Religion in general and various religious movements in particular have been on the rise everywhere in the world for the past few years.  These religious movements can take the shape of benign movements focused on spirituality and social development or they can be far more radical and or fundamentalist in their core beliefs. 

This rise in religion has made some people especially evangelical atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris (who are more akin to their Jacobin forefathers than they are to true balanced rationalists) to take on the mantle of the bulwark of Western Democracy and Secularism opposing the evil forces of religion.  This has allowed them to increase in popularity and bring their book sales to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.

The explosion of these atheists/materialists/empiricists is the exhaustion of some with religious violence and the literal dogmatists of every faith who perpetrate it.  In our world today Islam and Islamic movements come under specific scrutiny and we have seen an industry develop in regards to the question of Islam in the world today.  Islam and Muslims are singled out as being unique in their inability to adapt to the modern world, in their embrace of a culture of death and a theology of hate. The claim is made that this is somehow the providence and sole domain of Islam.

The truth is that radicals of all Faiths who wish to justify their ideology will attempt to gloss their actions with a veneer of piety and religion.  In this regard I came across an astonishing lecture given by the late controversial Rabbi Meir Kahane. 

Meir Kahane was born in Brooklyn, was a lawyer and the founder of the terrorist organization JDL (Jewish Defense League) he also founded the Kach (Thus) Movement which sought the forced expulsion of all non-Jews from the land of Israel.  He served in the Knesset in the 1980’s before his movement was banned in 1989. 

Meir Kahane is still seen as the icon and martyr of Jewish Fundamentalism.  His followers are still strong and have continued to carry out the work that he called for in his life. Dr. Baruch Goldstein, the terrorist who killed over 30 Muslim worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque was a student of Meir Kahane and held him as his mentor.  In America individuals such as Joe Kaufman still take inspiration from him and seek to undermine Muslims and keep unconditional support of Israel continuing.

In this lecture, entitled The Yoke of Heaven, Rabbi Kahane focuses on the theological foundation for the obligation of Jewish occupation and capture of land that has been given to them by God. He also delves into the concept of war of obligation and creating a Theocracy. 

Not being an expert on the theology of Judaism I might make some mistakes in transcribing, and I paraphrase in some parts but I have provided the links to the lecture for anyone to verify what I have written.  In many ways what Kahane envisions is even more radical and extreme than many of the various extremists out there in the world today.  This will become clear as the video proceeds.

Part 1:

“In Sukkor, we find that there are 4 things that God is sorry that He made, Yisrael?, Kassdim, Yetza Harra, and Galut. He regrets having made the Galut. This is a bit difficult to understand. There is a reason for the Galut. The Galut is punishment for the Jew who sinned, but the worst of all possible things happened because of the Galut and the Galut itself. The very truths of Torah became corrupted. God never meant for His people to live anywhere but in Eretz Yisrael… ‘we are to be a people alone’ it is impossible if we mingle with the gentiles to not be affected by their culture…The concept of being a modern Orthodox Jew is a concept that came up in the West…It (galut) not only didn’t serve its original purpose but Torah truths themselves became corrupted.”

For a fuller explanation of Galut, one might one to check out this website which seems to carry a pretty mainstream definition and is probably the same as what Meir Kahane meant when he equated Galut with the West. I have provided a relevant part of it below.

It seems that hatred for the West is not foreign from fundamentalist Jewish movements and it is also something that they have in common with the likes of Komeini and Bin Laden.  In some ways this is also a different hate because it is not based only on hatred for their actions but the ideas of the West as well which some in the world who hate the West still appreciate but only speak out against the West because of their actions.

“To begin to understand this heritage of Chanukah we need to know just what the term Galut Edom really is. The teaching about this term by the sages and rabbis for some 2000 years can be summed up in the conclusion that “the galut”, or exile, of Edom is the grip on the minds of those captivated by the legacy of Greek cultural, civic and religious ideals. Fundamentally, it is an exile into a mind-set that specifically keeps the children of Israel from living according the Torah’s standards. It is named after the spirit of Esau, also called Edom, grandfather of the evil Amalek, each of whom sought to destroy Israel (Gen. 36:8-12, Ex. 17:8-16). This hereditary hatred was to become the heritage of many generations of Esau’s physical descendants. Likewise, this spirit, i.e. attitude, disposition and motivation, was seen by the sages to posses various successive world empires that persecuted and held sway over the people of Israel. It reached a definitive lasting expression in the Hellenization of the Western world beginning with the conquests of Aristotle’s greatest pupil, Alexander the Great. This “spirit” known in our time as the “Greek spirit” gave the Western world founded upon Hellenistic models, its characteristic identity. The contributions of such intellectual giants as Aristotle and Plato reconfigured the entire mode of Western thought. Like Alexander’s conquests, Greek thought took the world by storm, holding that “human knowledge” could discover and fathom absolute truth.”

