Ashkenazim and Sephardim? No, there’s more to the story — how about Yehudei Artzot ha-Islam

You may have heard the terms “Ashkenazim” and “Sephardim”, or “Ashkenazi Jews” and “Sephardi Jews”. If you live in the West, most if not all Jews you may have come in contact with are Ashkenazim — from the medieval Hebrew name for, broadly speaking, German lands. (Modern Hebrew calls Germany “Germania”.)

Growing up in the Lowlands, I’d never heard the word “Sephardi” (from the medieval and modern Hebrew name of Spain) — because we called them “Portuguese Jews” instead, and both Antwerp and Amsterdam have “Portuguese synagogues”. [After the 1492 Alhambra Decree which expelled unconverted Jews from Spain, many went to Portugal at first, to be struck by a similar expulsion decree in turn five years later. The Jews who made it to the Lowlands ports by boat were a mixture of Spanish-via-Portugal and “native” Portuguese Jews, with Spanish and Portuguese surnames still occurring in the community.]

But by and large, the Jewish community in, say, the United States is overwhelmingly Ashkenazi — mostly, descending from a mid-19th century migration from Germany, then a massive immigration in the late 19th-early 20th century from the Tsarist “Pale of Settlement” in Eastern Europe (including Mrs. Arbel’s ancestors).

In contrast, Israel has about as many “Sephardim” as Ashkenazim, or so it seems. Why am I putting quotation marks?

Because out of a combination of intellectual laziness and of similarities of synagogue ritual, Israeli public discourse tends to lump in all non-Ashkenazi groups (other than the Ethiopian Jews) into a single “Sephardi” or “Mizrachi” (“Oriental”) category. Never mind that one large subgroup of the “Mizrachim”, Moroccan Jews, actually come from the Maghreb (Arabic: “West”) of Africa, more West than most Ashkenazim.

But it’s even more confusing than that. Some of these “Mizrachi” communities are indeed mostly of Spanish Expulsion origins: for example, most Turkish Jews can trace their ancestry to the Spanish Expulsion (and many have typical Sephardic surnames such as Benveniste, Abarbanel,…), a small minority are Romaniotes (see below). They ended up there, and elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire like present-day Bulgaria or the mighty Greek port of Thessaloniki (a.k.a., Saloniki or Turkish Selanik), when the Sultan responded to the Expulsion Decree by inviting them in, as he was eager to take advantage of their business acumen.

But calling Iraqi and Iranian Jews “Sephardic”? Iranian Jews have lived in Iran for over 2,000 years, and have their own independent traditions. (Unlike Ethiopian Jews, they were never disconnected from rabbinical Judaism since the Talmud was actually compiled pretty much next door, in cities like Pumbedita = today’s Fallujah.) Likewise, most Syrian Jews, until forced to leave, have lived in Syria since long before the Spanish Expulsion.

One could use a distinction based on synagogue ritual and religious minhagim (customs). In the 16th Century, a Sephardic rabbi named R’ Joseph Caro condensed the extensive Talmudic and post-Talmudic commentaries down to a “simple” if-this-then-that manual which he called the Shulchan Arukh, or “Set Table”. This manual did not take account of divergent yet well-established customs in Ashkenaz, and an Ashkenazi rabbi named Moses Isserles added a set of glosses which he called the Mapa or “Tablecloth” 🙂 From a strictly ritual point of view, one could call a community Sephardic if it follows the ‘Set Table’ as written, and Ashkenazi if it also follows the “Tablecloth”.

But what do you do then with Teimanim (Yemenite Jews), who have their separate traditions rooted in the Mishne Torah (“Recapitulation of the Torah”) of Maimonides? [Note to unfamiliar readers: we are not talking about theological differences here, but about differences in implementation of the same Jewish law.] Or what to make of the “Nusach Sefard” (“Sephard” prayer rite) practiced by some strictly Orthodox groups that are purely Ashkenazi?! Or the related “Nusach Ari” laid down by Sephardic kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria (the “Ari”) and practiced by the largest, and definitely highest-profile, Chasidic group, the Lubavitcher Chasidim (a.k.a., Chabad)? Last time I checked, Chasidism was an Ashkenazi movement.

