Israel’s Disunity and Downfall – A Warning

Don’t get me wrong. I dread the day of our own downfall, if it ever happens. But nevertheless it is beating strongly in me to warn our Jewish world that it may come if we do not even recognize the “symptoms” of our own society that will cause it to come.

An ancient prophecy in the Torah made by Ya’akov and Moshe Rabbinu reveals how in the end of days, which would be our time, a great evil is to befall “the last generation” of Israel. Two Orthodox Jewish writers published a lengthy article five years ago that explains this prophecy and how they deciphered this from the Torah codes. In the article the writers explain what the great evil is and who causes it to come. They also talk about why G-d even allow this great evil to befall Israel, and the Jewry all over the world — it is because of the DISUNITY within Israel and the Jewish people.

You can read the whole article here. But let me share with you that I believe that Joel Gallis and Dr. Robert Wolf, the two Orthodox Jewish writers, were right.  The disunity of Israel and the Jewish people is the number one reason why every evil throughout our Jewish history was allowed to happen.

Think about it. How did 6 million Jews during the Holocaust died in the hands of only a few hundred thousand Nazi soldiers? The Jews greatly outnumbered them but the Nazis were like barking German shepherds herding frightened sheep into slaughter. Is it because they really were as dumb as sheeples (a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”)?

If you have seen any WW2 movies about the Holocaust, you will see how groups of Jews would stand in rows for roll call in front of one Nazi officer who would bully them and choose whomever he liked to shoot in the head. One officer against 20, 30 or even 50 Jews. How can one person have victory over 50 Jews? It is because the lack of unity between the 50 Jews. Have you never heard of the saying, “United we stand, divided we fall?”

You can argue with me using psychology, as many of my friends have done in the past, and say, “In oppressed moments like this, nobody would want to work together with others and think of a plan and strategy to fight back and work it out with their inmates. It was always about surviving one day at a time.” Yes. Exactly. Every one of them had such great love for themselves and their ego that it was more important to survive and save oneself rather than laying one’s live for somebody else. Self-nullification for the sake of others was not in their dictionary. Everybody wanted to save their own ass.

This is the ultimate seed of disunity!

In the book “I was Doctor Mengele’s Assistant” by Polish Holocaust survivor Miklos Nyiszli, there was a description of how the Nazi soldiers would find the dead bodies in the gas chamber after they were gassed. The infants were always at the bottom. Then the next layer of bodies would be young children, then women or elderly people, and at the top of all the bodies were the bodies of the strongest in the group. Dr. Mengele’s assistant wrote that in panic, everybody’s survival instinct would immediately kick in. Within the 5 minutes after the gases were dropped into the chambers, people would just savagely climb up and trample on the weaker ones to save their own lives. And all that just for extending their own life for only 2 extra minutes.

Once I read of a teaching of a rabbi who said, “Those who fight to save their life will lose it. But those who give their life to others will receive it back.” He was a very wise rabbi!

Because whether you deny it or not, this spiritual law actually applies in our world. The heroic stories of Holocaust survivors that are made into movies  always show many of their acts of selflessness throughout that dark period of time. It was always these selfless people, and not others, whose lives were eventually spared by G-d. And they almost always survive against all odds.

In the Holocaust movie “Triumph of the Spirit” which was based on a true story, a Jewish boxer was hired to perform in boxing matches in order to entertain SS officers. He had to fight other Jewish boxers but against all odds, he won all 200 matches, despite the lack of food and illnesses he suffered from. The boxer, Salamo Arouch, survived Auschwitz and died in 2009.

Why did G-d actually spared this boxer and not the others that lost the matches against him? There is no Mathematical or Scientific explanation to this. All the reason that I can see is the deeper spiritual background, where the spiritual law of surviving, that the rabbi I mentioned above spoke of. For every match that he won, Arouch asked for a reward: one Auschwitz prisoner to be freed.

This was an amazing act of selflessness and self-nullification. He could have easily asked for more food or a cigarette or something nice for himself. For every act of selflessness, he was offering a hand in the spirit of unity with other prisoners. And for every life he saved, as he was treating them as his own in the spirit of unity, he opened the door even wider for his own survival.

Self-nullification or selflessness is the seed of unity. And until the modern children of Israel understand this and lives by this law, evil will always befall them from one generation to the next… as if it was a test for the one scattered Jewish soul, the nefesh Yehudi. Until each piece of soul does his part to self-nullify themselves and unite with the rest of the nefesh, Holocaust will repeat… and every time probably even worse.

Until my Jewish soul and yours finally get it.

Indonesia and Jews

My name is Elisheva, I am Jewish and I was born and raised in the most uncommon part of the world for Jews to live in — Indonesia, the greatest Muslim country in the world. Well, at least that is what the world thinks of her. The country is actually a republic. It just happens to have a population that is predominantly Muslim (80 percent). The government only acknowledges 5 religions and Judaism isn’t one of them.

Way before the Common Era even started, Israelis traveled to this part of the world for trading through ancient trade routes to South East Asia. I won’t be surprised if we can actually find remnants of Israel in this part of the world. In fact, recently I spoke to a Dutch pastor who regularly visits a village in West Papua who spoke a very unique dialect. “Good morning” in their language is “boker shalom” and “good night” is “laila shalom”. The Hebrew phrase for those two greetings are “boker tov” and “laila tov”. How incredible is that?

