The HEJERA PLOTby Y. I. Hy (C) The Hayut Foundation, P.O.B. 8115, Jerusalem 91080, Israel.
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4.3 Protocols Of The Lovers Of Zion #2 - Begin And Akiva.
Protocols Of The Lovers Of Zion #2 - Begin And Akiva.
Begin: Perhaps the basis for a common understanding can be the yearning for Zion? Zionism?
Akiva: I do not understand this word - Zionism.
Begin: I am a Zionist! Zionism is the movement that upholds the right of the Jewish People to build free and independent Jewish life in the Land of Israel. That is at least what I thought until last night. Until I had a session with the seer of the Jewish State, the man who coined the term "Zionism". He suggested to me to associate in the Zionist enterprise - even if only by declaration - our worst enemies; the bitterest enemy of Zionism: The Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. This is, in fact, the matter I wanted to consult with you about.
Akiva: Do the people of this land call themselves nowadays Palestinians? This is precisely what in my generation we fought against, when the evil empire of Rome sought to exchange the name of Judea for Palestina. The name of Judea was festooned to Bar-Kokhva's flag, and today the people revert to being called Palestinians?
Begin: Not us, Heaven forbid! not us. These are those villains, the Arabs who got mixed with the people of the land, they insist on being thus called. For myself - Zionists and Palestinians are contradictory terms, and even more so - Judea and Palestina, Jews and Palestinians.
Akiva: In my generation, the distinction between a Jew and a Philistine was predicated upon the distinction between a scholar and Am ha'Aretz - "the people of the land", namely: the ignoramuses. Yavneh, the place where I went to study, was situated in the heart of the Biblical Pleshet, the Land of the Philistines - the traditional enemy of Judea from time immemorial. And lo! within a single generation from the founding of the Yeshivah [Jewish Academy] there, the whole region was transformed and became the center of teaching and guidance for the whole country and nation. I was initially an Am ha'Aretz, a true Philistine, a hater of scholars who wanted to harm them. I used to say that if I shall ever get hold of a scholar - I shall bite him even as a donkey bites and break his bones. I was only transformed by the love of my wife Rachel. She saw the potential for greatness in the Torah in me, and gave me that confidence as well. And so I went to the Academy in Yavneh, in the Land of the Philistines. Not only was I, the Jewish Philistine, turned into a lover of wisdom there, but many who were literally Am ha'Aretz, the natives of the land, i.e., Philistines, were converted into great Jewish scholars there. There is no question, then, that Philistines can be turned into lovers of Zion; because "Zion" means, at root, excellence, the seeking of the excellence in the sayings of the Torah. However, to do so demands much love and a steadfast will to accept them those Am ha'Aretz Philistines and there is a need for people of excellence who will attract them to the Torah, and many places of learning which will accept them.
Begin (astonished): But how could Philistines have been admitted to the Jewish academy? Those Philistines weren't even circumcised, as I recall from the story of Samson. Did they convert to Judaism? Were such conversions common at the time?
Akiva: Yes, they were very common. And all converts were welcomed by the Jews. I myself, Akiva ben Yoseph, am the son of converts. Where would I be now if the Jews of my generation had discouraged conversion? The first Jewish president, Yohanan Horkanos, who was also a prophet and a High Priest, conquered the Edomites and forced them to convert, under penalty of death. Many of the Pharisees later complained that such forced conversions caused many problems for the Jews. Was not Herod the Wicked, who murdered the entire Jewish royal house, himself an Edomite? But I always answered that most of the Edomite converts brought good upon Israel. It is known that one of the two great 'schools' of Torah study and legal exegesis - the House of Shammai - was entirely descended from the Edomites. Even though the House of Shammai was most severe in its rulings on practical matters, their disputes with the more lenient rulings of the House of Hillel made an important contribution to the Torah of Israel.
Because unlike the conflicts of Amey ha'Aretz, [Heb. for both "ignoramuses" and "the Native People of the Land"] - the disputes of scholars are for the sake of Heaven. The precision which the more legalistic scholars of the House of Shammai brought to the interpretation of the Teaching allowed me, two generations later, to draw sublime lessons from every letter and even dot of the Torah. Moreover: my own teachings might have had no value without the debates with my great contemporary and rival Rabbi Ishmael.
Begin: The name of Ishmael keeps recurring in our conversation. Perhaps you can tell me what controversies did you have with Rabbi Ishmael? Were they somehow connected with the original Ishmael, the son of Abraham, or with the Ishmaelites of your time?
