“Our Father Our King”?
The roots of Israel’s problems with borders & peace
In the Arab village of Jebel Mukabar is a system of furious construction that connects Jerusalem to the areas already under the control of the PA. That means there are no borders for Israel and Jerusalem, none. – R. Sharon, May 04, 1999
As the Children of Israel neared the end of their long journey of apprenticeship in service to the LORD G-d, Moses gave them his very last instructions, a soaring exhortation to lift the people the final step needed for living in the Land. “May your borders be sealed like iron and copper, and like the days of your prime, so may your old age be,” chanted the man of G-d in a magnificent prayer (Deuteronomy 33:25). Moses made it explicit that this national and personal status attested the sovereignty of G-d most high, champion of Israel and founder and guarantor of all worldly order. To this end, Moses reminded the people, “there is none like G-d, O Yeshurun. He rides across the heavens to help you, and in His majesty through the upper heights” (33:26). G-d told Israel very precisely what to do in all matters including not least its borders yet today the nation has a culture that is reactive and passive, unwilling though not unable to secure its borders and thus receding ever further from peace. On the outside, the sword; indoors, dread (Deuteronomy 32:25) as grandiose illusions of a New World Order reflect an inner emptiness, a culture of deceit and self-deception. At times it seems the warnings of Torah portions Bechukosai and Ki Savo are being fulfilled, for such are the costs of falling away from remembrance of who Israel is. Some of the causes of this failure are proximate, some of long gestation and they must be examined and redressed if Israel is to live in its restored prime.
MODERNITY’S GEO-POLITICS AND ETHOS
The twentieth century has denied the sovereignty and existence of G-d and the place He determined for His people. The cult of science and its progeny, the anti-epistemology of relativism has returned with a vengeance to mankind’s original error and arrogance, breaking knowledge from the tree of life and denying even the possibility of any truth but that of raw animal force. At the very beginnings of the Modern Age, Francis Bacon sought “to extend man’s power to the performance of all things possible.” A century later David Hume extended this amoral criterion by stating that any books whose teachings were not based purely on the sensations should be burned. This ideological return to barbarism helped shape the Romantic cult of sensation and, politically the French Revolution and its successor Bolshevik, Nazi and Welfare states.
Modernism’s anti-moral and finally, anti-intellectual utilitarianism had and has no place for the Children of Israel. The social and ideological ferments induced by the Modern paradigm opened certain channels for emancipation and the return to Zion but ensured that this return would fly in the face of all the currents of the age. Most promises were broken and those kept often had lethal side effects. As Dr. Eldad has noted, it was and is fear and despair that make a goal of emancipation rather than redemption and victory. So the final prayer and heartening message of Moshe were precise in their concern and foresight. The story of Israel’s tempestuous re-formation this century is a story of contested boundaries, of political victories undone by political and cultural failures.
Nineteen hundred years of occupation, war, enslavement, punitive taxation, theft and repeated banishment by Rome and its successor states failed to expunge the Jewish presence from and pilgrimage to the Land. Adding to the constantly decimated and replenished remnant, the first and second aliyahs of the Modern period already had occurred when World War I ground to its bitter end. The League of Nations, formed by the victorious powers to manage the aftermath, granted the British Empire a Mandate to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine. Though that “small wedge of land” (Lord Balfour, July 1920) was less than half what Hashem promised to Israel, it included all of Judah, Ephraim, Benjamin, Reuben and most of Menashe and Gad, in short, the center of Jewish settlement bisected by the Jordan River. Had Britain aligned itself with Divine Providence, this article and this journal would be free to focus on other concerns. Despite the efforts of many officials who sought to deal justly (their story is well told in Samuel Katz’s Lone Wolf, 1996), high ranking British Foreign Service bureaucrats had a different goal. Having used their professed solicitude for the Jews to “biff the French out of Syria,” they proceeded to whittle down G-d’s heritage to His people. First they closed the lands east of the Jordan to Jews. They repeatedly suspended Jewish immigration and restricted Jewish settlement even on lands west of the Jordan for which Jews had paid repeatedly. As Jacob finally said to Laban, “a hundred times you changed my wage!” The British forbade Jews to own arms for their own defense while encouraging violence against Jews by the Arabs which by 1936 had emptied Hebron of Jews for the first time in four millennia. At the Evian Conference they subcontracted to Hitler the solution to the Jewish “problem” and even after the resulting holocaust closed the Land to its rightful owners. All these barbarities served the imperial Anglo-American purpose of unifying under their control the lands from the Persian Gulf and Euphrates to the Mediterranean.
