Racism – Cities of Refuge as an Answer

  • Cities of refuge in modern Israel has been the answer to the secular – religious schism giving to the religious exclusively Orthodox communities.
  • Assimilation of cults into society has always been a problem. 
  • There is sometimes a higher quality of faith expressing universal idealism displayed by reformed and conservative Jews. For sure all Jews are important.

Racism is a reality. It is here to stay.  The Bible has already given the answer to the problems created by racism and it is not capital punishment. “Then Moses set apart three cities on this side of the Jordan toward the sun rising; that the slayer might flee there, who should kill his neighbor unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live.” Three cities of refuge were set up by Moses with the permission to set up six more when the borders of Israel will grow. Israel has already begun to build cities of refuge for Orthodox throughout Israel.  Muslim populations in Europe sometimes are not compatible living in Christian society, it may be better to give them their own cities. Palestinians in Yehuda and Shomron prefer to be separate from Jews.  Many want to destroy Israel as the only solution. A better solution is to give them cities of refuge with autonomy and improve their quality of life. The prophesy of Moses is slowly being fulfilled.

“Fleeing to the city of refuge.”

The cities of refuge were supervised by the Levites.  Those knowledgeable in esoteric Torah, the Zohar know that the Levites are connected to Moses from the same tribe representing the Universal aspect of the light of God the aspect of freedom. LGBT is today a major crisis in Orthodox religion not only for Judaism also Christian and Muslim.  The Pope recently made a controversial statement accepting them by the church.  The former Chief Rabbi recently made a statement that LGBT cannot believe in God which in my opinion is too extreme. They can believe in God and make their own cities of refuge in a democratic society. Permission is given in the Torah Jewish law to exclude them from Orthodox congregations when they outwardly display that they are LGBT.

Assimilation of cults into society has always been a problem.  Christianity was once a cult in Biblical times and the first Christians were forced to build their own cities of refuge.  Today Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Baha”i faith was called a cult and the prophet of Baha”i was imprisoned ten years in the Ottoman Empire. Today they have millions of followers. The Zohar teaches that there are many prophecies in the Torah which will be revealed in the future.  Building cities of refuge in the future is one of these prophecies which is becoming to be revealed in history as the world expands. Cities of refuge in Modern Israel has been the answer to the secular – religious schism giving to the religious exclusively Orthodox communities.

Today in a Democratic world when all men are considered equal; people get attacked for being racist. President Trump is called racist by his opponents for building the wall in the south and his intolerance to illegal immigrants. He may also be called racist for his policies concerning Israel recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, and accepting annexation of the Golan.

President Trump supports freedom and democracy.  His racism is that he places America and the people of America as priority #1.  The building of the wall is to protect America from illegal immigrants who may be criminals or drug pushers. His policies toward Israel are support for democracy that Israel is for America a strong ally in the Middle east where there lives a lot of hatred toward America.  Nationalism is racist.  Even though America claims to be one nation under God in liberty and justice giving equality to all its citizens, in America are groups of Americans protecting their own interests.  The wealthy Americans are a group with its own special interests.  The poor are a group with their own special interests. Each group is seeking freedom in their own way. Minorities are groups with their own interests, Jewish minority, Islamic minority, and other minorities naturally group together and organize to have a voice in American politics.

There are people that cry out Racism as if they are free from racism. LGBT is a minority group which is gaining power in the world. They will continue to cry Racism until they will become a majority, God Forbid. Minorities defend themselves.  The majority group does not have to concern itself with racism but they are the biggest racists.

Arab cities in Israel which have received autonomy in the Oslo treaty.

There are many benefits to be racist. Racist claims strengthen minority groups to stand up for their rights. These minority groups do not admit that they are racist but cry Racism.  Naturally people from the same ethnic groups, colors, race, and religion group together and work together for their own interests. There is usually a majority but sometimes the majority may not be able to stand alone because they are lacking support like in this year’s Israel elections.

