Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bemidbar: who counts? (2)

On the way to the Feast of Shavuot (Of the Week and the Giving of the Torah - Matan Toratenu) on June 9th / 6 Sivan, this week we start to read the fourth Book of Moses called "Bemidbar - In the wilderness of Sinai" in Hebrew and "Numbers - "Arithmoi" according to the Greek Septuagint translation). The reading portion is Bemidbar 1:1-4:20 and indeed begins with the census of the Israelites in the wilderness, of those who were 20 years-old. Thus, 603,500 grownups Bney Israel were counted as members of the "clans and ancestral houses - lemishpechotam leveyt avotam" (Num. 1:2).

There are different intriguing points in getting into this new Book. The Hebrew people were certainly the first nation that has been submitted to a systematic census in the history. This happened in very specific conditions, i.e. in the desert of Sinai, as they were on their journey to the Land of Canaan. Curiously, the number of Israelites is rather parallel to the amount of inhabitants who were dwelling in Eretz Israel in 1948 (803,000), all things being equal over time and space...

This means that the Israelites were rather organized. There were the fundamental tribes following the order of the names of Jacob's sons. The census was undertaken as a divine commandment given by God to Moses and Aaron. This should continue the first action conducted by Moses by the time of the exodus from Egypt. He had complied with the advices given by Jithro to appoint the "anshey hayil - advisers, judges" who were entrusted the task of governing the people with insights and wisdom. Similarly, the decision to count the members of the “multi-tribal nation” of the Israelites allowed enhancing the level of their protection. They had received to call to take care of the Mishkan - God's Dwelling place with the Ark of the Covenant, some pieces of the manna, the Luchot/Tablets. The census was also a sort of military accomplishment of a divine order. It concerned a rather large group of people that had lived in very settled conditions in Egypt. These people suddenly became again what their “avot – ancestors” had been: “wanderers and people of the wilderness”. The desert of Sinai is a very small part of the peninsula in the first biblical map and the way the Israelites moved for 40 years. The strange thing is that we don’t know much about what really happened to them during the 38 years they journeyed throughout the area, but not too extensively in the South. For us, the wilderness of Sinai is a much bigger space.

Somehow, the Jews are still living as “ancestral houses or mishpechot/family units”. Clans have always existed, mainly based on differences, disparity and distinctness. Of course, at that time, the Israelites did not leave Egypt playing Scottish-like bagpipes, eating herring, fish and chips, Viennese kneydlech, hamburgers or hummus. Today, we do not enjoy everyday some fresh desert quails or tamarisk natural manna. They might have spoken some dialects and developed their East side Nile Hebrew slang. With regards to the “tribe”, the word “shevet” is not used in the text. Names are very important. Names are also this week a strong reminder of the Hebrew name of the Book of Exodus. Thus, we continue to participate in the development of the spiritual move launched by God. And “shmot – names” are as important as “avot – ancestors”. They show a plenitude expressed by masculine words taking the feminine plural form /-ot/. So there are names “according to the sons of the clans of their ancestral houses”. There is, from the very beginning, the separation of another group: “the Kohathites among the Levites – bney Kohat mitoch bney Levi” (Num. 4:2). They will perform the tasks for the Tent of Meeting “which deal with the most sacred objects” (Num. 4:3). They are a special “clan and ancestral house”, the sons of Levi who will own no land properties in Eretz Israel and progressively ensure the sacrifices and the priesthood. The Book of Numbers/Bemidbar will give us new information and data about the Jewish whereabouts in time, space and divine connection.

