In his commentary on the Parsha (the weekly Torah portion), Rav (Rabbi) Nachman Kahana, recently came to some startling conclusions. His article (for Parshat Ki Taizai) was entitled, “Gathering the Ten Lost Tribes from faraway lands.” The entire article is fascinating and well worth your time, you can read it HERE. As fascinating as the entire article is, it is the 2nd half of the article that really impresses me; it is that part of the article that I want to focus on.
In the section, “Who will populate Eretz Yisrael in the future?” Rav. Kahana makes a number of statements, but his position on the Lost Tribes of Israel is nothing less than paradigm shaking… especially considering it is coming from the perspective of the Jewish community.
For starters, you need to know who Rav Kahana is. He is an outstanding Rabbinic scholar who is thought of very highly here within Israel’s Religious Zionist community. A prolific author (in both Hebrew & English), he has written 15 volumes of commentary on the Talmud, is a renowned educator, and is the Rav of the Chazon Yehezkel (Young Israel of the Old City) synagogue in the Muslim (occupied) Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.
As highly regarded as Rav. Nachman is, there’s also a strong personal connection for me here. Rav Nachman’s brother, Rav Meir Kahane (yes, he spelled it differently) was the most significant Jewish influence in my life. Rav Meir founded the Jewish Defense League and other activist movements in the USA and led the fight to free Soviet Jewry and other oppressed Jews around the world. Later, serving as member of Israel’s Knesset, Rav Meir was a vibrant force for Torah observance and the reclamation of the Temple Mount. He had the foresight to see the danger of Israel’s local Arabs and tried to warn everyone of what was (and, sadly, has…) come to pass by not dealing with the Arab population.
Rav Meir was assassinated by Al Qaeda in New York City in 1990, in the first act of Islamic terrorism in the United States. It was from him that I learned to focus on the Tanach (Hebrew Bible), particularly the Nevi’im (the Prophets). It was that intense grounding in the Tanach that actually prepared me to later understand the prophetic fulfillment that was occurring when Ephraim was being awakened in the nations they still find themselves. And it was from Rav Meir, that I learned how to be an activist, how to be driven by a mission, or… a higher cause. I learned to be prepared and to be willing to do whatever it might take. There’s so much that I could say about him – but, that will have to wait for another article, perhaps.
Returning to Rav Nachman’s article, he begins the section on the future population of Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) by wondering where all the millions of Jews will come from to settle the Golan, Galil, Negev, Judea and Samaria. Now, here’s something to point out – within the classic texts of Jewish scholarship, there is never a mention of the term, “Ephraimite.” That is the term we have been using for the last few decades, referring to those people, around the world, who are realizing that they too, are part of Israel. So, when he uses the term, ‘Jew’ – you can be thinking, ‘part of Israel.’
He states unequivocally, that they will not be coming from the Jewish communities in the US, Europe or South America. But, he says, “The big numbers will come from the hundreds of millions of Jewish descendants of the Ten Tribes and Anusim (those Jews forced to convert to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal in the 14-15th centuries) He then adds, “…who will awaken one day to their Jewish heritage.” Hasn’t that been what’s occurring for the last 30 years, or so?
The thing that is HUGE about what he said is that for many in the Jewish (‘Orthodox’) community, the feeling is generally, that the Tribes must have already returned. You see, Jewish communities around the world sent emissaries looking for our lost brothers and sisters for centuries. However, once it was determined that there were no longer parts of the world that remained unexplored – where could they be hiding? So, it was assumed that somehow, when no one noticed, they kind of snuck back in among their long-lost Jewish brothers and sisters. Considering the amount of prophecies that speak of an enormous multitude returning to the Land & people of Israel, I could never take that theory/explanation seriously. I mean, how could such a momentous fulfillment of prophecy, the restoration of ALL of Israel, already occurred and no one ‘noticed?’
But, Rav Nachman Kahana is the first prominent Rabbi to publicly come out and say that those lost tribes would come from those totally “distant” from their heritage; does that sound like someone you might know? Does it not fit perfectly with so many non-Jews coming to… or perhaps returning to, the Torah? Rav Nachman even quotes the verse from Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 11:17 – “This is what the Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.” Perhaps he is using words and phrases you might not have chosen, but he is still saying the same things we have been saying. He even quotes from the Malbim (famed Biblical commentator of the 19th Century) who, in explaining the verse above from Yechezkel, wrote: “ In the future, HaShem will gather the Ten Tribes from faraway lands, those that did not return at the time of the second Temple, and I will give them the land of Israel.”
But, it is at the very end of this article that Rav Nachman drops an even bigger paradigm shattering observation. He wrote: “If your brother Jew is far from you (in the spiritual sense) to the extent that you can no longer recognize any Jewish features in his life. Bring him into your home (Eretz Yisrael) until his heart is opened and he begins to seek out his Jewish roots. Then be prepared to return him to those roots.” Until now, the conventional wisdom has been that the returning Tribes (their descendants, to be exact) would be Jewish people – and readily recognizable as such. With the same beliefs as the rest of the Jewish people in the world. But now we have a prominent Rabbinic personality saying, no, they will no longer be recognizable to us – just as the Prophet Hoshea (Hosea) said they wouldn’t be (1:9). It’s another illustration of of the story of Yosef (Joseph), playing out yet again. The brothers don’t recognize him – he doesn’t act like they do, he doesn’t sound like they do and he doesn’t even look like they do. But, they’re still brothers!
The last sentence in his article states, “This is what will be in the near future, when HaShem will awaken the millions of our brothers so distant from their roots, and return them miraculously to us in Eretz Yisrael.”
So, yes – the stage is being set and part of that stage setting is that there are so many more to yet be woken up… on both sides of the aisles. For the non-Jew to his Hebraic roots and for the Jew to the idea that, like the age old story of Yosef, he does have brothers (and sisters) our there who he doesn’t, at this time, recognize.
If you look around at the people around you, who have been brought to this understanding, you’re only seeing the tip of the spear. But the return to Israel will happen via HaShem’s miracles, not by the Knesset amending a law. We really need to start thinking again about Mutual Respect, because all of our people will be coming home. The signs are unmistakable – ALL of Israel will be reunited and restored. Just as it was promised, repeatedly by HaShem Himself, through the Prophets of Israel. And we are blessed, beyond blessed even, to be at the beginning of that process and to see it begin to unfold.
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