Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

The Voice from the Dead Sea

For almost 50 years, we have been hearing about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which our forefathers left behind on the shores of the Dead Sea. Thousands of books and articles have been written about them, many by great scholars, some by charlatans. Almost all of these were written in armchairs, far away from the shores of the Dead Sea. That is why the message of the Scrolls was often missed.

Only when a few weeks ago I myself traveled along the shores of the arid lake that we call the Dead Sea and scanned the oasis Eyn Gedi, mentioned in the Tenach, and some of the adjacent caves, did I realize how burning the message of the Scrolls is for us today and how much we can learn from them -- 2,000 years after they were written.

The occasion was a conference of some 300 Israeli rabbis chaired by the well-known Rabbi Shear Yashuv Coyen, who had invited me to address the meeting. The visit gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with these precious depositories of literature -- rich and highly significant historically.

And I should pass on to my readers the "message" that I feel the famous Scrolls wish to convey to us.

The Most Serious Jewish Crime: National Treason

The longest Scroll ever found is called the Temple Scroll, in which countless of mitzvot are listed, often in language that reminds you of the Tenach. While most laws concern the Temple, the sacrificial service, the measurements of the Temple, laws of the King, calendar rules and rules of purity -- there are a few laws that can best be classified as laws on national security. Over 20 years ago I published my findings to the effect that these laws represented the Sadducean Oral Laws, which our own rabbis -- the Pharisees or Perushim -- had rejected.

The Scroll, being older than most other Dead Sea Scrolls, represents a period in our history when the Jewish State existed with the Temple intact -- the Maccabean period. The Jewish State was surrounded by enemies -- the Edumeans, Nabateans and others.

The Temple Scroll legislates that if a Jew goes abroad and makes a treasonable "peace agreement" with the gentiles, he has committed a capital offense and is to be executed for treason. Likewise, in another paragraph, the Scroll legislates that if a Jew has committed a capital offense in the Jewish State but escapes abroad and there maligns and betrays the Jewish State, he is subject to capital punishment.

The parallel with the events of the last two years is unfortunately obvious...

A similar expression of utter rejection of the mosser (the betrayer) -- the most despicable person in Jewish history -- is found in Eyn Gedi on the Dead Sea in a synagogue mosaic of the 4th century CE, written in Aramaic: "He who betrays the secrets of the Jewish State to gentiles will be punished by the Almighty, who knows all the secrets of man -- and all members of the community answered, "Amen, Amen."

Evidently, the text describes a public ceremony at which the entire Jewish community was sworn to fidelity and solidarity with the Jewish people.

National Jewish Solidarity

Whenever Jews suffered in one part of the world, there were those who, by the good fortune handed out to them by the Almighty, were saved from suffering and deprivation. During World War II, while Jews in Europe were being slaughtered, there were countries where Jews escaped persecution. The burden of national responsibility lay heavily on such fortunate Jews. And many knew how to carry out this responsibility with utmost self-sacrifice, always conscious of the fact that but for the grace of G-d, they could have been in the cattle cars heading for slaughter in Auschwitz. Jews in Sweden, Switzerland, England, and some in the United States, helped the few who were able to escape.

During the Bar Kochba Revolt (132-135 CE) the fortunes of the Jews changed from initial victory to defeat at the hands of the Romans. In the last gasp of Jewish independence, Bar Kochba's heroic fighters were holed up in caves near the Dead Sea. These heroes left behind wonderful, if also tragic, documents, which were only discovered some 30 years ago by the great archaeological genius Yigal Yadin. A heart-rending letter was found among these documents, addressed by the commander-in-chief, Shimon Bar Kochba, himself, to the Jews living just some miles below the caves, in Eyn Gedi. In one letter Bar Kochba admonishes these placid and unconcerned Jews:

"You are living, eating and drinking of the property of the House of Israel and are not concerned about anything that is going on with your brethren."

This letter, written in clear Hebrew, could have been written today by the anxious and heroic settlers of the Golan or of Yehuda and Shomron to the indifferent leftists in Tel Aviv!

Jewish solidarity and brotherly love have always been the key to our survival under the most adverse and threatening conditions. We must hope that 1995 will not see a replay of the unconcern that Bar Kochba's men had to endure. Jewish history has, as always, one underlying message: "Ma'aseh avoth siman la'banism" ("Let the experiences of our forefathers teach us their lesson.").

Jewish School Children Tell of Palestinians and Leftists

An experiment was recently performed in a Tel Aviv high school. A leading Palestinian was invited to a school class to carry on a debate with average Israeli children. Maybe some leftists had told the Palestinians that these children had followed Shimon Peres' recent advice: "you must learn to love Palestinians!" It surely did not turn out that way!

Here is the newspaper account of the encounter as reported in Yedioth Aharanot, Israel's leading daily:

Sofian Abu-Zayed, head of the Israel Department in the Palestinian Authority was invited to meet the graduating class in the school's gymnasium, which held some 300 school children. The students asked very tough questions and revealed a deep knowledge of current events. They asked the Palestinian to define his stand on Jerusalem and about the economic condition of Gaza, showing that their faith in the peace process had dwindled sharply and expressing serious doubts that the Palestinians will ever control terrorism. The students said they could only accept "peace for peace" but not "land for peace."

"Why do the Palestinians take away our Land?" a student asked. Abu Zayed replied, "Jerusalem is the key to peace." But the students rejected that answer. "Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people," was their reply. And that answer brought ear-splitting applause.

At the end of the session many students complained: "You are a murderer. Why does the government permit Palestinian murderers to move about freely in our midst?" Abu Zayed explained that he never really murdered anybody ...

When Abu Zayed tried to promote a dual republic -- Palestinian and Israeli -- the students shouted: "We hate Arabs!" The discussion ended with the students complaining to the school authorities for promoting such a "dialogue."

This reaction to the attempt by leftists to brainwash young Jewish students should be a lesson to the American promoters of dialogues with the PLO, whose only aim is to whittle down Jewish resistance. Luckily they cannot get away with that sort of underhanded subterfuge in Israel. Kol ha-kavod, Tel Aviv students!

 

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