Friday, May 1, 2009
The Jerusalem Post describes Aryeh Bar-David as what would seem like a typical religious Zionist.
Like most religious Zionists, Aryeh Bar-David sees the hand of God in the establishment of the Jewish state and the Jewish people's repeated victories against its enemies. Yom Ha'atzmaut has religious meaning as a tangible sign that God is fulfilling his biblical promises to the Jewish people. "God's intervention in the course of history is so clear that, for me, it is absurd that people think we are just another secular democratic country," said Bar-David, who met me on Remembrance Day outside the Old City's Damascus Gate.
"This," said Bar-David, gesturing toward the outer wall of the Old City, "is the manifestation of God's prophecies as stated in Ezekiel, Jeremiah and other places in the Bible," referring to the victory in the Six Day War which gave Israel control of east Jerusalem, including the Old City.
Also similar to many religious Zionists, Bar-David, a veteran of four wars, is convinced that his religious faith helped him cope with life-and-death situations in combat. Under Ariel Sharon, he took part in some of the bloodiest battles for control of the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. As platoon sergeant, Bar-David was forced to take over command when the platoon commander was killed in an ambush. "No matter how dangerous things got, I never feared anything. In a way I had a longing to be in heaven, closer to God. So I was not ever scared by the prospect of dying."
But, unlike most Jewish religious Zionists - who see the establishment of the state as a precursor to the yet-to be-revealed messiah - Bar-David has a radically different eschatology. That's because Bar-David is a Messianic Jew.
The Jerusalem Post falls into the same fallacious logic which Messianic and missionaries use. They argue that since they use Hebrew, support Israel, practice and incorporate Jewish ritual and traditions and were born of Jewish mothers, therefore, their faith is Jewish. The article goes on to mention that there are 200-300 Messianics serving in the IDF, how they love and support Israel and how 2000 Messianics showed up in Geneva to protest the Durban II conference.
It bears repeating over and over and over again that the essence of Judaism is not keeping kosher or lighting Chanukkah candles, or even love of Israel. The outward trappings are only reflections of the inner meaning. The essence of Judaism is predicated on the Absolute Oneness of G-d. On Mount Sinai, as millions of the Children of Israel stood ready to receive the Torah, HaShem said clearly to them: "I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me." By taking us out of Egypt, G-d claimed our eternal allegiance. This is the definition of true Judaism as opposed to idolatry. Idolatry is not necessarily praying to sticks and stones or building images of the divine. Idolatry, and spiritual adultery, is worshipping anything other than the G-d who took us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage, anything other than the deity than revealed Himself to us at Sinai. G-d instructed the Jewish people with absolute clarity as to what was appropriate form of worship and what was not. Certainly, the name of Jesus was never mentioned. He was not at Sinai, and is therefore not worth worshipping. G-d warns us to remember well, and to take to heart, the mass revelation at Sinai. "And you shall watch yourselves very well, for you did not see any image on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire. Lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves a graven image, the representation of any form, the likeness of male or female..." (Devarim 4:15-16)
The power and strength of this admonition stood by the Jewish people during their long centuries of exile. The clever and thoughtful arguments of Pope or bishops, neither Crusading swords or the racks of the Inquisitions, could sway the Jew. Despite any attempt to convince him otherwise, the Jew knew that only HaShem, the G-d of Israel, and not Jesus, or Allah, or Buddha, or Zeus or Krishna, gave him the Torah at Sinai, and only He deserved worship. The concept of a Jew accepting a human being as divine, as the son of G-d, and of adoring him, is so absurd and so repugnant to the essence of Judaism. While it may be possible for a less than perfect Jew to ignore some commandments while keeping others, nothing can erase the sin of idolatry. By serving in the IDF, or laying tefillin, an apostate Jew only makes his service all the more abhorrent. In the times of the First Temple, many Israelites for Baal or Astarte served in the army. Many of them were loyal citizens who loved their country. Yet this could not make up for turning from the G-d of Israel.
On Wednesday, it was Yom HaAtzmaut, the celebration of the 61st anniversary of Israel's independence. Complete independence means more than no longer being under foreign rule or sovereignty. Jewish independence is much more significant than no longer being controlled by the British. The true and ultimate independence that we hope for is a spiritual independence, of being independent and free from foreign and gentile influences. We hope that the Jewish nation in Israel will not be subject to strange philosophies, beliefs and cults. Being subject to repeated proselytization attempts within our own country is a form of enslavement. That there are people serving in the army of G-d, the Israel Defense Force, identifying with a foreign faith and trying to woo Jews to it shows how our independence is far from perfect.
May we merit the Final Redemption speedily in our days, and a complete independence, from all our foes, both physical and spiritual.