"Atheistic" Judaism as a variety of Religious Non-Theism - Peter Myers, April 29, 2001; update August 25, 2008. My comments within quoted text are indicated {thus}; write to me at contact.html.

You are at http://mailstar.net/philos.html.

If atheistic Jews "stay Jewish", what bond unites them? Kevin MacDonald argues for a common genetic inheritance: macdonald.html; here I argue for cultural factors, a non-theistic variant of the Jewish religion.

Spinoza formulates atheistic Judaism, the religion of Jewish Communists: spinoza-pantheism.html.

Zeev Sternhell, in his book The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism and the Making of the Jewish State, translated by David Maisel (Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 1998) writes of Aaron David Gordon, a shaper of the Second Aliyah:

{p. 57} Religion, according to Gordon, is "one of the basic factors that have made man what he is ever since he has been man." Schweid concludes with two observations that are particularly interesting from our point of view: on one hand, he points out Gordon's positive attitude not only to "the traditional requirements of religion: its beliefs, its rituals, its commandments as a whole," but also to "the historical manifestations of tradition"; on the other hand, he draws attention to "the paradox of religiosity without belief in God" in Gordon's thinking. ...

Essentially, Gordon, and Katznelson after him, accepted Ahad Ha'am's view that "someone who says 'I have no connection with the Jewish religion, with the historical force that gave life to our people and influenced its life, spirit, and observances for thousands of years' ... may be a decent man, but he is not a national Jew even if he lives in Eretz Israel and speaks the national tongue." {endquote} nat-soc-isr.html.

Thus the Non-Theistic variant of the Jewish religion.

Maurice Samuel wrote in his book You Gentiles, "I might say that there is no Jew who does not believe in God. The free-thinking Jews, the agnostic or atheistic Jew like myself, simply does not anthropomorphize him. In his religious emotions the atheist Jew is as different from the atheist gentile as the confessing Jew from the confessing gentile-Christian" (You Gentiles, CPA Book Publisher, Boring Oregon 1995, p. 76).

The concept of "religious non-theism" is important; Buddhism is such a philosophy, and it fits Taoism too. Religious Non-theism is based on the rejection of an anthropomorphised God; but such a rejection need not amount to Nihilism or Anarchism: http://virtual.chattanooga.net/atheisms/atheisms/marty.html. The Jewish Bolsheviks suppressed other religions in the same way the Conquistadores did.

(1) Non-Theistic Judaism Formulated - around a sense of Mission (2) The Jewish version of Lives of the Saints (3) Rabbi Harry Waton on Communism as a variant of the Jewish religion (4) Albert Einstein as an example of a Jewish religious non-theist (5) Sigmund Freud argues that Jewish Universalism was derived from the Monotheism of Akhnaton (6) Why have atheistic Jews often supported Communism? (7) Judaism And Messianism, by Henry I. Sobel (8) David Ben-Gurion articulates Non-Theistic Judaism (9) Trotsky promises "Paradise on Earth" (10) Antagonistic-Polarity and the notion of history as "Salvation History"

(1) Non-Theistic Judaism Formulated - around a sense of Mission:

Judging Judaism by the Numbers By DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF

The New York Times, November 20, 2002
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/20/opinion/20RUSH.html

... For too long, the health of Judaism has been defined largely by numbers.  ... Judaism is not on the brink of extinction at all, but poised for renaissance. ...

 The very notion of a Jewish race was conceived in persecution and galvanized in extermination. ...

As a Jew who cares deeply about his religion, I have come to the conclusion that our great mistake has been to forget that we are the descendants of a loose amalgamation of peoples united around a new idea, and to replace this history with the view, advanced by our enemies, that we are a race. ...

As I have come to understand it, Judaism was built around the contention that human beings can make the world a better, more just place. ...

The Jewish people are not a race, to be preserved. Judaism is a set of ideas to be shared. Its universal tenets should not be surrendered to the seemingly more pressing threat of tribal dissolution - particularly not right now. Judaism is founded in iconoclasm, a principle especially relevant to a world so hypnotized by its many false idols. Judaism finds its expression in radical pluralism, an assertion that there is no name for God - at least none that any human being could conceive. And because it puts human needs above anyone's notion of deity, Judaism is ultimately enacted through the very real work of social justice.

As our nation and the world struggle to balance the conflicting priorities of religion, freedom and human rights, Judaism's core strengths are greatly needed. It would be a terrible shame if the religion's biggest concern continued to be itself.

{credits} Douglas Rushkoff, a professor of communications at New York University, is author of the forthcoming "Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism."

{end}

(2) The Jewish version of Lives of the Saints

Michael Shapiro includes both the non-theistic and theistic variants in his book The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time, (Simon & Schuster, London 1997).

This book, which has only "good" things to say about Jews, is the modern equivalent of the "Lives of the Saints".

Betty Friedan and Bob Dylan get into the "top 100", but Noam Chomsky misses out - too anti-Zionist, perhaps?

Here are some of the saints, in order of year of birth:

{p. 130} Isaac Luria (1534-1572)

{p. 131} For Luria, our universe came into being when God shrank himself - the "big bang" theory explained centuries before twentieth-century scientists in kabbalistic terms.

{p. 132} Scholem noted that Luria's mystical philosophy was "permeated with messianic tension." Unlike Cordovero, who viewed life as riddled with confusion, Luria taught that we live in a "world of restitution" or "Tikkun". Only by restoring the inward and outward worlds of our universe through prayer and moral behaviour (making our existence ideal and perfect) will we be redeemed, made ready for the inevitable coming of the Messiah. Every Jew's redemption is necessary for the redemption of all.

(p. 182) The Baal Shem Tov (1700-1760)

{p. 183} Yet his influence on the development of modern Judaism is enormous. Along with the development of orthodox rabbinic Jewish thought ... the Besht (the acronym for Baal Shem Tov), supplied the heart, brought ecstasy to prayer, passion to dry words of devotion. ...