Akiva: No, the controversies were about the interpretation of words of the Torah, should they be understood literally "in human language" or as the grammar of a symbolic and occult divine language. I shall give you an example connected with the subject of Jerusalem to which we have referred. In the daily prayer we recite the hymn of David, the Messiah King, "Thine, O Lord, is the Gedulah [greatness], and the Gevurah [power], and the Tif'eret [glory], and the Netzah and the Hod [splendor]. Rabbi Ishmael and the sages thought that Netzah [a word which commonly means either victory or eternity] means victory upon the enemy, and they thus claimed that Divine Victory would be shown by the fall of Rome, the destroyer of Jerusalem, in the language that the prophet Isaiah [ch. 63] prophesied about the judgment of God upon Edom "and their Netzah shall be sprinkled upon my garments... For the day of vengeance is in mine heart". And Edom is none but the wicked Rome. Whereas I, even though I supported the revolt of Bar-Kokhva against Rome, this is not the Netza h which I pined for, that we shall wash in the blood of the Romans, but for the true victory - which is the building of Jerusalem.
Therefore I said "The Netzah - this is Jerusalem", the city which was joined together, the city which gathers all the qualities of Israel and of all the nations. Thus, even the superior qualities of the nations which have overcome Israel have been impressed among the people of Israel who became dispersed among them and will join, when the redemption comes, to the totality of the wholeness of the building of Jerusalem. Because the name of Jerusalem is derived from the words Yoru - will demonstrate - and Shalem - whole - or Shlemut - perfection -, and Jerusalem was destined to demonstrate the whole.
Netzah, I argued against Rabbi Ishmael, is not the result of a military victory. When David repeats in the Psalms the expression la-menatze'ah mizmor [a song to the victor - or of the conductor - the Hebrew word means both], he does not mean a military victory but the orchestration of all the different notes and words into a song. The word la-menatze'ah repeats fifty-one times in the Psalms, matching the fifty\-one weeks in the Hebrew year, so that the songs will keep recurring.
Incidentally, even some of my own students disliked and did not accept the fact that great words of Torah came from a man named Ishmael, because of the original Ishmael; the brother and rival of the Biblical Isaac, father of the Jewish people. Such people cannot understand that the Torah is full of meaning, such as that the inheritance of our Father Abraham is whole only when Israel and Ishmael are learning together. Otherwise - why would the Torah mention Ishmael at all?"
Begin: (sighing) Israel and Ishmael sitting together at the Bet Midrash [Heb: house of study] studying the Torah. (cynically) Indeed: Israel and Ishmael.
At last I can see what brings you and Herzl together in the same boat: he, the founder of the Zionist Congress, proposes to invite them to his congress, while you, the founder of the Bet Midrash, propose to invite them to your Bet Midrash.
Akiva: It is better that Ishmael will listen to Israel [word pun in Hebrew] than Israel would contend with Ishmael [another word pun], and if they contend with each other - it better be for the sake of heaven.
But please enlighten me. What is that Zionist Congress?
Begin: This is the assembly of all the representatives, namely: the leaders of all the parties which are united in one will - to establish and maintain the Jewish State in the Land of Israel. And now Benjamin Ze'ev Herzl, the very man who first summoned them all together for this end - now he proposes to invite also the Sitra Ahra [Heb. for both 'the other side' and 'the devil']: those who call themselves "the Palestine Liberation Organization", or as commonly called "the PLO". Surely they will reject this offer out of hand.
Akiva: Still, I think Mr. Herzl's suggestion to invite the PLO to the Zionist Congress impresses me as correct. Even if they will refuse the invitation and would not come. Also in my time, in a difficult hour, I have supported maneuvers geared to help Israel.
Begin: And what about uprightness? and about fighting back, retaliating?
Akiva: Indeed, I understand very well the yearning for these. But my experience has taught me. I have learnt the hard way. The one time when I spurned maneuvers and joined as a preacher to those who would retaliate - this costed us all the liberty of our people. This proved the most terrible of my mistakes.
Begin: Do you mean your proclamation that Bar-Kokhva was the Anointed King, the Messiah?
Akiva: You know the terrible story?
Begin: I know much about this heroic story, but please, tell me more. Bar-Kokhva has been my greatest hero ever since my childhood. As his sponsor - you must have known him better than anyone else.
Akiva: You admire him? And now you rule over all the Jews in the land of Israel?
Begin: With God's help, I am.
Akiva: I am relieved to hear you pray for His aid in leading our people. Bar-Kokhva wouldn't have done that. But let me tell you the whole story. Never have so many Jews been slaughtered in vain, and through such terrible vanity. There never was such a massacre in our nation's history.
Begin: I'm afraid I must tell you that in my generation many more Jews have been slaughtered. Many, many more. Moses had six hundred thousand of the Children of Israel with him, but in my generation ten times that number, six million of us were murdered, brothers and sisters, parents and children. But their martyrdom has not been in vain! Because we have now won our independence, and have a free and sovereign Jewish state, the State of Israel.
Akiva: The former sounds too terrible to believe. The latter - almost too wonderful. (He is silent for a minute.)
And you are now king of this state?
