Having trouble reading this e-mail?
View this Mailing on the Web

First Covenant

Covenant Connection

Volume 2, Issue 11

July 2007.......Av 5767

Peace and Apocalypse


• Peace and Apocalypse

New Prayerbook

Soul of Fire

Lion, Eagle and Scorpion - a fable, by Andrea M. Chester

Peace and Apocalypse (How to Defeat Jihadism)

Terrorism Awareness Project

• Deuteronomy



We received some nice comments on the last issue - to which we say "thank you." One reader, an editor and journalist himself, a Noahide, wanted to hear who "we" are. Don't write anonymously, he says:

"Personalities can be distracting. On the other hand, personalities can be important. In this case, here's a Jewish layman [Michael Dallen] writing compelling stuff about Torah, particularly related to Noahide issues. You're unusual in that regard, if not unique. That's unfortunate, I think, because it is a mitzvah for all Jews (not just a feeble number of rabbis) to do this. You're a rarity. And however much you might irritate your fellows, you're doing your job. . ." You'll do your job better, he says, "if you identify yourself."

OK. The man behind these lead articles' editorial "we" is me, Michael Dallen. Usually, we 1) discuss each issue with Rev.
Jack E. Saunders, and several other people, beforehand, and 2) submit the first draft to Rabbi Michael Katz. Rabbi Katz tries to make sure that each issue is kosher. Then other people, including First Covenant's webmaster, put it all together.

We get a lot of submissions, including links, ideas and suggestions, from others.

A Noahide lady in Germany writes and insists that it is not wrong to "Judaize." We make a mistake, she says, by trying to reassure people that keeping God's Law isn't Judaizing. We answered that the term "Judaizing" makes it sound like the Torah's unified plan for all humanity pertains only to people called Jews.

Speaking of "Religious Service" in the last issue, the bottom line when it comes to Noahides worshipping and praying to HaShem is (dramatic drumroll) that it's a good thing. In fact, a very good thing, a surpassingly good thing. How could it not be? Noahides should never pretend that they are Jewish but of course, naturally, they have every right to study and observe the Torah's "righteous statutes, laws and testimonies." They can - and should - go beyond the Noahide laws, by all means.  At the same time, they are not required to pray or keep kosher, for instance, exactly as Israel does.

Speaking of praying, one correspondent asks about a Noahide prayerbook. He says that he, a Noahide, a former Methodist, never felt comfortable picking up a Jewish prayerbook. He had the feeling that it - Israel's prayerbook, known as the siddur (siddur literally means "order, as in Passover seder, the order of the Passover service, or the order of the seasons) -wasn't really meant for him. He asks, "What about this new Noahide prayerbook" that's been posted on the Internet?



New Prayerbook

"It reminds me of a Christian hymnal," he said. "It's easy to read and follow. There is little buttering up going on in regard to rabbis; it's mostly taken up by liturgy, and the texts are pretty simple and straightforward. Some of the texts are longer, being verbatim or mostly verbatim Torah verses. The shorter texts seem very humanistic, something a person familiar with biblical religion might say; the longer texts are, obviously, more deep. There's a little bit of rabbinic commentary throughout, offering explanation for certain practices on the holy days, worship rituals (why it's proper to wash your hands before prayer, for example), and such. Very useful to me." . . . "I liked this little one, 'Blessed are You, HaShem, gracious Giver of knowledge.' . . . I think that this siddur is pretty good."

We agree. We take great pleasure in saying so. This prayerbook also happens to be free, at least in its downloaded version.
Click here: Freebies http://www.okbns.org/Free.html.

At long last, this is the first Noahide prayerbook that we can recommend. Naturally, it's possible to quibble with different things in it but much of it is very good - surprisingly good.

Many Noahides have simply taken Christian hymnals, made a few adjustments in the wording, and turned them into prayers and songs which are perfectly proper for Noahide use. This is something else, though. This is a major work. It wouldn't have come about, either, except that Noahides struggled to make it happen. They worked for it.

The people who organized the effort and put it all together say in their dedication that they can't adequately thank several people - including Jack Saunders and Rabbi Michael Katz, two of the three principals of the First Covenant Foundation. (Two out of three ain't bad.)

Larry Rogers, one of the creators, designed the First Covenant Foundation's FCF logo. Mrs. Larry Rogers, Pam, his wife, was our webmaster for some time. Together they did a lot to help the foundation, including promoting our flagship book, Rainbow Covenant.



Soul of Fire

We were honored to hear last week from Ethan Dor-Shav, of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. Our article, "Eternal Life/Soul of Fire - a deep look into the beyond,"is based on one of his works. We liked it so much that we devoted a whole issue to the subject.