A much more meaningful term that has been proposed is Yehudei Artzot ha-Islam, Jews from Islamic Countries — since the one thing Moroccan, Algerian, Libyan, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian, Turkish,… and even Yemenite Jews all have in common is that their communities and culture have been immersed for many generations in an Islamic host culture — and were inevitably shaped by that, the way Central and Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews were inevitably shaped by the surrounding Christian culture (be it Catholic, Protestant, or especially Russian Orthodox).

But even the “Yehudei Artzot ha-Natzrut” (term I just invented for Jews from Christian Countries) contain non-Ashkenazi groups with their own identity, quite aside from the Sephardim of the West. (I mean, can you meaningfully call Justices Benjamin Cardozo and Abraham Fortas “Jews from Islamic Countries” when their families have spent centuries in Christian ambit following al-Andalus?)

To begin with, Italian Jews contain a proud subcommunity that has been living in Italy since Roman Empire times: the ones in Rome refer to themselves as the “Scuola Tempio” (“Temple School”) and have a tradition of descending from the Hebrew slaves brought to Rome by Titus following the destruction of the Second Temple. They have their own synagogue ritual and religious customs, which are neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardi. Neither Yiddish nor Ladino, but judeo-Italian was their argot.

And then there are the Romaniotes (“[East]-Roman”, a.k.a., Byzantine Jews) of Greece, who can trace their presence in Greece to Antiquity, spoke a form of Demotic Greek to each other, had Greek names, pronounced Hebrew a Hellenized way,… Col. Mordechai Frizis, “The Greek Lion of Judah”, is but one example. This was the dominant Jewish community in Greece outside Thessaloniki (which, from the 16th century until the Shoah, had the world’s largest Sephardic community in the narrow sense of the word).

And we haven’t gotten into the Mountain Jews and the Bukharan Jews yet, both of whom settled in the Caucasus and Central Asia, respectively, many centuries before the Ashkenazi-Sephardi split. The Georgian Jews were in a Christian ambit, the Bukharan Jews in a Muslim ambit — but one quite different from the one Moroccan or Yemenite Jews experienced. Do they have more in common with each other than with either group?

I have a long-standing theory that one of the things that drives political ideologues the most crazy about Jews is the fact that we are not easily pigeonholed in simplistic classification schemes. Yet I’m reminded of an undergraduate chemistry professor who said a theory of chemical bonding doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful as a teaching tool, “it just has to be correct 90% or better of the time, and the rest you can teach as exceptions to the rule”.

In that spirit: without claiming there is no such thing as “Ashkenazi”, and “Sephardi” Jews, I believe a more useful (or “less wrong”) dichotomy from a sociological point of view would be “Jews from Christian Lands” vs. “Jews from Muslim Lands”, with an allowance for edge cases and for smaller groups that were separated from mainstream Judaism before it fully evolved. I will devote a separate post to them — the Ethiopian Jews, the Cochin Jews, and other “once-lost tribes” — in the near future.

8 thoughts on “Ashkenazim and Sephardim? No, there’s more to the story — how about Yehudei Artzot ha-Islam

    • פרק ג of the Book of ויקרא. This chapter its rather small ג:א – ה. Rather interesting, it more compares to a סוגיא rather than a פרק. An immediate observation, the sharp contrast to the Order of organization of the Safer Torah to that of the Chapter/verse Order of the Xtian bible. How a person “organizes” thought, radically influences the perspective and conclusions reached, as a result of that Ordered organization.

      The basic order of a US squad, its divided into two fire teams. This atomic organization of US military tactics, duplicated by all Armies across the world with slight variations. Current news\noise/ jabbers about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. As previously mentioned the Napoleonic and Nazi invasions of Russia produced a huge – long enduring – national trauma which has permanently scared the Russian psyche. In similar vein as did the Mongol invasion of the 13th and 14th Centuries.

      Napoleon’s main invasion thrust came through Estonia Latvia and Lithuania. Whereas the Nazi invasion focused upon the Ukraine, consequent to Stalin’s Collective farming – war – waged against the agrarian Kulaks, peasants who owned over 8 acres of land towards the end of the Russian Empire. The latter three countries have already joined the hostile Nato alliance. Hence the Russian outright refusal of the Ukraine likewise joining the Nato alliance. The threat of a 2 pronged double envelopment, which by-passes Belarus, similar to the Pacific tactics of Island hopping during WWII, this threat Russia has emphatically proven that it will not tolerate.

