Let the Foreigner Come II

Yisrael Medad,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Yisrael Medad
I am a resident of Shiloh, with my wife and children, and now grandchildren, since 1981, having come on Aliyah in 1970. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a Yesha Council spokesperson, twice a member of Amana's secretariat, Benjamin Regional Council plenum member and mayor of Shiloh. I was a parliamentary aide for Geula Cohen and two other MKs, an advisor to a Minister, vice-chairman and executive director of Israel's Media Watch and was Information and Content Resource coordinator for the Begin Heritage Center. I am now Deputy Editor of the critical edition in anthology of Jabotinsky's writing in English.

                                             This is the second part of this essay.

                                                       The first part is here.

The Way to Those Who Accompany

I would like to suggest a new perspective for discussion based on the current reality on the ground today which would be a "Change of Matrix". As we are advancing through the stages of salvation, we must prepare, practically and especially consciously, the duty to promote the realization of this proposed dual track development. As I understand it, despite objections and the recoiling of certain rabbis, it is possible to approach the drafting a memorandum of understanding and commitments so that the process of "the foreigner who comes" will not constitute a risk of missionary attempts but a prelude to the next level - "the foreigners who accompany".

After all, the same prophecies that promise the Jewish people its actual redemption ("And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the broad places thereof...the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase…”, Zechariah 8:5;12) are related to the phenomenon of "the foreigner who comes” ("Thus saith the LORD of hosts: there shall come peoples, and the inhabitants of many cities…many peoples and mighty nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the LORD”, Zechariah 8:20;22)

The second stage in this process is "the foreigner who accompanies" as it is said:

“Also the foreigners, that join themselves to the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants…Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah, 57:6;8)

According to the commentary “Metzudat Tzion”, composed by Rabbis David ben Aryeh Loeb and Yechiel Hillel Altschuel, father and son, who lived in Prague in the 17th century, the “foreigner” is not yet Jewish in this situation but is “fully equal to the citizen of Israel”, using the same Hebrew term as is found in Ezekiel 47:22, in Exodus 12:19 and Leviticus 16:29.  He is in a process of approaching Judaism, of coming near.  He is impressed with the strength of Israel and its revitalization in its land in all areas of endeavor and we are commanded to bring them closer so that they should eventually accompany us.

In addition, the Radak, Rav David Kimchi (1160–1235), of Provence, commenting on the declaration that the Temple will be a house of prayer “for all peoples”, that whereas the reference is to a stage when the nations adopt Judaism, nevertheless, he refers to the above mentioned verse in I Kings 48:

Moreover concerning the stranger that is not of Thy people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for Thy name's sake—

and notes that if Solomon realized that if the non-Jew’s prayer would be acceptable within the Temple, then surely when a process of the nations returning to the true faith at a later time is occurring that the convert definitely will pray in the rebuilt Temple.

What is evident is that the foreigner is not to be rejected outright but to be encouraged to come closer and that as the redemption proceeds, there are various stages and, to me, our task is to begin to realign ourselves and to understand that outright opposition to any and all relationships is wrong.  Vigilance is still required.

For example, there are those who promote this illogical approach amongst Christians who purport to be pro-Israel:

We must come to fully understand that the following of Yeshua is the only true and proper extension of Israel spiritually, fulfilled through His life, sacrifice and resurrection, and that Christianity is Jewish. As hard as this maybe for Jewish people and even Christians to understand, if they do not accept Messiah, they like everyone else remain under the curse of sin; that current Judaism whether religious or reformed has no hope for Israel spiritually, except to keep them until their appointed time of awakening, which we know must come before Yeshua returns to us...God is not finished with Israel who must come into an awakening and that along with the church, Israel's priesthood will be re-established when Yeshua returns.

Dangers exist but I still maintain that matters have altered and in fact, the true message of the Bible is being understood by Christians that delve into the realization of the essence of the Prophets in witnessing Israel’s successes today.  Jews are not released from the need to be able to refute such illogical theology and I am amazed that many Rabbis opposed to the volunteers are uninterested in educating our youth in this sphere, unlike my own experience.

It is not also my wish to relate to the Halachic issue of whether charity or gifts can be accepted from non-Jews.  The literature is not definitively clear-cut but is not totally prohibitive.  Are we perhaps to define the assistance we merit as a "gift"? Is it possible to pay something symbolic to avoid any problems? If we use the non-Jew to replace an electric fuse on the Shabbat or the arrangement for the selling of chametz, perhaps the barrier to their work in the fields is not so complicated. As for the matter of idolatry, in principle, are citizens of Thailand who are Buddhists more "kosher"? Is it better to have Arabs working in our fields?

In this time of our developing redemption, a long-time process, we are being spiritually and materially strengthened. Israel's position and status should be the one supported in the face of Muslim hostility, local and regional, to Judaism as well as Christianity.  As we confront European anti-Zionism, resurgent world-wide anti-Semitism and, unfortunately, also America’s current diplomacy, we are required us to seek the assistance of friends and allies. Sometimes this aid can be purchased with money as part of the normal relationships between nations, or through mutual assistance in science and technology.  There exist also friends who from out of a spiritual recognition based on the writings of the Bible will come to join us. This assistance should not be shunned but rather we need place it within a framework so that Jews should not be harmed in the Land of Israel.  These initiatives, if non-proselytizing, are, in fact, to be welcomed as they also interconnect with the process of the ‘coming of the foreigner’, for their benefit as well as our welfare.

