur Otzar haTefillos, Beis Ya’akov. Just as Israel will be “a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation,” so this prayer of the lights ask that our “eyes perceive the wonders of Your holy Torah, to perceive its truth and its mysteries in the merit of Matityahu.” It proceeds to quote Psalm 36, “in Your light, may we see light.”
  8. Genesis 49:16-18. This is the translation of the great Rabbi Ya’akov, the Baal HaTurim (1269-1343 CE).
  9. I was alerted to these allusions by the exegesis of R’ Yitzchak Ginsburgh, Rosh Yeshiva “Joseph Yet Lives,” Gal Einai Institute, January 20, 1999.
  10. Commentary on Parsha Vayechi, 16 Tevet 5760, referencing Devarim 20:1 and Tanchuma, Shoftim 15. Benjamin Wolf Kahane, Yeshiva of the Jewish Idea, Israel.
  11. Prof. Paul Eidelberg, “Pollard & Israel,” The Jewish Press, 12/30/99. Professor Eidelberg observes that rhetoric aside, “objectively speaking, Clinton behaves like a Jew-hater.”
  12. Gerald M. Steinberg, “Danger: Group-Think,” Jerusalem Post, 01/07/00.
  13. Siddur Avodas Yisroel indicates the Psalm to accompany each Torah portion. The psalms for these weeks that complement the Lord’s sending Moses to Pharaoh to deliver the Children of Israel are 99 and 46. “Nations will tremble” and “streams of a will gladden the City of God,” Jerusalem. “God will help it toward morning.” Those who want to redress current events should let the light of that promised dawn illuminate their path. Then, as Isaiah spoke for the Lord, “I shall direct peace to her like a river” (66:12) for “in the stream of Your delights You give them to drink” of “the milk and wine” of Judah (Psalm 36, Isaiah 55).



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