From our late century perspective, one readily notes the relentless thrust of the betrayal that scarcely paused when Israel became an independent nation. Even the horrors enacted by the Nazis and their many assistants did not move that reincarnated League of Nations, the UN, to grant the Jews more than three small patches of land for a state, about 4% of the original Mandate. When the Jews bit their tongues, swallowed their gall and accepted (the paradigm of the Jewish man in exile), the world stood by and watched the Arabs attack. When the Children of Israel triumphed in battle in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and 1982 the nations (led by Israel’s “friends” in the American Executive Branch) each time directed their energies to forcing the Jews back to ever smaller portions of the Land. But what most concerns us in this article and at this critical juncture of history is how readily the nations have been able to rely on Jewish toadies to do their brutal and un-Godly work for them. This includes not only the numerous ‘Court Jews’ in America and in Israel itself, the secularists who dominate the media, education system, courts and top echelons of the Armed Forces. The problems would be less acute if this faithlessness and self-mockery, this hatred of one’s own grace was limited to non-believers; it is not. Consider as several commentators recently have done the shameful role of Agudat Yisroel in supporting withdrawal from Hebron and the scarcely better record of the National Religious Party that is neither national nor religious. Israel’s problems would be less acute if the preposterous lies and treacherous plans of secular internationalists were met with more than legalistic caviling by the “National Camp.” How could a people formed to dwell secure in sealed borders, a nation whose G-d, the Maker of the heavens and the earth established His kindness in clear distinctions (moral, intellectual and physical boundaries) tear out its own heart at its moment of wondrous triumph? In 1967 the entire rabbinate did not rise up to protest surrender of the Temple Mount, nor does it now, not even a fifth, nor the other all but countless acts of self-evisceration. As Dr. Eldad wrote, the nation spontaneously fled the Temple Mount re-taken by Jewish soldiers to stand with fluttering hearts at the Wailing Wall. At the moment of victory, the forms of exilic self-abasement asserted themselves. That set the tone. Despite their singular heritage and duties and rights, Jews again and again open themselves to a hostile world like a homeowner that knowing no authority or integrity will never know peace because he has no self-respect. Accustomed by rabbis steeped in exilic abasement, we invite a murderer to our table and shows him where the silver is. Whence arises this “irrationality inside the miraculous victory?” What drives this degrading and surrealistic spectacle of a nation yielding its inheritance to savage enemies? The following paragraphs reflect on the historical and spiritual context of this lethal but reversible Jewish pattern.
DISORDER: A BRIEF HISTORY OF JEW HATRED
It goes back to Pharaoh, the Canaanites and the Cities of the Plain. Indeed, it predates even these reiterated aggressions, thefts and enslavement. It was the Generation of the Flood that showed that G-d would have to form a people to declare His praise, a people who would respect and whose very existence would testify to the orderly life-enabling distinctions of which G-d built creation. The lawlessness, violence and theft before the Flood were in every sense an orgy; everything was eroticized and wrongly so because no boundaries were safe. As in our own age, distinctions between men and women, children and adults, humans and animals, intimate and public were denied and torn down. Creation was undone.
