Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation

Rabbi Akiva’s Ass is Well -- and Biting

One of the greatest personalities throughout our history was, without a doubt, Rabbi Akiva, the great religious and national leader in the 2nd century C.E. There are few sages from that period who we know more about than Rabbi Akiva. Our knowledge does not only come from the hundreds of his rulings and sayings throughout the Talmud, but also from his warm, personal reminiscences about his life, which extended for 120 years. And, of course, his tragic ending is brought home to us year after year during the Tishah B’Av and Yom Kippur services, where his martyrdom is hauntingly recorded.

In one of his personal reminiscences he spoke to his disciples about the first 40 years of his life, when he was unlearned and ignorant, in contrast to his later years as the great teacher and lawgiver. In the Talmud (Pesachim 49a) the following deeply psychological assessment is given of the hatred felt by the ignorant Jews against their learned fellow Jews:

Rabbi Akiva said, "When I was an am haaretz (unlearned) I would say, ‘Give me a talmid chacham (scholar) and I will bite him like an ass.’ His disciples asked: ‘Why not like a dog?’ He answered them: ‘A dog bites, but does not crush bones, while an ass bites and crushes bones!’"

The message for our own days is obvious: The present anti-opposition and anti-religious hysteria that has been unleashed by the Labor government in Israel has a specific purpose -- to "crush" (as Minister Ramon said) and "pulverize" (as Minister Barak said) the opposition. As in the Akiva saying, in the past the leftists were satisfied to make "biting" attacks on the religious, but did not announce any plans to crush or pulverize them. However, since November 4 -- the day Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated -- all day Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated -- all stops have been pulled in vilifying, indicting and maligning religious Jews around the world. Long lists of prominent, highly learned and respected rabbis and roshei yeshivot (heads of yeshivas) are being dragged to court, without the least respect or courtesy extended. The main purpose is to malign the very image of a kippa-wearing Jew, so that regardless of any imagined offenses, his standing in society will be crushed and his influence will be pulverized.

Rabbi Akiva’s ass has been revived to the fullest! The difference is that in our days the hatred of the ignorant and unobservant against the religious is not only motivated by the psychological feeling of inferiority that fills the ignorant in the face of the nobility of the learned Jew, but it is also fueled by a desire to crush and pulverize a political opposition, for which the religious Jews are being made the proverbial scapegoats and convenient pincushions.

To decimate the opposition, the leftists must destroy every vestige of respect for the religious and nationalist views. This is being accomplished, as shown by several recent incidents, such as an episode reported in a leading Israeli daily about an army officer who made his soldiers sing a song, set to a Hasidic tune, with the refrain: "here comes a yeshiva student, come and let us kill him, come and let us kill him." Likewise, Education Minister Amnon Rubenstein of the Meretz Party has ordered school children to report on their teachers anything that to them smacks of opposition. If the children are too timid to do so, the minister told them, the informers can have their identities shielded! (We sadly know all too well of parallels in recent European history...)

Religious youth groups, including the popular Bnei Akiva, have been told that the government will not give them any financial support unless they announce that they place "democracy" -- a euphemism for the leftists’ "peace process" -- above halacha (Jewish law). This smacks of the forced conversions by the Christian Inquisition in the Middle Ages when Jews were told to forswear the Torah or else...

Peres: Forget Getting Water from Turkey

Whenever the topic of the Peres team’s plans to surrender Israel’s vital water resources to the PLO comes up, we are told, "Never mind, we will bring in water by boats from Turkey." This excuse has now also been found to be a sad miscalculation. The highly respected British Intelligence Digest reports that Turkish fundamentalist Moslems may a majority in the Turkish Parliament by winning 300 out of 450 seats through their election campaign slogan "Liberate Jerusalem." Their program is not much different than that of the Hamas/PLO. Fat chance that they will save thirsting Israelis, if they are busy preparing the capture of Jerusalem. What is Peres going to say now to soothe the frayed nerves of Israelis?

Peres Speaks Brave Words to the PLO -- Will He Keep to Them?

In a show of strength, which could command the respect of the opposition, Peres has called on Arafat to "change the clauses" in the PLO Covenant that call for the destruction of Israel.

Has Peres really read the PLO Covenant? If not, he should do so speedily. He would find that every one of the 33 clauses -- with the possible exception of Clause 32 -- calls for the dismantling of Zionism, dissolution of the Jewish State, the deportation of Jews, and the cancellation of the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate and the U.N. partition plan of 1947. What is left? Nothing.

Arafat has proven true to his word. He has again and agin repeated the validity of the Covenant in all his Arabic speeches. If he is pressed hard he may come up with a "new" neutral covenant, as a pure hoax, without changing a syllable of the existing, valid one. Will Peres become a party to such a sham? Will he declare himself satisfied with the abrogation of just a handful of clauses but leave the essential, destructive one intact? It will be a very serious test for Peres’ integrity and reliability.

We must hope that he will maintain a strong stand, especially as Arafat has again and again promised to abrogate the covenant -- before President Clinton and the entire world -- and yet again and again breaks his promises. Recently, he again refused to touch the Covenant. Wish Peres well, for the good of the unity of our people. I would still like to know, though, how we can talk to an enemy who has not yet given up his declared aim to destroy us.

It was very significant that on American television, just before the Madison Square Garden "unity" rally, Mehdi, the Arabs’ agent in this country, brazenly declared that Rabin is responsible for the deaths of countless Palestinians, and therefore no peace is possible.

An old saying goes, "It takes two to tango." Israel has clearly not yet found the partner for that peace tango -- except in their dreams and deceptive propaganda.

Lord Rothschild Praises Algemeiner Article

Some months ago I published an article titled "History of Jewish Banking". I submitted that article to Lord Rothschild, the head of the famous dynasty of Jewish bankers. He responded as follows:

"Many thanks for sending you most excellent piece on the ‘History of Jewish Banking.’ It sums up a fascinating subject most elegantly and succinctly. I read it with great interest."





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