Many people have the strange belief that the Torah teaches, and Israel believes, that there is no afterlife, no life after life. Nothing could be further from the truth. (It is true that many Jews entertain this same weird belief.) The Dor-Shav piece shows us what the Bible itself teaches about life after life.

Ethan Dor-Shav extends an invitation to us all to visit him on his blog. If you go to the First Covenant Foundation website, go to Articles. Click here: First Covenant Articles http://1stcovenant.com/pages/articles.htm. Under the heading "Noah, Meet Jacob," go to "Hebrew Dictionary - Metaphysics, works by Ethan Dor-Shav." Click on that and it will take you to a portal which leads directly to his blog. And, if you look on the right, you will see links to three superb articles by Dor-Shav, as well as links to the Shalem Center's excellent magazine, Azure.



Lion, Eagle and Scorpion - a fable, by Andrea M. Chester

Andrea M. Chester has written a fable to go with this month's issue - our theme being Peace and Apocalypse:

Click here: lion, eagle and scorpion http://1stcovenant.com/pages/lioneagleandscorpion.htm



Peace and Apocalypse
How to Defeat Jihadism

They called Sherwin Wine a rabbi. He was a genius, they say, a pioneer and rebel. We knew his niece. He was 79 years old when he died last shabbat - he was vacationing in Morocco with his "life partner," a younger man - in a car crash. His death came as a big blow to "Detroit's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community," the papers say; clergy from several different religions will eulogize him at memorial services this coming Thursday and Friday (this article was written last week. Those services, we hear, were big).

Sherwin Wine didn't believe in God. He wrote a book, Judaism without God; he founded a movement, the Society for Humanistic Judaism, and a church, the Birmingham Temple, in a swanky part of town, based on the idea that some things in Jewish culture are worthwhile - but not belief in God.

As I write these words I am fasting, barefoot, and sitting on a low stool, like a mourner. Today is Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the lunar month of Av. It's the saddest day in the Hebrew calendar. Terrible things happened to Israel today: if Israel is a flame representing Torah in the world, the flame has dipped lowest on tisha b'av.

What's the connection between Tisha B'Av and Sherwin Wine? When the twelve spies came back from the land of Israel and told the people that they would never be able to take the land, never mind God's promises, the people believed what the spies told them and disregarded God's promises. The Creator of the Universe had split the sea for them at the Exodus, He had devasted Egypt for them with the plagues, He had spoken with them at Sinai - and they chose to believe the words of the spies over God's.

They cried that night, on tisha b'av, feeling that God had misled them (Numbers 14:1). You're crying now over nothing, God said; I'll give you something to cry about on this day.

Thousands of years later, the most fiercely hated target of jihadism, an  evil totalitarian movement which seeks world domination, is  - naturally - Israel. (Evil totalitarians who seek world domination always hate Israel.) According to polls, hundreds of thousands of Muslims, for the sake of everything holy, would cheerfully turn themselves into living bombs in order to destroy Israel. And, if they can't blow up Jews, they are just as willing to blow up other people, including even some of their fellow Muslims.

How to Defeat Jihadism

"Experts" like those spies confidently assure us that the solution to this problem involves Israel making "tremendous sacrifices" to accomodate the jihadists, to achieve a "two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Many Israelis - according to recent polls, most Israelis - agree. "Israelis are dying for peace," Israel's papers say. This, they say, is "the path to peace."

How could anyone believe such nonsense? How could anyone believe that any gift of land would bring Islam to its senses, or stop the jihadists, or make the world of Islam happy? Only by rejecting everything we know, the evidence of our own senses, the lessons of history, the truths of Torah, the teachings of the Bible. . . Only by rejecting the statements and declarations and fatwas and decrees of the Arabs themselves, could we believe that establishing the enemy even more firmly even closer to the objects of their hatred - where they can see the Jews making something of a land that yields them nothing but weeds - will "lead to peace."

Sherwin Wine rejected God. After the Holocaust, the very idea of God - of a benevolent, omnipotent Supreme Being - became not just unfashionable but even offensive to many intellectuals, particularly to Jewish intellectuals. The Nazis used to go out of their way to make tisha b'av, for instance, as awful as possible for the Jews. They found a new use for the ancient pagan taunt, "Where is your God now, O Israel?" The Nazis, beyond exterminating the Jews, sought to exterminate the God of the Jews. The Final Solution, looking beyond all the murdered millions, was a theological project.

[The ideas and words in the paragraph above owe much to Yossi Klein HaLevi, writing in the latest issue of Azure.]

Sherwin Wine traced his own belief system to what the Nazis did to the Jews. He changed the prayer, "You shall love the Lord your God" into "We revere the best in man." He and his followers renounced the shema, Moses' great proclamation of faith in the unity of God. The Nazis killed off God for him, for much of his generation, and for the generations that followed him. As he said, again and again, "The message of the Holocaust is that there isn't any magic power." To that extent, of driving Wine and others away from the God of Israel, the Final Solution succeeded.

