Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jewish Warriors and Pesah (and Breslov!)

Avraham avinu, the ish hesed, man of mercy, was a fierce warrior who destroyed armies of kings. Ya`aqov avinu helped all his sons destroy entire cities of Kena`an after two of his sons destroyed the whole city of Shekhem. See the ancient midrash Sefer HaYashar parashat WaYishlah for in depth details of these battles.

Before benei Yisrael were enslaved in Misrayim, they aided the Misri army in defeating invaders and then they beat the Misrim after they had turned on them after the battle. They were only enslaved after this event because Pharaoh feared their prowess. All of the tribes besides for Lewi were duped into thinking their building up defenses would protect them from future invaders and they submitted to this labor, much like how many modern Jews think it is proper to spend their days working at jobs rather than focusing primarily on Torah and working secondarily.

Moshe Rabenu physically struck the Misri taskmaster, killing him in a single blow. By the way, the opinion that he used a Divine Name does not conflict with the fact he struck him physically, which will be explained later in this post.

Even after the slavery ended and we left Misrayim, our forefathers fought and beat Par`o's army before the splitting of Yam Suf, and only went through Yam Suf after Par`o came back with more troops. We weren't this little helpless people, unable to defend ourselves and fight against our oppressors like many would have you believe. The essential part of our oppression in Misrayim was our willingness to conform to a foreign society, much like many Jews still do today, unfortunately. Not so unbelievable when you see it happening right before your eyes here and now.

All the facts I mention above are contained in detail in Sefer HaYashar, which is a book mentioned in Nakh about twice if I recall correctly.

We have a problem today. It is one of a pacifistic religious idea, comparable to a modern Christian point of view. At this point in time, we obviously do not go out attacking anyone as an individuals or proclaiming some holy war - but we can and should defend ourselves against attack. And we ought to know how! As it is stated in Gemara, when one comes to kill you, get up to kill him first. How many Jews need to be helplessly stabbed, even butchered in synagogues, for us to get the message?

Our forefathers were all warriors, surpassing the military prowess of any of the goyim. They fought using circular strikes often assuming the forms of the Hebrew letters, and often learned many styles from animals, especially those which are symbols of some of the tribes, such as the snake of Dan, wolf of Binyamin, lion of Judah, bull of Ephraim, etc. This system is much different and much more in depth than any "martial art" among the nations. This system was maintained by a select Jewish community in Yemen called Habbanim who had lived in the area of the Tanakhic city Hassermawath (Hadhramaut in Arabic) from even Bayith Rishon until recently. According to Rabbi Yosef Maghori-Kohen:

"The Habbanis were mighty heroes. I heard a lot from elders in my youth about the Habbanis, about their wars, how they would fight ‘according to names’. What does it mean ‘according to names’? –the letters: They would make the shape of the [Hebrew] letters with their hands, and by this they would be victorious. Also the Shar`abim–from the city of Shar`ab–were strong, but not to the same degree as the Habbanis. Once in Yemen there was a wild tribe of murderous Arab warriors that conquered town after town, slaughtering whomever they found. Thus they moved forward from settlement to settlement: killing, destroying–may their names by blotted out–until they approached a city of Jews, 13,000 Jews roughly. Everyone felt hopeless-even the Arabs among them put up their hands, searching for a place to escape. Suddenly ten [Jewish] Habbanis arrived and waged war with them–ten against a thousand–and vanquished all of them. Not even one of those warriors was left alive, and not one of the ten fell."

This account is on par with the accounts in Tanakh and Sefer HaYashar of the physical and spiritual prowess it takes for one man to prevail over hundreds and even thousands. Need we be reminded of the Makabim, also? It is physical combined with spiritual, for one must be disciplined in tiqun habrith in order to be an effective warrior and safe on the battlefield. Instead of separating the spiritual from the physical like many try to do in our galuth-ized Judaism, they are actually intertwined!

What does this have to do with Breslov? A lot! Breslov is about geula. Geula is about "hadesh yamenu kaqedem" - becoming as we once used to be. Breslov is not just a sect of Hasiduth or appropriate for only certain kinds of Jews. Breslov is the vehicle and the direction to returning to ourselves to the Land of Israel and the lifestyle and mentality of our holy forefathers, removing all galuth-mentality from us. It is very possible Rebbe Nahman killed 10 goyim in Istanbul which he named as different nations in a seeming Gog uMagog pre-enactment, if you will. In a more original and older usage, the word "lesaheq", which is what Rebbe Nahman is said to have done here, means also to fight or spar, wage war, as can be seen in Tanakh and definitely in other sources. It seems that Rebbe Nahman did do such a thing, since immediately afterward he ran to hide by a Rav whom he had been avoiding up until then. Also, today's Habbani teacher of Israel's ancient warrior system happens to be a Breslover from a family of Breslovers and was one of the original talmidim of the Ba`al HaPeteq.

In closing, consider the words of Rambam whose halakhic work Rebbe Nahman said would be the standard around the time of Mashiah: “Our fathers transgressed and disappeared because, as we explained, they strayed after false ideas, attributing to them purposeful objectives, while neglecting the art of martial defense and government. No wonder the prophets called them ignorant and fools.” - from Rambam’s 'Letter To The Jews Of Marseilles’.

Have a blessed, happy, and kosher Pesah!

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