Ask the Rabbi,

Animal Heaven

Question: To the best of your understanding, what is the Jewish perspective on the fate of an animal upon death? Are they considered to have a soul? Does a dog, who gave unconditional love and had been a loyal and brave companion, just disappear?

Answer: Animals are considered to have a nefesh, the lowest level of a soul. This is distinct from humans who have much more developed souls. Although animals can be loving, brave and loyal, we do not see them as having free will, but rather as acting instinctively. As such, they do not have the ability to earn merit and greater holiness for themselves as would a person who has the ability to use his or her free will in choosing right from wrong, good from evil.

Best Regards, Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

Question: I was reading in class about Jeremiah and it says that he was always really sad. What was his burden? What was wrong?

Answer: Jeremiah, of all the prophets, was the one who had to witness the actual destruction of the Temple and the Jewish kingdom. For centuries, prophets had been warning of the calamity that would occur if Israel continued to turn away from G-d. But Jeremiah was the one on the job when it happened. As he says in Lamentations (3(1)): I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.

Best wishes, Michoel Reach

Question: Generally speaking , What kind of vow cannot be annulled?

Answer:In Judaism, if a Jew makes a vow not understanding something about the vow he was making, AND, if he did understand he would never have made that vow, then, in general, it would be possible for such a vow to be annulled. That is the simple question to a not-so-simple subject.

Regards, Eliahu Levenson

Question: The Torah is filled with stories of the early Jews making war on the various locals as they enter the promised land, and killing every man, woman, and child in a given village. In some cases they even killed the animals. In one case Moses himself saw his men returning with some local women and children, and ran out and ordered them killed on the spot, lest they create impurities in the Jewish camp. In another case he ordered all locals killed, except young women who have known no man. These his men could keep.

How can we reconcile this mass murder ordered by Moses with his status among Jews as a prophet and holy person?? He appears to be a murderer on a grand scale. How can the Torah be filled with murder, rape, adultry, idol worship, conquest, etc., from front to back, and still be considered the Divine Word of God. Many of my Christian friends have the same questions, and never get a useful answer from priest or pastor. I believe in the one God, may his name be blessed, but I do have a problem with all this murder, rape, etc. in the Torah.

Answer: First of all, I am unaware of any reference in the Torah to any act of rape, adultery or idol worship that was sanctioned or encouraged by either Moses or the Torah itself. So that leaves killing and conquest. These references do exist and can easily and understandably cause discomfort.

Now, if someone were to consider the Torah to be a fraud which only claimed to be the word of God (see Deut. 31:24), but was really created by human beings, then these brutal acts are indefensible. Which moral human being could possibly order such acts? However, we believe that the Torah is actually a true record of Gods communication with Moses. Based on that assumption, Moses never ordered any violence nor did he initiate any conquest. Everything was Gods will (see Deut. 7:1).

What is morality? You might like to read my essay on subjectivity here, which discusses the inherent difficulties that exist in establishing absolute principles of good and evil from a secular perspective. Without God input, any values we adopt are always subject to debate and change. 500 years ago there werent many who questioned the moral right of the Spanish to virtually eradicate native populations in the Americas. Today, standards have changed. Tomorrow theyll change againand no one can say in which direction.

Jews (and others) who believe in a personal God who created this world and is its true master, will consider His definition of justice to be absolute. Even if we cant understand it, if God wills that one nation should conquer another then it isnt just His right, it is intrinsically moral.

I hope this is helpful.

With my best regards, Rabbi Boruch Clinton

Question: The death penalty does not fit under the commandment You shall not murder. I have understood that murder and killing are two different words in Hebrew, with the word murder being used in instances such as Cain and Abel, and when G-d is stating the punishments for such a crime. However, when G-d destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, the word kill is used, not murder. If you could please explain the difference between the two, from the perspective of how the text differentiates, I would greatly appreciate it.

Answer: As in English there are two different words: retzichah for murder, and harigah for killing.

It is obvious that not all killing is murder, for the Bible itself imposes the death penalty for certain crimes! Jewish Law also says that if one sees person A about to murder person B, one is allowed to save B with lethal forceif necessary.

The modern death penalty is a complex issue, since the requirements are very different than those of Biblical law. Actually the Talmud says that a court that ordered the death penalty every seven years was called murderousand one opinion says not seven, but seventy! I wouldnt say the Bible comes down clearly on one side or the other, but in principle supports the concept that a death penalty is a valid deterrent.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

Question: Torah has valued human life above all and under every circumstances we should try to save human as it is said to save one human being is like to save entire entire mankind. On the other hand, the laws of war of Deuteronomy says that when we go to war with faraway nations we are to give people chance to surrender and if they wont we are to kill all the men in it. So how can we justify killing all the men just like that when we consider human life above all ? In self defense its proper to kill but for territorial expansion why should we shed blood? I am sure that G-D too wouldnt allow us to shed innocent blood.

Answer:Thanks for asking this important question. The first thing that needs to be said is that we think of all wars as equal. That is not true. We cannot equate a war that G-d commanded us to fight and a war that we choose to fight. If you learn the Torahs perspective on warfare you will see that warfare in Torah law is totally different from warfare in the non-Jewish world. That is not possible to understand unless you go very in depth into the Torahs perspective. To help you do that, here is a link that will describe the concept in great detail. I give this information over in a class format and I find that if you study it well it will give you a great overview of Jewish warfare.

Next, let me just say that we are not talking about the modern concept of holy wars where people think that they know the will of G-d. The Torahs concept of war is that G-d commands the Jews to do certain things because in His wisdom this is what needs to happen to bring balance to the world. There is a commandment in the Torah to completely destroy the nation of Amalek. This nation, according to the Torah, is evil through and through. There is no way that anyone from that nation can survive and the world be a safe place. King Saul almost destroyed this nation once but left the king alive for one night. He was wrong and he lost his kingship over that. The results of that night were that the king had relations with a woman, the child grew up and his ancestor ended up being the evil Haman and, according to many Hitler was also a descendant of Amalek.

Be Well, Rabbi Litt

Question: Where does the Torah tell us that good friends are hard to find and are very valuable?

Answer: The statement A friend can be acquired only with great difficulty is found in the Midrash (Sifrei on Nitzavim; Yalkut Shimoni on Pinchas). Apparently the advice Acquire a friend for yourself in Mishnah Avos 1:6 (acquire, not find) implies that friends are hard to find. Many sources in the Bible and Talmud emphasize the contrast between good friends and bad friends (e.g., Mishlei 18:24; Ben Sira 6:14; Avos 2:9). In Burton Stevensons Home Book of Quotations, Laertius Anarcharsis (Sec.105) is cited for the statement It is better to have one friend of great value than many friends who are good for nothing; there doesnt seem to be a similar statement in the Jewish sources.

Best Regards, Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

Question: In Parshas Pinchas it states that Pinchas was the grandson of Aharon the Kohen. It further states that because of his courageous deeds espoused in the Parsha, he was to be rewarded with everlasting hereditary priesthood to include his descendants.In view of the fact that he was already a descendant of Aharon, did Pinchas not already have the blessing of hereditary priesthood? How could this be considered a reward?

Answer:Hi! Rashi here says from the Gemara that not all descendants of Aharon would have been priests, just the ones born after the bestowal of the blessing. Pinchas, having been born already, needed a special appointment.

Another answer is provided by a midrash on Tanach. It says that although the high priest could be any descendant of Aharon, from the time of Shlomo haMelech onward every kohein gadol would be descended only from Pinchas. This is called here bris Shalom, covenant of peace: a play on the name Shlomo.

Best wishes, Michoel Reach

Question: The beginning of the Torah Portion of Pinchas begins with a reference to a great deed that Pinchas did. What great deed did he perform?

Answer: Pinchas, the son of Elazar, the son of Aharon HaKohain, appeased My anger against the Bnai Yisroel by taking My revenge amidst them, and so I didnt have to destroy them with My vengeance. (Bamidbar 25:11)

The portion of Balak ends with the daughters of Moav enticing the young Jewish men to sin. This quickly led to idol worship, and many Jewish men served the idol of Baal Peor.

At the height of the debacle, Zimri, one of the heads oftribe ofShimon, took a Moabite princess and brought her into the encampment of the Jews, making a public spectacle of the act. Because he was a leader of the Jewish people, this was a grave threat to the survival of the nation. A plague broke out, and thousands of Jews died.

Pinchas saw what was happening and ran to Moshe for advice. Moshe directed him to take action. At the risk of his life and against all odds, Pinchas walked into the mob and miraculously killed both Zimri and the Moabite woman. No sooner did their dead bodies hit the floor than the plague stopped. It was a clear and obvious sign that Pinchas had acted correctly. By acting with courage and alacrity, he saved the Jews from destruction.

All the Best, Rabbi Meir Goldberg

Original post:
Ask the Rabbi,

history of Palestine |


The Yarmk was the site of the Battle of the Yarmk River, one of the decisive battles in the history of Palestine. The Arabs, who under Khlid ibn al-Wald had conquered Damascus in ad 635, were forced to leave the city when they were threatened by a large Byzantine army under Theodorus Trithurius. Khlid concentrated his forces south of the Yarmk River,…

…treaties in the ancient world comes from Hittite sources, which were contemporary with the events that preceded and led up to the formation of the ancient Israelite federation of tribes in Palestine. The treaty form in written texts was highly developed and flexible but usually exhibited the following structure: preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, provisions for deposit and…

A successful surprise attack on the Egyptian relief army ensured the Crusaders occupation of Palestine. Having fulfilled their vows of pilgrimage, most of the Crusaders departed for home, leaving the problem of governing the conquered territories to the few who remained. Initially, there was disagreement concerning the nature of the government to be established, and some held that the holy…

…vacant bishoprics and abbacies from Clement III (118791). Yet Frederick did not live to consolidate this effort. The defeat of the Crusader army at an in the Holy Land in July 1187 and the subsequent fall of Jerusalem sent a great shock through the West and inspired the Third Crusade. Frederick took the cross; the kings of England and France followed…

…from Asia is known in the late 12th dynasty and became more widespread in the 13th. From the late 18th century bc the northeastern Nile River delta was settled by successive waves of peoples from Palestine, who retained their own material culture. Starting with the Instruction for Merikare, Egyptian texts warn against the dangers of infiltration of this sort, and its occurrence…

…frequent and violent. The pressure prevented any Egyptian government from settling its two main external problems: the need to revise the treaty with Britain, and the wish to back the Arabs in Palestine. Negotiations with Britain, undertaken by al-Nuqrsh and (after February 1946) by his successor, idq, broke down over the British refusal to rule out eventual…

After rule by the Ottoman Empire ended there in World War I (191418), the Gaza area became part of the League of Nations mandate of Palestine under British rule. Before this mandate ended, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in November 1947 accepted a plan for the Arab-Jewish partition of Palestine under which the town of Gaza and an area of surrounding territory were to be…

militant Palestinian Islamic movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine. Founded in 1987, ams opposed the 1993 peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

…198690. One conflict, however, always remained volatileand perhaps even more so for the retreat of the superpowers and their stabilizing influence: the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Throughout his years as U.S. secretary of state, George Schultz had tried to promote the peace process in the Middle East by brokering direct negotiations between Israel and the…

The Jewish population is diverse. Jews from eastern and western Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, North America, and Latin America have been immigrating to this area since the late 19th century. Differing in ethnic origin and culture, they brought with them languages and customs from a variety of countries. The Jewish community today includes survivors of the Holocaust,…

The Zionist movement of the late 19th century had led by 1917 to the Balfour Declaration, by which Britain promised an eventual homeland for Jews in Palestine. When that former Ottoman province became a British mandate under the League of Nations in 1922, it contained about 700,000 people, of whom only 58,000 were Jews. By the end of the 1920s, however, the Jewish community had tripled, and,…

…in rallying pan-Arab unity around resistance to Israels plans to divert the waters of the Jordan. Also with both eyes on Israel, the conference restored an Arab High Command and elevated the Palestinian refugees (scattered among several Arab states since 1948) to a status approaching sovereignty, with their own army and headquarters in the Gaza Strip. Syria likewise sponsored a terrorist…

(Hebrew: Defense), Zionist military organization representing the majority of the Jews in Palestine from 1920 to 1948. Organized to combat the revolts of Palestinian Arabs against the Jewish settlement of Palestine, it early came under the influence of the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour). Although it was outlawed by the British Mandatory authorities and was…

Jewish right-wing underground movement in Palestine, founded in 1931. At first supported by many nonsocialist Zionist parties, in opposition to the Haganah, it became in 1936 an instrument of the Revisionist Party, an extreme nationalist group that had seceded from the World Zionist Organization and whose policies called for the use of force, if necessary, to establish a Jewish state on both…

…and nationalist parties. The decision caused deep divisions within the party; many members objected that alliance would undermine Labours position of support for peace negotiations with the Palestinians. In January 2011 Barak and four Labour members of the Knesset split away from Labour, forming a new party that remained in the ruling coalition. The remaining Labour members of the…

…government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin) and the Palestine Liberation Organization; although Likud supported a peace with guarantees of security, it opposed ceding major portions of land to Palestinian control and dismantling Israeli settlements in the territories that Israel had conquered in 1967. However, in subsequent years the party grew increasingly divided over its policies…

In modern times, Lod was part of the territory allocated to the potential Arab state in Palestine according to the United Nations partition resolution of Nov. 29, 1947. When the resolution was rejected by the Arab states, Lod was occupied by the invading Arab Legion of Jordan. The Israel Defense Forces attacked and captured the city on July 12, 1948; since then it has been part of Israel and…

Thanks to Bushs leadership, the conference that opened in Madrid on October 30, 1991, spawned three diplomatic tracks: IsraeliPalestinian discussions on an interim settlement; bilateral talks between Israel, on the one hand, and Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other; and multilateral conferences designed to support the first two tracks. Syrias President Assad signalled a new…

…and education. It also has opposed efforts to further secularize Israel, particularly proposals to introduce civil marriage. Shas has equivocated on the peace accords signed between Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s; with the exception of East Jerusalem, Shas has steadfastly opposed the building of Israeli settlements in areas conquered by Israel in 1967, and, though it supports…

Zionist extremist organization in Palestine, founded in 1940 by Avraham Stern (190742) after a split in the right-wing underground movement Irgun Zvai Leumi.

Palestine in Jesus day was part of the Roman Empire, which controlled its various territories in a number of ways. In the East (eastern Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, and Egypt), territories were governed either by kings who were friends and allies of Rome (often called client kings or, more disparagingly, puppet kings) or by governors supported by a…

…by the famous Sword of Islam, Khlid ibn al-Walddestroyed a Byzantine army at the Battle of the Yarmk River and brought the greater part of Syria and Palestine under Muslim rule.

…accord in 1993 but nonetheless stated his willingness to support the Palestinian people. He was concerned over issues relating to Jordans economic links with the West Bank and the future status of Palestinians in Jordan. About a year later, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty in which ussein was recognized as the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem.

…tried to push forward into Egypt but was forced to pull back after a bloody, undecided battle and to regroup his army in Babylonia. After smaller incursions against the Arabs of Syria, he attacked Palestine at the end of 598. King Jehoiakim of Judah had rebelled, counting on help from Egypt. According to the chronicle, Jerusalem was taken on March 16, 597. Jehoiakim had died during the siege,…

…surface to ensure some kind of crop under normal conditions. It is therefore not surprising that there is evidence of simple agriculture as far back as the 8th or 9th millennium bc, especially in Palestine, where more excavating has been done in early sites than in any other country of the Middle East. Many bone sickle handles and flint sickle edges dating from between c. 9000 and 7000…

…sphere of influence in Mesopotamia extended as far north as Baghdad, and Britain was given control of Haifa and Akko and of territory linking the Mesopotamian and Haifa-Akko spheres. Palestine was to be placed under an international regime. In compensation, the Russian gains were extended (AprilMay 1916) to include the Ottoman provinces of Trabzon, Erzurum, Van, and Bitlis…

umbrella political organization claiming to represent the worlds Palestiniansthose Arabs, and their descendants, who lived in mandated Palestine before the creation there of the State of Israel in 1948. It was formed in 1964 to centralize the leadership of various Palestinian groups that previously had operated as clandestine resistance movements. It came into prominence only after the…

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), organized in 1964 to represent some 2,000,000 refugees from the Palestine mandate who were scattered around the Arab world and from 1968 led by Ysir Araft, was also divided between old families of notables, whose authority dated back to Ottoman times, and young middle-class or fedayeen factions anxious to exert pressure on Israel…

Discontent in Palestine intensified after 1920, when the Conference of San Remo awarded the British government a mandate to control Palestine. With its formal approval by the League of Nations in 1922, this mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which provided for both the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine and the preservation of the civil and religious (but…

one of a people of Aegean origin who settled on the southern coast of Palestine in the 12th century bc, about the time of the arrival of the Israelites. According to biblical tradition (Deuteronomy 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4), the Philistines came from Caphtor (possibly Crete). They are mentioned in Egyptian records as prst, one of the Sea Peoples that invaded Egypt in about 1190 bc after…

…He was the only Arab ruler prepared to accept the United Nations partitioning of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states (1947). In the war with Israel in May 1948, his armies occupied the region of Palestine due west of the Jordan River, which came to be called the West Bank, and captured east Jerusalem, including much of the Old City. Two years later he annexed the West Bank territory into the…

…to rally Jewish opinion, especially in the United States, to the Allied side during World War I. The declaration, pledging British aid for Zionist efforts to establish a home for world Jewry in Palestine, gave great impetus to the establishment of the State of Israel.

(Nov. 2, 1917), statement of British support for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people. It was made in a letter from Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, to Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (of Tring), a leader of British Jewry. Though the precise meaning of the correspondence has been disputed, its statements were…

…after the general election of 1981. Despite his willingness to return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt under the terms of the peace agreement, he remained resolutely opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In June 1982 his government mounted an invasion of Lebanon in an effort to oust the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from its bases there….

…to their original homeland of Israel. Zionism fascinated the young David Gruen, and he became convinced that the first step for the Jews who wanted to revive Israel as a nation was to immigrate to Palestine and settle there as farmers. In 1906 the 20-year-old Gruen arrived in Palestine and for several years worked as a farmer in the Jewish agricultural settlements in the coastal plain and in…

Appointed mediator in Palestine by the UN Security Council on May 20, 1948, Bernadotte obtained the grudging acceptance by the Arab states and Israel of a UN cease-fire order, effective June 11. He soon made enemies by his proposal that Arab refugees be allowed to return to their homes in what had become the State of Israel. After a number of threats against his life, he and Andr-Pierre…

in the Old Testament, one of the spies sent by Moses from Kadesh in southern Palestine to spy out the land of Canaan. Only Caleb and Joshua advised the Hebrews to proceed immediately to take the land; for his faith Caleb was rewarded with the promise that he and his descendants should possess it (Numbers 1314). Subsequently Caleb settled in Hebron (Kiriatharba) after driving out the…

…he substituted a reliance on the air force and the establishment of rulers congenial to British interests; for this settlement of Arab affairs he relied heavily on the advice of T.E. Lawrence. For Palestine, where he inherited conflicting pledges to Jews and Arabs, he produced in 1922 the White Paper that confirmed Palestine as a Jewish national home while recognizing continuing Arab rights….

…as a British army major, he served as an aide to the British minister of state in Cairo. In 1946 he worked with the Jewish Agency as a political information officer to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He also served as the liaison officer with the United Nations (UN) Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 and as a member of the delegation to the General Assembly that played a critical…

grand mufti of Jerusalem and Arab nationalist figure who played a major role in Arab resistance to Zionist political ambitions in Palestine and became a strong voice in the Arab nationalist and anti-Zionist movements.

Jewish mystic, fervent Zionist, and first chief rabbi of Palestine under the League of Nations mandate to Great Britain to administer Palestine.