The "two-state solution" is a product of the post-World War II, post-Holocaust era. A great many people have a lot riding on the nonexistence of God. They would rather ignore the evidence of their own eyes than believe in God - that is, the God of Israel, HaShem, the God so hated by the Nazis - or in the Torah's truth. They would rather turn Israel into a pretzel than see God and Torah vindicated.

People say that there's no solution to the Arab-Israeli (or "Israeli-Palestinian") conflict, even though the solution is plain. If two sets of people can't get along together - and the "Arab Palestinians" were deliberately created a people solely in order to not get along with the Jews of Israel, to cancel out the Jews of Israel - move them apart.

We - the whole world - have a lot riding on this. "Only by solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can we solve the problem of Arab terrorism," Arab leaders say, and - oddly - they're right. Solving this seemingly relatively small problem will solve infinitely larger problems. (It will also help save the millions of Arabs who, recently, have fled Iraq as refugees.) Not to mention the problems of the Muslims of Darfur, fleeing "Arab rage.")

One Jewish "peacenik" lists the following as the common current needs of both Israeli Jews and "Palestinians."

Security. The opportunity to work. The availability of fertile land and usable water. A satisfactory system of health care. A legal system to help ensure justice. - From Robert Faber, "Wisdom Guides Compassion."

Faber, who is Jewish, ends his piece: "Thoughtful Palestinian sympathizers should be searching for a resolution of the tragedy, not a justification for increased recriminations and revenge."

OK! Here's the solution - a resolution. And, even though it may sound oxymoronic, let's call it peace and apocalypse.

Apocalypse means revealing, or unveiling; the apocalypse, in Biblical terms, means the final unveiling. By getting Israel securely settled in the Land of Israel humankind can achieve the final unveiling. We can destroy Israel's eternal enemy, Amalek, the Anti-Israel, by peacefully resolving the "Palestinians' tragedy." How do we do that? By getting the Arabs themselves to recognize that they need to shape up. By stopping enabling them, as the psychologists should be saying, by not supporting or encouraging them when they do evil. By insisting that they solve the problem that they themselves created, by accepting and absorbing their own people.

If this seems far-fetched, please consider that the Arab emirates of the Persian Gulf are booming; that they keep millions of people in India, Indonesia and Pakistan going by importing their men as laborers - who work, so it's said, in slave conditions; that the Gulf sheiks' own brethren, the so-called Palestinians, and Iraqis, could do that work just as well; and that, instead of subsidizing Hamas and Fatah (while Iranian oil wealth subsidizes the Shi'ite terrorists of Hezbollah), they could raise up their brethren while transforming their own society - just by acting with a modicum of justice and compassion. They could, for instance, try establishing an honest legal system - which might well become a prototype for the rest of the Arab world, and a first in the Arab world!

We have more than 30 American brigades in the Middle East at this moment, along with hundreds of thousands of support staff and contractors - including brilliant engineers and specialists in logistics. We have an Israel with a booming high-tech economy, with almost unbelievable expertise in turning dry, supposedly infertile land around. All that the Arab countries have to do is will it, and the most intractable problem of this or any age - the oldest refugee problem in history isn't that of the "Palestinians" but the Jews - shall be solved.

This would be a good resolution to the American adventure in Iraq - and a challenge worthy of America. Sending astronauts to Mars would be a minor achievement, comparatively. Not because of the inherent difficulty of the task - the task isn't inherently difficult - but because it would radically remake the world for the better.

Most observers don't realize that all the doom-filled prophecies in the Bible need never happen. God doesn't retract promised goodness but He gladly retracts promised evil. The "bad things" that the prophets foretold aren't necessary, so long as people act well enough to make them unnecessary. Peace can produce apocalypse. Apocalypse doesn't mean suffering.

Southern Lebanon, Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan, the whole of Jewish Israel - all these supposedly vast territories, that loom so large in the world's eyes, don't make up more than 1/600th of the Arab and Muslim world. Yes, most of the Arab and Muslim world is infertile - but, if the people who live there would just stop trying to get what isn't theirs, they could do a lot better with what is.

No one - no nation, no culture - has an unfettered right to any piece of real estate. If the Arabs and Muslims don't do right by "their" land, by what right do they claim it? What's to stop God from making it uninhabitable, or putting other people there?

This is not rocket science. With a little friendly help from their incredibly wealthy brethren, and from Americans, Israelis and other good people, who will be glad to help, they would make their own deserts bloom. They could literally save the world.

Anybody who really wants peace in the Middle East should know that the "two-state solution," dividing up a tiny land between a peace-loving people and the world's most murderous - people who are hated and feared even by those who want to murder every Jew in the world for their sake - is not a path to peace.