The Tower of Babel repeated this pattern, substituting homogeneity for anarchy in an attempt to flout the LORD G-d by rivaling Him. All would be unified in a “tower reaching up into the heavens.” This century, the era of the mass slaughter of G-d’s chosen people (and scores of millions of other civilians) also seeks a global state (falsely called a ‘village’) intending to put itself in God’s place. The UN cannot abide Israel because Israel testifies to the singular sovereignty and truth of Hashem, ain od livado, “there is none else but Him.” The current plan is that Anglo-American diplomacy sub-contracts the job of destroying Israel to the Europeans and Arabs who in spring 2000, when the Pope visits will use the Papacy to veil the wrenching of Jerusalem from its body, Israel. Thus, two millennia of treachery wheel round again and bring the original revolt back into the open. It was Hellenism, Hellenized Jews, Imperial Rome and Byzantium that created the pattern of a crippled Jews and Judaism by grafting onto it the parricide and youth worship intrinsic to pagan theology. Rebellion rather than righteousness, sensuality rather than justice, lust and disrespect for the father are its core.
Greek theology begins with Chaos, a womb that brings forth Earth (Gaia, now again worshipped as a goddess), Night (Erebos) and Eros (Hesiod, Theogony, 115 following). This lust for and kinship with chaos is the recrudescent nostalgie de la boue (“yearning for primitivism”) of Modernism. It is the inevitable regression of a society that deifies youth and the child and that hates and fears manly age. Pagan Greek theology is a story of incest, war and parricide, of alliances between son and mother to kill and castrate the father. Instead of G-d’s creative word, the ordering structure of the aleph-beit (the true substance of Creation of which DNA is merely a surface phenomenon) there is chaos and lust in darkness. The ethos of the generation of the Flood was for Hellenism as for the Canaanites a first principle of being. Through Eros, Gaia mated with Night and brings forth her son Ouranos who mates with her in turn. There are no spatial or sexual boundaries. Deceit and disorder breed fear and violence. In the antithesis of the God of Israel who bestows and encourages life abundant and declares it “good,” Ouranos, born of incest and darkness, fights against birth as the principle of disorder (this repeats itself in the tendency of non-Jewish clergy to be either celibate or profligate). So Gaia, wife and mother of Ouranos conspires with their son, Kronos who castrates his father. From his organs derive the Furies of vengeance and also the seductive Aphrodite. In the Greek pantheon, both grace and retributive justice are blind, pitiless and stem from lust and erotic violence. Afterward, in this same pattern, Zeus conspired with Rhea wife of Kronos to overturn his father and later stored his son, Dionysos, who was begotten Flood style in union with a mortal, first in his own thigh and then in Rhea’s “mountain.” The themes of auto-erotocism and incest are clear. As attested deafeningly in rock ‘n roll and in the assault on all boundaries in the name of ecstatic union, Dionysos is the god of the Modern age, and his dominance reflects absence of the father and the rebellion of youth and women, as enacted in The Bacchae of Euripides. The Dionysiac ethos is enshrined in Modern culture whose metaphysics is contempt for tradition and media-assisted forgetting. Mockery and displacement of the father either physically or as the authority in the family produces father dearth, an inner emptiness that expresses it self in emotional extremism, fetishized sentiment (“express yourself!” “Just do it!”), and grandiose idealism. This pattern is writ large in the gross therapeutic claims and intrusive practices of the Welfare State. The cult of youth and the child is disastrous for children, as the intellectual and moral chaos of public education and the cult of abortion show.
Created by Hellenized Jews for pagans, Christianity thoroughly confused the identities of father and son though its traditional iconography reveals the persistence of the pagan paradigm. A de-sexualized but still ritually consumed Dionysos is the core of its communion. A dead youth punitively stretched taut by Rome then left utterly limp is the contrary to upright Israel. Both the ancient practice and image of the crucifixion is horrible because it totally exposes the body. It is the essentially erotic Hellenic principle of total expression put to imperial Roman use. In every sense it negates Jewish mercy, modesty about the human form and self-restraint. It lends itself to fetish making and the kinds of abasement that decent Christians today themselves deplore.