      The winter campaign in the Ukraine, it compares to the war fought against Finland prior to the Nazi invasion. Russian’s winters play heavy in its strategic planning. Both France and Germany opened their invasions during the Spring and Summer months. A Nato invasion, if it happened would most probably begin in the Winter season, in hopes to achieve both surprise and the realization that any war with Russia would include winter fighting. Better to begin a war under the harsh constraints of winter while the supply lines remain within Nato’s sphere of domain than risk a Stalingrad entrapment.

      In the French invasion, Tzar Alexander refused to engage the French army. The Russian army made an organized retreat. It forced Napoleon to enter into the bowls of Russian territory, and through a scorched earth policy – it robbed him of his expected ‘glorious victory’. The Nazi invasion, by sharp contrast Stalin actually enticed the Nazis to invade.

      Stalin needed to fight the coming “long drawn out war” while Britain remained holding the dreaded, according to Hitler, second front. Stalin absolutely depended upon Nazi brutality; he needed that idiot Corporal to bleed his People white! Stalin’s barbaric policies during the decade of the ’30s, it forced him to actually desperately depend upon Hitler’s cruel SS stupidity; to scrub the dreadful memories of Stalin’s horrible and incompetent revolutionary policies — from the collective consciousness of his USSR peasants. Stalin, to some degree, he weighed FDR’s own collectivization policies, which transferred unto corporate monopolies, almost all the privately owned farmlands, which made up most of rural America — prior to the Depression.

      Stalin also based his Great conflict strategies upon the model – a “long stalemate war”. This strategic model, he attributed as the primary cause which brought about the total collapse of the Tzar empire; consequent to the 1905 Japanese military achievements, and their destruction of the Russian fleet. The coming Great War with Germany already surpassed WWI – with the French surrender to Germany. WWI not only permitted, it actually caused the Bolshevik revolution. Stalin’s problem … why should WWII not produce similar results? In short, Stalin’s throne, it sat on a very shaky foundation. The political realities which threatened Tzar Alexander, they share little or no comparison to those – Stalin confronted.

      Let’s learn. This third פרק of ויקרא addresses Shalom korban dedications. Shalom rests upon a יסוד\foundation of trust. The shabbos meals, clearly teaches that shalom, made with family and friends – but not with non bnai brit aliens. Consequently, a shalom korban dedication, this sanctification, it formally renews the oath brit alliance among our People, after the conclusion of a Court room judicial ruling, which resolves a legal dispute among conflicting parties within our Jewish civilization. Red ants never invite Black ants, or any other species of ant, into their colonies. The Talmud differentiates a korban oleh from a korban shalom. The former, even Goyim can dedicate an oath alliance to HaShem. Not so a shalom korban. Only an Israel can sanctify such an oath dedication, sworn to HaShem – upon the altar in Jerusalem. Goyim have never accepted the oath brit revelation of the Written & Oral Torah @ Sinai\Horev.

      A slightly distant precedent, דברים ב: לא – לז. Based upon this משנה תורה, a shalom korban first and foremost our people dedicate unto HaShem following war victory over our enemies. Clearly a shalom korban predicates itself upon shalom among our own people. Soldiers fight like lions when we fight the enemy as a ‘band of brothers’.

      Another slightly distant precedent: יד:א – כא. Only the chosen Cohen nation has the obligation to respect and observe states of tohor & tumah. The dietary laws which differentiate tohor from tumah animals, birds, fish and insects, these dietary obligations, they separate the Jewish “ant colony” from all other “ant colonies” on the face of this Earth throughout history. Just as Goyim do not observe the dietary laws, so too Goyim forbidden to dedicate shalom offerings upon the altar in Jerusalem.

      A distant precedent: יז:ח – יג. Justice among our people absolutely relies and depends upon the lateral common law court rooms. Any bnai brit person who despises the judicial ruling issued by the Courts, that person has committed a Capital Crime against our nation.

      Another distant precedent: כג: ד -ז. The eternal ban placed upon the male descendants of Lot for their evil eye and bad faith. The Talmud refers to Europeans as Esau. Our history under the rule of those barbarians, shares similarities to the psychic trauma scars born by the Russian people; the suffering they endured from those horrific invasions.

