Thursday, May 12, 2011

#105 - The B'nai B'rith

Today being the date of my Brit Mila/circumcision on my 8th day of life - 8 Iyar (which was also on a Thursday), the words of the 8th verse of Psalm 105 (and this is my 105th Post), repeated in Divrei HaYomim/Book of Chronicles, come to mind "He (Hashem) remembered his Brit/covenant forever - the word that He commanded to the thousandth generation".

In the entire Mishnah, the foundation of the Oral Torah/Law, the word Brit/Brith is mentioned only two times. The first is in the 3rd chapter of Tractate Makkot - and by the way, the word Makkot is the same Gematria as my name Shimon (466) - where it quotes the verse "You shall observe the words of this Brit/covenant (Deutronomy Chapter 29, Verse 8), taken from the final verse of Parshat Ki Tavo, recited in the midst of giving lashes to a sinner in a Beit Din/Jewish court as one of three verses consisting of 13 words each to correspond to the 39 lashes; and additionally, the word Brit is written 13 times in the section of the Torah of Hashem commanding Abraham to perform the commandment of circumcision. The only other time in the Mishnah is in the first chapter of Tractate Bava Kama, where it mentions the phrase B'nai Brit/B'rith as referring to Jews in terms of doing damage to them in contrast to doing damages to non-Jews (certain laws differ, but I do not wish to delve into this in this post).

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the founders of the B'nai B'rith movement, "the oldest continually operating Jewish service organization in the world", coined this very phrase naming this organization, the way it is in Tractate Bava Kama, where it is used to differentiate between Jews and non-Jews. Indeed, this worldwide Jewish community service organization was founded to fight against antisemitism and anti-Israel bias. How much good they actually do today, and how they compare to the original JDL that was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane HY"D to do this very thing of defending Jews and anti-Semitic bias, I am not going to discuss here or say anything that could give reason for anyone to want to sue me, but my point is that this phrase B'nai B'rith is a distinguishing title to us to contrast us with non-Jews, since it is only we Jews who have been the commandment to perform Brit Mila which is one of the few distinguishing signs of a Jew (the fact that non-Jews, especially in the United States, have circumcisions does not make them anymore Jewish, as this is done only for health reasons, and they have no intention of doing this as the Covenant of Abraham our Forefather).

As we see in the Torah, the word Brit does not refer exclusively to circumcision. The original meaning of this word is covenant, because whether this refers to circumcision, the Land of Israel, or the Torah, in their respective places in the Tanach/Bible; in essence, Hashem has made a covenant with us as the Jewish nation with these various factors. In fact, as pointed out by my Rav who gave me Semicha/rabbinic ordination - Rabbi Mordechai Friedman, Shlita, the raison d'etre for the commandment of circumcision is in order for us Jews to inherit the Land of Israel. The proof - "I (Hashem) will establish my covenant between Me & you (Abraham) and your descendants...I will give you and your descendants the land of your sojournings, the Land of Canaan (now Israel)...You shall observe my covenant, you and your descendants...This is my covenant that you shall observe between Me and you and your descendants, you shall circumcise every male" (Genesis 17:7-10). You see, Hashem mentions the Land of Israel, as part of the covenant, BEFORE the commandment of circumcision. So, the ultimate purpose of circumcision is IN ORDER TO INHERIT THE LAND OF ISRAEL!

In fact, a couple of chapters earlier, the other source for my Rabbi's explanation on this subject, in the same Parsha of Lech Lecha, it states that Hashem established a Brit/covenant with Abraham that He will grant the Land of Israel to his descendants (see Genesis 15:18-21). Hence, 29 years earlier (as we learn out in the Midrash), this covenant, using the word Brit, was used EXCLUSIVELY to refer to Israel!

To further prove this point, referring back to Psalm 105 or in Chronicles, the verses continue to explain what this "covenant" is, "which He established with give the Land of Cana'an" (verses 9-11). So, there is no question as to where Jews are supposed to live to prove that they are Jews - the Land of Israel being the ultimate physical sign that we are a Jewish nation.

As pointed out in Likutei Halachot, a Hasidic explanation on the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish law, authored by Rabbi Nathan Steinhartz, main disciple of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, explains that these two concepts of Israel & Brit Mila have something in common. We see that before the Jews took over the conquest of Israel, there were seven (Cana'anite) nations who were living in there, and that we as the 8th nation took it over. In a similar vein, the baby boy passes through seven days, and then is given a Brit Mila on the 8th day. In terms of Gematria, as the word for eighth - Shemimi, is the Gematria of Kadosh or Kodesh - holy, one has to pass through seven units before reaching the sanctified level of the eighth, representing a number that is above nature, revealing open miracles, as seen in the writings of the Maharal of Prague. (The concept of the Holy Sabbath being the 7th day, rather than the 8th day, is that it is a day that within the time frame of nature, being part of the weekly routine of resting on a day that we would otherwise work on, and hence the challenge of the Mitzvah resting on this day, even if miracles don't seem obvious).

Now, in another sense, just as the verse in Deutronomy where the word Brit is mentioned refers to the Torah, so another meaning of this word of the verse in Psalms & Chronicles is also the Torah. As explained in the Midrash, there were previously 974 generations in existance before Hashem created this world. Now, I am not going to get into what is beyond me as to whether this means literally that there used to be (an)other world(s) with other people or some spiritual explanation, but suffice it to say that it was the 26th generation from the time Hashem created this world, counting Moses the Lawgiver as the 26th generation from Adam & Eve, which received the Torah; hence, that generation being the 1,000th generation that Hashem gave the Torah to based on the word of the Midrash "The WORD that He COMMANDED (the Torah consisting of 613 Commandments) to the thousandth generation".