He then goes into a very interesting explanation of some of the Torah Truths that have been corrupted because of the galut.

“There is a whole question that is so important in our times today. Whether one is able to give up a part of Eretz Yisrael. This is a very real question, a very practical question. This will not only divide Israel apart but it will also divide the Torah camp. There is a point of view that says there is no essential difference between giving up land and Sabbath or Yawm Kippur. The argument goes that just as we know there is a Halakha that accepts for three basic mitzvoth…any other mitzvot if there is a danger to life than one is obligated to violate the mitzvot. That is a rule. For example if a Jew is very sick on yawm kippur and the doctor says you must eat then he must eat. So the argument goes that if such an essential mitzvoth of yawm kippur, or Sabbath can be violated because of a danger to life it therefore follows that if giving up land will bring peace and therefore save life in a war therefore it follows that one should give up land, and land is less precious than the life of even one Jew. I think it is not a correct view. This is a burning issue. Israel might go to civil war over this.”

“According to the Rambam one is ordered to conquer the land and not leave it in the hand of any of the nations. This commandment of conquering the land is a commandment that is called a Melhemet Mitzvah, a War of Obligation and that’s what this is. When the Jews have the power we are not allowed to let the pagans live in Yretz Yisrael. If he accepts the seven noahide laws and the status of being a resident stranger and not a citizen he can live there…and if he doesn’t he is not allowed to live even for a moment in the land and some say he is not even allowed to pass through the land. Now that is for when we have power but the question is what if there is a danger to life. In the Tanakh we find many nations going to war with the Jews, we never find a single Jewish leader confronted with some one saying give me land saying here take the land or giving the land. We never even find a case where they say give them tribute. The most classic case is the case of Yiftakh, he was a judge, he was the godol of his time, so we find that the Amonim suddenly declare war on the Jews. So the judge sends a messenger asking ‘why are you going to war with me, what you got with me?’ The King of Amon answers, ‘you have occupied my land, when Israel came out of mitzrahim you occupied my land. Just give back the land and let there be peace.’ This is obviously one of the more moderate Arabs. (laughter) So here is one offering peace and there is no question that the Jews occupied that land, Yiftakh does not give it back in peace and he replies, and one will see in this the whole concept of why one is not allowed to give up land, he said ‘you have an elil named kamosh, whatever your god gives you that is what you possess and all that He drove before us is what we possess’ and he goes to war and there is no question Jews fell in that war and he did not give up any land. Think carefully of his answer.”

He gives some more examples one of Abraham being punished for giving up land and concludes by saying even if an enemy ask for hay and barley then they are not to be given it but instead you should start a war against them and that war should start on Sabbath.

Part 2:

Melhemet Mitzvah: War of Obligation-

“There are two kinds of wars, Melhemet Mashoot and Melhemet Mitzvah. Melhemet Mashoot, which is only a war outside of Israel. It’s a voluntary war, a King decides to conquer land. David did it, Solomon did it in that part which is not Eretz Yisrael. For this type of Melhemet you need a Navi (prophet) a Sanhedrin and so that’s not practical in our time.

So what is Melhemet Mitzvah? There are three kinds of Melhemet Mitzvah: 1.) The war against the Canaanites to conquer Israel, 2.) Melhemet Amalek (i.e. extermination of the Amalek people), and 3.) any time the enemy comes up against Jews that is a Melhemet Mitzvah and that is applicable in our time. There is no need for a Navi, nothing. It’s a gammorah…what does it mean when the enemy comes up against you? Rambam narrows it further…it means whenever there is an enemy trying to take land or even tribute, this is a war of obligation.

Obviously the above war of obligation than would apply to the Arabs not only in the occupied territories but also actual Arab citizens within Israel, and not only Arabs but any non-Jew who has land in Israel.

Next he gives what seems is a very sound theological position backed by evidence from the sources as to why this war of obligation is different and why his position of the impermissibility of giving land for peace is the Torah one.

“Now, what is the difference between this mitzvat and other mitzvat that one can violate when there is a danger to life. Take Shabbat for instance, it is a mitzvat that is usually not dangerous in and of itself. There is nothing dangerous about keeping shabat. So once in a while when shabat becomes dangerous we say violate it so next week you can keep it. The same with Yawm Kippur…and indeed every mitzvah in the Torah is not dangerous usually… and in that rarity when it becomes dangerous violate these few times so you could keep it again but there is one mitzvat that by its very nature is always dangerous and that is a melhemet mitzvah. Think about the logic pattern that says, ‘it’s a mitzvah to go to war except if it is dangerous.’ The absurdity is so obvious…if you said that you would uproot a mitzvah from the Torah forever permanently.