One of his most fundamental creations, the tzaddik, was used by his followers to create dynasties of rabbis, some of which have continued to the present day (for example, the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement traces its origins back to the late eighteenth century and the disciples of the Besht). A tzaddik was a superior person whose unique righteousness brought him especially close to God. The tzaddik could even intercede with the divine will. The Baal Shem Tov's successors, Dov Baer and Rabbi Nachman of

{p. 184} Bratislava, contributed mightily to the expansion of the political importance of the tzaddik, also called the rebbe, whose spiritual values were the exemplar of his community, and the bearer of sacred gifts.

{p. 205} Emile Durkheim (1858-1917)

Emile Durkheim, the son of an Alsatian rabbi, was not only the founder of modern sociology, but with Freud, Marx, and Max Weber, one of the most profound thinkers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

{p. 136} Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)

{p. 138} Trotsky's vision of a permanent revolution played out on an international stage almost came to pass. Both Trotsky and Lenin assumed that their idea of a workers' revolution would spread to Germany, France, and England, painting Europe's flag a deepest red. ... However, Stalinism, that twisted outgrowth of Leninism, overwhelmed the more utopian and intellectual niceties of the Trotskyistes and became the favored example for developing leftist states.

{p. 208} Betty Friedan (b. 1921)

{p. 209} The contemporary women's liberation movement began not in the 1960s as many believe, but gradually in those postwar years. Women in small groups started a process of consciousness raising and examining their history. The publication in 1963 of Betty's Friedan's The Feminine Mystique crystallized the concerns raised by that process, igniting a worldwide movement not just for women, but for human rights.

{p. 363} Bob Dylan (b. 1941)

{p. 365} During these years of the early 1960s, Dylan was the nation's singing poet laureate of protest, establishing his reputation for topical and bardic commentary on the state of our lives ...

Born a Jew, he flirted with born-again fundamentalist Christianity in the early 1980s, only to return later to Orthodox Judaism (he was linked, for example, to the Lubavitcher Hasidic movement and its charismatic grand rabbi, Menachem Schneerson).

{end quotes}

Shapiro's universalist pretensions to do not extend to the revelations made by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky in their book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Press, London, 1999). They write,

{ p. ix} Conflicts in Israeli society between adherents and opponents of Jewish fundamentalism rank among the most important issues in Israeli politics ... Defenders of the "Jewish interest" often attack persons who write critically about Jews and/or Judaism ... Some of these defenders, for example, attacked Seffi Rachlevsky after the publication of his best-selling book, Messiahs' Donkeys. In his book, Rachlevsky correctly claimed that Rabbi Kook, the Elder, the revered father of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism (who is featured in our book), said "The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews - all of them in all dlfferent levels - is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle." ... Rachlevsky pointed out that Rabbi Kook's entire teaching was based upon the Lurianic Cabbala, the school of Jewish mysticism that dominated Judaism from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. One of the basic tenants of the Lurianic Cabbala is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of Jews; the existence of non-Jews was subsidiary.  ...

{p. x} That Kook deprecated unnecessary Jewish brutality against non-Jews should not minimize criticism of his expressed delight in the belief that the death of millions of soldiers during World War One constituted a sign of the approaching salvation of Jews and the coming of the Messiah.

{p. xi} Jewish fundamentalists still believe, as they have in the past, in a golden age when everything was, or was going to be, perfect.

{p. 58} The actual fact is that cabbalistic texts, as opposed to talmudic literature, emphasize salvation for only Jews. ... A modern and influential expression of the attitudes derived above is evident in the teachings and writings of the late "Lubovitcher

{p. 59} Rebbe," Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson ... The ideas of Rabbi Schneerson that appear below are taken from a book of his recorded messages to followers in Israel, titled Gatherings of Conversations and published in the Holy Land in 1965. During the subsequent three decades of his life until his death, Rabbi Schneerson remained consistent; he did not change any of the opinions. What Rabbi Scheerson taught either was or immediately became official, Lubovitch, Hassidic belief. Regarding the non-Jew the Lubovitcher Rebbe's views were clear even if a bit disorderly: ...

{quote} The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: "Let us differentiate." ... we have a case of "let us differentiate" between totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world ...

{p. 60} {quote continued}  A Jew was not created as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews." ... The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim." {end quote}

After some additional cabbalistic explanation the Lubovitcher Rebbe concluded:

{quote} ... The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews. ...

{p. 61} {end quote}

{end of extract from Shahak and Mezvinsky}

More of Shahak and Mezvinsky on Schneerson at shahak2.html.

It's is this genocidal mentality which has attracted the "universalist" Bob Dylan.

(3) Rabbi Harry Waton on Communism as a variant of the Jewish religion

Waton wrote in his book

A Program FOR THE JEWS

An Answer TO ALL ANTI-SEMITES

A PROGRAM FOR HUMANITY (New York 1939; published by COMMITTEE FOR THE PRESERVATION OF THE JEWS):

{p. 138} The communists are against religion, and they seek to destroy religion; yet, when we look deeper into the nature of communism, we see that it is essentially nothing else than a religion. That the communists seek to destroy all existing religions is not remarkable; all new religions had first to destroy the existing religions, to clear the terrain for its own existence. This was the case of Judaism, Christianity, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and all other religions. Next, when we disregard the scientific cloak of Marxism, we see that in essence it is nothing else than religion. Marx believed that he was a scientist, and he hated metaphysics; yet, he was the greatest metaphysician of modern times. And the greatness of Marx consists in just this that he was a religious metaphysician. His scientific theories may prove false, but his religious perception of the destiny of mankind will endure forever. Marx could say with Jesus: Heaven and earth shall pass, but my religious perception of the destiny of mankind will not pass.
Since religion concerns itself about the future destiny of mankind, it follows that this idea of religion is the most vital idea that concerns mankind. We can forget our past sufferings, failures and disappointments, we can remain indifferent to the wrongs and injustices done to us in the past by others, but we can neither forget nor remain indifferent to the sufferings, failures, disappointments, the wrongs and injustices that will be done to us and which we will suffer in the future. The future justifies the past. Since religion is the most essential idea that concerns men, it follows that men of one religion will be far more intimately identified with one another than men of other ideas; and men who are opposed in religion will be far more {p. 139} deeply opposed to one another than men who are opposed to one another in other ideas. This was the reason why religious struggles were always bloodier and more determined than all other struggles. {endquote}

More of Waton at watonpgm.zip

(4) Albert Einstein as an example of a Jewish religious non-theist

Here are some of Einstein's views, expressed in interviews:

"I believe in mystery and, frankly, I sometimes face this mystery with great fear. In other words, I think that there are many things in the universe that we cannot perceive or penetrate {this is a Fallibilist statement} and that also we experience some of the most beautiful things in life in only a very primitive form. Only in relation to these mysteries do I consider myself to be a religious man. But I sense these things deeply. What I cannot understand is how there could possibly be a God who would reward or punish his subjects or who could induce us to develop our will in our daily life.

