ast month we wrote about the huge demonstration by Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim) against the government’s plans to integrate them into the army and society in general. For many Christians, especially those who love and pray for Israel, it can be difficult to understand how such a large part of Israeli society could take such an adamant position against the State of Israel. In order to further your understanding and the accuracy of your prayers, we will continue to look at this phenomenon in this series of articles.
In case you missed it: READ PART ONE
The problem begins almost 2000 years ago when the Jewish people twice rebelled against Roman rule, first in 68-70 AD—resulting in the destruction of the 2nd Temple; and then again from 133-136 in the so-called Bar Kochba Rebellion. Both times, initial Jewish victories were met by overwhelmingly powerful Roman forces. According to historians, the carnage of the 2nd Rebellion was particularly severe, as close to one million Jews were slaughtered and the rest taken into slavery. From this time (136 AD), Jews were forbidden from settling the Land, and the name of Israel/Judah was changed by the Romans to Palestina.
What is the connection with last month’s demonstration in Jerusalem? Both rebellions, but especially the second one, were sanctioned and encouraged by the leading rabbis of the time. In fact, Rabbi Akiva, who is considered to be one of the great figures of Rabbinic Judaism, took the lead in “anointing” the charismatic warrior, Simon Bar Kochba, as a kind of messiah and leader of the 2nd Rebellion. Can you see the problem? The responsibility for rebellion that led to the Roman “holocaust” of the Jews from 133-136 AD can be squarely laid at the doorstep of the very founders of today’s Orthodox Judaism!!
As a result of this trauma, the rabbis of subsequent generations made a Talmudic vow: never again should the Jewish people rebel against foreign rule and storm “the wall” that separates the present Israel from the Israel of the Messianic Age. In other words, until the Messiah comes and by manifestly divine power establishes Messianic Israel in the Promised Land, the Jewish people were religiously forbidden from taking matters into our own hands. This is why the modern, Zionist restoration of Israel was led primarily by more secular, humanistic Jews–rather than religious ones (many of whom chose to stay in Europe and perished, along with millions of followers, in the ovens of Auschwitz!) And, this is why, until this very day, Haredi Jews still have a problem with something like military service to a modern, democratic State of Israel that is clearly not yet the fullness of the Messianic Israel spoken of by the Biblical prophets.
All religious Jews believe in the coming of the Messiah and his earthly reign from Jerusalem (it is prayed for at least twice daily!) The question is not “if,” but “when” and, especially, “how?” The terrible, prophetic “mis-reading” of the times by Rabbi Akiva and others almost 2000 years ago still blinds a huge sector of religious Jewry from seeing one of the great mysteries in the Scriptures: how the coming of the Messiah must be pre-staged by certain, real-time historical events. And this is where we will pick up the story next time…