      A perfect precedent: כד:א – ט. The model of shalom stands upon the יסוד\foundation of a husband wife relationship. The obligation to walk with tohor spirits together with all our People, it best defines shalom. Tumah spirits, they so to speak, temporarily transform a “red ant” unto a “black ant” or some other alien species of ant. No Goyim peoples or societies, throughout all the annuls of Human history, have ever weighed and prioritized tohor spirits over tumah spirits. Therefore the Torah absolutely teaches a clear negative commandment that Goyim must never dedicate a shalom korban upon the altar of Jerusalem.

      ישעיה כח: ה- טו, this mussar commandment likewise serves as a precise precedent. Woe to our nation when religious dogmatic ritualism defines our faith in HaShem. When our drunk scholars and judges behave with contempt, they ignore the wisdom of lateral common law, they daily flout their Capital Crime contempt for shalom to reign and prevail within the society of our oath alliance People. A curse rests upon the leads of assimilated rabbis who corrupt Torah common law unto Goyim statute law. Herein defines the k’vanna of:
      ולירושלים עירך ברחמים תשוב, ותשכן בתוכה כאשר דברת, ובנה אותה בקרוב בימינו בנין עולם, וכסא דוד עבדך מהרה לתוכה תכין. ברוך אתה ה’, מצמיח קרן ישועה

  1. This is actually a great summary of stuff I’d heard about but never really put all together in my head. Three things I’m wondering about:
    1) How do these diaspora tensions impact things like intermarriage or Israeli politics?
    2) I’m of the Irish diaspora (American) but find people from Ireland deeply irritating: every encounter is fraught with misunderstanding. Is it similar among the groups of the Jewish diaspora?
    3) Completely out there: back in the 15th-16th century what would have been the interactions between a Marrano and some Sephardic cousin? Hatred? Regret? A secret handshake?

    • Ha! In re: Irish immigrants to the US, people from.different settlement waves have different customs and “tells,” so much that my Catholic Irishness (from Ohio) registered as Jewish to a Boston Irish guy. (Okay, we were both at a Jewish wedding, and I’m “black Irish” and German and mutt; but it was still funny.)

      The Irish immigrant waves from the 1800’s also keep the memory alive of customs mostly dead in Ireland, so you get Irish from Ireland people saying that corned beef was never Irish, while Irish from Ireland historical cooking writers have to tell them that corned beef was a favorite; and many Irish households with the money had their own preferred spice blends for corned beef made at home.

      And of course there’s the many very different regional Irish customs and dialects of Irish Gaelic. So it is hard for Irish in a more standardized modern Ireland of easy travel to remember local weirdness, much less every tradition that moved away when the people left, or died in the Famine.

      • I grew up in Massachusetts so I can do the Boston-Irish psycho rant but my parents are Philadelphia-Irish, much more cheerful and relaxed.

  2. The perversion of the Torah to statute law codifications made famous by Reshonim scholars during the Middle Ages has profoundly changed the purpose and k’vanna of the whole of the Torah — far worse than the criminal post Ghetto travesty of law, made by the Reform rabbis during the 19th and 20th Centuries.

    Common Law does not exist as legal codifications of positive & negative commandments. Common Law does not exist as Halachic codifications as exemplified in the Rambam’s statutory law books commonly known as the יד החזקה. The son of Asher rejected the kabbalah of Common Law taught by his father the Rosh. Karo sniffed the butt of Baal Ha’Turim and produced his Shulchan Aruch abomination.

    Why “abomination”? This perversion of Yiddishkeit, it compares in magnitude to the damage caused by the Jesus false messiah movement, commonly known today as Xtianity. The Gemarah does not contain majority and minority opinions. This false presentation of Jewish Common Law, perverted by the conversion of Yiddishkeit by assimilated rabbis into Statute Law, it fails to acknowledge and validate the codification of valid source precedents! Source precedents requires further research as to other source precedents. The scholarship of the Gemarah, it makes a study which searches for source precedents based upon the majority and minority opinions codified within the pages of the Mishna.

    Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz gives an interview, the subject – the Talmud. The man bumbles and stumbles, he has absolutely no clarity what so ever. The Mishna functions through a Common Law format. The Gemarah learns by means of precedents. All common law legal formats equally employ as a basic requirement, they demand valid precedents.

    The Mishna employs a Case/Rule style format. The Gemarah continually contrasts and compares the decisions applicable to the conclusion of a Case\Rule Mishna,,, compared to the decision made upon the opening Case, of this exact same Mishna; what distinguishes the rulings on this & that Case study? Steinsaltz jabbers over and again about “Jewish Oral Law”, yet never once does he address Oral Law as logic, a huge fundamental error … a gigantic hole in his Titanic of learning Sha’s. This pathetic rabbi fails to address the distinction between Torts and Capital Crimes Common Law Courtrooms. He fails to address the Gemarah style of ‘Difficulty\Answer’ as Prosecutor/Defense justices within a common law court room.