A lot of genealogical websites exist at the present and Jews are indeed fond of their pedigree or family backgrounds, intermingled situations. Two “family trees”, one from Europe and the second from Baghdad show, at the Beyt HaTfutzot – Museum of the Diasporas in Tel Aviv, some sample of the development from ancient days till now of Jewish families (the same are on sale as posters). This prolongs somehow the “census”. Who are we? Where did our ancestors go? Yikhus / pedigree is a must, either fictive, real or someway interconnected. When Moses proceeded to the census, he certainly faced a rather similar social problem of rationalization as we have at the present with population statistics. But he might have been cooler about the statistical figures. It was a problem of management and functioning. Families were certainly split, social pressure was exercised with much power on women, girls, children but this kind of a structure was certainly not stable. People had to rely upon others and other clans. We have the same in our mishpachah system: “shafach = to join, unite, secure”. Genealogy shows interest in history. It also proves that links have been broken, family ties broke up, especially by the time of the Haskalah (say, Modernism) in Jewishness. This showed very clearly it became impossible, in a secular westernized society, to ban (cherem) upon individuals or communities, or even to take any real community decision toward them. In that sense, traditional Chassidic movements have preserved a lifestyle that other groups did try to imitate: the Amish, Mormons, Russian Orthodox Old Believers, inter alia. “Mishpachah” is more than any concept for a Jewish person: it means that everywhere in the world Jews would help and show warmth, give a hand or two, feed or allow to support intelligent (or messy) projects. When some years ago a famous Israeli bank advertised that “here is your mishpachah”, they did not notice that Christian and Muslim business establishments had used the same slogan because of the strong ties required for the coherence of the society. The Muslim “Umma – nation” has the same “clan of our ancestor houses” structure, as some Eastern Oriental Christians or new charismatic movements born in the West (though strongly rooted in the Oriental Christian traditions).

The Jewish communities lost a great number of members throughout centuries. Today, secularization, getting out of shtetlech/villages, the pogroms and the two world wars created a major crisis. In consideration of some historic viewpoints, the Shoah has just ended for a part of the European Jewries, and continues to quake along all calendars and agendas. But, how many youths, young families can truly attest that they are really Jewish? Then does the tremendous task to revitalize Judaism in its various “clans” is a challenging concern lining with the first census in the TaNaCH.. “Yad vaShem” (to provide a burial stele and a Name memorial” as mentioned by Prophet Isaiah) has been the perpetual combat of Jewish memory against the evil forces already shown in the wilderness. The census confirmed names and identities, functions and numbers. It allowed getting some sort of knowledge of the society. We continue to live in similar conditions as a “wilderness wandering people en route to the Land with God’s guidance”

A census also implies the ability to count. God said to Moses and Aaron to take a census “listing every male, head by head” (Num.1:2). This sounds a bit “male power”. Well, nobody could expect a matriarchal census of the Israelites in the wilderness, by listing some women. It seems that the system did not appear to be so relevant in some African, Indian tribes. Moreover, it is not Jewish even if today, the Chassidic way including one mother’s name (Avraham ben Chavah vs Avraham ben Baruch) is en vogue. “Take a census = se’u et rosh kol adat bney Israel” means in fact: “count every head”. It is linked to “count, calculate, define the number”, i.e. two Hebrew roots: “safar = to cut, mark, write (record), count”. It is linked to “sefirah” as we do it right now with the “sefirat Omer, i.e. a precise measure, meaningful to God, the counting of grain measures till Shavuot”. True, the census is a “sippur – an account, a story, a recorded document (which may presuppose some distance with reality or the choice of specific inhabitants as basic elements). “If someone were to be willing to count the mighty deeds of the Lord, he would be ruined (Berachot 9:12d – cf. Job 37:20). This means that God’s acts are too numerous and marvelous. In return, He did a wonder when He promised to Abraham and His descent that they would be as many as the sand and the stars. This first and promising census of the wilderness Israelites underscores the value of each being, each head. Each human corresponds to a sable grain or a star. It is frail and vulnerable. Indeed, it is easier to make a census of “heads” rather than “bellies”. “Heads” can be cut (misparah = hair cut, as “safar”) but in Hebrew and Aramaic “rosh = head, heading, beginning” is connected with “rash/rosh”(written without the alef) that means “poor, needy”, because “the rich can be dispossessed of property, i.e. lose what he owns if he does not learn the Torah”(Vayikra Rabba 34).