... I cannot then believe in this concept of an anthropomorphic God who has the powers of interfering with these natural laws. As I said before, the most beautiful and most profound religious emotion that we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. And this mysticality is the power of all true science. If there is any such concept as a God, it is a subtle spirit, not an image of a man that so many have fixed in their minds. In essence, my religion consists of a humble admiration for this illimitable superior spirit that reveals itself in the slight details that we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds.

... the primary school that I first went to was a Catholic one. I was, as a matter of fact, the only Jewish child in the school. This actually worked to my advantage, since it made it easier for me to isolate myself from the rest of the class and find that comfort in solitude that I so cherished. ... Actually it is a very difficult thing to even define a Jew. The closest that I can come to describing it is to ask you to visualize a snail. A snail that you see at the ocean consists of the body that is snuggled inside of the house which it always carries around with it. But let's picture what would happen if we lifted the shell off of the snail. Would we not still describe the unprotected body as a snail? In just the same way, a Jew who sheds his faith along the way, or who even picks up a different one, is still a Jew": http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einbucky.htm.

Although Einstein there implicitly denies that Jews have any political role, Benjamin Ginsberg demonstrates that they do: ginsberg.html.

Alfred Lilienthal on how Einstein has been mis-represented as a Zionist: lilienthal.html.

But Einstein, himself, expressed strong Zionist sentiments in his book About Zionism: Speeches and Lectures by Professor Albert Einstein: einstein.html.

Einstein expressed a debt to Spinoza and Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer wrote of Spinoza, "the world exists, with me as with Spinoza, by its own inner power and through itself. But with Spinoza his suhstantia aeterna, the inner nature of the world, which he himself calls Deus, is also, as regards its moral character and worth, Jehovah, the God-Creator, who applauds his creation, and finds that everything has turned out excellently, panta khala lian. Spinoza has deprived him of nothing more than personality" (The World As Will and Representation,volume 2, p. 644): schopenhauer.html.

(5) Sigmund Freud argues that Jewish Universalism was derived from the Monotheism of Akhnaton

Sigmund Freud, like Cyrus H. Gordon, believed that Jewish Universalism was derived from the Monotheism of Egypt's heretic Pharaoh Akhnaton. Freud wrote his last book, Moses and Monotheism, on this topic. He even admits to  being embarrassed by the bloodthirsty, parochial character of Yahweh/Jehovah:

"{p. 87} The Jewish people had abandoned the Aton religion which Moses had  given them and had turned to the worship of another god {i.e. Yahweh/Jehovah} who  differed little from the Baalim of the neighbouring tribes. All the efforts of later distorting influences failed to hide this humiliating fact."

"{p. 38} the Jewish tribes ... {p. 39} later ... took over the worship of a  god Jahve, probably from the Arabic tribe of Midianites ... Jahve was  certainly a volcano-god ... {p. 41} the demon Jahve on his {p. 42} divine  mountain."

"{p. 78} Jahve was quite unlike the Mosaic God. Aton had been a pacifist,  like his deputy on earth or rather his model the Pharaoh Ikhnaton ... For a  people that was preparing to conquer new lands by violence Jahve was  certainly better suited. ... the central fact of the development of Jewish  religion was this: in the course of time Jahve lost his own character and  became more and more like the old God of Moses, Aton."

Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism: moses.html.

(6) Why have atheistic Jews often supported Communism?

Jews, I have come to understand, see their religion - or philosophy - this way:

1. They have been persecuted for many centuries, even millenia.

2. They must work to free themselves, but they are commanded by God - or by their philosophy - to work for all other persecuted groups. In fact, they are told, this is their mission: they can't free themselves if they don't free those other groups - the two must be done together.

3. The persecuted groups they work for might include

(i) oppressed social classes, e.g. serfs made so when invaders set themselves up as an aristocracy over the previous owners of the land (this is how feudal systems come into being)

(ii) women, considered as an oppressed sex

(iii) minority ethnic groups, swamped by more dominant ones

(iv) gays, as an example of a marginalised cultural group.

4. To redress the above imbalances in a lasting way, requires changes to the structure which created the imbalance or oppression - hence a deep social revolution.

5. Jews seem to want to retain the leadership of such revolutionary movements, feeling that only they have been acculturated thoroughly in the revolutionary path.

6. No doubt there's a certain amount of self-interest in their retaining leadership, especially, for example, in Poland in the 1950s & 60s, when they ruled the Catholic Poles: poland.html, on behalf of the USSR. But even though non-Jews might see such Jews as persecutors, they do not see themselves that way, any more than the Catholic Spaniards saw themselves as persecutors of the Mexicans and Incas. As those Spaniards saw themselves as bestowing religious salvation on those indigenous Americans, so the Jewish Communists of Poland saw themselves as bringing a kind of this-worldly salvation to the Catholic Poles they ruled.

7. In the 1967 & 1973 Middle-East wars, many of the Jewish Communists of Poland discovered, perhaps to their own surprise, their own bond to Israel. They felt that Israel was at risk, wanted Israel to win, celebrated when it did, and opposed Moscow. As a result, they were ousted from the leadership, and, it seems, in many cases migrated to Israel. One result of this was that the leadership of the Polish Communist Government passed from Jews to Poles, Poles who, when the crunch came later, were more amenable to Solidarity than the Jewish Communists would have been. In a very real sense, the 1967 & 1973 Middle-East wars contributed to the fall of Communism.