"Palestinians" want peace and security? How will they get it, when their neighbors and neighbors' guests insist on sending rockets and bombers stuffed full of high explosives against the people who live just a mile down the road? How will people in Southern Lebanon thrive, living in front or on top of mortar batteries meant to rain down death on Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv?

All the "two-state solution" is is a formula for Israel's eventual destruction - for more war, more suffering, more moral and environmental degradation, and more injustice. No honest peace-lover should want it - unless that peace-lover has an agenda calling for violent apocalypse or the destruction of Israel. Or resents religion so much as to reject any course of action that vindicates the God of one's fathers.

Every honest peace-lover should be pushing for a real solution - the solution called for in the Bible and Torah. That is, not just because it's Bible and Torah (although that should be reason enough), but because, regardless of Bible and Torah, it's the only thing that will work.

Settling the "Palestinians" safely and prosperously among their own brethren, in Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Egypt (speaking about small parts of a small fraction of the Arabs' 21 countries that aren't "Palestine"), is just common sense. The land in question used to be "the Fertile Crescent." Just as Israel was restored to fertility, it could - it shall - become fertile again too.

The "Palestinian Movement," which came into the world not for anyone's good but solely for the destruction of Israel, would collapse. And - back to the Bible - that would accomplish the destruction of Amalek. Amalek is the Torah's anti-Israel.

This all mean seem too idealistic, too dependent on the good will of anti-Semites, too dependent on the Arab world. But, please consider, it's infinitely easier than making the Arab world a democracy. In fact, it's just a precursor, a necessary early stage, in bringing the blessings of democracy to the Arabs. Before that, the Arabs need the blessings of God. And - here is Torah again - the way to win God's blessings is to earn them.

- Michael Dallen


Terrorism Awareness Project

[A subscriber, a Noahide who read Rainbow Covenant and urges his Jewish customers and clients, particularly, to read it too, just submitted this. It's a dramatic but generally pretty accurate re-telling of the real story of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Click here: What Really Happened In The Middle East - Terrorism Awareness Project http://www.terrorismawareness.org/what-really-happened/ (One comment. Beyond blasting ex-president Jimmy Carter, who undoubtedly deserves it, the producer takes a quick swipe at what he calls "the left," as being hatefully anti-Israel. In fact, even his own documentary shows that "the left" has no monopoly on anti-Semitism.)]



We spoke of the "Hertz Torah" in these pages before - the Hebrew-English Penateuch (or Five Books, or chumash) and Haftorahs, published by Soncino, with a commentary by Rabbi Dr. Sir J. H. Hertz, the late chief rabbi of the British Empire.

Orthodox Israel started reading Deuteronomy, or Devarim (from its first words: eyla devarim, "These are the words"), two weeks ago.

Deuteronomy, the last of the Five Books, is different from the other four: Moses wrote it; he didn't just record God's words. Deuteronomy is, in this respect, like any work of literature.

It's dazzling, even in English. (In Hebrew, the words sing: they beat into you like a drum.) Scholars have called it, with reason, the greatest literary work in human history. But what we want to mention here is the commentary on the text, the notes and essays by R' Hertz.

R' Hertz was an inspiring teacher. Other commentaries have their points - the Stone Edition of the Torah, for instance, published by Artscroll, is good- but these commentaries are wonderful. It impressed us again - reading it for the umpteenth time, using it along with the commentary in the Stone - on shabbot.

You might want to buy or borrow a Hertz and see for yourself. His work in the last Torah portion, Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11, including longer essays, the Ten Commandments, a Jealous God, and Religious Tolerance, is exceptional. It answers so many questions that need asking. . . it brings out so many layers of meaning and crucial facts. . . one would like to share it with everyone.


We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name.

Amen.Questions? Comments?

We want to hear from you:

info @ 1stcovenant. com

Visit our website: we're constantly adding new content:
New articles, audiovisual, and Facebook content!

If you liked Rainbow Covenant: Torah and the Seven Universal Laws
Please let people who might read about it online
benefit from your insights: write a few lines about it 
on Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com 
(just a few sentences will help)



Covenant Connection Archives



See the writing and check out the different ideas on our blog: http://www.1stcovenant.org/blog/


Find the latest and best edition of each Covenant Connection on the website. See all the Covenant Connections! http://1stcovenant.org/pages/newsletter.htm

Join the First Covenant Foundation! 
Click here: Community http://1stcovenant.org/Community.htm

www.1stcovenant.com      www.1stcovenant.org      www.rainbowcovenant.org

Please feel free to copy and reprint Covenant Connection or any part of it, but please include this sentence with the copyright information:
© 2013 The First Covenant Foundation

First Covenant Foundation: advancing human understanding of the Seven Laws