Moses at Mount Sinai was against racism.  He wanted to build a nation without racism. He didn’t succeed and broke the first set of tablets with the Ten Commandments for a nation without racism with freedom and equality. Instead he recognized the need for the Jewish people to be a separate nation and gave them the Torah for a separate nation in the second set of tablets with the Ten Commandments. Jewish law goes along with the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments. The Jewish people were still a minority in the world as they approached the land of Israel.  Joshua went into the land with the people of Israel to conquer the land and establish the nation of Israel. A nation needs a land.  The land of Israel was promised by God to give to the children of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.  It took over 400 years for them to conquer the land. When they conquered the land, they became the majority and established the Kingship of Israel.  As a majority with power over all minorities in the land and the nations surrounding the land King Solomon built the holy temple. Jews were the majority in Israel but still a minority in the world a separate nation. They had first to conquer the land and build walls around the land protected by their army before being able to establish a sovereign nation.

Moses gave Jews a law which insures their survival as a nation forever. When Menachem Begin came to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe before talking peace with President Carter and Sadat the first words which he said to the Rebbe, “The Jewish people are an eternal nation.” The Law of Moses protects the nation from assimilation. It is sometimes difficult for Jews living amongst gentiles. Many Jews assimilate but there always remains a strong religious bloc.

In the time of the Beit Hamikdash the holy temple the nations surrounding Israel did not accept the word of God written in the Torah giving the Jewish people their right to live in Israel as a sovereign nation. The Babylonians conquered Zion and destroyed the first temple.  The Assyrians conquered Israel in Samaria and was lost the ten tribes of Israel. Ezra brought back the nation from Babylon and rebuilt the holy temple which stood for over 400 years. The Greeks conquered Israel and took control of Jerusalem and the temple. The Romans came later and eventually destroyed the second temple. The Jewish people were only a majority in Israel for the period of time when stood the first temple. Today the nation of Modern Israel share the land with the Palestinians. The Jewish people will always remain an eternal nation.  Being an eternal nation does not depend upon the Modern State of Israel but on the Torah.

City of Efrat located in northern Jerusalem founded by Rabbi Riskin former Rabbi of the Lincoln Square Synagogue an American Orthodox community in Israel. Americans in Israel are a minority and enjoy living together.

The survival of the Jewish people in the diaspora was a miracle until finally was established the State of Israel. The miracle is explainable that the Jewish people were given the Torah by Moses with strong Jewish values separating them from the other nations even when living in their foreign lands. Judaism is built upon a special lineage to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which is protected by Torah law. In every place where the Jewish people were exiled was established a Beit Din Jewish Court to supervise over marriage and divorce.  Conversion always had to be according to Jewish law.

Jews have always been a minority living outside their land and attacked for being racist by anti-Semites suffering Pogroms, and other types of discrimination. Nevertheless on the strength of Torah law the remnants of the Nation of Israel of Biblical times survived until today even to be able to build the Modern State of Israel in the land. Assimilation has always been a great problem from the time of the first exile to Babylon.  When a family is faced with assimilation they are confronted with a choice of maintaining strict Orthodox values or accepting their children who have become modern. Fighting for Judaism has always been a struggle. In each generation there are Torah Scholars and Judges of Jewish law who maintain strict Orthodox Judaism.  The families of these Torah Scholars make a solid united religious Jewish front like the Charedim in Israel today. There are always the weaker modern open minded Jews in each generation and their families and children.  Many Jews in each generation are close to assimilation and intermarriage. In America today the youth from conservative and reformed families assimilate rapidly studying on college campuses and learning together with gentile children in public schools.

It is a little embarrassing for Jews to wear a Jewish skull cap living in modern society when socializing with gentile friends. The strictly Orthodox don’t intermingle with gentiles at all except at work for making a livelihood. This is the only way they can preserve their Judaism. The mainstream of Judaism preserves strictly Jewish values.  Today it is impossible to keep all the commandments and certain leniencies are acceptable as part of the House of Hillel.  After the coming of the Messiah the law will be stricter like the House of Shamai.