…his victory over the English, Louis IX fell seriously ill with a form of malaria at Pontoise-ls-Noyon. It was then, in December 1244, that he decided to take up the cross and go to free the Holy Land, despite the lack of enthusiasm among his barons and his entourage. The situation in the Holy Land was critical. Jerusalem had fallen into Muslim hands on August 23, 1244, and the armies of…

…attended the Milwaukee Normal School (now University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and later became a leader in the Milwaukee Labor Zionist Party. In 1921 she and her husband, Morris Myerson, emigrated to Palestine and joined the Meravya kibbutz. She became the kibbutzs representative to the Histadrut (General Federation of Labour), the secretary of that organizations Womens Labour…

…Mizrai wielded a disproportionate influence in Zionism, because of both its religiohistorical weight and its hold on the masses of Orthodox Jews in eastern Europe. In post-World War I Palestine, it played an active role in the Jewish community, establishing religious schools and firmly backing the sole authority of the chief rabbinate over matters of personal status among Jews,…

On expeditions in Syria and Palestine from June to December of 604, Nebuchadrezzar received the submission of local states, including Judah, and captured the city of Ashkelon. With Greek mercenaries in his armies, further campaigns to extend Babylonian control in Palestine followed in the three succeeding years. On the last occasion (601/600), Nebuchadrezzar clashed with an Egyptian army, with…

…the region, who were unable to present a unified military front against the invaders. Nr al-Dn waged military campaigns against the Crusaders in an attempt to expel them from Syria and Palestine. His forces recaptured Edessa shortly after his accession, invaded the important military district of Antakiya in 1149, and took Damascus in 1154. Egypt was annexed by stages in…

British author, traveller, and mystic, a controversial figure whose quest to establish a Jewish state in Palestinefulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the worldwon wide support among both Jewish and Christian officials but was thought by some to be motivated either by commercial interests or by a desire to strengthen Britains position in the Near East.

…this fundamental question, Paul VI undertook a series of apostolic journeys that were unparalleled occasions for a pope to set foot on every continent. His first journey was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (January 1964), highlighted by his historic meeting with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, in Jerusalem. At the end of that same year, he went to India, the first…

Richard, who succeeded Henry as king of England, had already undertaken to go on Crusade against Saladin in the Holy Land (the Third Crusade), and Philip now did likewise. Before his departure, he made the so-called Testament of 1190 to provide for the government of his kingdom in his absence. On his way to Palestine, he met Richard in Sicily, where they promptly found themselves at variance,…

When Pompey (10648 bce) invaded Palestine in 63 bce, Antipater supported his campaign and began a long association with Rome, from which both he and Herod were to benefit. Six years later Herod met Mark Antony, whose lifelong friend he was to remain. Julius Caesar also favoured the family; he appointed Antipater procurator of Judaea in 47 bce and conferred on him Roman citizenship,…

…and philosopher, one of the first Jewish members of the British cabinet (as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, 190910). He was perhaps most important as first British high commissioner for Palestine (192025), carrying out that delicate assignment with varying but considerable success.

Palestine was destined to be an important centre because of its strategic location for trade by land and sea. It alone connects Asia and Africa by land, and, along with Egypt, it is the only area with ports on the Atlantic-Mediterranean and Red SeaIndian Ocean waterways. Solomon is said to have fulfilled the commercial destiny of Palestine and brought it to its greatest heights. The…

…the early years of the war he took an important part in the negotiations that led up to the governments Balfour Declaration (November 1917) favouring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.

…War I between Great Britain and France, with the assent of imperial Russia, for the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The agreement led to the division of Turkish-held Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine into various French- and British-administered areas. Negotiations were begun in November 1915, and the final agreement took its name from its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes of Britain and…

…from India required, at almost the same time, the termination of the mandate in Trans-Jordan, the evacuation of all of Egypt except the Suez Canal territory, and in 1948 the withdrawal from Palestine, which coincided with the proclamation of the State of Israel. It has been argued that the orderly and dignified ending of the British Empire, beginning in the 1940s and stretching into the…

resolution passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1947 that called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum (Latin: separate entity) to be governed by a special international regime. The resolutionwhich was considered by the Jewish community in Palestine…

The approximately 2,270-square-mile (5,900-square-km) area is the centre of contending Arab and Israeli aspirations in Palestine. Within its present boundaries, it represents the portion of the former mandate retained in 1948 by the Arab forces that entered Palestine after the departure of the British. The borders and status of the area were established by the Jordanian-Israeli armistice of…

…colonial spheres of influence. In their dealings with the Arabs the British spoke of independence for the region. Then, on Nov. 2, 1917, the Balfour Declaration promised the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, albeit without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities. Foreign Secretary Arthur…

Having assumed command in Egypt (see above The Egyptian frontiers, 1915July 1917), Allenby transferred his headquarters from Cairo to the Palestinian front and devoted the summer of 1917 to preparing a serious offensive against the Turks. On the Turkish side, Falkenhayn, now in command at Aleppo, was at this time himself planning a drive into the Sinai Peninsula for the autumn, but the…

…exercising their right under the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 to move troops across Iraqi territory, landed troops at Basra on April 19 and rejected Iraqi demands that these troops be sent on into Palestine before any further landings. Iraqi troops were then concentrated around the British air base at abbnyah, west of Baghdad; and on May 2 the British commander there…

…a necessity both for the Jews and for the rest of humanity. Among the Jews of Russia and eastern Europe, a number of groups were engaged in trying to settle emigrants in agricultural colonies in Palestine. After the Russian pogroms of 1881, Leo Pinsker had written a pamphlet, Auto-Emanzipation, an appeal to western European Jews to assist in the establishment of colonies in…

Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel). Though Zionism originated in eastern and central Europe in the latter part of the 19th century, it is in many ways a continuation of the ancient attachment of the Jews and of the…

Go here to see the original:
history of Palestine |

Palestine – Palestinian territories of Gaza Strip and the …

Official Name: Palestinian territories: Gaza Strip (Qita Ghazzah), West Banks

ISO Country Code: ps

Time: Actual Time: Tue-Sept-1 12:45 Local Time = UTC +2h Daylight Saving Time (DST) 1 April – 9 Oktober 2005 (UTC +3).

Country Calling Code: +970

Capital City: claimed East Jerusalem (Al Quds – Bir Salem)

Other Cities: Gaza strip: Gaza City; West Bank: Bethlehem, Hebron (Al-Khalil), Jericho, Nablus, Nazareth, Ramallah.

Government: Limited civilian jurisdiction by the Palestinian National Authority, the interim administrative organization that nominally governs parts of the Palestinian territories of Gaza strip and West Bank.

Geography: Location: Middle East Area: Gaza 360 km, West Bank 5,860 km Terrain: Gaza–sand- and dune-covered coastal plain; West Bank–mostly rugged dissected upland, some vegetation in west.

Climate: A Mediterranean climate prevails in Palestine. Summers are hot and dry. Winters are rainy and cold.

People: Nationality: Palestinian Population: 4.3 million (2012) Ethnic Groups: Palestinian Arab, Jewish Religions: Muslim 75% (predominantly Sunni), Jewish 17%, Christian and other 8% Languages: Arabic, Hebrew (spoken by Israeli settlers and many Palestinians), English (widely understood) Literacy: NA

Natural resources: arable land, natural gas.

Agriculture products: olives, citrus, vegetables; beef, dairy products

Industries: generally small family businesses that produce cement, textiles, soap, olive-wood carvings, and mother-of-pearl souvenirs.

Exports partners: Israel, Jordan

Imports partners: Israel, Jordan

Currency: New Israeli Shekel (ILS); Jordanian Dinar (JOD); US Dollar

Qalandia Checkpoint

Read more:
Palestine – Palestinian territories of Gaza Strip and the …

Palestine Map | Map of Palestine

Palestine History From around 1500 BC to 500 BC, the territory of Palestine was ruled by different small kingdoms of the Canaanites, the Jebusites, the Nebateans, the Hebrews, the Amurites, the Phoenicians, the Samaritans, and the Phillistines. In 586 BC, Palestine was conquered by the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar, deporting the Jewish population to Babylon. In 539 BC, Persia conquered the kingdom of Babylon, which included the Palestine region, and some of the Jews returned.

Following the Persian invasion, other kingdoms conquered the region, which included the empire of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, and the Seleucid Empire in 219 BC.

In 63 BC, Palestine became a territory of the Roman Empire, leading to the dispersal of the Jews and Christians out of Jerusalem.

Muslim rule in Palestine began in 638 AD, during the great Muslim conquests, where their domination in the region lasted for the next 1300 years.

During the first World War, the region came under the control of the Ottoman Empire, and subsequently the British occupation. In 1917, Britain announced the Balfour Declaration, which stated that the Palestinian territory was a homeland of the Jews, and encouraged mass immigration of the Jewish population from European cities. Britain’s formal mandate of the region was formally announced in 1922.

Following the Second World War in 1947, Britain announced their termination of the mandate and left the United Nations with the decision to divide the territory of Israel. A recommendation for partition of Palestine between an Arab state and a Jewish state was imposed. This was accepted by Jewish leadership but rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, resulting to a civil war.

In 1948, during the Arab-Israeli War, over 700,000 Palestinians fled the region or were forced to leave and unable to return. Palestine had also lost its West Bank territory to Israel and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. The Six-Day War in 1967 resulted to Israel taking control of the Gaza Strip and after which, they began Israeli settlements on the territory.

Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation started in 1987, leading to the Declaration of the State of Palestine in 1988.

Geography The State of Palestine consists of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The West Bank borders Israel and Jerusalem to its west and the Gaza Strip is found in the southwestern coast of Israel – its southwest border is Egypt, and to the east is Jordan.

Palestine is divided into 4 geographical regions: the Desert, which makes half of the total area; Al-Ghor or the Rift Valley, which borders Jordan and Syria; the Mountain, running in the middle of the city from north to south; and the Coastal region that runs from the Ras Al-Naqura from the north to the Rafah to the south.

Polities Before the Palestinian unity of government in June 2014, Palestine was divided into 2 separate administrations: the Fatah’s Government of the State of Palestine in the West Bank, and the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip.

The Fatah-dominated Government of the State of Palestine is a semi-presidential multi-party republic with a President and a Prime Minister. The President is the highest ranking position, while the Prime Minister is appointed by the President and acts as Head of Government.

The Palestinian unity of government formed in June 2014 is the national and political union of the Fatah and the Hamas governments.

Bethlehem is one of the West Bank’s most popular travel destinations especially during Christmas, where celebrations and religious parades are held for many days. A holy city to Christians and Muslims, it is considered to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ – attracting thousands of Christians every year. One of the most anticipated events of the year is the Patriach Parade, which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage tradition in 2012.

Ramallah is the most vibrant city in Palestine. The cultural capital of the West Bank, this city is packed with cafes, cosmopolitan restos, a thriving arts scene, and a bustling night scene with plenty of bars. But the city also has its own offerings of historic sites such as mosques, churches, and the popular Tomb of Arafat.

Jericho is an ancient city considered to be the oldest in the world. Jericho is said to have been built 10,000 years ago. This sleepy city is packed with archaeological sites, palaces, tombs, and synagogues.

Hebron is famous for its historic and religious sites, with the most famous attraction of the Cave of the Patriarchs – which is said to be home of the tombs of biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs. The city is also known for its pottery and glassblowing workshops, and its local produce of grapes, and limestone minerals.

Education Education is highly valued in Palestine, with its adult literacy rate of 91.91% and the youth literacy rate at 98.2%. Its enrollment rate is high by global standards, and rated as the highest in the region. Over 43 higher education institutions are found all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Last Updated : July 28 ,2015

Go here to see the original:
Palestine Map | Map of Palestine

Jews – Metapedia

From Metapedia

The Jews (Yiddish: Yid, Hebrew: Yehudi) are a people generally associated with the religion Judaism.

There are several controversial theories that argue that some groups of Jews do not descend from the historical Israelites of the Ancient Near East.

One is that the Ashkenazi Jews descend from the Khazars. See the Khazar theory.

More generally, Shlomo Sand has argued in the book The Invention of the Jewish People and elsewhere that many Jewish groups came about primarily through the religious conversion of local people.[1]

Many of the most prominent race denialists have been Jews. Regardless, other Jews have instead argued that genetic evidence supports that Jews are a race (excluding some groups such as the Ethiopian Jews who do are argued to be converts). Jews are even argued to be one of the most genetically distinctive populations in the world due to Jewish endogamy (marrying within the group). At the same time there has been some genetic exchange with surrounding non-Jewish group which has contributed to Jewish group differences such as somewhat different physical appearance of different Jewish groups.[2]

The race denialism is used as an argument for denying Europeans the right to their own countries while the race realism regarding Jews is used as an argument for all Jews having the right to Israel.

See Jewish expulsions.

See Holocaust, Holocaustianity, Holocaust industry.

Jews are divided into several different groups such as:

In 2000 there were approximately 13 million Jews according to Jewish sources. 6 million were in North America, 0.4 million were in Latin America, 1.1 million were in Europe, 0.4 million were in the former Soviet Union, and 0.2 of million in the rest of the world except Israel.[8]

95% of all Jews outside of Israel have been stated to be Ashkenazi Jews.[8]

A small group of Ethiopian Falasha Jews claim to be Jews, but the ultra-chauvinist Rabbinic establishment regard them as racial-aliens and face discrimination within Israel, and the country’s government has admitted to secretly sterilizing this population.[9][10][11]

The total world Jewish population, however, is difficult to measure and is subject to the controversy regarding defining who is a Jew (for example, the status of those who have left Judaism and the status of those who have a partial Jewish ancestry).

See Jewish influence.

The Jewish influence in Western nations has been described as extremely large as demonstrated by, for example, almost half of the 40 wealthiest Americans being Jewish and all major Hollywood studios having Jewish top executives.[8][12]

Several controversial ideologies and movements have been argued to be created by, heavily influenced by, or otherwise associated with Jews.

See Jewish group evolutionary strategy.

See Jewish supremacy.

See Israel and Zionism.

Regarding intelligence, see Jews and intelligence

Regarding the personality characteristics argued by Kevin MacDonald, see Jewish group evolutionary strategy.

Regarding various personality characteristics argued to explain the high Jewish influence, see Jewish Influence: Proposed causes.

World Jewish Population

Original post:
Jews – Metapedia

Synagogue – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A synagogue, also spelled synagog (from Greek , transliterated synagog, meaning “assembly”; Hebrew: beth knesset, meaning “house of assembly”; beth t’fila, meaning “house of prayer”; shul; esnoga; kahal), is a Jewish house of prayer.

Synagogues have a large hall for prayer (the main sanctuary), and may also have smaller rooms for study and sometimes a social hall and offices. Some have a separate room for Torah study, called the beth midrash (Sefaradi) “beis midrash (Ashkenazi) (“House of Study”).

Synagogues are consecrated spaces that can be used only for the purpose of prayer; however a synagogue is not necessary for worship. Communal Jewish worship can be carried out wherever ten Jews (a minyan) assemble. Worship can also be carried out alone or with fewer than ten people assembled together. However there are certain prayers that are communal prayers and therefore can be recited only by a minyan. The synagogue does not replace the long-since destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.

Israelis use the Hebrew term beyt knesset (house of assembly). Jews of Ashkenazi descent have traditionally used the Yiddish term shul(cognate with the German Schule, school) in everyday speech. Sephardi Jews and Romaniote Jews generally use the term kal (from the Hebrew kahal, meaning “community”). Spanish Jews call the synagoge a sinagoga and Portuguese Jews call it an esnoga. Persian Jews and Karaite Jews use the term kenesa, which is derived from Aramaic, and some Arabic-speaking Jews use knis. Reform and some Conservative Jews use the word “temple.” The Greek word “synagogue” is a good all-around term, used in English (and German and French), to cover the preceding possibilities.[1]

Although synagogues existed a long time before the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 CE, communal worship in the time while the Temple still stood centered around the korbanot (“sacrificial offerings”) brought by the kohanim (“priests”) in the Holy Temple. The all-day Yom Kippur service, in fact, was an event in which the congregation both observed the movements of the kohen gadol (“the high priest”) as he offered the day’s sacrifices and prayed for his success.

During the Babylonian captivity (586537BCE) the Men of the Great Assembly formalized and standardized the language of the Jewish prayers. Prior to that people prayed as they saw fit, with each individual praying in his or her own way, and there were no standard prayers that were recited. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai, one of the leaders at the end of the Second Temple era, promulgated the idea of creating individual houses of worship in whatever locale Jews found themselves. This contributed to the continuity of the Jewish people by maintaining a unique identity and a portable way of worship despite the destruction of the Temple, according to many historians.

Synagogues in the sense of purpose-built spaces for worship, or rooms originally constructed for some other purpose but reserved for formal, communal prayer, however, existed long before the destruction of the Second Temple.[2] The earliest archaeological evidence for the existence of very early synagogues comes from Egypt, where stone synagogue dedication inscriptions dating from the 3rd century BCE prove that synagogues existed by that date.[3] A synagogue dating from between 75 and 50BCE has been uncovered at a Hasmonean-era winter palace near Jericho.[4][5] More than a dozen Second Temple era synagogues have been identified by archaeologists.[2]

Any Jew or group of Jews can build a synagogue. Synagogues have been constructed by ancient Jewish kings, by wealthy patrons, as part of a wide range of human institutions including secular educational institutions, governments, and hotels, by the entire community of Jews living in a particular place, or by sub-groups of Jews arrayed according to occupation, ethnicity (i.e. the Sephardic, Polish or Persian Jews of a town), style of religious observance (i.e., a Reform or an Orthodox synagogue), or by the followers of a particular rabbi.

There is no set blueprint for synagogues and the architectural shapes and interior designs of synagogues vary greatly. In fact, the influence from other local religious buildings can often be seen in synagogue arches, domes and towers.

Historically, synagogues were built in the prevailing architectural style of their time and place. Thus, the synagogue in Kaifeng, China looked very like Chinese temples of that region and era, with its outer wall and open garden in which several buildings were arranged. The styles of the earliest synagogues resembled the temples of other sects of the eastern Roman Empire. The surviving synagogues of medieval Spain are embellished with mudjar plasterwork. The surviving medieval synagogues in Budapest and Prague are typical Gothic structures.

The emancipation of Jews in European countries not only enabled Jews to enter fields of enterprise from which they were formerly barred, but gave them the right to build synagogues without needing special permissions, synagogue architecture blossomed. Large Jewish communities wished to show not only their wealth but also their newly acquired status as citizens by constructing magnificent synagogues. These were built across Europe and in the United States in all of the historicist or revival styles then in fashion. Thus there were Neoclassical, Neo-Byzantine, Romanesque Revival, Moorish Revival, Gothic Revival, and Greek Revival. There are Egyptian Revival synagogues and even one Mayan Revival synagogue. In the 19th century and early 20th century heyday of historicist architecture, however, most historicist synagogues, even the most magnificent ones, did not attempt a pure style, or even any particular style, and are best described as eclectic.

In the post-war era, synagogue architecture abandoned historicist styles for modernism.

All synagogues contain a bimah, a table from which the Torah is read, and a desk for the prayer leader.

The Torah Ark, (Hebrew: Aron Kodesh ) (called the heikhal [temple] by Sephardim) is a cabinet in which the Torah scrolls are kept.

The ark in a synagogue is almost always positioned in such a way such that those who face it are facing towards Jerusalem. Thus, sanctuary seating plans in the Western world generally face east, while those east of Israel face west. Sanctuaries in Israel face towards Jerusalem. Occasionally synagogues face other directions for structural reasons; in such cases, some individuals might turn to face Jerusalem when standing for prayers, but the congregation as a whole does not.

The Ark is reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant which held the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. This is the holiest spot in a synagogue, equivalent to the Holy of Holies. The Ark is often closed with an ornate curtain, the parochet , which hangs outside or inside the ark doors.

A large, raised, reader’s platform called the bimah () by Ashkenazim and tebah by Sephardim, where the Torah scroll is placed to be read is a feature of all synagogues. In Sephardi synagogues it is also used as the prayer leader’s reading desk.

Other traditional features include a continually lit lamp or lantern, usually electric in contemporary synagogues, called the ner tamid ( ), the “Eternal Light”, used as a reminder of the western lamp of the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem, which remained miraculously lit perpetually. Many have an elaborate chair named for the prophet Elijah which is only sat upon during the ceremony of Brit milah. Many synagogues have a large seven-branched candelabrum commemorating the full Menorah. Most contemporary synagogues also feature a lectern for the rabbi.