8. Judaism is a philosophy, a religion, a culture; the Jews are the people united by that philosophy. They are not a race, even if their philosophy encourages them to marry other Jews; in the same way, Moslems are united by a philosophy, and that philosophy encourages them to marry other Moslems. Both the Marxists and the Nazis are wrong about Judaism. Noam Chomsky, for example, implies that Israel exists primarily as a U.S. surrogate in the Middle East, a sheriff to police the Moslems and control the oil. This is quite wrong; it may describe American motives to use Israel for this purpose, but it does not explain why the Jews wanted to return to that particular area. The Jews wanted to return to that area, not for material reasons as Chomsky's Marxism requires, but because they feel culturally rooted there; it does not matter that the Ashkenazi Jews are, in the main, not Semitic. The bond is cultural, just as Moslems are bonded culturally, whatever their race. The Nazis see the Jews as a racial group promoting eugenic breeding practices (geared to producing intellectuals) and pursuing their own evolutionary advantage in a Darwinian sense, all the while urging Gentiles not to do the same.

9. Why did Jews who supported Communism, continue to support it despite its death toll, including the deaths of some of their associates? Because their philosophy said

(i) the world cannot be reformed - reconstructed - without overcoming ignorance and resistance.

(ii) the job cannot be done by isolated individuals, but only by banding together in a collective effort, in which submission to the leadership is required.

(iii) mistakes will be made, but the effort must continue, and one must be prepared to devote one's own life to it, and even to sacrifice one's own life for it - for the greater good.

(iv) where the results were disappointing, one could still uphold the Marxist principles as an ideal, the goal as a "final cause" (Aristotle's phrase) or a teleology, a result deemed inevitable and yet elusive. Hence the exhortation, "help to bring about the inevitable". The inevitability was assured by the Jewish religion, which had borrowed it from the eschatology and teleology of the Zoroastrian religion; non-theistic Jews, despite the lack of a God as guarantor of the process, were still convinced of the inevitability of the goal - and Trotskyists still are. God was replaced by the idea of a predetermined History.

(v) for some, obstacles - such as Stalin, to Trotskyists - only spurred them to struggle harder.

(vi) for others, as doubts emerged, and as conflict with Israel developed, faith in Communism gave way to a return to the Jewish religion, and an identification with Israel. Many still hoped that this could be combined with a world based on the principles of Marxism - which they saw as the promotion of social justice for all - with Israel as the Jewish part of it.

10. Is there a similarity between Israeli culture and Bolshevik culture?

(i) An interesting question to explore, is whether the hardness of Communism came from Jewish philosophies rather than Russian culture; and, in that case, whether the same hardness shows up in the culture of Israel. The treatment of Mordecai Vanunu, captured by Mossad on the order of Shimon Peres, might seem akin to Bolshevik methods, for example.

(ii) Might the violence meted out to "pagan" cultures by "White Christians" be partly attributable to them having adopted this "ethic" too? Could it be buried in the Old Testament - could Yahweh really be a "War God"? Was Jesus trying to bring something akin to Buddhist Pacifism to the Jewish tradition: buddhism.html, turning the "War God" into a "God of Love"? If so, he was not the only one to do so: other Jewish prophets had introduced something of this before him - that may be why Jesus saw himself as fulfilling a change of direction already present within Judaism.

(iii) Rousseau and Nietzsche, prophets of the Modern and Postmodern, condemned the Christian takeover of Rome for introducing pacifism, the ethic of "turning the other cheek".

Rousseau wrote, "In ancient times, Greece flourished at the height of the cruellest wars; blood flowed in torrents, but the whole country was thickly populated. 'It appeared,' says Machiavelli, 'that in the midst of murder, proscription and civil wars, our republic became stronger than ever; the civil virtue of the citizens, their morals, and their independence, served more effectively to strengthen it than all their dissensions may have done to weaken it.' A little disturbance gives vigour to the soul, and what really makes the species prosper is not peace but freedom" (Social Contract, Penguin edition, note on p.131).

Nietzsche admired the "eye for an eye" Old Testament ethic, which he identified with the earlier "First Temple" phase of Judaism, the phase of its genocidal conquest of Palestine (as recorded in the Jewish Bible: eth-civ.html), before it came under the influence of the Zoroastrian religion in Babylon. He condemned later "Second Temple Judaism" for its evolution towards the pacifist and other Buddhist-like qualities of Christianity, which advises patient endurance of the hardships of this world, in the hope of a better life in heaven or a future rebirth. Zionism returned to "First Temple" methods. See Jacob Golomb, Nietzsche and Jewish Culture: nietzsche.html.

(iv) If the hardness of Communism came from the "eye for an eye" ethic of the Old Testament, then other, milder kinds of Communism might be possible. Perhaps they are developing already.

Gorbachev, surely, is one of the great men of human history. How could the USSR have thrown up such a man? He singlehandedly stopped the Cold War and dismantled the totalitarian system; whatever the suffering of Russia since, it is preferable to the nuclear war that may have happened otherwise.

There are some good things about Communism. In one of his books, Gorbachev wrote that the barrier between the USSR and its Eastern European satellites was greater than between those Eastern European satellites and the West. This is a very important point. He meant that there was a different kind of Communism in Eastern Europe. There, unlike the USSR, private business was allowed, employing (as I recall) up to 50 employees ... of i.e. small to medium size, while large and heavy industries were State-run. Why did the USSR establish a different kind of Communism there? My guess is that the Ukranian famine taught them a lesson. Collectivisation of farms worked ok in Russia, because the Russians had practised communal ownership in their traditional villages (mirs). But the Ukranians practised individual ownership, and resisted collectivisation. The Ukranian famine created lasting bitterness, whose memory surely spurred the Ukraine to secede from the USSR, when in 1991 it had the chance.