Having been absorbed into the Roman Empire with its profound fear and hatred of Jews, the people who stand apart and assert the primacy of a higher Power, after several centuries of polemics Christianity turned decisively against Judaism. It deformed Av HaRachaman, the Father of Compassion, El Rachum v’chanun into a pitiless despot, “the bloodthirsty and stern God of the Jews.” Though this distortion has been modulated in recent times and tens of millions of Christians now cherish Israel and the Jewish people, the point of the Church was to withdraw mercy to the divine son and his virgin mother. Boundaries collapsed; the Father not only loves His son, supposedly, He is His son and vice versa. (No wonder this culture is collapsing amid adolescent rebellion, as the mystique of the beautiful androgynous youth is re-created). Christianity also confused the nature of the human father who became a little man in the background holding the burro. Thus shrank the righteous Joseph, foundation for the dominion of Judah.
All this faithful Jews could and do live with and accept as a monotheistic theology and path to heaven but few Christians would accept their father and source, Judaism as a path to heaven and grace. When not killed outright, Jews were condemned in the name of their own G-d and Holy Torah whose “body,” by the Greek paradigm had to become a human symbol. The result of this visual epistemology and theology is the domain of television and a culture of unremitting spectacle and total disclosure. Praxiteles leads to Jerry Springer. Claiming their authority in the name of Jewish texts they read selectively or suppressed and mistranslated to suit their needs Christians jealously denied the authority and precedence of the Jews, despite some teachings to the contrary by Paul who had been Saul of Tarsus. Such qualifications notwithstanding, the paradigm of parricide ruled. Is the West imploding today? “He who chastises nations, shall He not rebuke?”
“…THAT NATURE WHICH CONDEMNS ITS ORIGINS”
In King Lear, the phlegmatic but righteous Duke of Albany finally tells his adulterous and murderous wife, Goneril, the King’s cruel and disloyal eldest daughter, “that nature which condemns its origin cannot be bordered certain in itself. She who will sliver and disbranch from her material sap must wither, and come to deadly use” (4.1.32-6). Having condemned its origins, Christianity consisted of repeated heresies about the nature of God. It could not be bordered certain in itself, either in its self-conception, in its physical borders (ostensibly, physical borders were abolished, for believers), in its relation to the state or above all in its relation to its father faith. The Byzantine Christian (Eastern Roman) Empire intensified pagan Rome’s oppression of Jews, abolishing redemption of paternal inheritance and Jewish ownership of Land. Shortly after burning the main synagogue of Damascus (c.480 CE), the Emperor Zeno stated “I am only sorry it was not filled with Jews.” Several centuries of Christian oppression of Jews in Israel, stealing and pillaging land, forbidding the repair or rebuilding of synagogues, deporting, enslaving and burning Jews left a vacuum into which the Arabs rushed in 631 CE. As reflected in the Koran, their attitude toward Jews also is a confounding mix of respect, jealousy and murderous hatred for those they betrayed and robbed.
