Metaphors in the Torah: 'Devarim' (Deuteronomy 1.1 – 3.22)


Illustration: Moses Speaks to Israel
By: Henri Felix Emmanuel Philloppoteaux

One of the things I am asked quite frequently because of my critical attitude towards the rabbis is: “Are you are Karaite?” (i.e. Do you deny the authority of the rabbis?).

Since in this week’s Torah portion we are given the third version of how Moses appointed leaders of the community to assist him, and Joseph told Pharaoh that when God repeats something it is set in his mind, it seems fairly obvious that the rabbis are indeed the descendants of leaders who were appointed, with God’s grudging approval, to be the helpers of Moses (i.e. NOT God’s partners as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin insists again and again).

I say: “grudging” because it was not God’s original game plan. It was a concession to Moses. Just like Israel having a king was not part of God’s original plan for Israel. In fact, when the Israelites demanded a king to replace Samuel, God told Samuel: “It is me they are rejecting, not you”.  

So, my answer is: “No, I am not a Karaite". God clearly approved the appointment of the predecessors of the rabbis. My ONLY objection is that I believe the rabbis have exceeded the authority given to them by God.

In addition to this, I am very upset that the rabbis have cultivated this cult of infallibility about their interpretations of laws. It has gotten to the point that when Israel is punished the rabbis now teach that it is not because the people and the rabbis together have failed to please God. Oh no, it is because the people failed to listen to the rabbis’ interpretations of God’s words.

So, then the question then becomes: Why did those 70 leaders who were originally selected as helpers to Moses and as judges, each one in possession of a little bit of the spirit God had placed in Moses, why did those 70 leaders turn against Moses, Joshua and Caleb and incite the people into rebellion?

Because the numbers are quite clear: Only Joshua Ben Nun and Caleb Ben Jephunnah were allowed to enter the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (even though the Orthodox rabbis of Israel all insist that Abraham , Isaac and Jacob were NOT really Jews).

We know that Joshua Ben Nun was not one of the 70 leaders, because when they were given the spirit of Moses they started screaming and dancing etc, etc and Joshua was astonished by their behavior and asked Moses to make them stop.

Possibly, Caleb Ben Jephunnah was one of the 70 leaders, but he is never identified as such. Even so, that still leaves 69 leaders who rose up against Moses and encouraged the Israelites to return to Egypt. Just like their modern day manifestations, the rabbis, encouraged Jews not to immigrate to Israel in the early 20th century. The result was, 600,000 plus Jewish men died in the desert during the times of Moses and 6 million Jews died in Europe during the 1940’s….

The danger, of course, is that the rabbis STILL insist that there is no need to live in Israel. Even after the recent slaughter in France, the chief rabbi there was telling the Jews not to leave France. But France is a small pea in the pod. It is the American Jewish community that it is danger now, yet the rabbis seem oblivious to the threat.

The point is: If those original 70 leaders, each with a little bit of the spirit God placed in Moses and each, according to the rabbis, having personally received God’s original oral laws; if those men turned against Moses and sinned against God, what makes anyone in their right mind think that today’s rabbi know better than they did?

Let’s remember please that according to the written Torah, those men all saw with their own eyes Moses perform his 3 signs and then watched him inflict the ten “hits” on the Egyptians. After having seen all that, how could they turn against Moses? Especially having also witnessed what happened to Korah, Dathan and Abiram after their rebellion. It is really quite unbelievable.

But, is it any more unbelievable than American Jews and, so called Zionists, who go to the synagogue week after week, recite prayers proclaiming how much they love God and would do anything for him, and then remain in the United States?

People ask: Why must we read the Torah every week in the synagogue? What’s it relevance to our daily lives?

Let’s hope, that this week’s Torah passage never has any relevance to the lives of the American community of Jews, although there is very little chance of that….