The Jewish Revolutionaries always seem to go too far, probably because their ideas had been developed in ghettoes isolated from those they would be tried out on. In consequence of the excesses, their system becomes discredited, even though some good ideas are present. Once the system as a whole is dismantled, it is possible to retrieve the good features. Non-Jews seem to resent Jewish domination, but there is no reason why they cannot adopt some ideas developed by Jews: copying other people's inventions and ideas has been done throughout history.

The Poles have now put the ex-Communists into power. The latter now accept the Catholic religion and the Polish heritage, even though abortion, for example, is allowed - Poles wanted that. Communists strive for full employment, and to preserve Poland's small farms, whereas when (and if) Poland joins the EU, those small farms will be "rationalised" into big ones. The sort of regime which Poland is moving towards now, is the sort I advocate. It accepts the cultural tradition; it's not trying to take over the world; it's not totalitarian; it rejects foreign control. China and Vietnam appear to be moving in that direction too, although American power politics may cause a reversion.

Any hegemonic power is frightening. The USSR was such, in the late 1970s; that's why China and the US then united against it. The US is behaving that way now; throwing its weight around too aggressively, it is likely to cause other countries to unite against it. Its attempt to impose "Democracy" and "Human Rights" is no different from the Soviet Union attempting to impose Communism. It doesn't matter what Ideology is being advocated, agressive hegemony is frightening.

{end}

(7) Judaism And Messianism, by Henry I. Sobel

Ecumenical Trends, May 1982

The word "messiah" derives from the Herew term "mashiach," meaning "anointed." In biblical times, anointment with holy oil was an act of consecration. Thus, we find in the Bible references to anointed objects n the Tabernacle, the "anointed shield" of King Saul, as well as the anointment of priests, prophets, patriarchs, and kings - including a Gentile king, Cyrus II, the founder of the Persian Empire. These "mesiahs," in the original sense of the word, were supposedly people with a special mision from God, and the title expressed both the inviolability of their status and the sacred character of their office. Incidenally, the custom of anointment with holy oil is still followed today at the coronation of kings and queens. In a broader sense, the term "messianism" refers to theories regarding the future improvement of the state of humanity. The time dimension is basic to the concept of messianism. The time process is expected to lead to a major change or even a final consummation as a result of which humanity will attain a better, happier, more perfect condition. In this context, the starting point for all messianic aspirations is a negative evaluation of the present. Precisely because the present is viewed as unsatisfactory, because it is blighted by so many evils - hunger, suffering, death, sin - it must be superseded by a new age.

Messianic ideologies and movements are not necessarily centered on a messianic figure. There is, however, a tendency for such movements to associate their utopian-revolutionary message with a strong charismatic personality. Bringing with them the promise of a radical change for the better - the hope of liberation, salvation, redemption - messianic movements have played a significant role in human history. In pre-modern societies in which religion exercised a predominant influence, messianism was one of the major practical vehicles to promote great innovations, not only of a religious character, but also of a cultural, social, and political order.

Although messianic movements have occurred in various civilizations, they are especially characteristic of the Jewish and Christian traditions. The Old Testament never speaks of an eschatological messiah - one inaugurating the last times - and even the so-called "messianic" passages containing prophecies of a future golden age under an ideal king never explicitly use the term "messiah." Nevertheless, many modern scholars suggest that Jewish messianism has its origins in the sacral character that the Israelites conferred upon tneir kings. Altnough the anointed king of Israel was not considered "divine," certain supernatural qualities and messianic function were ascribed to him. Many prophecies and psalms have been interpreted in this sense, and this exaltation of kingship has been connected with the messianic doctrines of early Christianity.

As the careers of particular kings failed to meet the messianic expectations deposited in them and the kingdom of Israel was successively conquered and crushed by the great empires, the Jewish people became more and more disappointed with the actual reality, and the belief in a king-messiah was projected onto the future. After the Babylonian exile in the sixth century before the Common Era and under the influence of apocalyptic literature which flourished at the time {Zoroastrian: zoroaster-judaism.html}, Jews held firmly to the prophetic idea that God would make a dramatic intervention in history on behalf of the chosen people by means of a descendant of King David who would deliver the Jewish people from bondage and whose arrival would be previously announced by the prophet Elijah. Hence, the Hebrew word "mashiach" came to mean "the anointed one of the Lord," the messiah "par excellence," the messenger of the Almighty who would bring to the Israelites the glories of a new age. In this connection, it is interesting that although Jesus' beliefs about the nature of his "messianic" task are still a matter of scholarly controversy, there is little doubt that already at an early date his followers saw in him the promised "son of David," "God's anointed one." This view is evident in the gospel accounts that attempt to trace the ancestry of Jesus back to the Davidic line, obviously for the purpose of legitimizing his messianic status.

Be it as it may, the ancient rabbis whose thoughts are expressed in the Talmud described the messiah as a just man, a great scholar, a moral leader, and a courageous king. He would redeem the Jews from exile and would re-establish them in the land of Israel where they would live forever in peace and independence. The rabbis emphasized, however, that the messiah's deeds would not be restricted to one particular people but rather would benefit the entire human race. The miracle of Jewish redemption was viewed as a prerequisite for universal salvation. At the advent of the messiah, all would see the light and follow the guidance of the divine teachings. War and strife would then come to an end, and humanity would be ushered into a new era of faith, justice, harmony, and universal peace.

{But the Palestinians see no benefit. And the Jews who hope to build the Third Temple, also hope to destroy the Dome of the Rock: dome.html. Is Ariel Sharon's war with Islam the way Judaism brings Peace to the world? It ties in nicely with Samuel Huntington's apocalypse: huntington.html}

With the passing of time, the messianic expectations took on a number of varying emphases. One theory, proposed in the second part of the Book of Isaiah (whose authorship is still controversial), suggests that the messiah would not be a king, or a priest, or a man, but rather a people: the People of Israel, chosen by God to build God's kingdom on earth for the good of all. In order to fulfill its mission, the "messianic people" would have to suffer and take upon itself the sins of humankind. This "vicarious atonement" prophesied by Deutero-Isaiah has been interpreted by Christians as an explanation for Jesus' suffering and a confirmation of his identity as the messiah. The Qumran sect, a Jewish monastic group known in modern times for its preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, held the doctrine of a messianic pair: a priestly messiah from the House of Aaron (the brother of Moses) and a royal messiah from the House of David. This concept clearly demonstrates that the "meshichim," the anointed ones, were not thought of as saviors in the Christian sense of the word but rather as ideal leaders presiding over a divinely-willed "messianic" socio-religious order.