Now getting back to the Bnai Brith organization for a minute, I looked up the Hebrew date that this organization was founded - 19 Tishrei. This is the fifth day of Succot, the day that Aaron the High Priest is the featured spiritual guest(of the seven Ushpizin) in the Succah. His special quality was making peace among Jews,and as Moses his brother, Aaron was also the 26th generation from Adam & Eve.

Why do I mention this? The Bnai Brith was founded as an organization to help defend Jews against anti-Semitism. While everyone is to be commended for making the world a better place, and certainly for Jews, one does need to bear in mind as to why anti-Semitism happens to begin with. You see, it is a disease formed from jealousy which sometimes in fact has no logic to it. Whether it is the black plague in the Middle Ages which occurred because of a lack of hygiene which was the least problem with Jews due to constant hand washing, or the blood libel with the Matzot which are only permitted to consist of flour and water, or that the Jews are controlling the world with their money when the three richest people in the world are not Jews, this makes no difference to people who wish to hate Jews, and it doesn't need to be logical.

The only thing that is logical here is that Hashem allows non-Jews to hate us - especially when we don't remember that we are Jews or when there is fighting and discard among ourselves. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes opposing forces to remind
us of our responsible position in this world and what raw hatred can cause. Certainly, we need to take a role in not allowing ourselves to be defamed in the media with the double standards that are especially used when it comes to the Jews and the poor "Palestinians", even as the democratic for Arabs only government controlling Israel sends humanitarian aid to the blood thirsty Arabs in Gaza in the midst of its war with them, while these biggest enemies of the Jews don't stop a pace sending fatal rockets to Sederot. The world media at large is most cunning in twisting the facts around, in essence, blaming us Jews for being the victims who are doing a "crime" killing Arabs even in war.

What I have found that this bothers non-observant Jews even more than observant Jews. And the reason for this is very simple. Truly, it is not logical not just the fact, but the way that non-Jews hate us. After all, there are Jewish-Christian alliances, and there are those who will even boast of certain places or organizations where there is unity between Jews and Arabs. Of course, not too many of them will remember or care about the Hebron massacre in 1929 when the Arabs, who seems to be friendly with the neighboring Jews one day, attacked them the next day, resulting in the murder of 67 Jews. To this day, Jews only live in 3% of Hebron, surrounded by some 100,000 Arabs in the rest of this first Jewish city in Israel. And this is not to even mention about the double standards of the rights of Moslem Arabs in the Holy Cave of the Patriarchs & Matriarchs in this city over the rights of Jews. Yet, the left-wing media will make us Jews in Hebron look bad any day, even as Germany sends money for Arab construction and interests in Hebron.

Perhaps a good percentage of today's journalistic anti-Semitism is thanks to the self-hating Jews who wish for a Palestine that never existed according to the Bible. The fact that Christians who have read the Bible push for this is not too surprising because their only "love" for us is when we G-d forbid convert, or "you will burn in hell". So in fact, why is it so surprising that the world is turned against the Bnai Brith - "People of the Covenant", since after all, we're accused of killing their "Savior", who was in fact one of our own? And what does the stubborn left-wing Israeli government - pushing for a "peace" plan with Moslem Arabs, unlike Aaron's peace plan which was just for Jews - expect when the Koran does not mention our capitol Jerusalem EVEN ONCE?

You see, to Jews who keep the Covenant, which of course includes living in Israel, but certainly does include keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher, observing the laws of family purity, anti-Semitism isn't so hard to understand. After all, they understand that Hashem is running the show, which includes the Holocaust, 9-11, and the murder of Jews in Israel. We may not know the reason why any one person gets murdered, injured, or maimed for life, but we do know that everything is for a purpose, whether we like it or not. But one thing we do know for sure - this is only a temporary world, while the next world is where we receive our ETERNAL reward for our good Jewish life in this world.

Yes, quite often times, it is very unfortunate that it is the good "who die young", while the ones in the corrupt political government are causing this to happen, accumulating much Jewish bloodshed on their hands, especially Bibi and his cohorts, but one thing we must remember, is that we are the "Sons of the Covenant", which is in fact giving up blood from the membrane which leads to future life, and occasionally, babies have died from this. If only today's Israeli government would remember what their fathers and grandfathers fought for - even if not all of them observed the Covenant all the way - but at least they fought for the rights of Jews living in the Land of the Covenant - and a land of miracles which was shown time and again in the early wars when Jews weren't afraid to fight the Arab enemy - with their blood, tears, sweat, and much fighting, because they knew that they had a purpose for doing this, and it was well worth the sacrifice.

To end off on a good note, the Gematria of Brit Mila is 697, which is the number of chapters in the first section of the Shulchan Aruch/Code of Jewish Law called Orach Chaim "Path of Life", which is about the laws of daily Jewish living - blessings, prayers, the Sabbath and holidays. Yes, Judaism is not just about a bunch of Jews at parties of the Brit Mila, Bar-Mitzvah, and weddings. It involves long life sacrifice - which includes living one's life according to the Torah way, and included in this is living in the Land of Israel, which may be a land of sacrifice physically and monetarily, but which is certainly today an oasis of the greatest Torah learning and living as the ultimate Jew following the Covenant of the Torah.

8 Iyar, 5771 - The anniversary date that I entered the Covenant of Abraham our Forefather

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