There are a lot of points in the reading portion of this week. It is a repeating pedagogical process that should allow us not to grow eggheads. To keep the simple wilderness mishpuche / mishpachah clan emotional look and ties that fit us so well. Are we called to be so numerous as the sand? We have time to reach such a huge amount, some thousands years after Moses made the first the first census of our daddies. There is something similar in the Gospel: “Jesus saying: are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet, not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s (God’s) knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31).

This Thursday, all the Christian Churches have celebrated the feast of Ascension of Jesus, as his disciples saw him ascend to heaven and disappear from the human realm, forty days after his resurrection. This is a rich series of praying services performed once a year in a mosque at the top of the Mount of Olives, each Church celebrating under tents. This recalls Jesus’ Ascension and the Churches proclaim their faith that Jesus will come a second and final time in glory. This is parallel to the Jewish expectation to see the Messiah coming in glory in our days and speedily (Sukka 52a).

During the ten days that separate Ascension from the Pentecost, the Eastern Orthodox Church does not invoke the Holy Spirit (next Sunday and following Monday) in the expectation of the Spreading of the Holy Spirit “Who comes and makes her Dwelling in us”, as the Mishkan was guarded in wilderness.

Alexander Winogradsky-Frenkel

May 31, 2008 – 26 deIyyar 5768

Friday, May 30, 2008


... kai apostolikan... and shlichut Part 1
Today at 2:00pm | Edit Note | Delete
This note is a special theological reflection about the peculiar situation of "ministering" in Israel. I will be deveoloped in several parts/notes.

"I believe in one (mian), Holy (hagian) Catholic (Katholikan) and apostolic (Apostolikan) Ekklesian/qahal rav (קהל רב)" is at the heart of the Christian Creed. I include the Hebrew expression "Qahal rav = great, total assembly) because it is the original word "to call" which was then translated into Greek "ekklesia, Latin ecclesia" to determine that the Church gathers in those called by God and who respond positively, with conscience and awareness as far as it is possible.The Christian Creed of course refers to those who believe in Jesus Christ as "God born of God, Light born of Light... homoousous/of the same substance as the Father".

It is evident that the Body of Jesus of Nazareth insofar constitutes the unique Church of Jesus Christ. The problems that we have to face at the present and that developed all through history, is the systematic and progressive process of divisions from the One Church of Jerusalem till the numerous fragmented entities that claim to be the true "one, holy, catholic and apostolic Ekklesia". Full unity and agreement between the believers in the very town of Jerusalem has merely been a short reality. Clashes existed from the very beginning in the Holy City and we have the accounts of believers who would trust a episkopos or a presbyteros at a time and then turn to another if not many others for various reasons. Unity around the Apostles did not last. "Those who had adhered to the faith were one heart (Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35)". The decision taken at the first (real but not counted as such) synod of Jerusalem (49-52 AD) was pronounced by James, "ho adelphotheos - brother of God" who was ehading the Ekklesia in chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles. Speaking as a Hebrew bishop of the Early Church that was not separated de facto or de jure from official Judaism, he defined how the Gentiles should be accepted as members of the Church of the Risen Lord. He basically insists on the fact that they should observe the Noahide laws and men were not obliged to be circumcised. The same problems are pending until today as who and how individuals or groups can duly be considered as Christians or not. This is a major element of reflection in the process of "announcing the Word of God to alla the Nations". Until the baptism of Kornelios (Acts 10, which is very late), all the disciples and apostles were Jews, still connecting with the Mother Qahal. This is a very important factor in the constitution of the Early Church. Jews decided who could join the Church from the Gentility, not from Judaism because the process was substantially evident (mamash\ממש). They were not ehtnical Jews but born as Jews by faith in the community of Israel. This naturally opened the way to their "natural/substantial, native-like" adherence to the Faith as a full part of Israel's expectations. Saint Paul is saved because of his creed in the resurrection of the dead that is at the core or the Pharisees' faith.(Acts of the Apostles 23:6, 24:15).