Begin: We have a republic with no king. I am the Prime Minister, the chief executive of the state, like the Nassi in the days of the Sanhedrin.
Akiva: And you say you identify with Bar-Kokhva?
Begin: Yes, definitely.
Akiva: Then you really must hear the story. Maybe you will learn some good moral from it; and then the disaster will not have been totally in vain. But you must know that it was indeed a disaster, and nothing to be proud of.
I was of the few among the sages who supported the rebellion. The others told me: Akiva, the grass will grow from your cheeks before the Son of David comes. And they were right, of course. As it is said: "Don't be a lone judge". It is an error to try to interpret the Divine Plan alone - only the One can comprehend it in its entirety. Also in the plan of the Redemption and the Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem - as you have seen - it is the coalescence of two views which allows a revelation. All the more so the coalescence of many who are capable of holding visions and comprehending much better the plan of the Redemption.
Perhaps I failed in this just because there was something of which I was the only one to know: perhaps because my own father's name was Joseph, I thought a lot about the Messiah son of Joseph, and managed to decipher something of the secret of the need for there being two Messiahs. I kept my conclusions secret at the time, because some people still claimed that Yeshua [Heb. name of Jesus] the son of Joseph was the Messiah and I didn't want to add to the confusion; much as the sages decided that the key testimony in the case of Yeshua son of Joseph - the testimony of Judas Iscariot - could not be revealed until a time that Israel would become independent of Rome. People were confused about the question of the two Messiahs. Some wondered if that Yeshua might have been the Messiah ben Yoseph, to be followed by another - perhaps Bar\--Kokhva - as the Messiah ben David. I knew what must be the different characteristics of these two Messiahs, what must be the necessary progression according to the Divine Plan.
It was very clear that Bar-Kokhva could not be the Messiah ben David, the gentle and loving Messiah. But, I thought: he might be the Messiah ben Yoseph, the mighty warrior-king. Bar-Kokhva was, compared with Yeshua, so big and powerful, and powerful were many of his men. My own heart could not help rejoicing in this show of Jewish valor. Yet I was mistaken about him. One should not judge by external appearances. The Messiah would be revealed by his inner qualities, and by correspondences with the mystical clues hidden in the Torah. You yourself, you are now the leader of Israel, but, if you will excuse me, you do not look like a formidable and wild warrior.
Begin: I am sorry if I disappoint you, Rabbi.
Akiva: Not at all. Quite the contrary. But let us see. Do you command a mighty army?
Begin: Foreign experts consider our army as the fourth mightiest army in the world. It is much stronger than the army of any country or empire that you might have known in your day, Rome included. It is also conceded that we have the best air-force in the world.
Akiva: Air-force! Flying chariots of fire! I have seen such chariots in my visits to the heavens. But I did not even think that the leader of Israel would have them under his own command!
Begin: We call them airplanes but, indeed, they merit the name you gave them. We have over six hundred of them, the very best there are.
Akiva: More than six hundred! More numerous than the chariots that Pharaoh had! What can these flying chariots do for you?
Begin: We have bombed with them the land of Babylon. If we wanted, we could send them flying even all the way to Rome and get there in about an hour. If we had them in your days - we could have destroyed all the palaces of Rome within minutes of their arrival there, let alone obliterate all their armies that surrounded Jerusalem.
Akiva: And God sees fit to place these in your hands! How marvelous!
Please tell me, how many soldiers does this new Jewish army command. Does their number reach the six hundred thousand of Moses, all listed, tested and trained?
Begin: Listed, tested and trained soldiers? Yes, we have this number, if you also count among them those trained reserve soldiers, and those who maintain the machinery of war, like those chariots. In all, we have this number on call.
Akiva: Bar-Kokhva claimed that if only I would send my twenty four thousand students to join his forces, he could raise an army of six hundred thousand. But he lied, just as he lied about so many things. You know that the other Sages called him Bar Koziba, the Son of the Lie. He had no respect for truth or wholeness, not even for the wholeness of the body of man, who was created in God's image. He demanded of his soldiers that they maim themselves, which is forbidden by the Torah; that they cut their own fingers just to prove their courage. What a blind, ignorant and arrogant courage it needs! They needn't have done this, they need not have fought at all, if only Bar-Kokhva chose God's help; I am sure God could have sent then those flying chariots of fire which he chose to give to you now. But that terrible fool, that cruel and deceitful, conceited liar - he said to God: "Do not help me and do not interfere".
It was terrible! All my beloved students, more than twenty thousand of them whom I put in his command, were killed within a few weeks. I raised my students as a father raises his children, but he wouldn't let them do what they were trained for, and they died in vain. The children of Israel bled in streams, streams of blood which flowed down to the Dead Sea. Oh Lord! how awful is your anger! How cruel were those Romans you sent to punish us for our pride!
(C) The Hayut Foundation, P.O.B. 8115, Jerusalem 91080, Israel.
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