[unintelligible]…says the following about melhemet mitzvah, ‘Its true for every mitzvah if there is danger they are set aside, never the less this mitzvah the Torah commanded you to go to war. The Torah doesn’t give you mitzvah and provide you miracles. It didn’t say go to war and nothing bad will happen, the Torah doesn’t do that and by the nature of things people die on both sides during a war therefore we see the Torah orders to go to war even though there is a danger. It is the danger that is pushed aside and not the mitzvah of going to war.’ This is a unique mitzvah, different from the other mitzvahs and God says you must go to war.

What makes this mitzvah so different? The answer lies in Kaddosh HaShem (Sanctifying God). This is what is meant when someone said ‘If we give them the land our cities will become the cities of other gods.’ And then there gods will appear to be the true gods.

There has been a tremendous struggle for a hundred years in the Torah camp between Zionists and Anti-Zionists, and so the essential question that arises is whether this state of Israel is by God’s Hand. The anti-Zionists say of course not look who created it.

The greatest tragedy is that Torah Jews have stopped learning Tanakh. In Tanakh it says that God scattered the Jews in exile and they desecrated His Name. What does this mean? The nations say these are the people of God and we drove them out of their land. Jewish defeat in the eyes of the non-Jew means God is either weak or does not exist. For 2000 years the Catholic Church proved that you were not God’s people because you were drove out the land and didn’t acccept the true God. The essence of Auschwitz wasn’t killing of millions of Jews it was them mocking and saying “where is your God now?” That’s why Rashi said the desecration of the Jew is the degredation of God’s name and so He goes on to say that ‘I had pity on my Holy Name I will sanctify my Name which was desecrated and they will know that I do exist when I sanctify Myself through you’ just as I was desecrated by you being oppressed I will be sanctified by your victory and prowess…and He goes on to say ‘I will take from all the nations and I will gather you and take you back to the land.’ That is why there is an Israel…because after the worst degredation of God’s Name, the Holocaust, God said enough and that is why there is a state and that is why a Melhemet Mitzvah does not recognize peace for land because that is a desecration and degredation of God’s Name…because of the Galut this Torah Truth has been corrupted.

Torah-Ocracy

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Suddenly democracy has become a Torah truth! Where do you see such a thing. Judaism is not Thomas Jefferson…to talk about Arabs having the same rights in Eretz Yisrael as Jews is worse than absurd it is obscene because it flies in the face of everything that is clearly halakha.

Authority should be with the Jews. Even the person in charge of watering the fields must be a Jew and it goes with out saying that the judges, parliamentarians must be Jews.

Judaism doesn’t know politics. Politics is for those who separate Church and State. In Halakha we do not separate Synagogue and State. There is no such thing as a political question in Judaism. Do you think that a halakha that tells you which shoe to put on first and which to tie your laces first is going to leave it up to you to decide on questions of the stranger in Jewish lands, or giving up Jewish lands?…any Jew who follows a party other than the Torah party is a Jew who doesn’t know what he is doing. Those parties have nothing to say to us even if they are saying the same thing because if it isn’t Torah and Halakha it isn’t going to win. God isn’t a left winger or a right winger. ‘Turn neither to the right or the left’ follow Torah.

Question from the audience:

You are talking about applying Halakha to the state so why not then go all the way with the halakha when you say Arabs cant vote or hold office in Israel you’re saying democracy doesn’t apply but you propose a democracy for Jews, halakha doesn’t have Jews or Arabs voting, so then aren’t you mixing Torah with a non-Jewish concept?

Meir Kahane:-Absolutely not because if you were to impose that sort of government as the minority on the majority you would guarantee a civil war amongst Jews. I do believe that if you get a majority to accept Torah law to be imposed on the people then do it because then this takes away their argument of civil war…but you are absolutely right there is no such thing as democracy in Judaism.

One must ask how strong these ideas of a war of obligation and over turning democracy for Halakha is amongst the Jewish Fundamentalists. How accepted were the teachings of the charismatic Rabbi Meir Kahane, who is forth right and up front about what he is saying.  The truth is these ideas are even more radical and extreme than any Muslim group out there.  Forget the medieval Taliban we are talking about a return to B.C. times where Biblical Theocracy would rule.

 

Part 3:

Part 4:

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