There was no reason to impose circumcision for the Gentiles because it is an innate sign of Judaism and not faith in Jesus as the Messiah for the non-Jews. This is not often taken into consideration. Whatever circumstances, Jesus is indeed a Son of the Covenant (Galatians 4:4). Gentiles enter the Covenant = ekklesia = Qahal rav through adoption. This movement should be noted and duly understood: "mission" came from Judaism that added some then more and more Gentiles. To begin with, "mission" is Jewish in the embryo of the Early Christian communties/ekklesias.

The interesting point is that "mission" remains a Jewish specific spiritual or technical daily action. "apostolos = the one who is "post-ed, envoy" juste and the "shaliah - שליח " is the disciple who is sent form the time of the first centuries, through the ages and until now in the Jewish structure of authority in order to check that things are done, in th communities, according to rules and the Commandments. We must understand that the whole of the hierachy or structure of service in the Early Church is a simple copy of the then-existing pattern that government the functions in the Jewish communities. "Proestos/ presbyteros = kohen, sacrificial priest"; "episkopos = mevaker = overseer"; "diakonos = server = shamash (samas in Arabic). In his book "Al Murshid - The Guide", Ibn al Jarir sowed that thie structure of authority is similar to all the levels of angels and archangels who serve God from the high down to earth. I showed also that during my long years of teaching about "Laying of the Hand for priest in Judaism and Christianity, the Royal Gates, in French and Italian).

The real function of an "apostolos" deeply evolved from the time of Paul of Tarsus who claimed to be one of them (Romans 11:13; 1 Corinthians 9:1). The Twelve apostles (apostoloi) are duly posted to announce, firstly as disciples, that they believe that "sins are remitted" as "flesh has been resurrected and eternal life is real (end of the Creed verse about the Church).

Today, in the State of Israel - whatever problems encountered as the definition of the State as being the "State of the Jews - der Judenstaat", governed by the Jewish traditional written and oral Laws, there are also "shluchim" = the same word and of the same root in Hebrew as "apostles" in the Churches. They will check that food and products are kosher nd attest that all procedures conveyed in the name of the Jewish faith in the Living Lord are correct and not erroneous. They will check, in Israel and also in the world, that the teachings of the whole Jewish way of living and Mitzvot are sources of sanctification and well-implemented.

The Christian world - as the Jewish world - is definitely not aware of such a situation because of the estrangered ways to exert this control and "life-sustaining" service for the sake of God. This is a major problem of ignorance that is mutual and will not be resolved in the way it would have been cleared in the diasporas.

Indeed, in the diasporas, the Jews lived under often strict Christian regulations. At the present, all Christian denominations are placed under the administration of the Israeli civilian Law. This new situation has never existed before. This is totally unexpected for both the Jews and the Churches. But this should also allow them considering how far they resemble and not only - in many ways - dissemble or appear to be different.

(to be continued)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ahead, comrades

Forty years ago, in May 1968, an international youth dazzling around and baffling movement left, early in the year, the Pacific Californian coast of Berkeley to spread back to Old Europe and explode with contrasted violence in France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, shaking former Czechoslovakia (resolved on Aug. 24th by a good snap to Alexander Dubcek) and swirled till the Chinese rivers in the form of revolving cultural revolution. In terms of generations, it is normal to consider that it corresponds to something like two generations at a time when baby-booms and birth controls were not really under perfect "management".

By that time, Israel was just stunned that she had won a decisional war in 6 days, as if a new creation was suddenly showing hopelessly. Today, things are "bebedikah - under checking". Was it correct? right? wrong? We are caught into questions while the world thinks to know what the solutions are. One thing is definitely real: this period June 1967-May 1968 has profoundly paved the way to the immense changes that happened in Europe and the Middle East - slowly show in Asia - only at the turn of the 20th century.