In the minds of assimilated Jews may enter a new direction seeking World Unity and Peace as an ideal. The prophets spoke about a new world where the knowledge of God will be in the whole earth and there will be peace. Judaism does not look toward World Unity and Peace but focuses only on the Nation of Israel “Blessed be God who blesses the nation of Israel with peace.”  Jewish assimilated youth sometimes adopt idealism which is out of the curriculum of Torah Judaism. The Jewish sages cannot deny the prophecies of Isaiah, Jerimiah, Zecharia, and Ezekiel, they can only say that these prophecies are not applicable today before is built the holy temple. The Jewish youth want to return to their roots in Judaism.  They cannot accept strictly Jewish ideals. They were not trained to accept it from their youth. There is sometimes a higher quality of faith expressing universal idealism displayed by reformed and conservative Jews.  For sure all Jews are important.

Lubavitch began a new movement in Judaism of returning assimilated Jews to their heritage.  Other institutions were set up outside Lubavitch for this purpose like Aish HaTorah located in the Old City. The Shas religious party in Israel established schools for Sephardic youth that have assimilated like Ohr Hachaim located in Jerusalem run by Rabbi Reuven Elbaz.  Sephardic youth are less idealistic than Ashkenazi because their families are from the Middle East where they were exposed only to Muslim faith. Ashkenazi Jews lived in Europe where Christianity was a threat to Judaism.  Christianity is more idealistic than Islamic faith. Jewish Youth to return to their heritage have to accept only Jewish values which is difficult for them. They have become exposed to Universal values of faith which are suppressed in Judaism. It is a struggle for them to accept Torah the way it is taught in the Oral law Jewish law separating Jews from gentiles and placing Jews on a higher plateau. Mainstream Judaism enforces only national Jewish ideals.

The main way to overcome the schism between Jewish national ideals and Universal ideals for Jews who want to return to their roots is through making marriages which will reinforce Torah ideals. The husband and wife need unity to make a family and raise children through connecting to Torah values and Torah teachers.  The root of racism is in family. Parents favor and love more their own children especially the mothers. Judaism began as a holy family of the forefathers. Family life is stressed in Judaism and the Torah in several places mentions families of the twelve tribes of Israel, this family and that family. The forefathers have gone to great extremes to preserve the sanctity of the Jewish family. Young people returning to Judaism with high ideals for the sake of Shalom Bayit peace in their homes suspend these goals during the time that they are raising their families according to Jewish law. They have to replace Universal ideals for National Jewish goals.

Spirituality exists on two realms of life which are religion and faith. Religion includes in it family. Family is racist and religion is racist. In Christianity there are two realms of consciousness which are universal and relativism.  Relativism in Christianity is the doctrine that there is no universal objective truth. On this basis Christianity became a religion when initially it was a movement for universal ideals.  The word for Catholic in Latin means general or universal. Judaism also began as a universal faith on Mount Sinai until the breaking of the first tablets of the covenant at the time of the Golden Calf.

Universal ideals for World Unity and Peace are important for Jews and all of mankind. Judaism suppresses universal ideals but as the outreach movement grows these ideals are penetrating Judaism. Jews growing up in an Orthodox religious environment are not exposed to universal ideals.  These ideals which are messianic come in from the outside into the Jewish world.  Today in Judaism there are Messianic movements in Chabad and Breslov.  Messianic movements connect to the Kabballa where is revealed a new picture of spirituality to include all the nations of the world under one roof united in peace. These values are called Progressive but they are more spiritual than fundamental Orthodox Judaism.  The way of Orthodox Judaism is stronger in Jewish unity but the other side which is Universal Godliness connects to the redemption in mercy.  It says that in the merit of the Zohar will be redeemed Israel in mercy. The redemption of the Zohar is a complete redemption.

Jews live in reality.  In reality Jews are a minority and have to fight for their survival. They have to fight against assimilation. Universal ideals are still not practical for the Jewish people today only for those that need them for their own spiritual fulfillment. Assimilated Jews modern conservative even reformed have universal ideals which Orthodox Jews may limit to keep their communities Charedi.  Cities of refuge is the solution given by Moses for the sacred cause of Peace and brotherhood. Democracy must cater to both sides the extreme right Ultra-Orthodox and the extreme left LGBT and secular atheists. When they can’t live together peacefully provide them with Cities of Refuge communities.  The minority is important.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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