A synagogue may be decorated with artwork, but in the Rabbinic and Orthodox tradition, three-dimensional sculptures and depictions of the human body are not allowed as these are considered akin to idolatry.

Until the 19th century, an Ashkenazi synagogue, all seats most often faced the ‘Torah Ark. In a Sephardi synagogue, seats were usually arranged around the perimeter of the sanctuary, but when the worshipers stood up to pray, everyone faced the Ark. In Ashkenazi synagogues The Torah was read on a reader’s table located in the center of the room, while the leader of the prayer service, the Hazzan, stood at his own lectern or table, facing the Ark. In Sephardic synagogues, the table for reading the Torah was commonly placed at the opposite side of the room from the Torah Ark, leaving the center of the floor empty for the use of a ceremonial procession carrying the Torah between the Ark and the reading table.

Orthodox synagogues feature a partition (mechitzah) dividing the men’s and women’s seating areas, or a separate women’s section located on a balcony.

The German Reform movement which arose in the early 19th century made many changes to the traditional look of the synagogue, keeping with its desire to simultaneously stay Jewish yet be accepted by the host culture.

The first Reform synagogue, which opened in Hamburg in 1811, introduced changes that made the synagogue look more like a church. These included: the installation of an organ to accompany the prayers (even on Shabbat, when musical instruments are proscribed by halakha), a choir to accompany the Hazzan, and vestments for the synagogue rabbi to wear.[6]

In following decades, the central reader’s table, the Bimah, was moved to the front of the Reform sanctuarypreviously unheard-of[citation needed] in Orthodox synagogues. The rabbi now delivered his sermon from the front, much as the Christian ministers delivered their sermons in a church. The synagogue was renamed a “temple”, to emphasize that the movement no longer looked forward to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.[citation needed]

Synagogues often take on a broader role in modern Jewish communities and may include additional facilities such as a catering hall, kosher kitchen, religious school, library, day care center and a smaller chapel for daily services.

Since Orthodox Jews prefer to collect a minyan (a quorum of ten) rather than pray alone, they commonly assemble at pre-arranged times in offices, living rooms, or other spaces when these are more convenient than formal synagogue buildings. A room or building that is used this way can become a dedicated small synagogue or prayer room. Among Ashkenazi Jews they are traditionally called shtiebel (, pl. shtiebelekh or shtiebels, Yiddish for “little house”), and are found in Orthodox communities worldwide.

Another type of communal prayer group, favored by some contemporary Jews, is the Chavurah (, pl. chavurot, ), or prayer fellowship. These groups meet at a regular place and time, usually in a private home. In antiquity, the Pharisees lived near each other in chavurot and dined together to ensure that none of the food was unfit for consumption.[7]

During the 19th and early 20th century, it was fairly common for Jewish communities, particularly in Europe, to construct very large, showpiece synagogues. These edifices were intended not simply to accommodate worshipers, but to serve as emblems of Jewish participation in modern society. For this purpose, they were built to be not merely large, but architecturally impressive. Even small cities had elaborate synagogues of this type, albeit smaller than the synagogues of Vienna and New York. They are often designated as The Great Synagogue of…, or, in Russia, The Choral Synagogue. These notable synagogues include:

The dome of the Hurva Synagogue dominated the skyline of the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem for more than 80 years, from 1864 when it was built until 1948 when it was bombed.

The remains of the Hurva Synagogue as they appeared from 1977 to 2003. The synagogue has recently been reconstructed.

Szkesfehrvr synagogue, Hungary (c. 1930s) The synagogue no longer exists, however, the memorial plaques were moved to a building at the city’s Jewish cemetery.

The Ohev Sholom Talmud Torah, the National Synagogue, is a wondrous example of mid-century modern architecture employing expressionist overtones, located in Upper 16th Street, Washington, D.C.

Read the original here:
Synagogue – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Israel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 31N 35E / 31N 35E / 31; 35

Israel ( or ), officially the State of Israel (Hebrew: , Mednat Yisr’el, IPA:[medinat jisael]( listen); Arabic: , Dawlat Isrl, IPA:[dawlat israil]), is a country in Western Asia, situated at the southeastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea and the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. It shares land borders with Lebanon to the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan on the east, the Palestinian territories (which are claimed by the State of Palestine and are partially controlled by Israel) comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip[7] to the east and west, respectively, and Egypt to the southwest. It contains geographically diverse features within its relatively small area.[8][9] Israel’s financial center is Tel Aviv,[10] while Jerusalem is both its self-designated, though unrecognised by the United Nations,[11] capital and the most populous individual city under the country’s governmental administration. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.[note 2][12]

On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the Partition Plan for Mandatory Palestine. This UN plan specified borders for new Arab and Jewish states and also specified an area of Jerusalem and its environs which was to be administered by the UN under an international regime.[13][14] The end of the British Mandate for Palestine was set for midnight on 14 May 1948. That day, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” which would start to function from the termination of the mandate.[15][16][17] The borders of the new state were not specified in the declaration.[14][18] Neighboring Arab armies invaded the former Palestinian mandate on the next day and fought the Israeli forces.[19][20] Israel has since fought several wars with neighboring Arab states,[21] in the course of which it has occupied the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula (195657, 196782), part of South Lebanon (19822000), Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. It extended its laws to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, but not the West Bank.[22][23][24][25]Efforts to resolve the IsraeliPalestinian conflict have not resulted in peace. However, peace treaties between Israel and both Egypt and Jordan have successfully been signed. Israels occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the world’s longest military occupation in modern times.[note 3][27]

The population of Israel, as defined by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, was estimated in 2014 to be 8,146,300people. It is the world’s only Jewish-majority state; 6,212,000 citizens, or 74.9% of Israelis, are designated as Jewish. The country’s second largest group of citizens are denoted as Arabs, with 1,718,400 people (including the Druze and most East Jerusalem Arabs).[28][29] The great majority of Israeli Arabs are settled Muslims, with smaller but significant numbers of semi-settled Negev Bedouins; the rest are Christians and Druze. Other minorities include Maronites, Samaritans, Dom people and Roma, Black Hebrew Israelites, other Sub-Saharan Africans,[30]Armenians, Circassians, Vietnamese boat people, and others. Israel also hosts a significant population of non-citizen foreign workers and asylum seekers from Africa and Asia.[31]

In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State.[32] Israel is a representative democracy[33] with a parliamentary system, proportional representation and universal suffrage.[34][35] The Prime Minister serves as head of government and the Knesset serves as Israel’s legislative body. Israel is a developed country and an OECD member,[36] with the 37th-largest economy in the world by nominal gross domestic product as of 2014. The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most educated countries in the world with the one of the highest percentage of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree.[37][38] The country has the highest standard of living in the Middle East and the fifth highest in Asia,[39][40][41] and has the one of the highest life expectancies in the world.[42]

Upon independence in 1948, the country formally adopted the name “State of Israel” (Medinat Yisrael) after other proposed historical and religious names including Eretz Israel (“the Land of Israel”), Zion, and Judea, were considered and rejected.[43] In the early weeks of independence, the government chose the term “Israeli” to denote a citizen of Israel, with the formal announcement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Moshe Sharett.[44]

The names Land of Israel and Children of Israel have historically been used to refer to the biblical Kingdom of Israel and the entire Jewish nation respectively.[45] The name “Israel” in these phrases refers to the patriarch Jacob (StandardYisrael, Isrl; Septuagint Greek: Isral; “struggle with God”[46]) who, according to the Hebrew Bible, was given the name after he successfully wrestled with the angel of the Lord.[47] Jacob’s twelve sons became the ancestors of the Israelites, also known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel or Children of Israel. Jacob and his sons had lived in Canaan but were forced by famine to go into Egypt for four generations until Moses, a great-great grandson of Jacob,[48] led the Israelites back into Canaan during the “Exodus”. The earliest known archaeological artifact to mention the word “Israel” is the Merneptah Stele of ancient Egypt (dated to the late 13th century BCE).[49]

The area is also known as the Holy Land, being holy for all Abrahamic religions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bah’ Faith. From 1920 the whole region was known as Palestine (under British Mandate) until the Israeli Declaration of Independence of 1948. Through the centuries, the territory was known by a variety of other names, including Judea, Samaria, Southern Syria, Syria Palaestina, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Iudaea Province, Coele-Syria, Retjenu, and Canaan.

The notion of the “Land of Israel”, known in Hebrew as Eretz Yisrael, has been important and sacred to the Jewish people since Biblical times. According to the Torah, God promised the land to the three Patriarchs of the Jewish people.[50][51] On the basis of scripture, the period of the three Patriarchs has been placed somewhere in the early 2nd millenniumBCE,[52] and the first Kingdom of Israel was established around the 11th century BCE. Subsequent Israelite kingdoms and states ruled intermittently over the next four hundred years, and are known from various extra-biblical sources.[53][54][55][56]

The first record of the name Israel (as ysrr) occurs in the Merneptah stele, erected for Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah c. 1209 BCE, “Israel is laid waste and his seed is not.”[57] This “Israel” was a cultural and probably political entity of the central highlands, well enough established to be perceived by the Egyptians as a possible challenge to their hegemony, but an ethnic group rather than an organised state;[58] Ancestors of the Israelites may have included Semites native to Canaan and the Sea Peoples.[59] McNutt says, “It is probably safe to assume that sometime during Iron Age a population began to identify itself as ‘Israelite’”, differentiating itself from the Canaanites through such markers as the prohibition of intermarriage, an emphasis on family history and genealogy, and religion.[60]

Villages had populations of up to 300 or 400,[61][62] which lived by farming and herding, and were largely self-sufficient;[63] economic interchange was prevalent.[64] Writing was known and available for recording, even in small sites.[65] The archaeological evidence indicates a society of village-like centres, but with more limited resources and a small population.[66] Modern scholars see Israel arising peacefully and internally from existing people in the highlands of Canaan.[67]

Around 930 BCE, the kingdom split into a southern Kingdom of Judah and a northern Kingdom of Israel. From the middle of the 8th century BCE Israel came into increasing conflict with the expanding neo-Assyrian empire. Under Tiglath-Pileser III it first split Israel’s territory into several smaller units and then destroyed its capital, Samaria (722 BCE). An Israelite revolt (724722 BCE) was crushed after the siege and capture of Samaria by the Assyrian king Sargon II. Sargon’s son, Sennacherib, tried and failed to conquer Judah. Assyrian records say he leveled 46 walled cities and besieged Jerusalem, leaving after receiving extensive tribute.[68]

In 586 BCE King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon conquered Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, he destroyed Solomon’s Temple and exiled the Jews to Babylon. The defeat was also recorded by the Babylonians[69][70] (see the Babylonian Chronicles).

In 538 BCE, Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered Babylon and took over its empire. Cyrus issued a proclamation granting subjugated nations (including the people of Judah) religious freedom (for the original text, which corroborates the biblical narrative only in very broad terms, see the Cyrus Cylinder). According to the Hebrew Bible 50,000 Judeans, led by Zerubabel, returned to Judah and rebuilt the temple. A second group of 5,000, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, returned to Judah in 456 BCE although non-Jews wrote to Cyrus to try to prevent their return.

With successive Persian rule, the region, divided between Syria-Coele province and later the autonomous Yehud Medinata, was gradually developing back into urban society, largely dominated by Judeans. The Greek conquests largely skipped the region without any resistance or interest. Incorporated into Ptolemaic and finally Seleucid Empires, the southern Levant was heavily hellenized, building the tensions between Judeans and Greeks. The conflict erupted in 167 BCE with the Maccabean Revolt, which succeeded in establishing an independent Hasmonean Kingdom in Judah, which later expanded over much of modern Israel, as the Seleucids gradually lost control in the region.

The Roman Empire invaded the region in 63 BCE, first taking control of Syria, and then intervening in the Hasmonean civil war. The struggle between pro-Roman and pro-Parthian factions in Judea eventually led to the installation of Herod the Great and consolidation of the Herodian Kingdom as a vassal Judean state of Rome.

With the decline of Herodians, Judea, transformed into a Roman province, became the site of a violent struggle of Jews against Greco-Romans, culminating in the Jewish-Roman Wars, ending in wide-scale destruction, expulsions, and genocide. Jewish presence in the region significantly dwindled after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE.[72] Nevertheless, there was a continuous small Jewish presence and Galilee became its religious center.[73][74] The Mishnah and part of the Talmud, central Jewish texts, were composed during the 2nd to 4th centuries CE in Tiberias and Jerusalem.[75] The region came to be populated predominantly by Greco-Romans on the coast and Samaritans in the hill-country. Christianity was gradually evolving over Roman paganism, when the area stood under Byzantine rule. Through the 5th and 6th centuries, the dramatic events of the repeated Samaritan revolts reshaped the land, with massive destruction to Byzantine Christian and Samaritan societies and a resulting decrease of the population. After the Persian conquest and the installation of a short-lived Jewish Commonwealth in 614 CE, the Byzantine Empire reconquered the country in 628.

In 635-641 CE, the region, including Jerusalem, was conquered by the Arabs who had just recently adopted Islam. It remained under Muslim control for the next 1300 years under various dynasties.[77] Control of the region transferred between the Umayyads,[77]Abbasids,[77] Fatimids, Seljuks, Crusaders, and Ayyubids throughout the next six centuries,[77] before the area was conquered in 1260 by the Mamluk Sultanate.[78]

During the Siege of Jerusalem (1099), the Jewish inhabitants of the city fought side by side with the Fatimid garrison and the Muslim population who tried in vain to defend the city against the Crusaders. When the city fell, about 60,000 people were massacred, including 6,000 Jews seeking refuge in a synagogue.[79] At this time, a full thousand years after the fall of the Jewish state, there were Jewish communities all over the country. Fifty of them are known and include Jerusalem, Tiberias, Ramleh, Ashkelon, Caesarea, and Gaza.[80] According to Albert of Aachen, the Jewish residents of Haifa were the main fighting force of the city, and “mixed with Saracen [Fatimid] troops”, they fought bravely for close to a month until forced into retreat by the Crusader fleet and land army.[81][82] However, Joshua Prawer expressed doubt over the story, noting that Albert did not attend the Crusades and that such a prominent role for the Jews is not mentioned by any other source.[83][undue weight? discuss]

In 1165 Maimonides visited Jerusalem and prayed on the Temple Mount, in the “great, holy house”.[84] In 1141 Spanish-Jewish poet, Yehuda Halevi, issued a call to the Jews to emigrate to the Land of Israel, a journey he undertook himself. In 1187 Sultan Saladin, founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, defeated the Crusaders in the Battle of Hattin and subsequently captured Jerusalem and almost all of Palestine. In time, Saladin issued a proclamation inviting Jews to return and settle in Jerusalem,[85] and according to Judah al-Harizi, they did: “From the day the Arabs took Jerusalem, the Israelites inhabited it.”[86] al-Harizi compared Saladin’s decree allowing Jews to re-establish themselves in Jerusalem to the one issued by the Persian king Cyrus the Great over 1,600 years earlier.[87]

In 1211, the Jewish community in the country was strengthened by the arrival of a group headed by over 300 rabbis from France and England,[88] among them Rabbi Samson ben Abraham of Sens.[89]Nachmanides, the 13th-century Spanish rabbi and recognised leader of Jewry greatly praised the land of Israel and viewed its settlement as a positive commandment incumbent on all Jews. He wrote “If the gentiles wish to make peace, we shall make peace and leave them on clear terms; but as for the land, we shall not leave it in their hands, nor in the hands of any nation, not in any generation.”[90]

In 1260, control passed to the Mamluk sultans of Egypt. The country was located between the two centres of Mamluk power, Cairo and Damascus, and only saw some development along the postal road connecting the two cities. Jerusalem, although still left without the protection of any city walls, also saw a flurry of new construction projects centred around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound (the Temple Mount). In 1266 the Mamluk Sultan Baybars converted the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron into an exclusive Islamic sanctuary and banned Christians and Jews from entering, which previously would be able to enter it for a fee. The ban remained in place until Israel took control of the building in 1967.[91][92]

In 1470, Isaac b. Meir Latif arrived from Ancona and counted 150 Jewish families in Jerusalem.[93] Thanks to Joseph Saragossi who had arrived in the closing years of the 15th century, Safed and its environs had developed into the largest concentration of Jews in Palestine. With the help of the Sephardic immigration from Spain, the Jewish population had increased to 10,000 by the early 16th century.[94]

In 1516, the region was conquered by the Ottoman Empire; it remained under Turkish rule until the end of the First World War, when Britain defeated the Ottoman forces and set up a military administration across the former Ottoman Syria. In 1920 the territory was divided between Britain and France under the mandate system, and the British-administered area which included modern day Israel was named Mandatory Palestine.[78][95][96]

“I believe that a wondrous generation of Jews will spring into existence. The Maccabeans will rise again. Let me repeat once more my opening words: The Jews who wish for a State will have it. We shall live at last as free men on our own soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness. And whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”

Since the existence of the earliest Jewish diaspora, many Jews have aspired to return to “Zion” and the “Land of Israel”,[98] though the amount of effort that should be spent towards such an aim was a matter of dispute.[99][100] The hopes and yearnings of Jews living in exile are an important theme of the Jewish belief system.[99] After the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, some communities settled in Palestine.[101] During the 16th century, Jewish communities struck roots in the Four Holy CitiesJerusalem, Tiberias, Hebron, and Safedand in 1697, Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid led a group of 1,500 Jews to Jerusalem.[102] In the second half of the 18th century, Eastern European opponents of Hasidism, known as the Perushim, settled in Palestine.[103][104][105]

The first wave of modern Jewish migration to Ottoman-ruled Palestine, known as the First Aliyah, began in 1881, as Jews fled pogroms in Eastern Europe.[106] Although the Zionist movement already existed in practice, Austro-Hungarian journalist Theodor Herzl is credited with founding political Zionism,[107] a movement which sought to establish a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, thus offering a solution to the so-called Jewish Question of the European states, in conformity with the goals and achievements of other national projects of the time.[108] In 1896, Herzl published Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews), offering his vision of a future Jewish state; the following year he presided over the first Zionist Congress.[109]

The Second Aliyah (190414), began after the Kishinev pogrom; some 40,000 Jews settled in Palestine, although nearly half of them left eventually.[106] Both the first and second waves of migrants were mainly Orthodox Jews,[110] although the Second Aliyah included socialist groups who established the kibbutz movement.[111] During World War I, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour sent the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, that stated that Britain intended for the creation of a Jewish “national home” within the Palestinian Mandate.[112][113]

The Jewish Legion, a group primarily of Zionist volunteers, assisted, in 1918, in the British conquest of Palestine.[115] Arab opposition to British rule and Jewish immigration led to the 1920 Palestine riots and the formation of a Jewish militia known as the Haganah (meaning “The Defense” in Hebrew), from which the Irgun and Lehi, or Stern Gang, paramilitary groups later split off.[116] In 1922, the League of Nations granted Britain a mandate over Palestine under terms which included the Balfour Declaration with its promise to the Jews, and with similar provisions regarding the Arab Palestinians.[117] The population of the area at this time was predominantly Arab and Muslim, with Jews accounting for about 11%,[118] Christians 9.5%.[119]

The Third (191923) and Fourth Aliyahs (192429) brought an additional 100,000 Jews to Palestine.[106]

Finally, the rise of Nazism and the increasing persecution of Jews in 1930s Europe led to the Fifth Aliyah, with an influx of a quarter of a million Jews. This was a major cause of the Arab revolt of 193639 during which the British Mandate authorities killed 5,032 Arabs and wounded 14,760,[120] resulting in over ten percent of the adult male Palestinian Arab population killed, wounded, imprisoned or exiled.[121] The British introduced restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine with the White Paper of 1939. With countries around the world turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, a clandestine movement known as Aliyah Bet was organized to bring Jews to Palestine.[106] By the end of World War II, the Jewish population of Palestine had increased to 33% of the total population.[122]

WE DECLARE that, with effect from the moment of the termination of the Mandate being tonight, the eve of Sabbath, the 6th Iyar, 5708 (15th May, 1948), until the establishment of the elected, regular authorities of the State in accordance with the Constitution which shall be adopted by the Elected Constituent Assembly not later than the 1st October 1948, the People’s Council shall act as a Provisional Council of State, and its executive organ, the People’s Administration, shall be the Provisional Government of the Jewish State, to be called “Israel”.