The substantial point is the spiritual issue. As time passes, we might consider that soul think tank can show up everywhere, anyhow as creative elements of spirituality. In France, May 1968 reached to no revolution. I mean there is nothing comparable between a cruel and bloody cultural revolution and the family-like disorder and "brothel atmosphere" described by a Gaulois Charles de Gaulle. All through these months I quietly went to Copenhagen and back to Paris which more resembled some night-and-day sitting and never developed into some odd "Actor Studio's" pre-soap sitcom.

"Il est interdit d'interdire - forbidden to prohibit" is so and only French! Just try to say and make it in other countries. In Germany and Italy things grew with violence. In France, the people's work proleterian forces were on strike, en mass. They were thinking. Frankly, they do the same at the Knesset "Khoshvim - we think" and we are indeed on a permanent revolving mood, not exactly the same as in the world.

The war carried by the fighters of the intelligentzia allied to the comrades of the working class in the fabrics match Jean-Paul Sartre screwed between his "l'Etre et le Neant - To be and Nil = existence or nothingness or destruction to nil). The big match spread from Berkeley in a new trend: people needed sex, copulating, more sensuality. Say that the RAI could hardly show the daily life of Adam and Eve and their beloved children. The society broke into several trends that led to very present issues such abortion pills, pills, (women deciding via instruments the time or their desires to be pregnant or not). Meanwhile abortion continued to exist and be the only "model" of birth control in communist countries.

The problem is that today, the same work rights, human rights, birth rights, freedom show in a way that may appear to be rather split. For the Churches, the movements shook establishments but did not destroy them at all.

Judaism was busy in rebuilding and raise from the ashes of the Deportation-Extermination. There were no Holocaust nor Shoah as we understand them at the present. Silence and reinvigorating forces were used to overcome an immense tragedy that had happened in the Europe that could be considerd as having apostazied Christendom. This major issue, that only starts to be reviewed and surveyed adequately at the present,was then impossible to be mentioned or determined with certainty. We only get now the archives of the Second World War, and thus only for a part.

The true response came 22 years later by the late Pope John Paul II visiting Paris and the cathedral of Notre-Dame: "France, qu'as tu fait du don de ton bapteme? - France, what have done of the gift of your baptism?" (May 30, 1980). The Protestant Churches reacted with more splitting while the Church of England continued to loosen her general sense of comprehensiveness. In Germany, the Lutheran Churches will show to be very active during the collapse of communism in Hungary, Romania, Carpathian area till some parts of the present Ukraine where the Reform has always been significant.

France's is still on the way. but undoubtedly the negative aspect of the May 68 movement has been defeated. The crisis is perhaps deeper because France is traditionally considered as a Catholic country. It is indeed and without contest the Western Latin Catholic "Eldest daughter of the Church". In opposition to Germany and most other European Central and North-European countries, it never faced a permanent competition with important Protestant Churches. Today, the confrontation is definitely international, all-Christian. It is certainly too early to see the seeds of what has been sowed by cardinal J. M. Lustiger's generation od hierarchs and ministries.

On the other hand, the French theologians (de Lubac, Chenu) rose from World War II paving the way to Second Vatican Council II, supported by Hans Urs v. Balthasar and cardinal Ratzinger. The unchanging element, persistent is thus that, with much care, the heads of the Catholic Church led to the implementation of the Council in an optimistic view

Nonetheless, the Vatican Council had ended without the presence and the participation of numerous participants that could not join the Assembly. When it broke out, May 68 caused a sort of earthquake. France is interesting as it is both a faithful and critical area. On the other hand, when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia the same year, they seized "again" the Hussite home and Velehrad - the borderline where Saints Cyrille and Methodios preached the Gospel in the vernacular (Esperanto-like) Slavonic tongue with the blessings of the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople, being persecuted and banned by the Frankish Latin Christians who disobeyed the Catholic (open to the plerome) and Orthodox (authentic, true) faith. Forty years later (and some centuries), the dialog between the Churches faces similar problems of competition and slow, rather prudent approaches between the partners in Jesus.