There is also a famous river going through West Papua to the eastern side of the island (Papua New Guinea) which they name “the river of Yahwe”. You can ask them what the name “Yahwe” means but villagers do not have a clue. Could it be the attempt of pronouncing the holy Tetragrammaton Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey?

Just last week, I met a Papua New Guinean lady whose family name is Sukot (tabernacle in Hebrew). There is also a clan in a remote village of West Papua (the Indonesian part of Papua) named Menorah. You can easily find these little hints in languages, names of places and surnames, that would make you wonder whether ancient Israelis have really traveled this far to our world.

During the Spanish inquisition, the Jews of Europe managed to establish trading companies which would send out ships to new worlds such as the Americas and even to the continent of Asia. These trading ships were financially backed by two Kingdoms, Holland and Britain. The leaders of the companies would put persecuted Jews and their families onto this ship with the excuse of “hiring them for trading business” in the new world and far east. And that is how they came to the Americas and the Asian world. (You can read more about this in this excellent book titled “The Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean”).

My ancestors were on one of these ships. The company that were financed by the Dutch was called VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) or the Dutch East Indian company. Later it became the first multinational corporation that issued stock. The first General Governor of VOC was a Dutch Jew, Jan Pieterszoon Coen (“Coen” is a Dutch variant of Cohen). When you dig deeper into history and the personalities of the leaders of VOC, you will find that the majority, if not all, were of Jewish descent. Many were hiding their identities.

One of them was Leendert Miero (1755-1834) who was born in present-day Ukraine. He was a security guard for a company estate in Europe and made one single mistake that led him to be punished by whipping. He swore that he will never be treated like that ever again and that he would work hard to become wealthy and not become somebody else’s slave ever again. He made his way to success after he joined VOC and migrated to Indonesia.

Like all other Jews that first arrived in Indonesia, Miero hid his Jewish identity. When the Dutch VOC announced that Jews were allowed to live free here in this land, Miero revealed his Jewishness to the public. He worked hard and became wealthy and had several estates in Dutch colonized city of Batavia.

Miero build himself a luxurious mansion near Batavia (now Jakarta) which the locals named “Pondok Gede”, literally means “Big House”. The area where I live today in Jakarta, Indonesia, is the area where the mansion was. Until today, the small town is called Pondok Gede because of Miero’s estate. Unfortunately, the Indonesian government did not preserve this historical building and allowed it to be torn down to build a mall on the land back in the 1980s. Strangely enough, the remaining Jews in Jakarta are mostly residing in this area, Pondok Gede. Without even realizing it or knowing the history of this area, they are attracted to settle down here and in its surrounding as if there was a magnet among us and this land.

The National Archive Building in Jakarta, Indonesia was one of Leendert Miero’s estate.

For a short time after Israel became a nation in 1948, there was an Anti-Semitic movement in Indonesia which led to the banning of Judaism as an acknowledged religion. Although it sounds so unfair to us Jews today, I believe that was the best decision that President Soekarno (at the time) made in order to stop the violence against Jews. It caused the remaining Jews to choose either Islam or Christianity and have it written in their national ID card. All of the sudden, Jews disappeared in paper and the Anti-Semitic attacks stopped.

I know now that this could have never been the case in Europe. A Jew who would give themselves to be baptized would never be accepted as a Christian or a Catholic. They would just be a baptized Jew. It was not so in Indonesia. When Judaism was denied, they “disappeared”, and they were able to live free ever since.

I thank Elohim for my forefather who took (what would have been) the frightening journey to a new and unknown world of Indonesia. He settled down in Cheribon (now Cirebon) and became a landlord of a sugar plantation there. He did what he had to do including hiding his and the family’s identity and never return to Europe or have the chance to be in Jerusalem. I have made it my mission to bring him back (after all, his blood is still running in my veins), first to the heart of his God and then to the land of his people, by bringing myself back to the two above.

Today, many remaining Jews of my generation are returning to the ancient path to the God of our forefathers. Judaism is still illegal here. However, we have lived among the people of Indonesia for so long now and become a part of their lives that they don’t ever see us as an enemy to be beheaded, rather like a member of their society and friends of their family. For that, I thank Elohim.

Israel at Sixty & the Importance of Religious Pluralism

I recently received an e-mail from the fine people at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Israel asking me if we could add them to our list of resources. A) I was totally impressed that we are even on their radar and B) while going through the links they sent me, I stumbled across this great video by Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman (son of David Hartman) in which he pauses to reflect on Israel at 60 and the need for increased religious pluralism as part of the social and spiritual fabric of the country.

Anyhow bearing in mind d’varim’ recent post about the current “Orthodox conversion” crisis in Israel and her hope that it might serve as something of a wake-up call to the more mainstream segments of the Orthodox world.

I thought I should do a quick post about the video because although it’s not specifically about the conversion issue. The people at the Hartman Shalom Institute are talking about the kind of religious diversity and pluralism in Israel, that d’varim probably has been hoping for.

At any rate it’s a really short video. Just over five minutes long and in my opinion definitely worth checking out.

Enjoy and as always please (if you watch the video) do feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on the subject. Note you will need to click the post tittle in order to see this video.