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

THE STATE OF ISRAEL is prepared to cooperate with the agencies and representatives of the United Nations in implementing the resolution of the General Assembly of the 29th November, 1947, and will take steps to bring about the economic union of the whole of Eretz-Israel.

WE APPEAL to the United Nations to assist the Jewish people in the building-up of its State and to receive the State of Israel into the comity of nations.

WE APPEAL – in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months – to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

WE EXTEND our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

WE APPEAL to the Jewish people throughout the Diaspora to rally round the Jews of Eretz-Israel in the tasks of immigration and upbuilding and to stand by them in the great struggle for the realization of the age-old dream – the redemption of Israel.


Closing Paragraphs of the Israeli Declaration of Independence, as translated by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs[123]

After World War II, Britain found itself in intense conflict with the Jewish community over Jewish immigration limits, as well as continued conflict with the Arab community over limit levels. The Haganah joined Irgun and Lehi in an armed struggle against British rule.[124] At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors and refugees sought a new life far from their destroyed communities in Europe. The Yishuv attempted to bring these refugees to Palestine but many were turned away or rounded up and placed in detention camps in Atlit and Cyprus by the British. Escalating violence culminated with the 1946 King David Hotel bombing which Bruce Hoffman characterized as one of the “most lethal terrorist incidents of the twentieth century.”[125] In 1947, the British government announced it would withdraw from Mandatory Palestine, stating it was unable to arrive at a solution acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.

On 15 May 1947, the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations resolved that a committee, United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), be created “to prepare for consideration at the next regular session of the Assembly a report on the question of Palestine”.[126] In the Report of the Committee dated 3 September 1947 to the UN General Assembly,[127] the majority of the Committee in Chapter VI proposed a plan to replace the British Mandate with “an independent Arab State, an independent Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem … the last to be under an International Trusteeship System”.[128] On 29 November 1947, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending the adoption and implementation of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union as Resolution 181 (II).[129] The Plan attached to the resolution was essentially that proposed by the majority of the Committee in the Report of 3 September 1947.

The Jewish Agency, which was the recognized representative of the Jewish community, accepted the plan. The Arab League and Arab Higher Committee of Palestine rejected it, and indicated that they would reject any other plan of partition.[130][131]

A Butterfly improvised Armored car brings supply to an isolated Negev Kibutz. After the Egyptian invasion, those cars evacuated the children

Palestinian irregulars near a burnt armored Haganah supply truck, the road to Jerusalem, 1948

A briefing of Palmach Negev brigade soldiers

On the following day, 1 December 1947, the Arab Higher Committee proclaimed a three-day strike, and Arab bands began attacking Jewish targets.[132] The Jews were initially on the defensive as civil war broke out, but in early April 1948 moved onto the offensive.[133][134] The Palestinian Arab economy collapsed and 250,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled.[135]

On 14 May 1948, the day before the expiration of the British Mandate, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel”.[136][137] The only reference in the text of the Declaration to the borders of the new state is the use of the term, Eretz-Israel.[138]

The Kibbutzim, or collective farming communities, played a pivotal role in establishing the new state.[114]

The following day, the armies of four Arab countriesEgypt, Syria, Transjordan and Iraqentered what had been British Mandatory Palestine, launching the 1948 ArabIsraeli War;[139][140] Contingents from Yemen, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan joined the war.[141][142] The apparent purpose of the invasion was to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state at inception, and some Arab leaders talked about driving the Jews into the sea.[143][144][145] According to Benny Morris, Jews felt that the invading Arab armies aimed to slaughter the Jews.[146] The Arab league stated that the invasion was to restore law and order and to prevent further bloodshed.[147]

After a year of fighting, a ceasefire was declared and temporary borders, known as the Green Line, were established.[148]Jordan annexed what became known as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. The United Nations estimated that more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled from advancing Israeli forces during the conflictwhat would became known in Arabic as the Nakba (“catastrophe”).[149]

Israel was admitted as a member of the United Nations by majority vote on 11 May 1949.[150] On 1949 both Israel and Jordan were genuinely interested in peace agreement but the British acted as a brake on the Jordanian effort in order to avoid damaging British interests in Egypt.[151]

In the early years of the state, the Labor Zionist movement led by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion dominated Israeli politics.[152][153]

Immigration to Israel during the late 1940s and early 1950s was aided by the Israeli Immigration Department and the non-government sponsored Mossad LeAliyah Bet (“Institution for Illegal Immigration”[154]). Both groups facilitated regular immigration logistics like arranging transportation, but the latter also engaged in clandestine operations in countries, particularly in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, where the lives of Jews were believed to be in danger and exit from those places was difficult. Mossad LeAliyah Bet continued to take part in immigration efforts until its disbanding in 1953.[155]An influx of Holocaust survivors and Jews from Arab and Muslim lands immigrated to Israel during the first 3 years and the number of Jews increased from 700,000 to 1,400,000,[156] many of whom faced persecution in their original countries.[157] The immigration was in accordance with the One Million Plan.

Consequently, the population of Israel rose from 800,000 to two million between 1948 and 1958.[156] Between 1948 and 1970, approximately 1,150,000 Jewish refugees relocated to Israel.[158] The immigrants came to Israel for differing reasons. Some believed in a Zionist ideology, while others moved to escape persecution. There were others that did it for the promise of a better life in Israel and a small number that were expelled from their homelands, such as British and French Jews in Egypt after the Suez Crisis.[159]

Some new immigrants arrived as refugees with no possessions and were housed in temporary camps known as ma’abarot; by 1952, over 200,000 immigrants were living in these tent cities.[160] During this period, food, clothes and furniture had to be rationed in what became known as the Austerity Period. The need to solve the crisis led Ben-Gurion to sign a reparations agreement with West Germany that triggered mass protests by Jews angered at the idea that Israel could accept monetary compensation for the Holocaust.[161]

In 1950 Egypt closed the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping and tensions mounted as armed clashes took place along Israel’s borders.

During the 1950s, Israel was frequently attacked by Palestinian fedayeen, nearly always against civilians,[162] mainly from the Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip,[163] leading to several Israeli counter-raids. In 1956, Great Britain and France aimed at regaining control of the Suez Canal, which the Egyptians had nationalized (see the Suez Crisis). The continued blockade of the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping, together with the growing amount of Fedayeen attacks against Israel’s southern population, and recent Arab grave and threatening statements, prompted Israel to attack Egypt.[164][165][166][167] Israel joined a secret alliance with Great Britain and France and overran the Sinai Peninsula but was pressured to withdraw by the United Nations in return for guarantees of Israeli shipping rights in the Red Sea via the Straits of Tiran and the Canal[citation needed].[168][169] The war resulted in significant reduction of Israeli border infiltration.[170][171][172][173]

According to Tom Segev, the refugees were often treated differently according to where they were from. Jews of European descent were treated more favorably than Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries and remained in transit camps for longer periods of time; tensions that developed between the two groups over such discrimination persist to the present day.[174] In the early 1960s, Israel captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and brought him to Israel for trial.[175] The trial had a major impact on public awareness of the Holocaust.[176] Eichmann remains the only person executed in Israel by conviction by an Israeli civilian court.[177]

Since 1964, Arab countries, concerned over Israeli plans to divert waters of the Jordan River into the coastal plain,[178] had been trying to divert the headwaters to deprive Israel of water resources, provoking tensions between Israel on the one hand, and Syria and Lebanon on the other.

Arab nationalists led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser refused to recognize Israel, and called for its destruction.[21][179][180] By 1966, Israeli-Arab relations had deteriorated to the point of actual battles taking place between Israeli and Arab forces.[181] In May 1967, Egypt massed its army near the border with Israel, expelled UN peacekeepers, stationed in the Sinai Peninsula since 1957, and blocked Israel’s access to the Red Sea. Other Arab states mobilized their forces.[182] Israel reiterated that these actions were a casus belli. On 5 June 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt. Jordan, Syria and Iraq responded and attacked Israel. In a Six-Day War, Israel defeated Jordan and captured the West Bank, defeated Egypt and captured the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and defeated Syria and captured the Golan Heights.[183] Jerusalem’s boundaries were enlarged, incorporating East Jerusalem, and the 1949 Green Line became the administrative boundary between Israel and the occupied territories.

Following the 1967 war and the “three nos” resolution of the Arab League, Israel faced attacks from the Egyptians in the Sinai, and from Palestinian groups targeting Israelis in the occupied territories, in Israel proper, and around the world. Most important among the various Palestinian and Arab groups was the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), established in 1964, which initially committed itself to “armed struggle as the only way to liberate the homeland”.[184][185] In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Palestinian groups launched a wave of attacks[186][187] against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world,[188] including a massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The Israeli government responded with an assassination campaign against the organizers of the massacre, a bombing and a raid on the PLO headquarters in Lebanon.

On 6 October 1973, as Jews were observing Yom Kippur, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched a surprise attack against Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights, that opened the Yom Kippur War. The war ended on 26 October with Israel successfully repelling Egyptian and Syrian forces but having suffered over 2,500 soldiers killed in a war which collectively took 10-35,000 lives in just 20 days.[189] An internal inquiry exonerated the government of responsibility for failures before and during the war, but public anger forced Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign.[190]

In July 1976 an airliner was hijacked during its flight to Tel Aviv by Palestinian guerrillas and landed at Entebbe, Uganda. Israeli commandos carried out an operation in which 102 out of 106 Israeli hostages were successfully rescued.

The 1977 Knesset elections marked a major turning point in Israeli political history as Menachem Begin’s Likud party took control from the Labor Party.[191] Later that year, Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat made a trip to Israel and spoke before the Knesset in what was the first recognition of Israel by an Arab head of state.[192] In the two years that followed, Sadat and Begin signed the Camp David Accords (1978) and the IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty (1979).[193] In return, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967, and agreed to enter negotiations over an autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[194]

On 11 March 1978, a PLO guerilla raid from Lebanon led to the Coastal Road Massacre. Israel responded by launching an invasion of southern Lebanon to destroy the PLO bases south of the Litani River. Most PLO fighters withdrew, but Israel was able to secure southern Lebanon until a UN force and the Lebanese army could take over. The PLO soon resumed its policy of attacks against Israel. In the next few years, the PLO infiltrated the south and kept up a sporadic shelling across the border. Israel carried out numerous retaliatory attacks by air and on the ground.

Meanwhile, Begin’s government provided incentives for Israelis to settle in the occupied West Bank, increasing friction with the Palestinians in that area.[195] The Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel, passed in 1980, was believed by some to reaffirm Israel’s 1967 annexation of Jerusalem by government decree, and reignited international controversy over the status of the city. No Israeli legislation has defined the territory of Israel and no act specifically included East Jerusalem therein.[196] The position of the majority of UN member states is reflected in numerous resolutions declaring that actions taken by Israel to settle its citizens in the West Bank, and impose its laws and administration on East Jerusalem, are illegal and have no validity.[197] In 1981 Israel annexed the Golan Heights, although annexation was not recognized internationally.[198]

On 7 June 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq’s sole nuclear reactor, in order to impede Iraq’s nuclear weapons program. The reactor was under construction just outside Baghdad. Following a series of PLO attacks in 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon that year to destroy the bases from which the PLO launched attacks and missiles into northern Israel.[199] In the first six days of fighting, the Israelis destroyed the military forces of the PLO in Lebanon and decisively defeated the Syrians. An Israeli government inquiry the Kahan Commission would later hold Begin, Sharon and several Israeli generals as indirectly responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre. In 1985, Israel responded to a Palestinian terrorist attack in Cyprus by bombing the PLO headquarters in Tunis. Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon in 1986, but maintained a borderland buffer zone in southern Lebanon until 2000, from where Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Hezbollah.

Israel’s ethnic diversity expanded in the 1980s and 1990s due to immigration. Several waves of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1980s and 1990s, while between 1990 and 1994, Russian immigration to Israel increased Israel’s population by twelve percent.[200]

The First Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule,[201] broke out in 1987, with waves of uncoordinated demonstrations and violence occurring in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Over the following six years, the Intifada became more organised and included economic and cultural measures aimed at disrupting the Israeli occupation. More than a thousand people were killed in the violence.[202] During the 1991 Gulf War, the PLO supported Saddam Hussein and Iraqi Scud missile attacks against Israel. Despite public outrage, Israel heeded US calls to refrain from hitting back and did not participate in that war.[203][204]

In 1992, Yitzhak Rabin became Prime Minister following an election in which his party called for compromise with Israel’s neighbors.[205][206] The following year, Shimon Peres on behalf of Israel, and Mahmoud Abbas for the PLO, signed the Oslo Accords, which gave the Palestinian National Authority the right to govern parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[207] The PLO also recognized Israel’s right to exist and pledged an end to terrorism.[208] In 1994, the IsraelJordan Treaty of Peace was signed, making Jordan the second Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.[209] Arab public support for the Accords was damaged by the continuation of Israeli settlements[210] and checkpoints, and the deterioration of economic conditions.[211] Israeli public support for the Accords waned as Israel was struck by Palestinian suicide attacks.[212] Finally, while leaving a peace rally in November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a far-right-wing Jew who opposed the Accords.[213]

At the end of the 1990s, Israel, under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, withdrew from Hebron,[214] and signed the Wye River Memorandum, giving greater control to the Palestinian National Authority.[215]Ehud Barak, elected Prime Minister in 1999, began the new millennium by withdrawing forces from Southern Lebanon and conducting negotiations with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 2000 Camp David Summit. During the summit, Barak offered a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The proposed state included the entirety of the Gaza Strip and over 90% of the West Bank with Jerusalem as a shared capital,[216] although some argue that the plan was to annex areas which would lead to a cantonization of the West Bank into three blocs, which the Palestinian delegation likened to South African “bantustans”, a loaded word that was disputed by the Israeli and American negotiators.[217] Each side blamed the other for the failure of the talks.

After the collapse of the talks and a controversial visit by Likud leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount, the Second Intifada began. Some commentators contend that the uprising was pre-planned by Yasser Arafat due to the collapse of peace talks.[218][219][220][221] Sharon became prime minister in a 2001 special election. During his tenure, Sharon carried out his plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and also spearheaded the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier,[222] ending the Intifada.[223][224] By this time 1,100 Israelis had been killed, mostly in suicide bombings.[225] The Palestinian fatalities, by 30 April 2008, reached 4,745 killed by Israeli security forces, 44 killed by Israeli civilians, and 577 killed by Palestinians.[226]

In July 2006, a Hezbollah artillery assault on Israel’s northern border communities and a cross-border abduction of two Israeli soldiers precipitated the month-long Second Lebanon War.[227][228] On 6 September 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. In May 2008, Israel confirmed it had been discussing a peace treaty with Syria for a year, with Turkey as a go-between.[229] However, at the end of the year, Israel entered another conflict as a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel collapsed. The Gaza War lasted three weeks and ended after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire.[230][231] Hamas announced its own ceasefire, with its own conditions of complete withdrawal and opening of border crossings. Despite neither the rocket launchings nor Israeli retaliatory strikes having completely stopped, the fragile ceasefire remained in order.[232] In what Israel described as a response to more than a hundred Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities,[233] Israel began an operation in Gaza on 14 November 2012, lasting eight days.[234] Israel started another operation in Gaza following an escalation of rocket attacks by Hamas in July 2014.[235]

Israel is at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and Egypt and the Gaza strip to the southwest. It lies between latitudes 29 and 34 N, and longitudes 34 and 36 E.

The sovereign territory of Israel, excluding all territories captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, is approximately 20,770 square kilometers (8,019sqmi) in area, of which twopercent is water.[8] However Israel is so narrow that the exclusive economic zone in the Mediterranean is double the land area of the country.[236] The total area under Israeli law, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, is 22,072 square kilometers (8,522sqmi),[237] and the total area under Israeli control, including the military-controlled and partially Palestinian-governed territory of the West Bank, is 27,799 square kilometers (10,733sqmi).[238] Despite its small size, Israel is home to a variety of geographic features, from the Negev desert in the south to the inland fertile Jezreel Valley, mountain ranges of the Galilee, Carmel and toward the Golan in the north. The Israeli Coastal Plain on the shores of the Mediterranean is home to 57 percent of the nation’s population.[239][240][241] East of the central highlands lies the Jordan Rift Valley, which forms a small part of the 6,500-kilometer (4,039mi) Great Rift Valley.

The Jordan River runs along the Jordan Rift Valley, from Mount Hermon through the Hulah Valley and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth.[242] Further south is the Arabah, ending with the Gulf of Eilat, part of the Red Sea. Unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula are makhteshim, or erosion cirques.[243] The largest makhtesh in the world is Ramon Crater in the Negev,[244] which measures 40 by 8 kilometers (25 by 5mi).[245] A report on the environmental status of the Mediterranean basin states that Israel has the largest number of plant species per square meter of all the countries in the basin.[246]

The Jordan Rift Valley is the result of tectonic movements within the Dead Sea Transform (DSF) fault system. The DSF forms the transform boundary between the African Plate to the west and the Arabian Plate to the east. The Golan Heights and all of Jordan are part of the Arabian Plate, while the Galilee, West Bank, Coastal Plain, and Negev along with the Sinai Peninsula are on the African Plate.

This tectonic disposition leads to a relatively high seismic activity in the region. The region has experienced many earthquakes, the most destructive ones being those of 31 BCE, 363, 749, and 1033. Major earthquakes have included:

Temperatures in Israel vary widely, especially during the winter. Coastal areas, such as those of Tel Aviv and Haifa, have a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers. The area of Beersheba and the Northern Negev has a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters and fewer rainy days than the Mediterranean climate. The Southern Negev and the Arava areas have desert climate with very hot and dry summers, and mild winters with few days of rain. The highest temperature in the continent of Asia (53.7C or 128.7F) was recorded in 1942 at Tirat Zvi kibbutz in the northern Jordan river valley.[263] At the other extreme, more mountainous regions can be windy, cold, and sometimes snowy and areas and, at elevation of 750 metres or more (with a similar elevation as Jerusalem), these areas will usually receive at least one snowfall each year.[264]

From May to September, rain in Israel is rare.[265][266] With scarce water resources, Israel has developed various water-saving technologies, including drip irrigation.[267] Israelis also take advantage of the considerable sunlight available for solar energy, making Israel the leading nation in solar energy use per capita (practically every house uses solar panels for water heating).[268]

Four different phytogeographic regions exist in Israel, due to the country’s location between the temperate and the tropical zones, bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east. For this reason the flora and fauna of Israel is extremely diverse. There are 2,867 known species of plants found in Israel. Of these, at least 253 species are introduced and non-native.[269] There are 380 Israeli nature reserves.[270]

In late 2014, Israel’s population was an estimated 8.2 millionpeople, of whom 6,135,000 (74.9%) were Jews.[271]Arab citizens of Israel comprised 20.7% of the population, while those of other origins made up 4.3%.[29] Over the last decade, large numbers of migrant workers from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa, and South America have settled in Israel. Exact figures are unknown, as many of them are living in the country illegally,[272] but estimates run in the region of 203,000.[31] By June 2012, approximately 60,000 African migrants had entered Israel.[273] About 92% of Israelis live in urban areas.[274]

Retention of Israel’s population since 1948 is about even or greater, when compared to other countries with mass immigration.[275] Emigration from Israel (yerida) to other countries, primarily the United States and Canada, is described by demographers as modest,[276] but is often cited by Israeli government ministries as a major threat to Israel’s future.[277][278]

In 2009[update], over 300,000 Israeli citizens lived in West Bank settlements[279] such as Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel, and communities that predated the establishment of the State but were re-established after the Six-Day War, in cities such as Hebron and Gush Etzion. In 2011, there were 250,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem.[280] 20,000 Israelis live in Golan Heights settlements.[198] The total number of Israeli settlers is over 500,000 (6.5% of the Israeli population). Approximately 7,800 Israelis lived in settlements in the Gaza Strip, until they were evacuated by the government as part of its 2005 disengagement plan.[281]

Israel was established as a homeland for the Jewish people and is often referred to as a Jewish state. The country’s Law of Return grants all Jews and those of Jewish lineage the right to Israeli citizenship.[282] Over three quarters, or 75.5%, of the population are Jews from a diversity of Jewish backgrounds. Around 4% of Israelis (300,000), ethnically defined as “others”, are Russian-descendants of Jewish origin or family who are not Jewish according to rabbinical law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.[283][284][285] Approximately 73% of Israeli Jews are Israeli-born, 18.4% are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 8.6% are immigrants from Asia and Africa (including the Arab World).[286][287] Jews from Europe and the former Soviet Union and their Israeli-born descendants, including Ashkenazi Jews, constitute approximately 50% of Jewish Israelis. Jews who left or fled Arab and Muslim countries and their descendants, including both Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews,[288] form most of the rest of the Jewish population.[289][290][291] Jewish intermarriage rates run at over 35% and recent studies suggest that the percentage of Israelis descended from both Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews increases by 0.5 percent every year, with over 25% of school children now originating from both communities.[292]

* This number includes East Jerusalem and West Bank areas. Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is internationally disputed.