The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.C.E., followed by exile, persecution, and suffering, only intensified Jewish messianism, based on the notion that a period of turbulence and calamity would precede the coming of the messiah. In Hebrew, "chevlei mashiach," means the "birth pangs" of the messianic era. Throughout Jewish history, all the tragic massacres that decimated the Jewish people were accompanied by an increase of messianic fervor among Jews. In medieval times, messianic faith developed into mass enthusiasm, frequently fed by calculations based on the Book of Daniel and other biblical passages which indicated that the arrival of the messiah was imminent. The "son of David" messianism, with its concrete political implications, was overshadowed by apocalyptic notions of a more mystical and mythological character. In the sixteenth century, in the city of Safed, which was the center of the kabbalist movement, a branch of Jewish mysticism, the messianic fervor gained hightened intensity under the strong influence of Rabbi Isaac Luria. Luria looked upon himself as the Messiah Ben Joseph who, according to some sources, would supposedly precede the second and final redeemer, Mashiach Ben David. During this period, almost every generation had its messianic precursors and pretenders, the most notorious being the seventeenth-century pseudo-messiah Shabbetai Tzevi.

A steadfast belief in the messiah and the fervent expectation of his arrival became firmly established tenets of Jewish thought, so much so that they were included among the Thirteen Principles of Faith formulated by the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides in the twelfth century and incorporated to this day in Jewish prayer books. The twelfth of these principles, the one which became the martyrs' hymn during the Nazi Holocaust, states: "Anima'amin be 'emunah shleimah be'viat ha'Mashiach. Ve'af al pi shevitmameah, im kol zeh achkeh lo bechol yom sheyavo", that is, "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah. And though he may tarry, I will wait daily for his arrival." Maimonides' view of the messiah is not at all apocalyptical or mystical. Rather, it is rational, emphasizing the unmiraculous nature of the messianic age.

{So much for the idea that Judaism "has no creed"}

Although most Jews nowadays do not engage in active messianic movements, many of them nonetheless have an intense, wholehearted conviction that there will indeed be a messianic era. Their belief in the coming of the messiah has given Jews strength and courage to face the adversities suffered by the Jewish people throughout the ages. Judaism undoubtedly owes its survival, to a considerable extent, to this infinite hope in a messianic future. Jewish messianism, in spite of its spiritual and mystical connotations, is essentially pragmatic and action-oriented. Jewish messianic aspirations are not mere dreams. They are concrete objective tnat give Jews the incentive to work actively for a better world, a world in which the moral and ethical values of Jewish tradition will prevail, a world in which the supreme prophetic ideals of justice and community will become reality. Zionist ideology, as a movement for liberation and ingathering of the exiles ("Kibbutz Galuyot"), surely has its messianic origins. Moreover, the commitment of Jews to so many progressive and revolutionary movements all over the world is indeed a secularized version of traditional Jewish messianism. Jews believe that, whatever its spiritual and cosmic aspects, salvation has to be inserted in the historic, political, and social context of the world in which they live.

{Yet Jews are the richest sector of US society, and Jewish lobbies have hijacked the foreign-aid budget: ginsberg.html}

It is important to emphasize that, while we believe firmly in the coming of the messiah, this belief is not a sustaining element of Jewish faith. Contrary to Christian doctrine, which cannot be conceived without the messiah, in Judaism the Messiah is an afterthought, not a root principle in itself. Thus, even Hillel II, a great Jewish thinker, although he believed in redemption, denied the coming of the messiah. Jewish rabbinic anthologies and Jewish liturgy emphasize that the author of redemption is not the messiah but God. The messiah is only an instrument by which the sovereignly of God will manifest itself.

From the Jewish perspective, what exactly is supposed to happen in the "days of the Messiah"? The question must be answered from two points of view: the orthodox and the liberal. Both derive from biblical passages, rabbinic teachings, and other sources in Jewish literature. Orthodox Jews continue to await the coming of a personal messiah, who upon arrival on earth will operate many miracles: The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the crippled will walk, and the dead will rise. There will be no more suffering, no more disease, no more poverty, no more death. Orthodoxy retains unimpaired the doctrine of the messiah as a scion of the House of David who will reign in Jerusalem and will rebuild the Holy Temple. For this reason, some ultra-orthodox Jews are opposed to Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel, considering it a purely human pseudo-redemption, and interference in God's plan of sending a special messenger to gather the exiles in zion. Most Orthodox, however, accept the foundation of Israel as the beginning of the redemption, a preliminary act executed under divine guidance and one which will be consummated in the future by God. Liberal Jews, on the other hand, maintain the traditional faith in an ultimately redeemed world, but not by way of a special messenger sent by God. What is awaited is the advent of a messianic era in which justice, fraternity, and peace will reign and all people will live by the teachings of God. On that day, the prophecy of Zacariah, the hope of monotheism for all humankind, will be fulfilled: "The Lord shall be one, and His name one."

{imposed upon all mankind?}

From either one of the two viewpoints, orthodox or liberal, Judaism does not recognize that the Messiah has already come. Why? Simply because our messianic expectations have not been concretized. Oppression has not ceased, war has not stopped, hatred has not vanished, poverty has not ended. Above all, the spiritual regeneration of humankind, which we so fervently anticipate, surely has not been achieved. The Talmud records that in the second century the great Rabbi Akiva believed that Bar Kochba was the messiah. Yet, when Bar Kochba's revolt against the Romans was violently crushed, Rabbi Akiva recognized that Bar Kochba could not have been the messiah because he was unable to bring peace. Similarly, Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah. They believe that he was a great man, a great teacher who preached the universal ideals of the Jewish faith, a human being with great sensitivity and insight, touched by the messianic fervor of his time. We do not accept him as the messiah because the Kingdom of God has not yet manifested itself.