    He fails to address the most essential Warp + Weft relationship within the Gemarah touching Halachah + Aggaditah. The Talmud + T’NaCH weaves a fabric of Jewish faith. Steinsaltz fails to point out that the תרי”ג commandments of Torat Moshe exists as a Common Law format. In equal fashion he fails to address the NaCH Books of the Prophets,,, too organized as a Common Law codification, based upon the Written Torah precedent!

    Steinsaltz fails to teach that the prophets commanded mussar. This prophetic mussar defines the יסוד of the 5th Book of דברים otherwise known as the משנה תורה. He perverts the sealing of the Primary texts of the Jewish faith by the false-metaphor of “freezing the water”. What complete and utter narishkeit.

    The sealing of the Primary Masoret traditions, this decision taken by the Sages of Israel, throughout our history as a people on this Earth, centers upon maintaining an inheritance, so to speak, a DNA code, which unites all Jews, irregardless of their original national “Race”, as sharing an identical tradition upon which all generations of Jews build their faith, commonly known by the collective term — Judaism.

    If you freeze the heart of a person, that person dies. Steinsaltz “freezing the water” complete and utter narishkeit merits nothing short of absolute and total contempt. His translation of the Talmud into simple Hebrew compares with the colossal numb-skull gross criminal error made by both the Rambam and that brain-dead silly copycat Jacov ben Asher, author of the Tur statute Halakhah codification. The perversion of Talmudic common law to statute law, made early in the Middle Ages, this accursed perversion of the k’vanna of both T’NaCH and Talmud merits nothing short of the ejection of rabbinic authorities, from their glorified perch, as the teachers of Jewish cultural inheritance and Traditions – authorities upon Jewish Law.

  3. The Next פרק of the Book of ויקרא, it contains 6 סוגיות. The first סוגיא, א:יד – יז, ב: א – ג, ב: ד, ב: ה,ו. ב: ז- יג, ב: יד -טז. The Torah learns by means of משנה תורה precedents. Thereafter, Books of the later Prophets too serve as precedents whereby a scholar learns the mussar commandments of the Torah. This sh’itta (method) of learning the Written Torah as the first Common Law codification, this most essential precedent of how to correctly learn the Torah, it proves conclusively that the NaCH Order\Codification likewise organized as through the sh’itta of common law. Hence the Talmud learns likewise through this common law sh’itta.

    The attempts made by Reshonim scholarship to learn the Written Torah down to its simple פשט, which some understood as grammar, contrasts with Rashi’s unique sh’itta of learning פשט. He affixed Midrash and Aggaditah to a specific verse. Rashi’s exceptionally terse language did not explain the logic by which he accomplished his utterly amazing commentary upon the Chumash. Oral Torah logic, classically taught one on one with a Rabbi to a pupil. Alas even before the Rambam Civil War, many if not most rabbinic authorities had lost the skill\wisdom of the פרדס Oral Torah logic. Hundreds of super commentaries written on the Rashi Chumash commentary. Personally have not seen a single post Rashi commentary which understood the פרדס system of logic.

    This absolute disaster serves as proof of the brutal realities of g’lut. The harsh environmental conditions which threatened the very continued existence and survival of g’lut Jewry. Scattered by the Romans, following the 3 Wars which resulted in our total defeat. Jews, thrown into g’lut, defeated, decimated survivors of those brutal revolts; sold as slaves, forced to live in hostile societies who hated and detested the ‘cursed wandering Jews’. ‘Condemned by God to forever wander the earth’, as despised and detested refugees – who have no rights.

    The vast majority of the Jewish people under these conditions assimilated, embraced, and copied the cultures and customs of the societies wherein they struggled to survive and continue to exist. The same realities equally affected Sephardi and Ashkenazi g’lut Jewry. The halachic codes made by the B’hag, Rif, and Rosh they sharply contrast against the later works produced by assimilated scholars like the Rambam, the Tur, the Shulchan Aruch, and the ghetto Polish commentaries made upon that latter worthless code of statute law.