The history most pertinent to Jewish psychological problems with maintaining boundaries accelerated with the Christian “great schism” of 1054 when its Roman (Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) branches split. The Western Church was marked by increasing and multi-faceted feminization. Priests were forbidden to marry. There was routine castration of boys for church choirs and an increasing worship of Mary as a divine being herself, “the Queen of Mercy” and “protector of sinners from God’s justice. God was attracted by her beauty and became her lover at the Annunciation,” they believed. “She was greater than God; Christian men had a quasi-erotic relationship with her” (Podles, The Church Impotent 1999, summarizes early sources). Though “Mariolatry” was eventually rejected in favor of “veneration,” it seems an elusive distinction for most people. These developments of a feminizing Church coincided with the first official mass killings of Jews by Christians who turned with renewed ferocity on their roots and origins. At this period, too the blood libels began as both Christians and Muslims re-enacted on the Jews the parricides of pagan theology. Two centuries later, Chaucer commented on the inter-relation of feminism and Jew hatred in “The Prioress’ Tale” where the narcissism of the storyteller is subtly conflated with her worship of the “Virgin Redeemer” and her intense hatred of Jews. “First of our foes, the Serpent Satan stirred those Jewish hearts, his waspish nest” till “a cursed Jew ” at the behest of the whole ghetto slits the throat of a child, etc. The Crusades, 1095-1400 brought these attitudes and killings to a peak not surpassed till the twentieth century when Christianity, having cut itself off from its material sap withered and came to deadly use, producing pagan materialist cults that re-lit the fires of Hinnom. In condemning its origins, by hating rather than cherishing and supporting the Jewish people, Christianity led back to the lawless violence of paganism, infanticide, sexual disorder and programmatic assaults on sovereignty, both Divine and that of the seventy integral nations established by G-d. As for its “virgin redeemer,” she is blending into Mahomet’s daughter, Fatima and in popular culture resuming her profligate pagan roots. Christianity has shucked its Jewish trappings and revealed the beautiful blond Hellenic beast inside it. Thus the leaders of the nominally Christian, neo-pagan West stand poised again to smother Israel in its cradle, claiming to do so in the name of “peace.” The lie at their core is full blown. What is the response of the Jews of Israel?
NO CLEAR AUTHORITY, NO HOUSEHOLD PEACE, NO NATION
These developments would not be so menacing if the Children of Israel had not become complicit with them. The self-contempt and self-betrayal that characterize Jewish politics and politicians in this terrible century are not only the products of secularism and gentile hostility. At the time of greatest opportunity, notwithstanding the difficulties of violent Arabs, thieving Turks and treacherous British there was not the kind of return to the Land one might have expected after nineteen hundred years of fervent prayer. One would have expected those who had led these prayers to lead the return to the Land. But self-betrayals, orthodox as well as secular intensified immediately upon the greatest victory in 1967 and continue to this day. Where were and are the great majority of rabbis then and now to demand access to and cleansing of the Temple Mount and rebuilding of all the 58 synagogues destroyed 1948-67? They should have led in demanding and laboring to insure that “the built up Jerusalem would be a city that is united together, for there the tribes ascended, the tribes of G-d” (Psalm 122). The bitter fact is that many of the orthodox are more concerned with how one disposes of fingernail clippings than with whether Jews can live and rule securely in Judah. They are the progenitors of leftwing secularists whose first principle is self-contempt and for whom the essence of Judaism is the Wailing Wall and not prayer services and shofars blowing on the Temple Mount. Why are the Rabbis not all but unanimous on reclaiming all the Land the LORD God commanded the Jewish people to settle, rule and make the focus their faith and labor?
Torah enshrines distinctions, boundaries and separation as the substance of being and truth. It identifies peace (shalom) with wholeness, health and completion (shalaim) as a synonym for perfection and purity (tam). The latter two terms are sobriquets of Jacob who is told not to be ashamed, “to take root, blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth like fruit” (Isaiah 27:6, haftara Shemot, the portion of remembrance of God and return to the inheritance of the fathers). Judaism idealizes household peace as the core of its continuity and sanctity. The means to this traditionally were a wife like the “woman of valor” in Proverbs and a loving husband, kind, compassionate and firm in teaching. The Rambam states, “a wife should honor her husband exceedingly and revere him and refrain from anything that is repugnant to him. This is the way of the daughters of Israel who are holy and pure in their union and in these ways are their lives praiseworthy.” This standard is more honored in the breach than the observance and the situation has not been helped by rabbis who re-interpret and thus distort the entire Torah and all of Jewish life in terms of Genesis 21:12. Boundary problems begin in the home, in the absence of clear paternal authority and the absence of peace occasioned by women who leave no space for their husbands or their children to think, speak or act without constant correction or doubt. The walls come down and a man who tries to stand and maintain his boundaries is condemned, battered by a torrent of law, words and shaming until he caves in. The pattern is repeated endlessly on a national level. This ugly truth must be confronted and or it will continue to fester. It is destroying Jews, man, woman and child.