{But Israel Shahak disclosed that "Judaism is imbued with a very deep hatred towards Christianity": shahak1.html}

It is important to emphasize that Jews do not reject Jesus' concepts of God. Those concepts are, after all, essentially Jewish and derive basically from the teachings in the Torah with which Jesus was nurtured. The critical issue for Jews is the Christian doctrine that God became a man and allowed the only-begotten son to suffer sacrificial death as a propitiation for the sins of humankind. Judaism does not accept any disinction between one human being and another. No human being is more divine than another. Jewish rabbis explain that the entire human race came from Adam. Why only Adam? So that no one can say that one's father is superior to any other father. One divine paternity - and one universal human fraternity. Since God made all equal, no human being can be an intermediary between God and other human beings. The Jewish conviction is that we are all "children of God" created in God's image. Judaism does not recognize a "Son of God" who stands above other human beings. Even Moses, with whom God spoke "face to face," as the Bible tells us metaphorically, was "the man Moses."

{"one universal human fraternity" - so why a Chosen People?}

Even according to Orthodox Judaism, the messiah is expected to be a human being. As a matter of fact, the name of the messiah in the Book of Daniel is "Ben Adam," literally "the son of man," in contrast to the Christian idea of "Son of God." In Jewish theory, with its emphasis on strict monotheism, God cannot be incorporated into any shape or form. The belief in a divine messiah who is God incarnate goes against the Jewish conviction of God's absolute sovereignty and oneness. Nevertheless, many Jewish thinkers, including Maimonides, the medieval philosopher mentioned earlier, regarded Jesus as a divine instrument for humankind's universal conversion to true faith. According to Maimonides: "All the teachings of Jesus paved the way for the coming of the King Messiah and prepared humanity to unite and worship God together as one."

The fact that there are differences between Jews and Christians does not and should not prevent them from being brothers and sisters who work together on behalf of great and exalted objectives. Brothers and sisters are different, one from the other. They have different opinions, different ideas, different convictions. More important than these differences is the love that unites them as brothers and sisters. Christians and Jews have two fundamental values in common: a belief in God as Creator and Father of all humanity, and the moral principles and ideals which comprise the Judeo-Christian ethical heritage. Christians and Jews are not here to compete; they are here as allies and partners in the sacred task of bringing light to the world and building God's Kingdom on earth. May Christians and Jews all continue to work together, always striving for a better world, without ever losing their messianic faith. After all, messianism, in the most profound sense, is synonymous with hope.

(Rabb Sobel presented this article originally as an address to the National Commission of Religious Dialogue Between Jews And Catholics in Sao Paulo, Brazil, during early January, 1982.)

{end}

(8) David Ben-Gurion articulates Non-Theistic Judaism

Recollections, by David Ben-Gurion, edited By Thomas R. Bransten (Macdonald Unit Seventy-Five London 1970):

{p. 16} Everything we are as Jews, including our drive occasionally to grope beyond traditional bounds, comes directly from the Bible. In size we are nothing as a people and never have been. Had we not been children of the Book, who would have heard of us? We should be lucky to occupy a mere footnote in history. As things stand, a large part of history is our doing.

{p. 18} Of course, speaking personally as one who is non-religious {non-Theistic}, I believe that theology reverses the true sequence of events. To me it is clear that God was 'created' in

{p. 19} the image of man as the latter's explanation to himself of the mystery of his own earthly presence. More of that in another chapter.

{If there's no Chooser - no Yahweh - how can there be a Chosen People?}

The Bible, taking man as deriving from God, defines Adam as God's surrogate on earth. God surpasses man and the latter cannot even conceive Him as a whole. Yet, we are told, God is the embodiment of love, justice, mercy. When Torah speaks of man being in His image it means he must strive to possess these qualities.

... From the Bible, therefore, stems Jewish man's concept of himself, an image he has passed on to the whole of western civilization through the daughter religions of Islam and Christianity.

{p. 20} Are our faith and our suffering unrelated? I think not. One appears to grow from the other. By the metaphysical nature of the Biblical ethic, the Jews developed a universal conscience. ...

With a code of conduct resolutely loftier ... worshipping a God who was universal ... this small people remained apart ... disdainful even in dispersion of its surroundings.

{p. 27} In areas where Jews are not persecuted, an increasingly high number vanish ... passing into an anonymity born of lack of conviction. ...

{p. 28} It is all the more urgent, therefore, for Jews everywhere to realize their affinity with Israel, the Bible and Hebrew, the pillars whereon the condition of being Jewish rests.

{p. 36} Life in Plonsk was peaceful enough. There were three main communities: Russians, Jews and Poles. Each lived apart from the others.

{p. 56} Our weapons were intellectual, based upon reason and persuasion. Our brains were finely attuned to dialectical argument through long study of the myriad complexities in the Talmud, that great edifice erected during our dispersion to comment and elucidate the far greater edifice of the Bible.

{p. 67} ... Every thinking person in this country regrets the unhappy paradox that the most positive creation of a Jewish State should be an instrument of destruction.

{p. 124} How can the Lord be universal, asked Spinoza, and have a Chosen People? I won't argue the metaphysics of the point. But the message of the Chosen People makes sense in secular, rationalist and historical terms when turned around to describe an act of selection by Abraham and his successor of a God they had formulated. In other words, first came man, then his gods. This does not decrease the power of the Jewish God to work for good nor the validity of the Bible's message of righteousness. The Jews in their Book, according to the secularist idea, set down an accomplished fact by saying: 'It is our

{p. 125} duty as a people to be a model to the God we have chosen, to conform to His ways as we have defined them and to devote ourselves to making the land we have settled and attributed to His gift to us a prosperous land run along our moral precepts.' In that sense, the Jews can be considered a self-chosen people.

{p. 127} The Bible endowed the Jews with a self-appointed mission as thinkers, questioners, formulators.