Of course, one could think that basing one's paradigm on the words of the prophets has less of an authoritative weight than if it were anchored in the first Five Books of Moses, the actual Torah.  Actually, there is reference in Deuteronomy to this concept of the "coming of the foreigner".  In Chapter 29, after Moses exhorts the children of Israel to refrain from idol worship and to preserve the special status of the nation predicated on the covenantal relationship as developed through the three patriarchs, verse 21 portrays the future when after the Jews did indeed stray from the commandments and the land of Israel suffered greatly and it reads

 "in the last generation, your progeny who will rise ​out of you, and the foreigner who will come from a distant land, will see all the ​plagues dealt this land​ and the illnesses with which God caused it to suffer…"

Let us not ignore the attention paid to the nations of the world through acts for their own good.  In the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Bamidbar 684) we learn that Rabbi Yehuda is quoted saying, “How foolish the nations are! They have lost, yet they know not what they have lost. When the Holy Temple stood, the Altar [with its seventy bulls] would bring them forgiveness. Now - who will bring them forgiveness?

Even as we note that commentators point to the significance of the diminishing character as indicating a different level of spirituality, nevertheless, the bulls were sacrificed on behalf of the non-Jews.  In the above-mentioned verse, Isaiah 56:7, non-Jews bring their own sacrifices, which are of a special category.  So insists the Midrash Sifra 7 on the portion of Emor.  That was in the past.

Indeed, the future redemption has many phenomena and one of them is that a process of the non-Jew being impressed by Israel’s accomplishments and then his 'coming', later to be followed, hopefully, by 'accompanying' God's nation, is very much in the matrix.

In the Talmudic tractate Pesachim 68A, a discussion is recorded on the subject of resurrection of the dead in the times of the Messiah. Incidentally, it is there that Samuel expresses his opinion, repeated by Maimonides, that “This world differs from the Messianic age only in respect of the servitude to governments”.  In any case, Rav Shmuel ben Nahmani, basing himself on Rav Yonatan, holds that the righteous are destined to resurrect the dead but ‘Ulla was opposed and made a distinction between Jews and non-Jews based on two verses in Isaiah, 25:8 and 65:20. Asked, “But what is the reason for heathens being mentioned in that circumstance?”, on the assumption that in the days of the Redemption there will be no more non-Jews, he notes a third verse, 61:5, in Isaiah: “And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and aliens shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.”  The last Lubavitcher Rebbe viewed this discussion as indicating that even in the end of days there shall exist non-Jews and they shall be assisting the Jews.  The challenge for them, he wrote, is to deal with the verse in Zefaniah 3:9, “For then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent.”  The Hebrew for ‘consent’ there is shchem, shoulder, as if in the phrase shoulder-to-shoulder and, of course, recalls the city of Shchem, known by its Roman corrupted name, Nablus (Flavia Neapolis).

We should not summarily reject the “coming” and we should also avoid basing opposition solely on suspicions that cannot be proven and moreover, that there is no proof for the fears people are raising, but seek to categorize those who wish to be a part of Israel’s restoration for it is for their good as it is for that of Israel.  Moreover, it is illogical to declare this past century that we are in an era of ‘the beginning of the flowering of our redemption’ but refuse to begin to prepare for it when it is clear from the quotations I have included that we are expected to be ready for the ‘coming of the foreigner’.

At th final stage in writing this, I came across an academic article, “The Canaanites who 'trusted in God': an original interpretation of the fate of the Canaanites in rabbinic literature”, which includes a related aspect to my thesis written by Philo which intersects with my concept.

In his Hypothetica, Philo writes in 6.8 that the Israelites, upon entering the Land of Israel encountered the “the Syrians and Phoenicians…in that their land” and were

met with respectful treatment and honour from them

The author, from additional sections there, points out an approach by Philo that the Canaanites, as we refer to them, acknowledged the Israelites as “dearly beloved of God” who had “won the respect of their opponents who voluntarily surrendered their land to them”.

To me, this confirmed one of my fundamental perspectives: that in a process of redemption, the successes of the children of Israel will affect the non-Jew, and are intended to do so.  Their reaction should be necessarily one of respect and honor at the least for this is evidence that the prophecies are becoming realized and at this current time, the next stages are the “coming” and then the “accompanying”.  These are their challenges; our accomplishments are the catalysts. 

True, as we witness, not all of the “foreigners”, the non-Jews, those among the pro-Zionist Christians, are of this frame of mind.  There are those, perhaps, who are need be encouraged in their process if they so wish, while others, who seek to cause us to stray from our path, must be identified and kept at bay.  What is to be recognized and dealt with is that there is the existence of those who ‘come’ which cannot be denied, or, indeed, ignored.  And their volunteer work is part of the era of the redemption.

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