Thursday, December 28, 2017

Today is December 28, 2017. It is the Tenth of Tevet

Today is the tenth day of the Hebrew month, Tevet. Observant Jews around the world fast on this day to remember that on this very day some 2,400 years ago, a Babylonian army surrounded our Jewish capital, Jerusalem (2 Kings, 25:1-2). That army set up a siege around our capital (ibid), which at that time was the home of our Holy Jewish Temple. 

That army came to Jerusalem to destroy that Jewish Temple. Essentially, it came to erase what was Jewish about Jerusalem.

This ancient act of aggression against the Jewish people has been described many times in many writings by many people. Perhaps one of the more famous non-Jewish renderings of this event is an alliterative late 14th century poem called,“The Siege of Jerusalem”. It is part of what is known as 'Medieval Chivalric literature' ((Michael Livingston (ed), Siege of Jerusalem:  an Introduction, Medieval Institute Publications, Kalamazo, Michigan,  2004, reviewed in, no date, retrieved December 28, 2017).     

Some non-Jews have described this non-Jewish poem as "rank antisemitism" (ibid). They say this Christian rendering of this siege/destruction appears to reveal a "horrible delight in the suffering of the Jews" (ibid). It suggests an intolerance towards Jews (ibid).

By contrast, religious Jews don't see this siege/destruction as horrific antisemitism--though, of course, that's exactly what it was. Instead, observant Jews see these events as a Divine punishment for Jewish sins--which, of course, is exactly what it is. 

Observant Jews accept this day as a time of reckoning (Rabbi Noah Weinberg, "The tenth of Tevet: siege of Jerusalem", aish, December 30, 2000). We see it as a day to fast, say special prayers and recall how our Covenant with our G-d requires of us a serious commitment. We see this as a day to note that our relationship with G-d is, in fact, a commitment with very serious consequences for those who rebel. 

This year, we fast over this ancient, antisemitic act of intolerance and aggression against the Jewish people at exactly the moment when modern man--who has educated himself to be both tolerant and humane--nevertheless commits again an ancient intolerance. Only days ago, the United Nations denounced the United States for the horrific 'sin' of recognizing Jerusalem as--the capital of the Jewish State.

 Such a denouncement is rank antisemitism. It means that the Jewish Israel has been chosen as the only nation in the world forbidden by international consensus from choosing its own capital city--and forbidden indeed to have any other nation acknowledge Jerusalem as its Jewish capital city. Soon after the UN rejected a US declaration that Jerusalem was Israel's capital (because, the UN said, such a declaration 'changed the status of Jerusalem'), the anti-Israel Iran changed the status of Jerusalem by declaring it to be the capital of a fictitious state called, 'Palestine'  (Iranian Parliament recognizes Jerusalem as 'capital of Palestine'", jerusalempost, December 27, 2017). True to its antisemitic form, the UN had reacted with revulsion to the US' pro-Israel declaration about Jerusalem--but was silent about the Iranian anti-Israel declaration. 

Such behavior reeks of an ancient hatred that modern man--so humane and tolerant--has failed to erase. It's a hate that 
carves out only one group for censure. 

This hate did not end 2,400 years ago with that Babylonian attack against the Jewish Jerusalem. It didn’t end in the late 1300's when the antisemitic "Siege of Jerusalem" was penned (above). 

This hate did not end in 1945 when the Nazi 1,000-year Reich was destroyed after only 13 years. It didn't end in November, 1947, when the newly-born United Nations voted to establish the 'Jewish State', a state which then named itself 'Israel' less than 6 months later. 

It still exists. You see it at the UN (this is just a (very) partial list):

-Isabel Kershner, "As UN ignores Jewish ties to Holy site, Israel produces ancient evidence", newyorktimes, October 26, 2016; 

-Tovah Lazaroff, "151 UN states vote to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem", jerusalempost, December 1, 2017;

-Ralph Ahren, "UN defies Trump, rejects Trump recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital by 128-9", timesofisrael, December 21, 2017; 

In its brazenness, the UN empowers an ancient hate. It declares by consensus that Judaism's holiest site on earth is not Jewish, but Muslim (Samuel Osborne, "Temple  Mount: Jerusalem's most holy site has nothing to do with Judaism, UNESCO rules", independent, October 14, 2016; Tom O'Conner, "Jerusalem Holy site Muslim, not Jewish...", internationalbusinesstimes, October 15, 2016).    . 

This ancient, inhumane hatred towards a Jewish Jerusalem is so stunning that the UN last year was not content to deny Jerusalem's Jewish connection on just one occasion, in an October, 2016 vote; it had to vote a second time in December, 2016 to confirm its revulsion for Jews in a Jewish Jerusalem (Geoffrey Grider, "United Nations votes for resolution that will erase all Jewish ties to Jerusalem and Temple Mount", nowtheendbegins, December 2, 2016). 

On this tenth of Tevet, observant Jews around the world fast. We mourn our Temple's destruction. In a lesser manner, we repent ("Asarah B'Tevet (Tevet 10: Jerusalem under siege", chabad, no date, retrieved December 28, 2017). We look to correct what needs to be corrected (Weinberg, ibid).

On this tenth day of Tevet, Jews seek to improve. In a manner of speaking, we seek a spiritual cleansing. 

What does the UN seek?  We know exactly what it seeks: to complete what ancient hate failed to complete.

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