In Europe, in the Middle-East and in particular in Israel, the Churches face the tremendous development of the State of Israel and the internal quarrels of the Palestinian Authority, linked with the general view of how the entire region will develop in the coming years. Is Islam frankly a new threat for the European and Nera and Middle-Eastern countries with numerous Christians?

Short-sighted? short memory? The Ottoman Empire was licking the Donau in Vienna and was present for centuries in Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece. The Turks were the master of Turkey, the Middle-East and the Magreb, as if Christianity and Islam were mirroring their faith and searches for truth.

This should also be a part of our reflection about the future and reality of Eretz Israel. Indeed, all these events are mixed together. When they reached the former Soviet Union, they brought more breathing and force to carry out the underground combat... against falling mills. Our task is to see the mills that do function today and certainly will tomorrow.

Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel

May 25th, 2008 - 20 deIyar 5768

Av Aleksandr Facebook contact:

Esh: Bonfires

Look where we live! On such a small exiguous territory that thus opens up on width and suddenly turn of, immures and cages in minds and grey cells. Space, room can be terribly limited, compressed: the Jewish soul requires freedom in horizons where the non-believers would suffocate or be tempted by murder.

One of the most striking phenomena of Israeli society today is the way it reflects upon "being" a society. Look at our cities, small villages, agricultural areas, settlements. They are built on the same pattern that allows the securing of a specific system of traditional values that - ultra-Orthodox, pious or secular - needed to be protected from the outside world. Thus, it is right that today's children in Israeli suffer of various traumas (family, social, cultural, violence, fears/pahadim). Either the youth stay put and do not move. Or they discover the world of the Gentiles, often questioned by the fact that Jews abroad are not freely living and affirming their Jewishness. This is something new.

Israelis that travel abroad are more "rodfey HaShem - God seekers" than they would usually accept to be here. The society is not composed of "ordinary people" as the word is used in sociology. They are "anonymous" because they experienced by birth and Hebrew education that the people exists as a whole and each individual is the talent given to his fellow people. Moguls, tycoons, new rich or middle-class, simple workers and needy are "one" and they faced in their lifetime the price of God's Oneness and Fire. At the present, we are more like the "perplexed" - a reality on this 60th anniversary. Maybe because dreams lead to other fancies but essentially oblige us to recognize who we are
and bring a light to the others.

On Friday, there will be the great merry feast of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai which falls on the 33rd (LaG) be'Omer (of the computing of the Omer), i.e. the 18th of Iyyar. But it is also the remembrance of the death of Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students that either perished in the war with Bar Kochba against the Romans (idolatry toward a false messiah) and/or were involved in such a lack of understanding among each other that it developed into some harsh form of hatred and estrangement. The students of the great rabbi started wandering away from truth and divinity. They despised each others reaching the borders of idolatry and their tongues were ready to murder their own people, under presumption of spiritual truth.

On the other hand, since the second century, the Jews have venerated the author of the Zohar (The Book of Splendor). It is a day of joy in the time between Pesach and Shavuot. Children are often oyfgesher’nt (hair cut) for the first time as R. Shimon was a famous nazir/nazirite (consecrated). A time of eating, drinking wine at the tomb of the Rabbi who was a torch for the enlightenment of the Jewish Mysticism. The Zohar and the Kabbalah are not the 'cheap' wide-spread so-called Jewish set of wonder-making and pagan books denied by some denominations. To begin with, it allows the opportunity of understanding the roots of a vast movement connected with the Chassidic groups relating to the cradle of Eastern European Yiddishkayt.