Shakespeare may well have been Jewish. In any case, his writings brim with wise observations about authority, faithfulness and order that are consistent with Torah. His central themes dramatize the danger of the appetites and those who would overturn the order of Creation. In Lear, the King’s faithful and brave Fool, a true Gaon comments frequently on the danger of elevating one’s children over oneself and more especially, of putting daughters in dominion over a father, disordering not only the precedence of age over youth but of man over woman. The problems began, the Fool tells Lear “ever since thou made thy daughters thy mothers, for when thou gavest them the rod and put down thine own breeches, ‘then they for sudden joy did weep… that such a king should play Bo Peep and go the fools among” (1.4.176-81). Included in the catalog of consequent disorders is the succinct insight that unearned and inappropriate authority shocks and saddens (“spoils”) even those who rejoice in or scheme to grab it (“they for sudden joy did wee”). One could make the same points about the inevitable self-destruction of a society that entrusts education of youth to women, as most of today’s disintegrating societies have done for many decades.
Judaism thrived under harsh conditions when it was a culture that understood it to be a profound rebuke and warning when a father spit in a daughter’s face. Today such an act is both illegal and ideologically preposterous to “thinking” people. Rather than a sine qua non of cultural viability, a “perverse and backward generation” would consider it monstrous while considering normal having a husband plead with his wife not to abort or kidnap their child. “Thou wast a pretty fellow,” the Fool tells Lear when faced with the open scorn and contempt of Goneril, “when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning” (1.4. 196-200). Our perverse generation finds “reasonable” a culture that mainstreams sexual perversion in schools, that legalizes stealing children from fathers under the rubric of “no-fault divorce” and which makes abortion and infanticide its first principle of free “choice.” Pushing this chaotic logic, Princeton University recently appointed a Professor (Peter Singer) who argues that a mother should be allowed a few weeks after the birth of a new born to “dispassionately decide if she wishes to keep it” or to have it terminated. These cultural dogmas to which there has been scarcely any Jewish opposition suggest an upheaval in who and what Jews worship. Is it Hashem Elohim or is it mother, wife and daughter? Legally, fathers today are “an ‘O’ without a figure” (a void). This is the role reversal (child over parent and woman over man) that leads a branch to cut itself off from and condemn its origins, to kill the father in every sense. This means loss of heritage, land, dominion and life. The irony is that more traditional Christians today do better at maintaining coherent family authority and peace than the faith from which they took the vision of compassionate paternal authority.
The relevance of the above passages from Lear to the way Christianity is destroying itself by lying about and condemning Judaism (its “material sap” and “origin”) also pertains to the disease of chivalry and “romantic love” that in myriad vulgar forms still poison the fountains of western civilization. Coincident with priestly celibacy, worship of the “queen of heaven,” ritual castration, the first blood libels and mass killings of Jews, chivalric love reflects the empty self of a culture that hates and lies about its father. This is a culture of father dearth, Dearth Vater to adapt the contemporary pun. The one who has been driven out or crushed into the dirt becomes the villain. The absence that desperately needs to be filled becomes instead an enemy to be killed. The chivalric-romantic man becomes a perpetual adolescent or child, begging to be satisfied by his “pitiless fair one.” Basing its mythic patterns on medieval quests, the Romantic period made gods of nature and “sympathy” and is replete with pathetic heroes like Werther, Victor Frankenstein, the “pale warriors” and questers of Keats. Their fruit is the pretty boys of the cinema and also the model contemporary man who wants his wife to be his alter ego, best friend and mother. It is wonderful if a wife can be a best friend but it is essential that a wife be a dutiful and obedient partner. To replace this latter paradigm by a puppyish yearning that a wife will affirm one’s being is a sign of culture death and a recipe for cultural suicide. Culture was healthy when female sympathy and approval was legally, psychologically and rhetorically irrelevant. “Thou wast a fine fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning.” The displacement of the father and of the Father our King from the position of pre-eminent authority in the home and the Creation insures the emptiness of the male self and death for Israel. The standing (Amidah) of Israel and the uprightness (yashar) that is cognate with its name centers on the central role of fathers as teachers, judges and bearers of remembrance, zicharon the word that is cognate with manliness (zachar). Israel cannot and will not stand without fathers in this role. A nation that is not discerning will wither and be set aflame by women (Isaiah 27:11).