{p. 131} The Jews of the world are coming to realize this, and they are making a choice. Many will cease to be Jews, will assimilate into other cultural traditions. We wish them well. But many more will see their link with us and reach over to grasp our hand of friendship. They will learn Hebrew, will come and will cherish their reinsertion into history.

{p. 162} Israel is far better equipped to resist cultural extinction than were the Jewish exiles during two thousand years. Our evident role here is to give new life to all that is meant by the 'Covenant' of the Jewish people whereby they remain one.

{end}

David Ben-Gurion offers an atheistic definition of Judaism, arguing that God did not choose them; rather, they chose Him - and themselves: bengur-recollections.html.

More from Ben-Gurion on the Bible: bengur-bible.html.

Who wrote the Bible? bible.html.

(9) Trotsky promises "Paradise on Earth"

{Trotsky predicts that the Bolshevik Revolution will spread to Germany, thence to the whole world}

{p. 19} ... The day, howver, will come, comrades, when that boiler will blow up, and then the working class will get hold of an iron broom and will start sweeping the dust out of all corners of the present German Empire, and will do it vith German thoroughness and steadiness, so that our hearts will rejoice watching them doing it.

But in the meantime we say: "We are passing through hard, strenuous times, but we are prepared to suffer hunger, cold, rain and many other calamities and misfortunes, because we are only part of the world working class and are fighting for its complete emancipation. And we shall hold out, comrades, and shall carry our fight to a successful end, we shall repair the railways, the locomotives, we shall put production on a firm hasis, put straight the food supply, do all that is necessary - if only we keep in our bodies a cheerful mind and a strong stout heart. So long as our soul is a living one, our Russian land is safe, and the Soviet republic stands firm."

Let us then, comrades, remember and remind the less conscious of us, that we stand as a city on the mount, and that the workers of all countries look at us and ask themselves with bated breath, whether we shall tumble, whether we shall fail, or stand our ground? And we, on our part, call out to them: "We vow to you that we shall stand our ground, that we shall not fail, that we shall remain in power to the end." But you, workers of the other countries, you, brothers, do not exhaust our patience too much, hurry up, stop the slaughter, overthrow the bourgeoisie, take the power into your hands, and then we shall turn the whole globe into one world re-

{p. 20} public of Labour. Al the earthly riches, all the lands and all the seas - all this shall be one common property of the whole of humanity, whatever the name of its parts: English, Russian, French, German, etc. We shall create one brotherly state: the land which nature gave us. This land we shall plough and cultivate on associative principles, turn into one blossoming garden, where our chidren, grand-children, and great-grand-children will live as in a paradise. Time was when people believed in legends which told of a paradise. These were vague and confused dreams, the yearning of the soul of the oppressed Man after a better life. There was the yearning after a purer, more righteous life, and Man said: "There must be such a paradise, at least, in the 'other' world, an unknown and mysterious country." But we say, we shall create such a paradise with our toiling hands here, in this world, upon earth, for all, for our children and grand children and for all eternity! ...

{endquote}

Spinoza formulates atheistic Judaism, the religion of Jewish Communists: spinoza-pantheism.html.

However, just as Marx insisted that Christianity be judged by its practice rather than its theory (theology), so Communism must be judged by its practice not its rhetoric. Trotsky, not long after, was justifying the Red Terror: worst.html.

As the USSR turned against its atheistic-Jewish creators, they coalesced around the exiled and martyred Trotsky; thus "Marxist Anti-Communism" was born: kostel.html.

Max Shpak on The Fraud of Neoconservative "Anti-Communism": http://www.originaldissent.com/shpak051502.html.

(10) Antagonistic-Polarity and the notion of history as "Salvation History"

There are errors in all human thinking. Yet that is not the end of it: we keep trying to find those errors, and use them as the means of leaping to yet further insights: this is the meaning of "dialectic" in the Hegelian sense.

The identification of dialectic as a process in nature is both Daoist and Zoroastrian, the Daoist envisaging it as Complementarity, the Zoroastrian as Antagonistic, the basis of fundamentalist ("Dualist", "Manichaean") thought. Heraclitus probably got his idea of the Antagonistic dialectic from the Zoroastrian tradition, Greece being a little blip on the edge of the First Persian Empire, which ruled from India to furthest Egypt. As usual, the dominant economy exported its ideology.

The Daoist notion of dialectic as a process-in-nature is non-historicist, non-linear: it does not envisage History as Predestined, Progress as a fact, inevitable or even necessarily desirable.

The Zoroastrian notion of dialectic-in-nature, on the other hand, enviages history as "Salvation History".

According to Richard Reitzenstein, in his book Hellenistic Mystery Religions: Their Basic Ideas and Significance, tr. John E. Steely (The Pickwick Press, Pittsburgh, 1978), even before the rise of Mazda as the "Good God" of Zoroastrianism, the Iranians had Zurvan (Time, Chronos) as their old supreme deity, Time - Change, History - being seen as sacred in itself; the Zoroastrianian religion originated the idea of the Christ (Messiah) as well as that of the Anti-Christ.

This then is the basis of the notion of history as Salvation History, in Zoroastrianism and in the religions which adopted it under its influence: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeanism, and Marxism.

Reitzenstein identifies myths which show the transfer of the insignia of rule from Zurvan to Mazda, "that is, between the deity introduced by Zarathustra and the old Iranian supreme deity"; he later comments, "I believe ... that Judaism took, along with the idea of the Messiah, the idea also of his adversary directly from Iran" (pp. 269-272).

Radical Feminism is the latest mutation of Antagonistic-Polarity culture. It isolates men and women from each other, pits children against fathers, orients women towards careers rather than nurture, and contributes to male suicide.

How Asia's Complementary Polarity culture is surpassing the West's Antagonistic Polarity culture:

(short articles) Living Without Utopia: utopia.html
 and Between Nippon and Zion: between.html;

(longer article) Hiding Behind Auschwitz: hiding.html.
{end}

Back to the Zionism/Communism index: zioncom.html.

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