The Eastern Orthodox Church reads the Gospel of the Samaritan woman who discussed very freely with Jesus at Jacob’s well located at Sychar in Samaria (John 4:4-42). Women play a significant role in the Christian Paschal season. Samaritans and Jews would not have spoken to each other at that time, especially men and women. At the present, Ukrainian young women became Samaritan faithful members of the community in order to bringing new blood and reinvigorating it. In this Gospel, the discussion goes about where to worship God. In Jerusalem? in the Temple? or on Mount Garizim (where the Samaritans did celebrate the sacrifice of Pesach)? Jesus recounts her life and does not condemn her because of her past five husbands... She is not married to the sixth one she has now (this maybe an allusion to all levels of divine covenants)... She got intrigued. Indeed, Jesus never condemned any woman. True and so amazing to discover throughout his speech! After his resurrection, women are his normal agreement partners of intuitive intelligence. This should be noted this year on the Mother's Day...

How peculiar to encounter Bonfires of truth bringing light of hope, remedies, health, comfort in Meron, at the tomb of R. Shimon Bar Yochai. Flames that were withering out of the altar to remind that there is no stranger no citizen in the Edah - the whole community of God, but the perceptible service and respect for any being. Just as we could be there, two days ago, to join the Samaritan feast of Pesach. A whole humanity composed of substantial flames for the living.

Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel

May 21, 2008 - 16 deIyar 5768

Facebook contact : Av Aleksandr

Shetel, Grafting

Considering the sixtieth anniversary of the State of Israel, many Arab countries, in particular in the Holy Land and the neighboring States have developed a "counter-celebration" that calls the creation of the State of Israel a "nakbah - catastrophe". There are different and invariant positions in this situation that should be taken into consideration: the political issue, the international context, the spiritual stand and the theological positioning, if any can be sketched out at the moment.

The political point of view is certainly the most constant with regards to this event and developed into a sort of parrotism-fashion. Diplomats or people expressing a very strong political options might be convinced that the creation of an "undefined State of Israel, or rather the capacity to allow two States to emerge on the territory of of the Land of Canaan, Eretz Israel, Palestine (British mandate) is a "nakbah - catastrophe". The word may continue to have the same meaning as it had at the beginning. Still it may develop semanticallyand get either stiffer or softer. Some Arab government has called not to celebrate the nakbah this year. Others would not say anything but agrre that the problem should be considered more positively. On the other hand, many Jews would sympathize without showing off because of the ethical behavior of a part of the Israeli society toward the Arabs.

Diplomatic words are rapidly adopted; it is rather difficult to cancel them. They may also be used for new or updated purposes. A few days before the declaration of Independence, the official "Israeli" stamps show the territory alloted by the UNO for the creation of a "Medinat HaYehudim - a State of the Jews". Sixty years later, the question of the formula is still a strong question mark for many groups and bodies: do Jews have a specific State inside of the Nations of the world? Can Israel consider herself as a "state of the Jews" as interrogate some months ago by the retired Arab Israeli and thus Palestinian Latin Catholic Patriarch, Michel Sabbah? He protested focusing on the word "Jews as solely relating to faith and religion". In his view, the State was and can only be secular, without any color. Mgr Sabbah is an Israeli Catholic Arab Palestinian Vatican (in case) citizen... His views were contested by the Vatican staff and the up-to-the-minute Judeo-Christian dialog experts. The reality is that Israel is not extant for this generation of clergy people born and raised under the Ottoman Empire. Israel is composed of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The State embryo, included, in 1948, Christians, Muslims and some Jews. And the nakbah, as it has been noted in many aspects this year in the Arab world, is a sort of slogan that takes the risk to be harmful to the Arab Palestinian expectations. Indeed, the word shows that permanent reference to "destruction / catastrophe" does not help at all the concerned people to build a State in a positive way.