    The day and night difference between Rashi’s commentary and the later super commentaries upon Rashi … they closely compare to post Rambam Civil War Talmudic scholarship which clearly had no knowledge of the פרדס Oral Torah logic format — designed to employ this unique sh’itta of logic to interpret the Written Torah mussar commandments. The rabbinic authorities after the Rambam, they compare to herds of buffalo who run off the edge of a cliff, chased by leaves blowing into the wind.

    Post Shoah, many Israelis utterly despised the Shoah survivors. Israeli society viewed their willingness to simply walk passively to their deaths as an absolute disgrace which revealed their despicable cowardness. Following the Eichmann Trial, Israelis embraced a different point of view. We had a better grasp of the horrors of the Nazi war crimes. We thereafter better understood and recognized the horrid plight of European Jewry.

    Sephardi rabbinic authorities in mass, they volunteered to kiss the butt of ancient Greek philosophers. This decision compares to the plight of Shoah survivors. It therefore requires that later generations strive to appreciate and understand the harsh physical environment which directly challenged our Jewish survival as a people.

    The facts testify to their defense: Jewish communities they did survived, despite taxation without representation, arbitrary expulsions, absolute poverty and destitute misery, constant slanders, degradations and humiliations. Consequently rabbinic Judaism merits more than simple pity. Rabbinic Judaism, church Priests and Pastors, they often persecuted those Rabbinic authorities first, and only thereafter butchered & slaughtered the hapless Jewish common man. The Shach (1622-1663), a Polish lord murdered him as a sacrifice.

    Jews, my Yeshiva peers, who study the Shulchan Aruch, virtually all view the commentaries made by the Shach and his son in law the TaZ, as absolutely essential to understand that statute law codification. Rav Nemuraskii chose to reveal the פרדס logic system only to myself. My peers who did not learn this definitive sh’itta of Rabbi Akiva, they do not merit contempt for their ignorance.

    Post Shoah Israel, perhaps we compare to a turtle that slowly emerges from within its protective shell. 2000+ years of g’lut, even after the attainment of National Independence as a People, only slowly do the differences emerge which distinguish a free independent nation from despised refugee populations who endured harsh environments in g’lut societies. All of whom, with the big exception of the United States, have generally abhorred and detested the existence of Jewish refugees within their borders. Some South American governments, of the Catholic new world, immediately after WWII, with the blessings of Poop Pius XII, openly embraced and concealed Nazi War criminals.

    With this preamble introduction completed,,, let’s learn. A slightly distant precedent דברים יז: ח – יג. The mussar instruction of the משנה תורה contrasts with the non-commandment Oleh bird offering. The משנה תורה obligates our bnai brit allied People to present our disputes before lateral common law courts. A precise exact precedent, כד: א-ד. The mussar instruction here compares the Cohen bnai brit alliance among our people to a divorced and remarried woman. That woman’s first husband, should not despise and detest his ex-wife. In like manner, Jews who have a dispute with other Jews, we need to respect our alliance together as a People.
    Consider ישעיה ג: טז – יז as a precedent which supports the k’vanna of this mussar.

    The משנה תורה now weighs the mussar k’vanna toward a meal offering dedication. A slightly removed precedent, דברים ה: יב – טו. The instruction compares the brit relationship with our people to honoring and respecting shabbot from chol. The brit relationship sets our people apart from all other Goyim on the Planet Earth, just as shabbot stands separated from the days of chol. Another slightly removed precedent: ח: יט – כ. The mussar here stands on the יסוד of the disgraceful behavior of the brothers of Yosef. If we despise and hate our people, how can we honor our oath brit relationship with HaShem?

    A exact precise precedent: טו: ז – יא. Here the Torah compares giving a loan, when requested by the poor among our people,,, even if the shmitta year approaches. Respecting the dignity of even the poor among our people, it measures and defines the precondition of loving HaShem with all our wealth; as expressed through the language of the kre’a shma. A precedent which supports this mussar, ישעיה א:א-ט.

    Shall learn the next three סוגיות as one intact סוגיא: ב: ד – יג. A distant not precise precedent, דברים ב: ח – ל. This mussar precedent compares the negative commandment, not to make war upon Moav, despite the decree which bans all Moav males from becoming Jewish. Irregardless, the Avraham/Lot family relationship merits respect. This mussar makes reference to the Wilderness generation. Learned in context, that cursed generation clearly they would not and did not respect the oath brit alliance cut among and between the nation of Israel @ Sinai and Horev.