Israel operates under a parliamentary system as a democratic republic with universal suffrage.[8] A member of parliament supported by a parliamentary majority becomes the prime ministerusually this is the chair of the largest party. The prime minister is the head of government and head of the cabinet.[294][295] Israel is governed by a 120-member parliament, known as the Knesset. Membership of the Knesset is based on proportional representation of political parties,[296] with a 3.25% electoral threshold, which in practice has resulted in coalition governments.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled every four years, but unstable coalitions or a no-confidence vote by the Knesset can dissolve a government earlier. The Basic Laws of Israel function as an uncodified constitution. In 2003, the Knesset began to draft an official constitution based on these laws.[8][297] The president of Israel is head of state, with limited and largely ceremonial duties.[294]

Israel has a three-tier court system. At the lowest level are magistrate courts, situated in most cities across the country. Above them are district courts, serving as both appellate courts and courts of first instance; they are situated in five of Israel’s six districts. The third and highest tier is the Supreme Court, located in Jerusalem; it serves a dual role as the highest court of appeals and the High Court of Justice. In the latter role, the Supreme Court rules as a court of first instance, allowing individuals, both citizens and non-citizens, to petition against the decisions of state authorities.[298][299] Although Israel supports the goals of the International Criminal Court, it has not ratified the Rome Statute, citing concerns about the ability of the court to remain free from political impartiality.[300]

Israel’s legal system combines three legal traditions: English common law, civil law, and Jewish law.[8] It is based on the principle of stare decisis (precedent) and is an adversarial system, where the parties in the suit bring evidence before the court. Court cases are decided by professional judges rather than juries.[298] Marriage and divorce are under the jurisdiction of the religious courts: Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian. A committee of Knesset members, Supreme Court justices, and Israeli Bar members carries out the election of judges.[301] Administration of Israel’s courts (both the “General” courts and the Labor Courts) is carried by the Administration of Courts, situated in Jerusalem. Both General and Labor courts are paperless courts: the storage of court files, as well as court decisions, are conducted electronically. Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty seeks to defend human rights and liberties in Israel.

Israel has no official religion,[302][303][304] but the definition of the state as “Jewish and democratic” creates a strong connection with Judaism, as well as a conflict between state law and religious law. Interaction between the political parties keeps the balance between state and religion largely as it existed during the British Mandate.[305]

The State of Israel is divided into six main administrative districts, known as mehozot (; singular: mahoz) Center, Haifa, Jerusalem, North, Southern, and Tel Aviv Districts, as well as the Judea and Samaria Area in the West Bank. All of the Judea and Samaria Area and parts of the Jerusalem and North districts are not recognized internationally as part of Israel. Districts are further divided into fifteen sub-districts known as nafot (; singular: nafa), which are themselves partitioned into fifty natural regions.[306]

For statistical purposes, the country is divided into three metropolitan areas: Tel Aviv metropolitan area (population 3,206,400), Haifa metropolitan area (population 1,021,000), and Beer Sheva metropolitan area (population 559,700).[311] Israel’s largest municipality, in population and area,[312] is Jerusalem with 773,800 residents in an area of 126 square kilometres (49sqmi) (in 2009). Israeli government statistics on Jerusalem include the population and area of East Jerusalem, which is widely recognized as part of the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation.[313]Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion rank as Israel’s next most populous cities, with populations of 393,900, 265,600, and 227,600 respectively.[312]

In 1967, as a result of the Six-Day War, Israel captured and occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. Israel also captured the Sinai Peninsula, but returned it to Egypt as part of the 1979 IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty.[314] Between 1982 and 2000, Israel occupied part of southern Lebanon, in what was known as the Security Zone.

Since Israel’s capture of these territories, Israeli settlements and military installations have been built within each of them. Israel has applied civilian law to the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, unilaterally incorporating them into its sovereign territory and granting their inhabitants permanent residency status with the ability to apply for citizenship. In contrast the West Bank, outside of the Israeli settlements within that territory, has remained under direct military rule, and Palestinians in this area cannot become Israeli citizens. Israel withdrew its military forces and dismantled the Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip as part of its disengagement from Gaza though it continues to maintain control of its airspace and waters. The UN Security Council has declared the annexation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem to be “null and void” and continues to view the territories as occupied.[315][316] The International Court of Justice, principal judicial organ of the United Nations, asserted, in its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier, that the lands captured by Israel in the Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territory.[317]

The status of East Jerusalem in any future peace settlement has at times been a difficult issue in negotiations between Israeli governments and representatives of the Palestinians, as Israel views it as its sovereign territory, as well as part of its capital. Most negotiations relating to the territories have been on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which emphasises “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, and calls on Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in return for normalization of relations with Arab states, a principle known as “Land for peace”.[318][319][320]

The West Bank was annexed by Jordan in 1950, following the Arab rejection of the UN decision to create two states in Palestine. Only Britain recognized this annexation and Jordan has since ceded its claim to the territory to the PLO. The West Bank was occupied by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War. The population are mainly Palestinians, including refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[321] From their occupation in 1967 until 1993, the Palestinians living in these territories were under Israeli military administration. Since the IsraelPLO letters of recognition, most of the Palestinian population and cities have been under the internal jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has on several occasions redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration during periods of unrest. In response to increasing attacks as part of the Second Intifada, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier.[322] When completed, approximately 13% of the Barrier will be constructed on the Green Line or in Israel with 87% inside the West Bank.[323][324]

The Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and then by Israel after 1967. In 2005, as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, Israel removed all of its settlers and forces from the territory. Israel does not consider the Gaza Strip to be occupied territory and declared it a “foreign territory”. That view has been disputed by numerous international humanitarian organizations and various bodies of the United Nations.[325][326][327][328][329] Following June 2007, when Hamas assumed power in the Gaza Strip,[330] Israel tightened its control of the Gaza crossings along its border, as well as by sea and air, and prevented persons from entering and exiting the area except for isolated cases it deemed humanitarian.[330] Gaza has a border with Egypt and an agreement between Israel, the European Union and the PA governed how border crossing would take place (it was monitored by European observers).[331] Egypt adhered to this agreement under Mubarak and prevented access to Gaza until April 2011 when it announced it was opening its border with Gaza.

Continue reading here:
Israel – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tanakh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tanakh (;[1]Hebrew: “, pronounced[tana] or [tnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) or Mikra is the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The traditional Hebrew text is known as the Masoretic Text.

Tanakh is an acronym of the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text’s three traditional subdivisions: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”)hence TaNaKh. The name “Mikra” (), meaning “that which is read”, is another Hebrew word for the Tanakh. The books of the Tanakh were passed on by each generation, and according to rabbinic tradition were accompanied by an oral tradition, called the Oral Torah.

The three-part division reflected in the acronym “Tanakh” is well attested in literature of the Rabbinic period.[2] During that period, however, “Tanakh” was not used. Instead, the proper title was Mikra (or Miqra, , meaning “reading” or “that which is read”) because the biblical texts were read publicly. Mikra continues to be used in Hebrew to this day, alongside Tanakh, to refer to the Hebrew scriptures. In modern spoken Hebrew, they are interchangeable.[3]

There is no scholarly consensus as to when the Hebrew Bible canon was fixed: some scholars argue that it was fixed by the Hasmonean dynasty,[4] while others argue it was not fixed until the second century CE or even later.[5]

According to the Talmud much of the contents of the Tanakh was compiled by the men of the Great Assembly (Anshei K’nesset HaGedolah), a task completed in 450BCE, and has remained unchanged since that date.[6]

Formal closure of the canon has often been ascribed to Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the First Temple in 587BCE.[citation needed]

The twenty-four book canon is mentioned in the Midrash Koheleth 12:12.[7]

The original writing system of the Hebrew text was an abjad: consonants written with some applied vowel letters (“matres lectionis”). During the early Middle Ages scholars known as the Masoretes created a single formalized system of vocalization. This was chiefly done by Aaron ben Moses ben Asher, in the Tiberias school, based on the oral tradition for reading the Tanakh, hence the name Tiberian vocalization. It also included some innovations of Ben Naftali and the Babylonian exiles.[8] Despite the comparatively late process of codification, some traditional sources and some Orthodox Jews hold the pronunciation and cantillation to derive from the revelation at Sinai, since it is impossible to read the original text without pronunciations and cantillation pauses.[9] The combination of a text ( mikra), pronunciation ( niqqud) and cantillation ( te`amim) enable the reader to understand both the simple meaning and the nuances in sentence flow of the text.

The Tanakh consists of twenty-four books: it counts as one book each Samuel, Kings, Chronicles and Ezra-Nehemiah and counts Trei Asar ( , the Twelve Prophets; literally “twelve”) as a single book.

The Torah (, literally “teaching”) consists of five books, commonly referred to as the “Five Books of Moses”. Printed versions of the Torah are often called Chamisha Chumshei Torah ( , literally the “five five-sections of the Torah”), and informally a Chumash.

In Hebrew, the five books of the Torah are identified by the first prominent word in each book.

Nevi’im (Hebrew: N’m, “Prophets”) is the second main division of the Hebrew Bible, between the Torah and Ketuvim. It contains two sub-groups, the Former Prophets (Nevi’im Rishonim , the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Nevi’im Aharonim , the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets). This division includes the books which cover the time from the entrance of the Israelites into the Land of Israel until the Babylonian captivity of Judah (the “period of prophecy”). Their distribution is not chronological, but substantive.

The Twelve Minor Prophets ( , Trei Asar, “The Twelve”) considered as one book in Judaism.

Ketuvim (, “Writings”) consists of eleven books, described below.

In masoretic manuscripts (and some printed editions), Psalms, Proverbs and Job are presented in a special two-column form emphasizing the parallel stichs in the verses, which are a function of their poetry. Collectively, these three books are known as Sifrei Emet (an acronym of the titles in Hebrew, , , yields Emet “, which is also the Hebrew for “truth”).

These three books are also the only ones in Tanakh with a special system of cantillation notes that are designed to emphasize parallel stichs within verses. However, the beginning and end of the book of Job are in the normal prose system.

The five relatively short books of the Song of Songs, the Book of Ruth, the Book of Lamentations, Ecclesiastes and the Book of Esther are collectively known as the Hamesh Megillot (Five Megillot). These are the latest books collected and designated as “authoritative” in the Jewish canon even though they were not complete until the 2nd century CE.[10] These scrolls are traditionally read over the course of the year in many Jewish communities. The list below presents them in the order they are read in the synagogue on holidays, beginning with the Song of Solomon on Passover.

Besides the three poetic books and the five scrolls, the remaining books in Ketuvim are Daniel, EzraNehemiah and Chronicles. Although there is no formal grouping for these books in the Jewish tradition, they nevertheless share a number of distinguishing characteristics.

The following list presents the books of Ketuvim in the order they appear in most printed editions. It also divides them into three subgroups based on the distinctiveness of Sifrei Emet and Hamesh Megillot.

The three poetic books (Sifrei Emet)

The Five Megillot (Hamesh Megillot)

Other books

The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim. The Babylonian Talmud (Bava Batra 14b-15a) gives their order as Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Daniel, Scroll of Esther, Ezra, Chronicles.[citation needed]

In Tiberian Masoretic codices, including the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex, and often in old Spanish manuscripts as well, the order is Chronicles, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Esther, Daniel, Ezra.[citation needed]

There are two major approaches towards study of, and commentary on, the Tanakh. In the Jewish community, the classical approach is religious study of the Bible, where it is assumed that the Bible is divinely inspired. Another approach is to study the Bible as a human creation. In this approach, Biblical studies can be considered as a sub-field of religious studies. The later practice, when applied to the Torah, is considered heresy by the Orthodox Jewish community. As such, much modern day Bible commentary written by non-Orthodox authors is considered forbidden by rabbis teaching in Orthodox yeshivas. Some classical rabbinic commentators, such as Abraham Ibn Ezra, Gersonides, and Maimonides, used many elements of contemporary biblical criticism, including their knowledge of history, science, and philology. Their use of historical and scientific analysis of the Bible was considered acceptable by historic Judaism due to the author’s faith commitment to the idea that God revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The Modern Orthodox Jewish community allows for a wider array of biblical criticism to be used for biblical books outside of the Torah, and a few Orthodox commentaries now incorporate many of the techniques previously found in the academic world, e.g. the Da’at Miqra series. Non-Orthodox Jews, including those affiliated with Conservative Judaism and Reform Judaism, accept both traditional and secular approaches to Bible studies. “Jewish commentaries on the Bible”, discusses Jewish Tanakh commentaries from the Targums to classical rabbinic literature, the midrash literature, the classical medieval commentators, and modern day commentaries.

Visit link:
Tanakh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jewish Conspiracy 41 – Overlords of Chaos

“The name Sephardim, designating the Spanish and Portuguese Jews comes from the biblical book, Obadiah, verse 20, ‘…the exiles of Jerusalem who are in the Sepharad shall possess the cities of Negeb’ … The name Ashkenazim, designating the German Jews comes from Genesis 10:2, ‘The sons of Gomer, Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah’…” Ludwig Albrecht, In Die Geschichte des Volkes Israel (The History of the People of Israel) 1926

A thousand years before the establishment of the Zionist State of Israel, there also existed a nominally Jewish kingdom on the eastern fringes of Europe. This was the Kingdom of the Khazars astride the Don and Volga rivers. The kingdom of Khazaria was ruled over by two monarchs and inhabited by a mixed population that included people who professed to be descendants of Judah: to be “the Jews” of the Bible.

The Khazars were a Turkic people who originated in Central Asia and it is believed that reddish hair was predominant among them before the Mongol conquests that altered their gene pool. The Khazars originally nomads who believed in Tengri shamanism and spoke a Turkic language. The earliest history of the Khazars in southern Russia before the middle of the 6th century is obscure. However, from about 550 to 630, the Khazars were part of the Western Turkish Empire, ruled by the Celestial Blue Turks (Kk Turks). The Khazars gained their independence following civil wars in the middle of the 7th century that broke up the Western Turkish Empire. As is the case with every inchoative nation arising from old empires, the Khazars adopted the familiar practices of their former masters, the Kk khaganate, such as following the same guidelines as the Kk Turks regarding the succession of kings. The Khazars eventually absorbed Judaism, Islam and Christianity, learned Hebrew and Slavic, and became settled in cities and towns throughout the north Caucasus and Ukraine. Khazaria flourished for approximately 800 years from the 5th to the 13th century when it foundered and collapsed. The dual-monarchy system of Khazaria was a Turkic imperial structure under which the khagan ‘emperor’ was the supreme king and the bek ‘king’ was the civilian army leader. The khagans originally came from the Turkic Asena ruling family that had provided khagans for other Central Asian nations in the early medieval period.

Khazaria extended from the Black Sea to the Caspian and from the Caucasus to the Volga and its military power played a major role in principal wars in the Caucasus region. In the early 7th century, the Khazars aided the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (reigned 610-41) in his campaign against Persian State and in the 7th and 8th centuries, they defended the south-eastern frontier of Europe from invasion by the Arabs. Although victory passed repeatedly from Arab to Khazar, Arab counterattacks finally compelled the Khazars to permanently withdraw north of the Caucasus. These hostilities are the so-called Arab-Khazar Wars, which effectively stopped Islamic incursions into eastern Christendom. Khazaria therefore acting as a buffer state between the Islamic world and the Christian world and prevented Islam from significantly spreading north of the Caucasus Mountains. But, there was a problem: by the mid-8th century its own power was becoming encroached by two major world powers: the Eastern Roman Empire centred at Byzantium and the triumphant followers of Muhammad.

The Khazar Empire, representing a significant third force, was courted by the other two powers that both pressured it to adopt their respective religion. It appeared that Khazaria could only maintain its political and ideological independence by rejecting both Christianity and Islam, for either choice would have automatically subordinated it to the authority of the Roman Emperor or the Caliph of Baghdad. Not wishing to be dominated by either of the two, the khagan did a canny thing: he embraced the Jewish faith in AD 740 and ordered his subjects to do the same. Furthermore, by resisting the blandishments of both Byzantium and the Caliphate and deciding to convert to Judaism, the third monotheistic religion, Khazaria retained its neutrality between Christianity and Islam.

Moreover, by adopting Judaism it was not only a symbol of political independence for Khazaria, but that it also held the balance of power between Muslim Caliphate and the Christian Byzantine Empire. The political influence of Khazaria was reflected in its close relations with the Byzantine emperors: Justinian II (704) and Constantine V (732) who each had a Khazar wife. Although the circumstances of the conversion are obscure and the depth of acceptance of Judaism difficult to assess the fact is undisputed the khagan and the greater part of the ruling class became Hebraic. One account tells us that this conversion was a result of migration of refugee Jews fleeing the Mazdaq rebellion in Persia, the persecutions of Byzantine emperors Leo III and Romanus I Lecapenus, and for a variety of other reasons, from modern-day Uzbekistan, Armenia, Hungary, Syria, Turkey, Iraq. Since merchants from every nation found protection and good faith in the Khazar cities, so too did the Jew. The Jews, expelled from numerous places sought a home in Khazaria, developed the Khazar trade, and contended with Mahommedans and Christians for the theological allegiance of the pagan people. And so these refugee Jews apparently offered their religion to the Khazar whom found it better than their own and accepted it.

Khazaria reached its zenith of power in the interval between the decline of the Mohammedan Empire and the rise of Russia. In 861, when the Khazars sent to Constantinople for a Christian teacher Cyril was selected and was accompanied by his brother, Methodius. These brothers came from Greek nobility whose family was connected with the senate of Thessalonica, and whose mother, Maria, may have been Slavic. Although Cyril and Methodius converted many of the people their overall mission was a failure because by that time the Khazars had already adopted a basic level of Judaism (Pharisiasm) that had become rooted in their hearts. However, their success elsewhere in the region, converting many of the Slavs to Christianity, earned them the title “Apostles of the Slavs.” In 861, after holding a debate between representatives of the Jewish, Christian (Cyril and Methodius) and Muslim faiths, Khagan Bulan chose to adopted Judaism. Judaism thus became the official state religion of the Khazars and under the leadership of khagans Bulan and Obadiah, the orthodox rabbinical form of the Jewish religion spread among the hitherto pagan Khazars. Obadiah later established synagogues and Jewish schools in Khazaria thereby fostering knowledge of the Mishnah, Talmud, and Torah, which thus became important to Khazars. The proselytism of Khazaria accelerated until the Khazar kingdom began to be described as the “Kingdom of the Jews” by contemporary chroniclers.

Succeeding Khazar rulers took Jewish names, and during the late 9th Century the Khazar kingdom became a safe haven for dispossessed Jews from other lands. By the 10th century, the Khazars wrote using Hebrew-Aramaic letters and all extant important Khazar documents from that period are in Hebrew. Russian archaeologists have established that at least in the Don river valley Jewish communities were well established in the kingdom. A Ukrainian professor, Omeljan Pritsak, estimated that there were as many as 30,000 Jews in Khazaria by the 10th century.