Things are paved with a lot of subtleties. Everywhere we go or work, show or participate to some activity in the present State of Israel shows that Christians recently settled in the Center (from the West Bank) and duly participate for a great, substantial part to the development of the State of Israel. At this point, it would be totally impossible to separate Jews from Arabs who work together, often with similar ranks and positions, responsibilities and skills. People can find negative words against their "others" or those they consider different. It is a fact that on this 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, the country is profoundly intermingled, mixed up and tends to rely upon common efforts to live together while showing seemingly split attitudes. There can be clashes. There can be terror attacks and suspicion. Intrinsically, people get more and more aware that Arabism is a full part of Israelity.I am totally convinced that in two centuries or so, young Israelis will definitely marry their Semitic co-citizens, whatever consequences with regards to their registration as "Jews or non-Jews".It does exist but at a low and unknown level. I is possible that the nakbah become a sort of permanent counter-feit echoing the construction of a State of Israel that is systematically attacked with words of destruction: there is no place for any State of the Jews because some people are convinced that it destroyed some part of the Arab nation locally...

Now, there is another aspect, namely the spiritual and theological one. The first question is to know and to accept to acknowledge where we are living and with whom. Diplomacy often obliges people to disguise reality and to play a game or a scenery of full hatred and rejection. A recently arrived immgrant from France was - so she said - in shock that she had to work with Arabs at a famous medical center: she had left France because she could not cope with the "Arabs", a poor but she thought real argument. She got here the possibility to discover them as equal partners, for equal tasks and pay. This can be totally new for the Jews. Some Russian Jews were and still are not likely to live with local Arabs. The young Israeli Jewish generation hurries up to learn Arabic. Some Jews who do not recognize the State of Israel, would prefer to live in Palestine and nobody prevents the Jews to live among the Arab society, even if they are hostile to Jews.

Millions and millions of present refugees and Displaced People over the past two hundred years are in a situation that shows totally and ten time multiplied with the history of Israel. When Canadian Ukrainians, South African Czechs, emigrated tsarist Russians are returned their properties after one to 150 years of absence, it means that the concerned state considered they are entitled to be returned their goods. The Inuit Nunavut of Canada is a in between attempt to repair the tremendous slaughter of the natives. In the course of history, no nation has constantly shown such a will to return to Zion, according to the Books of the Prophets. This requires special insights and a great spiritual openness from the part of the Gentiles to considered positively. It always sounds a bit special in Russian that "rapatrianty - repatriates = olim chadashim" who come back home after 2,000 years. There is a deep, unique, profound link between incarnation, Jewish soul and physical being and the existence if Israel. But this never happened before. And Christianity itself is at pain with the question as Jesus was not born under a Jewish State but in a country under control of the Roman emperor.

Words that refer to "catastrophe and destruction, extermination" are very dangerous. They slice down and shape new forms of hatred and exclusions. It is significant that the Eastern Orthodox and the Russian/Slavic tongues relate to "Katastropha - Catastrophe": strephein + kata = overturning of what is normally expectable". Similarly, "Holocaust" is the "total/holos kaustos burning that is safe because accepted by God in Christian traditions. Instead, the Shoah or Churban = destruction" are a real and most perceptible experience of Judaism all through the history of the Jews, long before Christian and Islam faith. It is the "other impulsive original sin" against life for all partners, the livign and the killing. "Auschwitz makes all too clear the principle that the human psyche can create meaning out of anything." (Robert Jay Lifton).

It will take time, a lot of time, indeed, but the seeds are planted and transplanted (Tehillim 1:2 ; shadul). The very nature of the Gentiles is to grafted on the olive tree. "Do not boast against the branches Jews), said Paul of Tarsus to the Gentiles. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you... see God's kindness provided that you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off" (Romans 11:17-22).

Many seeds of good things appear in the Israeli society that are inescapable. True, human righteousness often grows to huge problems and real measuring of what really may be so difficult in terms of justice and prejudices. The return of the Jews to Eretz Canaan is an aliyah/ascent for the Jews and a "grafting back" for the Gentiles. It is far too early to accept a positive thus theological term. Who accepts grafting? where would you clutch to. Faith alone? true, but give me a good clutch. Grafting develops in silence.

Alexander Winogradsky Frenkel

May 19, 2008 - 14 deIyar 5768