    The king of Sichon, he informed Avraham of the capture of Lot. None the less, this does not compare to the alliance which Avraham and Lot swore to one another. The language: HaShem hardened his spirit and heart against Israel, it compares to a similar language touching Par’o in Egypt in the days of Moshe.

    A much closer, but still slightly removed precedent: ה: א – י. The Oral Torah brit explanation of the revelation of Horev’s interpretation of the Sinai experience. Only Israel accepted this revelation, which resembles a 10 commandment statute law! To discern between Common vs. Statute law — it compares to differentiate respect for our bnai brit people from all other Goyim; both this and that live as human beings. Our assimilated failure, to differentiate between our shared oath alliance cut between ourselves, from alien Goyim who have no such oath alliance – effectively guarantees bringing Torah curses upon our heads, and upon the heads of our children and their children etc.

    Contrast a distant precedent: ו: כ – כה. On Pesach night the question asked by the wise child, together with its תשובה. All generations of Israel came out of Egypt. Hence our people strongly advised to always separate the k’vanna of our behavior toward our own people, as contrasted by non bnai brit Goyim – family first.

    Another slightly distant precedent: דברים טו:יב – כג. Sending away the Eved Iveri, respecting his dignity and giving him the means to start his life over again. The bnai brit folk have an obligation to for-ever remember our deliverance from Egyptian slavery. An exact and precise precedent: כד: יז – כה: יט The positive commandment to guard the dignity of the poor and weak among our people. Court room righteous justice, when our people dispute among ourselves – this compares to respecting the dignity of the fatherless and widow. The יסוד of respect, equally applies also even to all domestic animals under our command.

    In like and equal measure the positive commandment of Yevbum. Protecting and respecting the dignity of our people, the positive commandment to protect ‘their’ backs. This positive commandment equally expressed through our business practices among and between our bnai brit people. A popular opinion, that we Jews have lost the ‘fear of heaven’ to do the mitzva of Yevbum. If so then we have equally lost the ‘fear of heaven’ to practice honest and straight business dealings with our people.

    Absolutely no difference between the positive commandments of Yevbum and honesty in business. Both require ‘fear of heaven’. The master of a good name, builds a reputation – shared among his neighbors, that that righteous man guards the backs of his bnai brit people. He gives them heart, during hard times when they endure anguish and distress. Unlike the ”’friends”’ of Job. A precedent learned from ישעיה ט:יג – י:לב, the prophet gives a exceedingly bitter and very harsh g’lut mussar.

    The closing סוגיא of ויקרא פרק ב: By now משנה תורה common law, obvious to all, the sharp day and night difference between this type of legal system from that of Statute law, as expressed in the tumah codes of the Rambam, Tur, and Karo codes. The Book of ויקרא opens with the kleppot shells of religious korbanot ritualism. This 3rd Book of the Torah absolutely requires the משנה תורה to understand the k’vanna of these positive time oriented commandments. Worlds separate the substance of tefillah, from the forms of the written Siddur.

    The substance of government, the current leaders calling the shots. The forms of government, the halls of Congress or the Knesset building. The sharp contrast between the substance vs. the forms of Government. The Prime Minister together with his Cabinet, who devises and determines State strategic and tactical policies. Far removed and different from the buildings wherein these leaders conduct the business of State. In like manner the k’vanna which requires that the Moshiach builds the Beit Hamikdash.

    A slightly distant precedent: דברים יב: כט – יג:א. The P’sach killing of the first born contrasts with assimilation which arouses the desires to pursue the customs manners practices and ways of Goyim societies who never accepted the revelation of the Torah @ Sinai & Horev. Another slightly removed precedent: כג:כב – כד. The forms of korbanot intrinsically depend upon the k’vanna of the oaths and vows sworn by the person who dedicates a korban, holy to HaShem. This closing סוגיא has no precise משנה תורה precedent. But ישעיה כז:יב – כח:ד functions as an exact precedent. Here the mussar differentiates between the gaulah of Yechudah, from the klippah g’lut of Ephraim. Woe to the statute halachah fools, who confuse the forms of halachic ritualism. With the substance of k’vanna, required by all positive time oriented commandments – dedicated as a korban – holy to HaShem. HaShem commands the substance of k’vanna of positive time oriented commandments … not the forms of halachic ritualism and worship.

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