By the 10th century, faced with the growing might of the Pechenegs to their north and west and of the Russians around Kiev, Khazaria suffered a decline. Then in 965, the Rus Prince Svyatoslav, the ruler of Kiev, launched a campaign against the Khazars that crushed their power. In 1016 joint expedition of Russians and Byzantines removed what little political influence remained within Khazaria while the last trace of the kingdom of Khazaria was finally extinguished in 1239 by the Mongol invasion of Balu Khan. Although the Khazars continued to be mentioned in historical documents as late as the 12th century they appeared to have walked off the stage of history. Furthermore, despite the relative sophistication of Khazar civilisation and the wealth of information about the Khazars preserved in Byzantine and Arab sources, not a single line of the Khazar language has survived. Following the collapse of their empire, the Khazar people slipped into anonymity some of them migrated west and north into Russia, Hungary, Romania and Poland.

Although the Khazar people my have disappeared from the historical record their brief presence in it, and apparent disappearance from it, has caused a storm of controversy in recent years. The contention centres on the question of whether the Khazars were proper Jews religiously and whether they were proper Jews racially. Moreover, whether they are the antecedents of Eastern European Jewry often called the Ashkenazim. The Ashkenazim themselves obviously think so. According to the Jewish Encyclopedia the majority of pagan Khazaria suddenly converted to the Jewish religion in 620, or more probably in 740, following their khagan of and his grandees. King Joseph in a letter sent about 960 to one Shaprut gives the following account of the conversion:

On the thorny subject of the conversion of Khazaria and the depth of the acceptance of Judaism by the overall population the Jewish Encyclopedia states the following on the subject using an alternate spelling of Khazars:

In The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia: under the heading “Khazars” we find:

And under the heading “Proselytes,” The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia states the following:

Similarly, The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, under the heading “Khazars,” begins its synonymous narrative by repeating essentially the same information:

Bernard Lazare (1865-1903) was a journalist who gained fame as the first defender of Captain Dreyfus, the French army officer of Jewish descent who was falsely imprisoned for treason in 1894, and thus the first Drefusyard. Moreover, he was perhaps the first French Jewish intellectual to commit fully to Zionism as a political solution to the “Jewish Problem.” In his book, Antisemitism: Its History and Causes summarises the Khazarian conversion to Judaism:

People under Khazar dominion included the Bulgars, Burtas, Ghuzz, Magyars, the Gothic and Greek colonies of the Crimea, and the Slavonic tribes in the north-western woodland. Khazaria was therefore a melting pot of racial types that were not of the bloodline of Judah and therefore not true Jews mentioned so frequently in the Bible. And there lies the rub: the special status of the Jew in Scripture as “God’s chosen people” is compromised if it can be found that the modern Jew can not prove the blood in his veins flowed, so to speak, in the veins of Abraham and King David. The plea that they are the Covenant People of the Bible and are deserving of special treatment falls flat on its face if the Ashkenazim are not the progeny of “Jewish Khazaria,” but also that, if indeed they are, that Khazaria was predominantly Gentile and not properly Jewish at all. Recent research has dispelled much of the mystery of Khazaria but has also opened up a can of worms for the proper understanding of the “Jewish Problem” as Theodor Herzl the supposed creator of Zionism described it.

The book that started the modern debate was The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler (1905-83) published in 1976. Koestler was a Jewish Hungarian migr who adopted British citizenship and was an honest man who realised not only the absurdity of Communism but also its inherent Evil and his misguided youthful enthusiasm for it. Unlike many of his contemporaries, the clever liberals and intellectuals like Sartre and Brecht, who waxed lyrical about the joys of Stalinism while “Uncle Joe” himself plotted the murder of millions. Moreover, since 1948, since the creation of Zionist Israel in Palestine, the question “who is a Jew” has been the subject of endless debate. At the heart of the debate is the perennial refrain that “the Jews” -the Modern Tribe of Jews- are the Chosen People and God Himself gifted the land of Palestine to them, “the seed of Abraham,” the Tribe of Judah and “the Jews” of the Bible (Gen. 17; Lev. 26:42). For, in the Old Testament, in the Book of Genesis, we find that Abram described as the only true believer residing in the great Chaldean city of Ur. Following the death of his wife, Abram was instructed by God to move away from Mesopotamia and into Canaan, which he obeyed. He lived as a nomad and everywhere he camped he built an altar and worshipped God.

Famine forced him to move into Egypt, but God told him to return to Canaan, for that was the land He had promised to give to the new nation to be founded by Abram under God’s protection. In recognition of his faith and to commemorate His gift of national greatness, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, “father of nations.” Abraham had remarried, to Sarah, and both had grown old, and yet still they did not have children. Then Sarah give birth to a son Isaac, and it was through him, this Isaac, that God would deliver the promise of national greatness and divine favour. Whilst Isaac was still a boy, God tested Abraham’s faith by instructing him to take Isaac to a distant mountain and sacrifice him there. Abraham obeyed, and with a heavy heart bound is beloved son to an altar, he then raised the knife ready to strike, when God’s angel intervened stopping the mortal blow. A ram, caught in a nearby bush, was sacrificed instead. God then repeated his promises to Abraham, namely, national greatness for his descendants. God had thus concluded a covenant with Abraham and had thus entered into a special relationship with Abraham and his descendants; and as a sign of this covenant he enjoined on them the rite of circumcision.

The great prophet of Yahweh, Moses, renewed the covenant gifted upon Abraham and his progeny on Mount Sinai when, before the giving of the Law, he and his people, the Israelites, pledged to keep Yahweh’s Covenant. (Exod. 19: 8). To signify the mystical union of Israel and its God, Moses, after the giving of the Law, “took [half of] the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words” and half upon the altar of the Lord (Exod. 24: 6-8). This is the Abrahamic Covenant that not only determined the religious character of the descendants of Abraham as the Chosen People of Yahweh but is also the Divine mandate that justifies in perpetuity the Israelite claim to Canaan.

However, it is the Modern Tribe of Jews that has come forward as claimant of this ancient promise. And certain Christian and most Jewish authorities uphold this claim. Moreover, to these Zionists, both Christian and Jewish, and Christian Zionists there is no doubt on the matter other than getting the land and keeping it by whatever means necessary.

This is the rationale behind the connivance with Nazidom in the assault on European Jewry, the terrorism against the British Mandate authority and indigenous Arab population, and the ruthless destruction of enemies both external and internal. It is also the rationale behind the British-Israelite movement initiated in the 1860s from within Freemasonry to establish a Jewish-Masonic State in the Turkish province of Palestine. The creation of a One World Government is an imperative in Dark Freemasonry that the outer brethren, who are deliberately kept in ignorance by their masters, are just as unaware as the majority of the world’s population who are not Freemasons. For, the ultimate goal in Dark Freemasonry is not the establishment of the Zionist State of Israel but the establishment of the Freemasonic World Empire with its One World Religion centred in the rebuilt third Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem.

“As the navel is set in the centre of the human body, so is the land of Israel the navel of the world … situated in the centre of the world, and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel, and the sanctuary in the centre of Jerusalem, and the holy place in the centre of the sanctuary, and the ark in the centre of the holy place, and the foundation stone before the holy place, because from it the world was founded.” Midrash Tanchuma, Qedoshim.

The Khazar question therefore falls into the category of debate that lies at the very heart of the Ancient Agenda for World Government that is the Great Conspiracy against God brought to Earth. A question that involves the nature of Creation, the nature of humanity’s function in Creation, the nature of the Incarnation of Christ, the nature of the Jewish role in the historical process and the nature of Jews themselves. It is also perforce concerned with the Great Conspiracy against God. For, out of Khazaria arose the families whose bloodlines go back far into antiquity and who are today the powerful banking dynasties that are an integral part of the Evil conspiracy against God. This is fundamental to understanding of the “Jewish Problem” and how it has been perverted by an Evil Cabal of Black Adepts, that has worked to bring the Kingdom of Evil to fruition on Earth since at least 4000 BC.

Reader, understand this: the wicked and Evil people who seek to destroy Western Civilisation founded upon the Christ Impulse released during the Mystery at Golgotha understand the human heart well. They know how to nurture hatred and foment fear and terror in the affairs of men and how easy men are corrupted by their innate evil natures. These Dark Masters have studied well how to corrupt and ensnare people into their web of Evil. They understand all too well the venality of the human condition and have developed subtle strategies to exploit it. Thus, one of these stratagems is the corruption of the Jewish race by perverting the concept of the “Chosen People,” which has repeatedly led them into great terrors. Thus, the unique role of the Jew in the historical process has been co-opted by these Dark Adepts, the Brotherhood of Darkness. These have used Black Magic throughout time and across continents to corrupt and ensnare not only the leaders of the Jews, but also leaders of other nations in their Evil web of intrigue. These Dark Adepts are disciples of Satan and Lucifer, the Dark Gods, who have ceaselessly acted to destroy the Christ Impulse since its inception.

They have moved against God and have used whatever and whoever to advance their Great Conspiracy. And they have therefore also used the uniqueness of Jewry to do this. For, they are the headmen of the Great Conspiracy and are the human agents of Ahriman and Lucifer, who are the Dark Gods and who are the true Overlords of Chaos.

Thus, although the vast majority of Khazars were not bloodline Jews and therefore not of Judah’s House, that they merely adopted Judaism and became “Jews” does not exclude them from being considered Jewish. For the especial status of Judahites mentioned repeatedly in the Old Testament regarding the purity of their blood has been relinquished because the specific eugenic task of safeguarding the “pure Jew” has been accomplished. The racial purity of Judah was paramount in antiquity to insulate the Jew from the Luciferian consciousness raging across the land concretised in the Gnostic mystery religions. The Divine Powers had decreed that the Seed of Abraham, but especially the tribe of Judah, would be the human vehicle for the delivery of the Christ Impulse into the physical realm. Thus an immaculate human soul and perfect human body was required to receive the Incarnation of Christ, the Sun God, into flesh and blood. A body and soul untainted with Luciferian Consciousness was required, and thus the generations leading up to the birth of this perfect human, the best of humanity, had perforce to be protected from the corrupting influences of Lucifer. This is the reason for the Old Testament prophets fulminating against their backsliding kinsmen and the real meaning behind the concept of “God’s Chosen People.” It is also the reason for the destruction of antediluvian races, in the “Flood,” that had become too corrupted by the Luciferian consciousness to be redeemed.

In his carefully researched book, Arthur Koestler provoked a storm because in it he refutes the idea of a Jewish race per se. Furthermore, he states that most Jews of the contemporary world cannot trace their ancestry to the patriarch Judah because they are not of Semitic origin and did not come from Judaea. Koestler concluded that the majority of Jews in the world were in reality bogus and had become Jews through conversion, on the orders of their king:

While Jews of different origin also contributed to the existing Jewish world community, Koestler a Hungarian Jew asserts that:

Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Near East was polarised between these two great power representing Christianity and Islam, the Khazar Empire, represented a third independent force that:

Not wishing to be dominated by either of the two theocratic powers, the khagan “embraced the Jewish faith” in AD 740 and ordered his subjects to do the same. Judaism thus, asserts Koestler, became the state religion of the Khazars, not out of devotion or love, but purely political reasons. In the 16th century Jews, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, in an article “Statistics,” Jews numbered about one million:

Koestler quotes scholars who documented that:

Koestler concludes his book with the damning conclusion that is at the heart of the debate:

Koestler thenmakes a rather startling observation, that:

Bernard Joseph Brown, another Jew, in his book From Pharaoh to Hitler, ‘What Is A Jew?” agreed with Koestler that since the Jews of today are not proper Hebrews, they have no claim to Palestine:

Koestler also points out that contemporary Jewry can be split into two main branches: Sephardim and Ashkenazim. The former branch of Jewry are the descendants of the Jews who had lived in Spain until their expulsion, along with the Muslims, at the end of the 15th century, and who later settled along the Mediterranean littoral, and who spoke a Spanish-Hebrew dialect, Ladino. In the 1960s, Koestler informs us, the Sephardim numbered about 500,000. The latter branch of Jewry is the Ashkenazim, who at the same period were about 11 million. Koestler quotes, A.N. Poliak, a Tel Aviv University professor of medieval Jewish history, as his source for this assumption that the descendants of Khazar Jews were:

Under the heading “Ashkenazi, Ashkenazim,” The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia. provides population statistics for the Ashkenazim:

Wilmot Robertson in his book The Dispossessed Majority confirms this statistic:

Jack Bernstein, an Ashkenazi Jew, in his book The Life of an American Jew in Racist Marxist Israel has this to say on the matter:

The Jewish author, James Yaffe his book The American Jews, wrote of the Ashkenazim in America. Observe that Yaffe obviously considers the Sephardic Jew nearly extinct in North America:

Thus, the non-Sephardic majority of contemporary Jewry has arrogated not only numerical supremacy but also ideological and theocratic ascendancy to a degree that “in common parlance, Jew is practically synonymous with Ashkenazi Jew.” Yet, these are upstarts who according to Koestler are not real Jews at all. For, after the destruction of their empire in the 11th century, the Jewish Khazars migrated west into Eastern Europe, but mainly Russia and Poland, where the greatest concentrations of Eastern Jews, the Ashkenazim, were found by Hitler and his hoards.

Koestler’s main thesis, that the bulk of Eastern Jewry, and hence of world Jewry is of Khazar-Turkish, rather than Semitic, origin, has caused great excitement but for very different reasons. Even the English conspiracy theorist H. G. Wells (1866-1946) in his Outline of History, reached the same conclusion:

The Jewish Encyclopedia (1905) agrees with Wells:

“John Hyrcanus conquered the whole of Edom and undertook the forced conversion of its inhabitants to Judaism [Joseph. Ant. XIII, 9, 1]. Thenceforth the Edomites became a section of the Jewish people.”

The Encyclopedia Judaica (1971) concurs:

Under the heading, “Khazar,” The New Encyclopaedia Britannica corroborates the Khazar-Jew connection:

The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible (ed. Henry S. Gehman, 1970) states that:

The story of the Khazars came to the attention of a Jewish diplomat and physician named Hasdai ibn Shaprut, foreign minister to Abd-al-Rahman, Sultan of Cordova, who learned from Byzantine messengers that Khazaria was ruled by a king named Yosef and that they are a powerful military and commercial centre. Shaprut was inspired to learn more about this Jewish kingdom, Khazaria, ruled by a king named Yosef and wrote a letter that still exists. A translation by Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin is found in an edition of The Kuzari (1998), Shaprut wrote that he

The consensus among academics and Zionists is that European Jewish ancestry originates substantially from ancient Judaea with a smattering of other bloodlines, but especially those of Khazars. Moreover, that the Khazars and the Jews mixed with each other but not on the scale suggested by some. This is, of course, a most sensitive point upon which to differ since it involves a God ordained “Chosen Land” and a “Chosen People.” The religious aspects notwithstanding, the rise of Zionism has meant that the question “who is a Jew?” takes on political connotations that involve very weighty considerations indeed. Zionism, although thoroughly atheistic in nature, arrogates the ancient dogma of a Chosen Land and a Chosen People and uses it together with the “Holocaust” and “anti-Semitic” shibboleths to condone its many outrages. Therefore, since 1948, the Zionists have succeeded in carving out a Jewish state from the land of the Palestinians, cleansing that land of its indigenous people using a breathtaking variety of tactics, including terrorism and mass murder, and still continue to press for a greater Zion while the world remains largely silent on the matter. Thus, the question of “who is a Jew” is of paramount importance.

See the rest here:
Jewish Conspiracy 41 – Overlords of Chaos

The Written Torah – Torah Shebikhtav – Hebrew for Christians

The word Torah () comes from the root word yarah meaning “to shoot an arrow” or “to hit the mark.” Properly used, the word means “teaching” or “instruction.” Teaching is associated with the Holy Spirit, just as God taught Moses what to do and say (Exod. 4:15). And it is clear that Yeshua our Messiah assumed the title of Rabbi and performed much of his ministry as a Teacher (John 1:38).

The Torah is divided into five main sections (79,847 words, 304,805 letters), as follows:

Bereshit (Genesis)

The story of the creation of the universe by the God of Israel, and how He chose the Jewish people to be His own covenant people. Bereshit means “in the beginning.”

Shemot (Exodus)

The story of the liberation of the Jewish people from their bondage in Egypt. The giving of the Mosaic covenant to Israel. Shemot means “names.”

Vaiyikra (Leviticus)

Go here to read the rest:
The Written Torah – Torah Shebikhtav – Hebrew for Christians

Judaism – Fact Monster

Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic faiths. Monotheism is the belief that there is only one god. Judaism affirms the existence of the one God, Yahweh, who entered into a covenant, or agreement, with the descendants of Abraham, who were God’s chosen people. Judaism’s holy writings reveal how God has been present with them throughout their history. These writings are known as the Torah, or the five books of Moses. They are also called the Hebrew Scriptures, and are traditionally called the Old Testament by Christians. Other holy writings include Judaism’s oral tradition, which is known as the Talmud when it is written down. This includes the Mishnah, which is the oral law.

According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham (20th century? B.C.) founded Judaism. God (Yahweh) promised to bless his descendants if they remained faithful in worship. Abraham’s line descended through Isaac, then Jacob (Jacob was also called Israel; his descendants came to be called Israelites). The 12 families that descended from Jacob migrated to Egypt, where they were forced into slavery. They were led out of bondage (13th century? B.C.) by Moses, who helped to unite them in the worship of one god, Yahweh. After wandering in the desert for forty years, Joshua led the Hebrews into the promised land that God had provided for them. This land was called Canaan, and the people who lived there were called Canaanites. The Hebrews conquered the Canaanites and took over the land.

Shortly after the Hebrews gained control of Canaan, a monarchy was established. Saul was the first king, and David and his son Solomon were his successors. This was a time of unity for the Hebrews, and by the end of Solomon’s reign, a temple had been built that replaced the portable sanctuary that had previously been in use. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split into Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Political conflicts with the Assyrians and the Babylonians resulted in the destruction of the temple and the exile of many of the Jews to Babylon.

When the Hebrews were finally permitted to return to their land, they were ruled by the Persians, then Alexander the Great, and finally by Egypt and Syria. When the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to stop the practice of Judaism, a revolt was led by the Maccabees, a Jewish family, and Jewish independence was finally won in 128 B.C. The Romans conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.E.

During this period the Sadducees (temple priests) and the Pharisees (teachers of the law in the synagogues) offered different interpretations of Judaism. Many smaller groups emerged as well, such as the Essenes, a religious order; the Apocalyptists, who expected divine deliverance led by the Messiah; and the Zealots, who were prepared to fight for national independence.

When the Zealots revolted, the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and its temple (A.D. 70). The Jews were scattered into Diaspora (dispersion) and underwent persecution almost everywhere they went. Rabbinic Judaism, centered on Torah and synagogue, became the primary expression of faith. The Scriptures were arranged systematically, and the Talmud took shape from the oral tradition. In the 12th century Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and physician, formulated the influential 13 Articles of Faith, including belief in God, God’s oneness and lack of physical or other form, the changelessness of Torah, restoration of the monarchy under the Messiah, and resurrection of the dead.

Two branches of European Judaism developed during the Middle Ages: the Sephardic, based in Spain and with an affinity to Babylonian Jews; and the Ashkenazic, based in Franco-German lands and affiliated with Rome and Palestine.

After a respite during the 18th-century Enlightenment, anti-Semitism again plagued European Jews in the 19th century, sparking the beginning of the Zionist movement (the Jewish movement that believed there should be a Jewish state). One of the most central events in Judaism’s modern history was the Nazi Holocaust of World War II, when more than 6 million European Jewish lives were taken. The founding of the state of Israel immediately after the war (1948) was important to the Zionist movement and to the millions who had suffered the persecution of the Nazis.

Jews today continue synagogue worship, which includes readings from the Torah, and prayers, such as the Shema (Hear, O Israel) and the Amidah (the 18 Benedictions). Religious life is guided by the commandments of the Torah, and includes observance of the Sabbath and other important rituals and holidays.