An example that epitomizes this problem is the case of Moshe Dayan, the “hero” who led in surrendering the regained Temple Mount to aliens. The amnesia and self-contempt enacted in this treachery (via the intellectual disorder of cosmopolitan “tolerance”) blossomed fully in the development of Dayan’s daughter who, as children usually do, made more explicit and literal the parent’s attitudes. In its broad outlines, this is a paradigmatic case for understanding the treachery and self-hatred of many Jews. Growing in a culture forever giving lip service to its fathers while in fact cutting them down, such children’s own maturity must seem as if it can be won only at the expense of Jewish men and Judaism. By the principle of psychological “economy,” they remain perversely faithful to the pattern they presume to reject. By hating Judaism (and, as time passes, Israel), they simultaneously destroy and affirm themselves, in the process destroying any Jews who try to stand. The father is symbolically thrown down and killed, even by those who, in a biologic sense, become fathers themselves. There is no authority, no peace and no borders, none.
SO NOW WE PRAISE WANTON SINNERS
Pesach is the head of Judaism’s sacred calendar, of sanctified time and the re-born world. The return from Egypt to Israel was triggered by the transmittal of the code of remembrance that Joseph conveyed to his brothers (Genesis 50:24-5). “G-d will surely remember you and bring you up out of this land to the Land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” In Exodus, Hashem declares Himself to Moses by this code of the fathers, saying, “I am the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac and the G-d of Jacob. This is My Name forever, and My Remembrance throughout all generations.” The Name of Hashem is “Holy Remembrance” (Zacher Kadsho), cognate with “sacred manliness” (Psalm 97:12). It is in the names of the fathers that He forgives the people for the calf. It is by the code of remembrance (pakod yifkod) that He orders the Children of Israel into a camp that is both a dwelling and a battle formation prefiguring the settlement and dominion in the Land whose borders must be sealed like iron and copper. Remembrance (pakod) in this code is a synonym for mindfulness and for soldier (pakad). It is the father who combines chesed u’gevurah, kindness and strength (distinctions, self-mastery) and whose qualities are truth and splendor (emet u’tiferet) by whom Israel is called. Kindness without strength is not truth but death.
Sabbath Pesach is HaShabbat HaGadol and its haftara, Malachi 3, a passage of singular relevance to our day when the need for return and healing is critical. Malachi is the last prophet in the Torah and he speaks to a time when sorcerers, lust and disorder thrive, when the way of righteousness seems useless. Because those who defy G-d and His sovereignty appeared to have been spared, “now we praise wanton sinners,” they told the prophet. They would not challenge the degraded shibboleths of the day. Go along to get along. Vote Democrat, vote Labor or make religion into a fetish like some of the ultra orthodox. Let pettiness crush out Land and life. But for those who turn back Hashem will inscribe a sefer zikaron, “a book of remembrance” and redemption whose essence will be to “return the hearts of fathers to children and of children to their fathers lest I come and strike the Land with a plague” (3:15-24).
The message and inheritance of Israel requires the authority of fathers who uphold the distinctions G-d built into creation. The world has been undermining and despising fathers for a long time and this assault is of a piece with its hatred of Jews and rejection of the God of Israel. Only when the Jewish people remove themselves from the endemic degradation of fatherhood and the contempt for manliness and male authority that has been festering these two thousand years will Israel stand and secure its boundaries in the likeness of Jacob, upright and complete.
Eugene Narrett, PhD teaches writing at Boston University.