Israel’s Ancient Idolatry
An evening’s discussion with Mr. Nathan Phanai and his questioner Dr. David Khan, brought to you by New Salem University with Dr. Aaron Cohn, as the moderator.
The old man slowly strode out onto the stage. He stopped, initially to look towards the audience. It was still early, yet people were coming in, looking around, looking for their seats, taking their seats, a normal nights opening, at least so far, what a nice relief. No sign of placards, or people bent on interrupting, interrupting, what a nice, polite, way to phrase it. He had heard the yelling, the damning, seen the placards, all looking as though hand made. He remember when hand made signs were original, put these attempts to shame. He had time, sitting in the appointed chair, a nice chair, high backed, comfortable, with a swivel, so he could turn easily, for questions, later in the program. The University was very kind to accede to his request, the only one he made, other than his fee, where he would stay, personal things, that at his age took some attention, and, yes, time. Waiting would not be bad, or even trying, thanks to this new age, his book, no matter how thick in pages, was no thicker than any finger, thanks to electronics. It also didn’t weigh anywhere near as much, thank God for small blessings. And don’t forget to include the larger ones, it is so easy to believe one deserves things, yeah right, one gets what one gets, anything, anything, should be noted, and said thank you, for the gift.
Dr. Aaron E…, was an old friend, did that term still define their relationship, well the introduction would reveal that. It was true for Nathan, he hoped it was true for Aaron. The book, the title of which, was tonight’s symposium right? He was going to answer questions, yet he also got to ask questions of David, and the same applied to the audience. It wasn’t a speech, perhaps more of an interview, but with some dialogue, Nathan really needed the dialogue, in order to keep his thoughts present, centered, and focused, on his subject.
His subject, he had thought about it for years, those blasted stones, remnants of a long ago time, were not even what they were claimed to be. That was always his problem, was this or that real, was what was said about something, especially something religious, in harmony with the teachings of that religion. Nathan’s years of studying religion, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, even Magick, which is sort of a religion, under certain circumstances, Gnosticism, and long gone, old, ancient, ones, that had ceased their hold on the mind of man. Thinking of the mind of man, Nathan was roused by the sound of footsteps near him.
Aaron Cohn, had come on stage. He was walking over to him, so Nathan stood up to greet him, his now old friend. Aaron put out his hand, so we will shake hands now, Nathan thought, and extended his. To his surprise, and appreciation, Aaron took his hand in his, and covered it with his other, while saying Shalom. Shalom, the word means hello, goodbye, and peace, what was Aaron actually saying? Well the introduction would reveal that. With a smile that beamed from him, Nathan greeted his friend, and said with joy and thanks,Shalom.
David was approaching his seat, it was just about time to start. Aaron had moved to the moderator’s position. The audience was greeted, David and he were introduced, the various important people were noted, thanked, including those who had made the evening possible, cannot forget them. Not if there are to be more such evenings. The people politely clapped, that was a good start. Nathan heard David asking him to give a quick overview of his thesis, nice word, and why or how he came about it.
This should not take to long, right. So the Talk began.
Nathan swiveled to see the audience, David, and Aaron. Thanked the people for being there and then just went for it, there really is no other way to start a talk, that many people feel is close to blasphemous.
Ladies, Gentlemen, important guests, and others who made tonight possible, most of you have read something of my thesis, as Aaron is kind enough to phrase it. It is rather simple, and based on a few premises. The first being that I am not a Zionist, that I think Lord Balfour got it right, that the Jewish people need a homeland and not a state, and that both Abraham, in the beginning of Judaism also got it right. There will be a mixture of quotes from various books in the Bible, mostly the first Five Books of Moses. This will give you an understanding of how I came to view the stones of the Western Wall as a relic, but not a religious site.
Permit me to take these one at a time. I am definitely not a Zionist. I do not believe that the Lord God, and for those who think it is wrong to state those names, my view is that they are honorifics, the highest we can bestow, but they do not even begin to address the concepts we have of our Lord or even of God. Forgive the diversions from time to time, there will be more. I do not believe that God meant for Jews to live only in what is now Israel, or the nearby areas.
Yes, he directed Abraham there, and promised it to the Jews, but I do not believe now or ever have, that it was meant as a place to avoid or not interact with the rest of the world. Rather, it was to be a place of refuge, hence Lord Balfour’s Proclamation, of the need for a Jewish Homeland, but not a state. The Lord time and time again mentions the sojourner who lives amongst you, and that he must be treated the same as you. Yet the Israeli Knesset has just passed a law, that flies in the face of the instructions of the Lord God as told to Moses. I must try not to raise my voice, try to keep calm, as I express my beyond indignation, at what the state of Israel has done in the name of Judaism. Breathe a bit, pause, settle down.
Going on from there, Abraham, whose father was an idol maker, according to the Talmud, one day heard the Speech of the One True God, and went in to the storeroom, and shop, and destroyed every idol in sight. The Talmud is full of the tales of lifeless rocks, statutes of stone, that should be avoided. Yet there is the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall, where Jews go to pray, which is a collection of lifeless stones. Have we learned nothing in the 4,000 year history of Judaism?
The first voice, the first protester, before I could get a word in, David was as it. Telling the protester that this was a university, reason, not yelling was practiced here. So energetically said, leaning forward, very nice. That unfortunately is not going to do it. It is now necessary for me to stand up, which gets people’s attention, even my young protester. My microphone has enough lead, that I can move towards both the protester and the front of the stage. Quietly, I speak, “My young protester, please allow me to take this time to go off on a riff about something entirely different, which I think you need to hear. By hear, I mean, not just something as background for your thoughts, but something to listen to, and even if you are so inclined, try to understand.
This will be a short digression on, here I bring out from my coat pocket, a small pamphlet. It is actually a diminutive copy of the Constitution and all of its amendments. Hat tip to Senator Byrd of West Virginia for teaching me this. My speech starts, “The first Amendment begins with the words “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,.” Lets just leave it there for the moment. In 1775, the colony of Virginia, had the Church of England as its established church, and taxed its inhabitants for its benefit. This was the original meaning of an established church. This was to be forbidden in our new nation.
Churches, a few synagogues, were varied, they were also the main meeting place for most people. They were above all as the wars of religion had proved in Europe, something that could, or at least should not be imposed on someone against their belief. This was the origin of a liberty of conscience. This liberty of conscience, could perhaps be thought of as the image of the Lord God within us. The idea that a person could think for themselves, about the nature of God, and do what they thought was right, which is also embedded in the Amendment, as it continues, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
It does one little good to think a thing, and then be prevented from doing it, so long as it does not promote harm to another, damage to someone’s property, or seek violent change. This is why we tolerate Mormon missionaries, Jehovah Witnesses, the Westboro Baptist Church, and others. They are using the free exercise of their religious beliefs, all in accordance with their views, and harming no one.
The Amendment goes on, and says “or abridging the freedom of speech”. we are allowed to voice our own thoughts, to have them heard, we need not bottle them up within us. It goes on to “or the press”, that would include radio, TV, the internet, Facebook, they are all means of informing others, beyond the range of your voice, of your views. It continues still further, “or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, you can have like minded people come and listen to you, or go and listen to people you are interested in, all unhindered. This is where my young protester, needs to listen, people come hear to hear me, Mr. Khan, and our moderator Aaron Cohn. You will have your time at the end, there will be questions, but if free speech is to survive, it must have everybody’s adherence to everybody’s right to be heard. I to was young once, though it seems more of a fabled past than a reality these days, the need to be heard will be granted to you, but first you must hear those on this stage, or be escorted out.
As the show, the Outer Limits, said, I now return the event to the audience.
Wasn’t expecting the clapping, but it is nice.
Going back to where I was, the Earth is the creation of Lord, and all that is upon it, in the air above it, or the earth beneath it. Jews were regularly warned against praying to stone gods, that did not live. Hence the living God. In the Jews expression of devotion, it can all to often dissolve into zealotry. The wish to be near the Divine, is understandable, it should also be allowed for all. Under Jewish thought, how can one place be more sacred than another? The Earth is Holy by Divine decree, do we need a wall? A wall that was the result of the Second Temple, had we not learned the lesson of the First Temple. God does not seek a place to be worshiped, he seeks those who would come together, to join in worship of him, it can be anyplace. Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, are all good examples of a meeting place for the souls of those who would worship God.
God did not set a King over Israel or Judah, the people demanded it, and it did not work out particularly well. The people wanted to be like other nations, but that was not what God had called on us to do. Trust not in prices, the Lord will always provide a guide in dark times. Trust! Try it, just also remember, He also gave you a brain, and it was not set there to just fill up space,use it.
I’m sorry, I feel like I am yelling, trying to be heard above the roar of the sea, it is all a bit over wrought, but that is my case. I will now sit down, take questions, first from Aaron, then David, then my young protester, and finally everybody else. Just so you all know, protesters will not get first dibs on questions in the future.
The walk back. to my chair, seemed so much farther, than what it seemed like going forward. My chest is breathing very hard and labored. Alright, just sit, lean back, breathe, relax, you have this, it is not new, is your heart slowing, like your breathing? David and Aaron are by my side, I try to smile at them as the breathing takes more time. Forgive me please, I need to close my eyes for a moment, slow down.
David Khan yells out, I have already left, so much to say, how much will have been heard. Can anyone understand?
Well, I am still here, what else or who else is?