Present-day Judaism has three main expressions: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Reform movements, resulting from the Haskala (Jewish Enlightenment) of the 18th century, began in western Europe but took root in North America. Reform Jews are the most liberal, and they emphasize ethical and moral teachings. Orthodox Jews follow the traditional faith and practice with great seriousness. They follow strict dietary laws and observe the Sabbath with great care. Conservative Judaism, which developed in the mid18th century, follows most traditional practices, yet tries to make Judaism relevant for everyone, believing that change and tradition can work together. Because the Torah assumes belief in God but does not require it, a strong secular movement also exists within Judaism, including atheist and agnostic elements.

Excerpt from:
Judaism – Fact Monster

Judaism – Infoplease

Judaism is the oldest of the monotheistic faiths. It affirms the existence of one God, Yahweh, who entered into covenant with the descendants of Abraham, God’s chosen people. Judaism’s holy writings reveal how God has been present with them throughout their history. These writings are known as the Torah, specifically the five books of Moses, but most broadly conceived as the Hebrew Scriptures (traditionally called the Old Testament by Christians) and the compilation of oral tradition known as the Talmud (which includes the Mishnah, the oral law).

According to Scripture, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham (20th century? B.C.) founded the faith that would become known as Judaism. He obeyed the call of God to depart northern Mesopotamia and travel to Canaan. God promised to bless his descendants if they remained faithful in worship. Abraham’s line descended through Isaac, then Jacob (also called Israel; his descendants came to be called Israelites). According to Scripture, 12 families that descended from Jacob migrated to Egypt, where they were enslaved. They were led out of bondage (13th century? B.C.) by Moses, who united them in the worship of Yahweh. The Hebrews returned to Canaan after a 40-year sojourn in the desert, conquering from the local peoples the promised land that God had provided for them.

The 12 tribes of Israel lived in a covenant association during the period of the judges (1200?1000? B.C.), leaders known for wisdom and heroism. Saul first established a monarchy (r. 1025?1005? B.C.); his successor, David (r. 1005?965? B.C.), unified the land of Israel and made Jerusalem its religious and political center. Under his son, Solomon (r. 968?928? B.C.), a golden era culminated in the building of a temple, replacing the portable sanctuary in use until that time. Following Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split into Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Political conflicts resulted in the conquest of Israel by Assyria (721 B.C.) and the defeat of Judah by Babylon (586 B.C.). Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and many Judeans were exiled to Babylon.

During the era of the kings, the prophets were active in Israel and Judah. Their writings emphasize faith in Yahweh as God of Israel and of the entire universe, and they warn of the dangers of worshiping other gods. They also cry out for social justice.

The Judeans were permitted to return in 539 B.C. to Judea, where they were ruled as a Persian province. Though temple and cult were restored in Jerusalem, during the exile a new class of religious leaders had emergedthe scribes. They became rivals to the temple hierarchy and would eventually evolve into the party known as the Pharisees.

Persian rule ended when Alexander the Great conquered Palestine in 332 B.C. After his death, rule of Judea alternated between Egypt and Syria. When the Syrian ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes tried to prevent the practice of Judaism, a revolt was led by the Maccabees (a Jewish family), winning Jewish independence in 128 B.C. The Romans conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C.

During this period the Sadducees (temple priests) and the Pharisees (teachers of the law in the synagogues) offered different interpretations of Judaism. Smaller groups that emerged were the Essenes, a religious order; the Apocalyptists, who expected divine deliverance led by the Messiah; and the Zealots, who were prepared to fight for national independence. Hellenism also influenced Judaism at this time.

When the Zealots revolted, the Roman armies destroyed Jerusalem and its temple (A.D. 70). The Jews were scattered in the Diaspora (dispersion) and experienced much persecution. Rabbinic Judaism, developed according to Pharisaic practice and centered on Torah and synagogue, became the primary expression of faith. The Scriptures became codified, and the Talmud took shape. In the 12th century Maimonides formulated the influential 13 Articles of Faith, including belief in God, God’s oneness and lack of physical or other form, the changelessness of Torah, restoration of the monarchy under the Messiah, and resurrection of the dead.

Two branches of European Judaism developed during the Middle Ages: the Sephardic, based in Spain and with an affinity to Babylonian Jews; and the Ashkenazic, based in Franco-German lands and affiliated with Rome and Palestine. Two forms of Jewish mysticism also arose at this time: medieval Hasidism and attention to the Kabbalah (a mystical interpretation of Scripture).

Read the original here:
Judaism – Infoplease

judaism – U-System | University Information Technology …

DRAFT — The Nature and Central Themes of Judaism

A. What is Judaism? B. What is the nature of Judaism? C. The interrelationship of Judaism with the Jewish people and Israel.

A. What is Judaism?

DEFINITION I propose that we view religion as a distinctive life style and as a recognized set of beliefs, as applied to a defined social entity. Judaism is the religion of the Jews. The word Jew comes from the name of the ancient southern kingdom of Judah, whose people gave their name to Judaism. Kabbalah and Modern Life – Living with the Times: Judah is the king (the “first”) of the tribes of Israel. His name means to give thanks, in speech (the sense of Nissan). The king rules his people by the power of his speech, as is said “for the word of the king is his rule.” The month of Nissan is “the new year for kings” (Mishnah Rosh HaShana 1:1).1

Judaism is one of the world’s oldest living religions, and was the first religion based on monotheism, the belief in one God. Judaism traces its origins to Abraham and has its spiritual and ethical principles embodied chiefly in the Bible -the Old Testament for the Christians- and the Talmud. It was the first religion based on ethical monotheism.Judaism influenced the development of Christianity and Islam, and had a major influence on Western civilization – Christianity, the eventually dominant religious faith of the West, was in large part a child of the Hebrew religion. When we speak of the Judeo-Christian heritage of Western civilization, we refer not only to the concept of monotheism, but also to ideas of law, morality, and social justice that have become important parts of Western culture. All of the major Western religions found their roots in Judaism.HISTORY The Patriarchs and the Origins of Judaism

The cultural and religious continuity of the Israelites since ancient times is indicated by attitudes in the modern state of Israel and by the monotheistic roots of modern religion. They maintained their identity throughout years of conquest and slavery. The Hebrew people have retained a commitment tio God and his law despite having experienced conquest, exile and dispersal.

Geography – The land

In ancient times, three peoples -the Hebrews, the Phoenicians and the Lydians- lived in the western end of the Fertile Crescent. This narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea today forms portions of nations of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. The southern section had different names during the course of history, including Canaan (KAY-nun), Israel and Palestine.

Canaan -south of Phoenicia- lay between Asia and Africa, and consisted of two regions: 1. the Jordan Valley watered the northern valley -fertile soil; 2. desert covered most of the southern region, around and south of the Dead Sea -high salt content of water killed all marine life. Canaan.

People2 The earliest known inhabitants of Palestine were the Caananites, a people who urbanized around the third millennium C.E. (Common Era), and established several city-states, one of which was Jericho. Later invaders to the area included the Hebrews, a group of Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia, & the Philistines, an Aegean people of Indo-European origin, around 1400 B.C.E. The area was also later to be submitted to Persian, Roman, Arab Caliphates, Ottoman, and British rule. The greatest influence from this period on civilization did not come from the powerful and prolonged kingdoms of Mesopotamia and Egypt or from the warlike successor states that from time to time held sway in the area, but rather from a group that came to inhabit a part of early Palestine. That influence developed from a comparatively small group of people, the Hebrews, whose existence would have passed unnoticed were it not for the uniqueness of their religious belief and practice.

Originally posted here:
judaism – U-System | University Information Technology …

[Regents Prep Global History] World Belief Systems: Judaism

Background Judaism is the oldest known monotheistic religion still practiced in the world today. Its fundamental teachings have been influential and are the basis for more recently developed religions such as Christianity and Islam.

The Basics Founder-Abraham is generally recognized as the founder of Judaism due to his covenant with God. However, Moses is also considered a founder due to his role in the liberation of the Hebrews from Egypt, and his delivery of the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai sometime around 2000 BCE. Geographic Origin-Developed in the Middle East in and around the area that is currently Israel. Currently Practiced-Worldwide, but the greatest majority of Jews reside in Israel, the United States, and the former Soviet Union. Significant Writings-Torah and Talmud. Places of Worship-Jews worship in temples called synagogues. Significant Religious People-Rabbis are Jewish scholars charged with conducting religious services, ensuring that Jewish laws are observed, and serving as a spiritual guide for the community.

Teachings and Beliefs Judaism teaches that there is one God who is the creator of all things. After the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, many Hebrews began to lose their faith in God. During this time, Moses went atop Mount Sinai and returned with two stone tablets containing laws that all Hebrews needed to follow. These laws, recorded in Exodus 20:3-17, became known as the Ten Commandments and include:

Web Resources The Geography of Judaism (Morehead University) Judaism (Ontario Consultants)

Here is the original post:
[Regents Prep Global History] World Belief Systems: Judaism

Judaism – RationalWiki

‘You are not practicing Judaism if you celebrate Christmas.’

Judaism is the first Abrahamic religion. Due to their refusal over the centuries to accept Christianity and/or Islam, and their traditionally strong cultural coherence, Jews are frequently made the subject of numerous conspiracy theories and libels, as well as pogroms and genocides (by far the most notable being the Holocaust of World War II). All forms of Judaism have in common the Tanakh as their primary scriptures. The Tanakh is made up of the five books of Moses, or Torah (“the Law”), the books of the prophets, or Nevi’im (“the Prophets”), and the Ketuvim (“the Writings”). The overwhelming majority also base their practices on a substantial body of exegesis, Rabbinical tradition and commentary known as the Talmud.

The books of the Tanakh were (with some slight variation) adopted by Christians as the Old Testament of their Bible. The same books are accepted as legitimate by Protestants and Jews, but the Jews divide their Tanakh in to 24 books instead of 39, collapsing the twelve Minor Prophets (Habbakuk, etc.) in to one book, and Ezra and Nehemiah in to one book (and often both parts of Samuel and Kings in two books instead of four). The order is also much different, with Chronicles being placed at the end, lending a chronology that’s self-contained – it ends with the Jews back in the Holy Land. The Christian arrangement ends with a bunch of “Messianic Double-Fulfillment Prophecies” (Isaiah and Daniel) supposedly foretelling the coming of Jesus and the New Testament, and Paul’s Judas’ betrayal of him. Jews do not accept the additional books (called the deuterocanon or apocrypha) that the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and other Christian Churches accept as scripture to a lesser or greater degree (1 and 2 Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Additions to Ruth and Daniel, Judith, 1, 2, 3 and 4 Maccabees, etc.)

In addition to these differences in religious text, there are several major theological differences between Christianity and Judaism. Judaism unlike Christianity focuses more on this life than the afterlife-which is hardly mentioned in their scriptures and highly debatable. Behavior is also more important than faith. Satan never rebelled against YHWH but was created for the purpose of tempting people-usually Satan is more a symbol than an actual being. It would be blasphemous and a violation of monotheism to regard him as a rival to YHWH, as Satan is in some forms of Christianity. Judaism also rejects the concept of original sin.

Judaism arose several thousand years ago in the Middle East, descending apparently from the local polytheistic traditions of thirteen (not twelve) tribes of an ethnic group known as the Hebrews (traditionally, the ancient nations of Israel, Judah, Edom, Moab, and Ammon); these people may have had their origins in itinerant tribes known in Egyptian as “Habiru” in the ancient Middle East. The precise origin is lost to history, but is described with unknown accuracy in Biblical mythology (dealt with in depth at Wikipedia). According to the Book of Judith, Holofernes, when he inquired of the lineage of the Israelites, was told they were of Chaldean descent: Judith 5:6: This people are descended of the Chaldeans.[1] “Jewish” is a relatively modern term applied to the descendants of the Israelites or Hebrews, specifically those whose ancestry primarily traces to Judah, occupying the central regions of the areas now known as the state of Israel and the West Bank; the word “Jewish” itself is a specifically English spelling deriving from an earlier form of the French juif. Depending on sources, historical/archaeological records of the Jews appear approximately twelve hundred years before the Common Era with the disappearance of pig bones from area trash heaps.

The Jewish kingdoms in Canaan were often at war with neighboring kingdoms, leading to several periods of Exile and Return. After the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans, the modern Diaspora took place, scattering the Jewish population throughout the world, but especially into Europe (the Ashkenazi), Mesopotamia, and North Africa.

Judaism has gone through a great many developments since its early origins among Hebrew-speaking Canaanites during the Bronze Age, from being a (possibly polytheistic) form of the traditional Middle Eastern temple-state traditionally based around Jerusalem to a Monolatry,[2] to the modern variants of Rabbinical Judaism with no temple at all. From its early origins, Judaism began to take its modern shape with the earliest codification of the Torah (the Jewish law) in the reign of King Josiah of Judah (known to Biblical scholars as the Deuteronomic Reform), though it retained its priestly trappings until the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman Empire c.70 CE. Modern Judaism derives from the legal codes of the Pharisees, a scholarly branch of the faith that was one of three major factions in first-century Judaism (the other significant ones were the Saducees, a faction that preferred emphasis on priestly functions, and Essenes, largely a monastic and ascetic tradition represented in the Bible by John the Baptist). The Pharisees were the ones whose philosophies survived the collapse of the Jewish state and the purge of the other branches; marginalized earlier was the Hellenistic tradition that attempted to combine the widening influence of the Greeks with Jewish tradition that resulted in the creation of the Septuagint, the Greek-language version of the Tanakh still used by the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.[3]

Hungarian-British author Arthur Koestler wrote a book called The Thirteenth Tribe, which speculated that a great number of Ashkenazic Jews are descended not from ancient Hebrews, but from a Turkish tribe called the Khazars, who ruled in much of what is now southwest Russia and Georgia and converted to Judaism en masse. Anti-semites seized on this hypothesis as proof that modern Jews were not truly Jewish at all but usurpers, and that those who had Semitic ancestry came not from Judah but the Edomites of the Negev desert (these claims are circulated widely in the Arab world as part of anti-Israel propaganda). Modern genetic studies have largely disproved the Khazar hypothesis and supported Levantine ancestry for the vast majority of modern Jews, even going so far as to prove the existence of a Y-chromosomal Aaron (again, more at Wikipedia) who is a common ancestor of a great many Jews identified as being of priestly ancestry; this and similar genetic markers have been used to support some claims of widely distributed groups throughout Africa and western Asia to Jewish ancestry. In fact, despite the survival of the Khazar canard among anti-Jewish hate groups, modern descendents of the Khazars have yet to be positively identified. Oddly enough Koestler himself was Jewish and a non religious Zionist, he actually believed that his book would help end anti-Semitism. The Khazar argument was also used to save Karaite (non-Rabbinic) Jews in Eastern Europe from anti-Semitic persecution.

The following describes the general divisions of Judaism as they’re known in the United States; the exact terminology sometimes differs in other countries. One should keep under consideration is the fact that most Jews, regardless of the orthodoxy of their beliefs, tend to view other Jews as all belonging to the same religious identity, in contrast to many Christian sects which view themselves as separate from each other.

Judaism has several more liberal sects (often describing themselves as movements), with varying degrees of adherence to halakha. Adherents of liberal Jewish sects generally are less strict about observance than many Orthodox, and generally more accepting of gender and class equality as well as Western moral ideals. A few on the fringe practice syncretist faiths with aspects of Buddhism or neopaganism or are outright atheist, treating Jewish practice as a cultural rather than religious observance. Many liberal Jewish congregations (mostly Reform and Reconstructionist, but also many but not all Conservative) permit female rabbis, and as a general rule tend to be more tolerant of homosexuality and intermarriage.

Excerpt from:
Judaism – RationalWiki

State of Palestine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The State of Palestine[i] (Arabic: Dawlat Filasn) is a de jure sovereign state in the Middle East.[15][16]Its independence was declared on 15 November 1988 by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Algiers as a government-in-exile. The State of Palestine claims the West Bank and Gaza Strip,[3] with Jerusalem as the designated capital,[ii][4][5] with partial control of those areas assumed in 1994 as the Palestinian Authority. Most of the areas claimed by the State of Palestine have been occupied by Israel since 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.[8] The State of Palestine applied for United Nations (UN) membership in 2011[3] and in 2012 was granted a non-member observer state status.[15][16]

The October 1974 Arab League summit designated the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed “their right to establish an independent state of urgency.”[17] In November 1974, the PLO was recognized as competent on all matters concerning the question of Palestine by the UN General Assembly granting them observer status as a “non-state entity” at the UN.[18][19] After the 1988 Declaration of Independence, the UN General Assembly officially acknowledged the proclamation and decided to use the designation “Palestine” instead of “Palestine Liberation Organization” in the UN.[20][21] In spite of this decision, the PLO did not participate at the UN in its capacity of the State of Palestine’s government.[22]

In 1993, in the Oslo Accords, Israel acknowledged the PLO negotiating team as “representing the Palestinian people”, in return for the PLO recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace, acceptance of UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and its rejection of “violence and terrorism”.[23] As a result, in 1994 the PLO established the Palestinian National Authority (PNA or PA) territorial administration, that exercises some governmental functions[iii] in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.[24][25] In 2007, the Hamas takeover of Gaza Strip politically and territorially divided the Palestinians, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognized internationally as the official Palestinian Authority,[26] while Hamas has secured its control over the Gaza Strip. In April 2011, the Palestinian parties signed an agreement of reconciliation, but its implementation had stalled[26] until a unity government was formed on 2 June 2014.[27]

On 29 November 2012, in a 1389 vote (with 41 abstentions and 5 absences),[28] the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 67/19, upgrading Palestine from an “observer entity” to a “non-member observer state” within the United Nations system, which was described as recognition of the PLO’s sovereignty.[15][16][29][30][31] Palestine’s new status is equivalent to that of the Holy See.[not in citation given][32] The UN has permitted Palestine to title its representative office to the UN as “The Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations”,[33] and Palestine has instructed its diplomats to officially represent “The State of Palestine”no longer the Palestinian National Authority.[31] On 17 December 2012, UN Chief of Protocol Yeocheol Yoon declared that “the designation of ‘State of Palestine’ shall be used by the Secretariat in all official United Nations documents”,[34] thus recognising the title ‘State of Palestine’ as the state’s official name for all UN purposes. As of 30 October 2014, 135 (700169900000000000069.9%) of the 193 member states of the United Nations have recognised the State of Palestine.[30][35] Many of the countries that do not recognise the State of Palestine nevertheless recognise the PLO as the “representative of the Palestinian people”. The PLO’s Executive Committee is empowered by the Palestinian National Council to perform the functions of government of the State of Palestine.[36]

In 1946, Transjordan gained independence from the British Mandate for Palestine. A year later, the UN adopted a partition plan for a two-state solution in the remaining territory of the mandate. The plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership, but rejected by the Arab leaders and Britain refused to implement the plan. On the eve of final British withdrawal, the Jewish Agency for Israel declared the establishment of the State of Israel according to the proposed UN plan. The Arab Higher Committee did not declare a state of its own and instead, together with Transjordan, Egypt, and the other members of the Arab League of the time, commenced military action resulting in the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. During the war, Israel gained additional territories that were expected to form part of the Arab state under the UN plan. Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip and Transjordan occupied the West Bank. Egypt initially supported the creation of an All-Palestine Government, but disbanded it in 1959. Transjordan never recognized it and instead decided to incorporate the West Bank with its own territory to form Jordan. The annexation was ratified in 1950 but was rejected by the international community. The Six-Day War in 1967, when Egypt, Jordan, and Syria fought against Israel, ended with Israel being in occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, besides other territories.

In 1964, when the West Bank was controlled by Jordan, the Palestine Liberation Organization was established there with the goal to confront Israel. The Palestinian National Charter of the PLO defines the boundaries of Palestine as the whole remaining territory of the mandate, including Israel. Following the Six-Day War, the PLO moved to Jordan, but later relocated to Lebanon after Black September in 1971. In 1974, the Arab League recognised the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and it gained observer status at the UN General Assembly. After the 1982 Lebanon War, the PLO moved to Tunisia.

In 1979, through the Camp David Accords, Egypt signaled an end to any claim of its own over the Gaza Strip. In July 1988, Jordan ceded its claims to the West Bankwith the exception of guardianship over Haram al-Sharifto the PLO. In November 1988, the PLO legislature, while in exile, declared the establishment of the “State of Palestine”. In the month following, it was quickly recognised by many states, including Egypt and Jordan. In the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, the State of Palestine is described as being established on the “Palestinian territory”, without explicitly specifying further. Because of this, some of the countries that recognised the State of Palestine in their statements of recognition refer to the “1967 borders”, thus recognizing as its territory only the occupied Palestinian territory, and not Israel. The UN membership application submitted by the State of Palestine also specified that it is based on the “1967 borders”.[3] During the negotiations of the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognised Israel’s right to exist, and Israel recognised the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people. Between 1993 and 1998, the PLO made commitments to change the provisions of its Palestinian National Charter that are inconsistent with the aim for a two-state solution and peaceful coexistence with Israel.

After Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza Strip from Egypt, it began to establish Israeli settlements there. These were organised into Judea and Samaria district (West Bank) and Hof Aza Regional Council (Gaza Strip) in the Southern District. Administration of the Arab population of these territories was performed by the Israeli Civil Administration of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and by local municipal councils present since before the Israeli takeover. In 1980, Israel decided to freeze elections for these councils and to establish instead Village Leagues, whose officials were under Israeli influence. Later this model became ineffective for both Israel and the Palestinians, and the Village Leagues began to break up, with the last being the Hebron League, dissolved in February 1988.[39]

As envisioned in the Oslo Accords, Israel allowed the PLO to establish interim administrative institutions in the Palestinian territories, which came in the form of the PNA. It was given civilian control in Area B and civilian and security control in Area A, and remained without involvement in Area C. In 2005, following the implementation of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan, the PNA gained full control of the Gaza Strip with the exception of its borders, airspace, and territorial waters.[iii] Following the inter-Palestinian conflict in 2006, Hamas took over control of the Gaza Strip (it already had majority in the PLC), and Fatah took control of the West Bank (and the rest of the PNA institutions)[citation needed]. From 2007, the Gaza Strip was governed by Hamas, and the West Bank by Fatah.

In the early years of World War I, negotiations took place between the British High Commissioner in Egypt Henry McMahon and Sharif of Mecca Husayn bin Ali for an alliance of sorts between the Allies and the Arabs in the Near East against the Ottomans. On 24 October 1915, McMahon sent to Hussein a note which the Arabs came to regard as their “Declaration of Independence”. In McMahon’s letter, part of the McMahonHussein Correspondence, McMahon declared Britain’s willingness to recognise the independence of the Arabs, both in the Levant and the Hejaz, subject to certain exemptions. It stated on behalf of the Government of Great Britain that:

State of Palestine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Palestine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Palestine (Arabic: Filasn, Falasn, Filisn; Greek: , Palaistin; Latin: Palaestina; Hebrew: Palestina) is a geographic region in Western Asia between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is sometimes considered to include adjoining territories. The name was used by Ancient Greek writers, and was later used for the Roman province Syria Palaestina, the Byzantine Palaestina Prima, and the Umayyad and Abbasid province of Jund Filastin. The region is also known as the Land of Israel (Hebrew: Eretz-Yisra’el), the Holy Land or Promised Land, and historically has been known as the Southern portion of wider regional designations such as Canaan, Syria, as-Sham, and the Levant.

Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria and Arabia, and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The region has been controlled by numerous peoples, including Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Mongols, Ottomans, the British, and modern Israelis and Palestinians.

The boundaries of the region have changed throughout history. Today, the region comprises the State of Israel and Palestinian territories in which the State of Palestine was declared.

Modern archaeology has identified 12 ancient inscriptions from Egyptian and Assyrian records recording similar sounding names. The term “Peleset” (transliterated from hieroglyphs as P-r-s-t) is found in five inscriptions referring to a neighboring people or land starting from c.1150 BCE during the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. The first known mention is at the temple at Medinet Habu which refers to the Peleset among those who fought with Egypt in Ramesses III’s reign, and the last known is 300 years later on Padiiset’s Statue. Seven known Assyrian inscriptions refer to the region of “Palashtu” or “Pilistu”, beginning with Adad-nirari III in the Nimrud Slab in c.800 BCE through to a treaty made by Esarhaddon more than a century later.[4] Neither the Egyptian nor the Assyrian sources provided clear regional boundaries for the term.[i]

The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece, when Herodotus wrote of a ‘district of Syria, called Palaistin” in The Histories, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley.[ii] Approximately a century later, Aristotle used a similar definition for the region in Meteorology, in which he included the Dead Sea. Later Greek writers such as Polemon and Pausanias also used the term to refer to the same region, which was followed by Roman writers such as Ovid, Tibullus, Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Statius, Plutarch as well as Roman Judean writers Philo of Alexandria and Josephus.[12] The term was first used to denote an official province in c.135 CE, when the Roman authorities, following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, combined Iudaea Province with Galilee and the Paralia to form “Syria Palaestina”. There is circumstantial evidence linking Hadrian with the name change, but the precise date is not certain and the assertion of some scholars that the name change was intended “to complete the dissociation with Judaea” is disputed.

The term is generally accepted to be a translation of the Biblical name Peleshet ( Plsheth, usually transliterated as Philistia). The term and its derivates are used more than 250 times in Masoretic-derived versions of the Hebrew Bible, of which 10 uses are in the Torah, with undefined boundaries, and almost 200 of the remaining references are in the Book of Judges and the Books of Samuel.[4][12][16] The term is rarely used in the Septuagint, who used a transliteration Land of Phylistieim ( ) different from the contemporary Greek place name Palaistn ().

The Septuagint instead used the term “allophuloi” (, “other nations”) throughout the Books of Judges and Samuel,[18] such that the term “Philistines” has been interpreted to mean “non-Israelites of the Promised Land” when used in the context of Samson, Saul and David,[19] and Rabbinic sources explain that these peoples were different from the Philistines of the Book of Genesis.

During the Byzantine period, the region of Palestine within Syria Palaestina was subdivided into Palaestina Prima and Secunda, and an area of land including the Negev and Sinai became Palaestina Salutaris. Following the Muslim conquest, place names that were in use by the Byzantine administration generally continued to be used in Arabic.[22] The use of the name “Palestine” became common in Early Modern English, was used in English and Arabic during the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem[iii] and was revived as an official place name with the British Mandate for Palestine.

Some other terms that have been used to refer to all or part of this land include Canaan, Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael or Ha’aretz),[iv]Greater Syria, the Holy Land, Iudaea Province, Judea, Coele-Syria,[v] “Israel HaShlema”, Kingdom of Israel, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Zion, Retenu (Ancient Egyptian), Southern Syria, Southern Levant and Syria Palaestina.

Situated at a strategic location between Egypt, Syria and Arabia, and the birthplace of Judaism and Christianity, the region has a long and tumultuous history as a crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The region has been controlled by numerous peoples, including Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Sunni Arab Caliphates, the Shia Fatimid Caliphate, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottomans, the British and modern Israelis and Palestinians. Modern archaeologists and historians of the region refer to their field of study as Syro-Palestinian archaeology.

Visit link:
Palestine – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Israel | Facts, History, & Map |

Israel,officially State of Israel, Hebrew Medinat Yisrael, Arabic Isrl, country in the Middle East, located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded to the north by Lebanon, to the northeast by Syria, to the east and southeast by Jordan, to the southwest by Egypt, and to the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem is the seat of government and the proclaimed capital, although the latter status has not received wide international recognition.

Israel is a small country with a relatively diverse topography, consisting of a lengthy coastal plain, highlands in the north and central regions, and the Negev desert in the south. Running the length of the country from north to south along its eastern border is the northern terminus of the Great Rift Valley.

The State of Israel is the only Jewish nation in the modern period, and the region that now falls within its borders has a lengthy and rich history that dates from prebiblical times. The area was a part of the Roman Empire and, later, the Byzantine Empire before falling under the control of the fledgling Islamic caliphate in the 7th century ce. Although the object of dispute during the Crusades, the region, then generally known as Palestine, remained under the sway of successive Islamic dynasties until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I, when it was placed under British mandate from the League of Nations.

Even before the mandate, the desire for a Jewish homeland prompted a small number of Jews to immigrate to Palestine, a migration that grew dramatically during the second quarter of the 20th century with the increased persecution of Jews worldwide and subsequent Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany. This vast influx of Jewish immigrants into the region, however, caused tension with the native Palestinian Arabs, and violence flared between the two groups leading up to the United Nations plan to partition Palestine into Jewish and Palestinian sectors and Israels ensuing declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948.

Israel fought a series of wars against neighbouring Arab states during the next 35 years, which have resulted in ongoing disputes over territory and the status of refugees. Despite continuing tensions, however, Israel concluded peace treaties with several neighbouring Arab states during the final quarter of the 20th century.

Israel: geographical featuresEncyclopdia Britannica, Inc.Despite its small size, about 290 miles (470 km) north-to-south and 85 miles (135 km) east-to-west at its widest point, Israel has four geographic regionsthe Mediterranean coastal plain, the hill regions of northern and central Israel, the Great Rift Valley, and the Negevand a wide range of unique physical features and microclimates.

The coastal plain is a narrow strip about 115 miles (185 km) long that widens to about 25 miles (40 km) in the south. A sandy shoreline with many beaches borders the Mediterranean coast. Inland to the east, fertile farmland is giving way to growing agricultural settlements and the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa and their suburbs.

In the north of the country, the mountains of Galilee constitute the highest part of Israel, reaching an elevation of 3,963 feet (1,208 metres) at Mount Meron (Arabic: Jebel Jarmaq). These mountains terminate to the east in an escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley. The mountains of Galilee are separated from the hills of the Israeli-occupied West Bank to the south by the fertile Plain of Esdraelon (Hebrew: Emeq Yizreel), which, running approximately northwest to southeast, connects the coastal plain with the Great Rift Valley. The Mount Carmel range, which culminates in a peak 1,791 feet (546 metres) high, forms a spur reaching northwest from the highlands of the West Bank, cutting almost to the coast of Haifa.

Dead SeaPeter Carmichael/ASPECTThe Great Rift Valley, a long fissure in the Earths crust, begins beyond the northern frontier of Israel and forms a series of valleys running generally south, the length of the country, to the Gulf of Aqaba. The Jordan River, which marks part of the frontier between Israel and Jordan, flows southward through the rift from Dan on Israels northern frontier, where it is 500 feet (152 metres) above sea level, first into the ula Valley (Hebrew: Emeq ula), then into the freshwater Lake Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee (Hebrew: Yam Kinneret), which lies 686 feet (209 metres) below sea level. The Jordan continues south along the eastern edge of the West Banknow through the Jordan Valley (Hebrew: Emeq HaYarden)and finally into the highly saline Dead Sea, which, at 1,312 feet (400 metres) below sea level, is the lowest point of a natural landscape feature on the Earths surface. South of the Dead Sea, the Jordan continues through the rift, where it now forms the Arava Valley (Hebrew: savannah), an arid plain that extends to the Red Sea port of Elat.

The sparsely populated Negev comprises the southern half of Israel. Arrow-shaped, this flat, sandy desert region narrows toward the south, where it becomes increasingly arid and breaks into sandstone hills cut by wadis, canyons, and cliffs before finally coming to a point where the Arava reaches Elat.

View post:
Israel | Facts, History, & Map |

Anti-Defamation League: Huckabee ‘completely out of line …

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the national director of the organization, issued a statement, calling the Republican 2016 hopeful’s comments invoking the Holocaust “completely out of line and unacceptable.”

“Israeli military and security officials have repeatedly said the Obama Administration has been as strong as any other American administration in keeping Israel secure,” Greenblat writes.

“To hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening,” Greenblat continues.

Huckabee, a Repbulican presidential candidate, used social media Sunday to stand by his comments, tweeting “Tell Congress to do their constitutional duty & reject the Obama-Kerry #IranDeal” as well as quotes from the Ayatollah Khamenei making threats against Israel.

While the debate over the Iran deal is “serious,” the ADL called on both parties, as well as presidential candidates, “to conduct the debate responsibly and civilly.”

The ADL sent a letter to members of Congress last week, asking them to carefully review the Iran deal by pushing for answers from the administration on key questions that would “…decrease the likelihood Iran will become a nuclear weapons state.”

Read more from the original source:
Anti-Defamation League: Huckabee ‘completely out of line …

Hasidic Judaism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hasidic Judaism (from the Hebrew: , Sephardic pronunciation: [asidut]; Ashkenazic pronunciation: [asidus]; Israeli pronunciation: [asidut]), meaning “piety” (or “loving-kindness”), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularization and internalization of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers.[1] Contrary to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside rabbinical supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with Simcha, encouragement, and daily fervor.[2]

Hasidism comprises part of contemporary Haredi Judaism,[citation needed] alongside the previous Talmudic Lithuanian-Yeshiva approach and the Sephardi and Mizrahi traditions. Its charismatic mysticism has inspired non-Orthodox Neo-Hasidic thinkers and influenced wider modern Jewish denominations, while its scholarly thought has interested contemporary academic study. Each Hasidic dynasty follows its own principles; thus, Hasidic Judaism is not one movement but a collection of separate groups with some commonality. There are approximately 30 larger Hasidic groups, and several hundred smaller groups. Though there is no one version of Hasidism, individual Hasidic groups often share with each other underlying philosophy, worship practices, dress (borrowed from local cultures), and songs (borrowed from local cultures).

Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, most commonly known as Baal Shem Tov, founded Hasidic Judaism in the 18th century.

In Poland, where the bulk of Yiddish-speaking Jewry had established itself by the 18th century, three branches of Yiddishkeit (i.e. Jewishness) emerged: the first were those against the predominant study of Kabbalah (i.e. Jewish mysticism); the second were those supportive of the study of Kabbalah; and the third was the secular Yiddish theater culture originating in Lithuania but eventually spreading across the whole Yiddish speaking world.[citation needed] This schism became particularly acute after the Messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi in the 17th century. Leanings to rigid mystical doctrines and sectarianism showed themselves prominently among the Jews of the south-eastern provinces of Poland, while in the Lithuanian and Estonian provinces, anti-kabbalistic (mysticism) orthodox leaders held sway. In part, this division in modes of thought reflected social differences between the northern (Estonian and Lithuanian) Jews and the southern Jews of Poland and the western Russian Empire. In Lithuania and Estonia, the Jewish masses lived mainly in densely populated towns where anti-kabbalistic (mysticism) rabbinical academic culture (in the yeshivot) flourished based on just the simple understanding getting deeper from there. In Poland itself, the Jews tended to live scattered in villages far removed from intellectual centers. In these villages, the influence of the kabbalists (mystics) prevailed; while other communities of Yiddish speakers were becoming completely secular and creating an identity in the Lithuanian, Belorussian, Ukrainian and Polish Yiddish theater separate from any serious mysticism, finding commonality with the Haskallah taking place within the Austro-Czech Yiddish speaking regions. This should be viewed in the context that there is really no form of original Judaica which does not believe in daily miracles and mysticism, a Jew’s whole life technically speaking has always related to mysticism and the Ruach Hakodesh. One view of Judaism is that it is just an ethnicity, with cultural ritual and mystical spiritualism. The schism was between the various ‘group thinks’ within the kabbalistic mystical communities of the descendants of the French and German Jews called at some point Ashkenazi, but more accurately should be described as the diverse Yiddish speaking world.

Pessimism in the south was more intense after the Cossacks’ Uprising (16481654) under Chmielnicki and the turbulent times in Poland (16481660), which violently ruined the Jewry of South East Poland, but did not much affect that of Lithuania and Estonia. The general population of Poland itself declined and economic chaos reigned, especially due to these events and the subsequent Turkish Invasion which left this region depopulated and barren. After the Polish magnates regained control of southern Rus in the last decade of the 17th century, an economic renaissance ensued. The magnates began a massive rebuilding and repopulation effort while being generally welcoming and benevolent towards the Jews. A type of frontier environment ensued where new people and new ideas were encouraged. The state of the Jews of what would later become southern Russia created a favorable field for mystical movements and religious sectarianism, which spread in the area from the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century.

Besides these influences, deep-seated causes produced among many Jews a discontent and a gravitation toward mysticism. Rabbinism, which in Poland had become transformed into a system of religious formalism, no longer provided a satisfactory religious experience to many Jews. Although traditional Judaism had adopted some features of Kabbalah, it adapted them to fit its own system: it added to its own ritualism the asceticism of the “practical kabbalists” just across the eastern borders in the ancient Greek and Anatolian Jewish communities under the Ottoman Empire, who saw the essence of earthly existence only in fasting, in penance, and in spiritual sadness. Such a combination of religious practices, suitable for individuals and hermits, did not suit the bulk of the Jews. Many of these Jews would live in mountainous regions to get away from any non-Jewish influence.

Mystical individuals arose, outside the Rabbinic establishment, called Nistarim or Baal Shem (“Masters of the Name” of God, used for practical kabbalistic intervention and miracles), who sought to offer the downtrodden masses spiritual and physical encouragement, and practical healing. The image of these charismatic figures, often wandering among the people, became shaped by the Kabbalistic legend of the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (36 hidden righteous people who sustain the world). From these circles of spiritual inspiration, the early Hasidic movement arose, led by Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, in 18th century Podolia (now Ukraine). He attracted to his cause the preceding followers of the ways of the Nistorim, who saw in his teachings a new direction in reviving and consoling the masses.

At the time in Jewish Eastern Europe were also public preachers (“Maggidim”), who would visit the shuls (synagogues) of the shtetls (towns and villages). During their Sabbath sermons, they would sometimes seek to encourage Jewish observance with ethical promises and warnings of Heaven and Hell. In their addresses, they also supported the communal Rabbi in helping to teach those who could not learn the spiritual and practical life of Jewish learning, and offered personal examples of Jewish conduct. The Baal Shem Tov opposed their use of ethical admonishments of punishment, which lacked love and inner spiritual values. Under the Hasidic movement, ideas of reward and punishment were avoided, and were replaced by the spiritual life of dveikus (cleaving) to God in all daily conduct. The Baal Shem Tov, and Hasidism, also opposed the earlier mystical and ethical ascetic paths of fasting and self-mortification,[citation needed] seeking to serve God by infusing physical activities with new spiritual inspiration.

The founder of Hasidism, Israel ben Eliezer (16981760), became known as the Baal Shem Tov (the “Master of the Good Name”, abbreviated “Besht”). Following on from the earlier communal tradition of Baal Shem, his fame as a healer spread among not only the Jews, but also the non-Jewish peasants and the Polish nobles. The hagiography of oral stories about his life, that were posthumously compiled in writing by his disciples, describe his spiritual powers and knowledge, miracle working, and ability to predict the future. In turn, these notions were passed on to his saintly students and successors, and shaped the Hasidic doctrine of the Tzadik or Rebbe (righteous leader who channels Divine sustenance to his followers). The particular Hasidic emphasis and interpretation of this earlier Jewish and Kabbalistic concept, became one of the ideas that singled it out from non-Hasidic Judaism. The Hasidic concept of a Rebbe also combines their role as a teacher of Judaism and as a charismatic spiritual example. To their followers they teach Hasidic mysticism and interpretations of Biblical and Rabbinic Judaism.

The traditional accounts of his biography describe the beginnings of his life as a public teacher and leader of the Jewish people from his 36th birthday. His role and unique talent as a teacher and communicator of mystical revival began a new era in Jewish mysticism. To the common people, the Besht appeared wholly admirable. Characterized by an extraordinary sincerity and simplicity, he sought to meet the spiritual needs of the masses. He taught them that true Divine service consisted of not only religious scholarship, but also a sincere love of God combined with warm faith and belief in the efficacy of prayer; that the ordinary person filled with a sincere belief in God, and whose prayers come from the heart, is more acceptable to God than someone versed in and fully observant of Jewish law who lacks inspiration in his divine service. This democratization of Judaism attracted to the teachings of the Besht not only the common people, but also the scholars whom the rabbinical scholasticism and ascetic Kabbalah failed to satisfy.

Read more here:
Hasidic Judaism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia