Can we observe Judaism again in time? – Israel Information



Is Judaism a convention linked on to the Bible, taking us again to Mount Sinai, i.e., the unique phrase of God? Or is it a basic code of regulation that slowly advanced over time into what it’s at the moment?

If we delve into the Talmud, we’ll in all probability get misplaced rapidly due to its nice richness of teachings and explanations, and most significantly, arguments about nearly the whole lot beneath the Solar. How can we distinguish between what’s divine and what was generated by the sages; what’s unique and what advanced later?

Many historians have tried to reply these questions. For each historian we’ve an equal variety of theories – perhaps extra – which leaves us the place we started.

A bunch of individuals often known as the Bnei Menashe would possibly assist us make clear this thriller.

Let’s return to 1891, when the British Empire colonized Manipur in northeast India. Missionaries started to unfold Christianity all through the area, as they’d completed everywhere in the empire. A small group of people that known as themselves the Tribe of Manasseh resided in Manipur, ready for the prophesied return to Zion. Although a lot of the Christian teachings had been acquainted to them, among the tribe resisted the push to transform, as they felt related to the Hebrew Bible’s teachings however weren’t snug with these of the New Testomony.

After the State of Israel was based, one thing attention-grabbing occurred. This small tribe, who all the time thought themselves to be the final of their individuals, acknowledged themselves within the individuals of the fledgling state. Understanding the connection, they began reaching out to the State of Israel through letters that went unanswered.

Whereas there have been some connections made between Bnei Menashe and people in Israel, it was solely in 1997, when a letter from the Bnei Menashe addressed to then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was learn by his deputy communications director Michael Freund, thereafter an official connection can be made. Freund was considerably stunned to listen to from an unknown tribe asking to “return to Zion” after their “2,700-year exile.”

Finally, Israel despatched consultants to discover these claims of being the misplaced Tribe of Menashe, one of many Ten Misplaced Tribes exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrian Empire. After assembly with Bnei Menashe neighborhood members in India and studying extra about their historical past, traditions and customs, rabbis had been satisfied that they had been, in reality, descendants of the Jewish individuals, seemingly of the “Misplaced Tribe” of Menashe.

Since then, greater than three,000 Bnei Menashe have made aliyah with the assistance of Shavei Israel, the group based by Freund to assist facilitate their reabsorption into the Jewish individuals.

Just lately, we had the chance to interview one of many elder members of the Bnei Menashe neighborhood in Israel, who remembers the way in which issues had been earlier than the tribe was reconnected to the fashionable Jewish world.

Elitzur Haokip, 80, of the Galilee neighborhood of Migdal Ha’emek, was born in Manipur, India, in 1938. When he got here immigrated to Israel in 2013, he needed to sacrifice loads. In India he was a rich landowner with two pensions, all of which he gave as much as make aliyah. Haokip shared some recollections from his childhood that assist put collectively among the puzzle items of Jewish custom.

Because the Bnei Menashe had no written works, they relied on reminiscence and oral custom to keep up their customs and religion. Let’s not overlook, till the tip of the second century CE when the Mishnah was compiled and written, it was commonplace apply for Judaism to be handed down orally. By then, the Bnei Menashe had already lengthy since been in exile and had no reference to the event of “mainstream Judaism.”

Taking a look at a few of their easy traditions unencumbered by Talmudic discourse, we will make comparisons between the way in which issues had been in biblical and pre-biblical occasions and the way they’re at the moment. That may give us a clue and assist us resolve our unique quest.

IN MIGDAL Ha’emek, writer Mishael Dickman (bottom left), assisted by translator Gavriel Lhungdim (top left), listen as Manipur native Elitzur Haokip points out his birthplace on the world map, as well as locations where he thinks other lost tribes dwell. (Credit: LAURA BEN-DAVID)

Tzitzit

Not like at the moment, there was no widespread-acceptance of many widespread fashionable practices within the time of the Talmud. For instance, within the Talmud, there’s a dispute as as to whether ladies are obligated to put on tzitzit, the ritual fringes historically worn on the 4 corners of males’s clothes. One sage went as far as to stitch tzitzit on his spouse’s clothes as a result of he believed it was an obligation for girls in addition to for males. There was additionally disagreement over the variety of strands that ought to be tied on every nook, six or eight, and the size of the tzitzit, whether or not they need to be as quick as “three fingers” size or longer, or anyplace in-between. Actually, the Bnei Menashe, women and men alike, tied small fringes throughout the underside fringe of their conventional clothes, somewhat than the lengthy fringes seen on four-cornered clothes at the moment.

Kashrut and festivals

Haokip claims the Bnei Menashe ate solely permitted animals. He remembers clearly the three pilgrimage festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, when sacrifices had been introduced for the festivals, which all occurred on the identical time every year. This follows the biblical custom of creating certain Passover comes out within the spring, and different festivals happen of their appointed seasons. Till 1955, when he was 17, Haokip’s village nonetheless practiced ritual sacrifice following particulars that had been in accordance with historical Jewish custom, one element that helped persuade rabbinic officers that the Bnei Menashe had been certainly descendants of the Jewish individuals.

Shabbat

The Bnei Menashe additionally saved the essential legal guidelines of Shabbat, equivalent to not constructing, destroying or slicing on the seventh day. It was a real day of relaxation on which tribal members wouldn’t journey from village to village.

Legal guidelines of mourning

There have been widows who would sing at Bnei Menashe funerals. When members dug a grave, the cantor would intone, “We despatched him, please welcome him,” which the girl would repeat in a crying voice. This follows the custom of getting singers and musicians at funerals, one thing that was a part of Judaic apply till a rabbinic decree towards following “legal guidelines of the gentiles” in regard to loss of life and mourning grew to become broadly adopted.

There was additionally a Bnei Menashe custom of placing spices on the grave of the deceased for seven days after loss of life, a parallel to the apply of the seven-day shiva mourning interval. We all know that sitting shiva is an historical custom (somewhat than a biblical commandment), relationship again a minimum of to the loss of life of Jacob. When Joseph and all of Egypt buried Jacob, the Bible tells us, “And he made a mourning for his father seven days” (Genesis 50:10).

Thirty days after a loss of life, the Bnei Menashe would collect to eat a meal collectively, just like what we name shloshim, actually “30.” Once more, shloshim just isn’t a biblical regulation, however predates the occasions of Moses. “And the sons of Israel cried for Moses within the plains of Moab 30 days” (Deuteronomy 34:eight).

Jacob, who lived earlier than the Torah grew to become central to Jewish life, was preserved for 40 days then mourned him for 30 days (Genesis 50:three).

Later the Torah tells us with regard to “Eishet Yifat tohar – She mourned her mother and father 30 days” (Deuteronomy 21:13).

It’s obvious that each shiva and shloshim had been actively noticed within the First Temple interval.

Brit milah

Performing a brit on the ear would possibly sound considerably off the mark to fashionable ears, no pun meant. The Bnei Menashe could have confused the ritual circumcision with piercing the ear of a Hebrew slave who wished to stay in slavery.

Household purity

When the girl started her menstrual cycle, she would separate from her husband and sleep in a unique mattress for per week. That is in sync with the written Torah, in contrast to at the moment’s widespread apply of ready 11 or 12 days, relying upon one’s custom.

There have been widows who would sing at Bnei Menashe funerals. When members dug a grave, the cantor would intone, “We despatched him, please welcome him,” which the girl would repeat in a crying voice. This follows the custom of getting singers and musicians at funerals, one thing that was a part of Judaic apply till a rabbinic decree towards following “legal guidelines of the gentiles” in regard to loss of life and mourning grew to become broadly adopted.

There was additionally a Bnei Menashe custom of placing spices on the grave of the deceased for seven days after loss of life, a parallel to the apply of the seven-day shiva mourning interval. We all know that sitting shiva is an historical custom (somewhat than a biblical commandment), relationship again a minimum of to the loss of life of Jacob. When Joseph and all of Egypt buried Jacob, the Bible tells us, “And he made a mourning for his father seven days” (Genesis 50:10).

Thirty days after a loss of life, the Bnei Menashe would collect to eat a meal collectively, just like what we name shloshim, actually “30.” Once more, shloshim just isn’t a biblical regulation, however predates the occasions of Moses. “And the sons of Israel cried for Moses within the plains of Moab 30 days” (Deuteronomy 34:eight).

Jacob, who lived earlier than the Torah grew to become central to Jewish life, was preserved for 40 days then mourned him for 30 days (Genesis 50:three).

Later the Torah tells us with regard to “Eishet Yifat tohar – She mourned her mother and father 30 days” (Deuteronomy 21:13).

It’s obvious that each shiva and shloshim had been actively noticed within the First Temple interval.

Brit milah

Performing a brit on the ear would possibly sound considerably off the mark to fashionable ears, no pun meant. The Bnei Menashe could have confused the ritual circumcision with piercing the ear of a Hebrew slave who wished to stay in slavery.

Household purity

When the girl started her menstrual cycle, she would separate from her husband and sleep in a unique mattress for per week. That is in sync with the written Torah, in contrast to at the moment’s widespread apply of ready 11 or 12 days, relying upon one’s custom.

UNTIL THE Christian missionaries arrived, there have been few exterior influences, if any, serving to to keep up the established order of the Bnei Menashe’s traditions. Then again, the tribe wasn’t related to the remainder of the Jewish world. Actually, they believed themselves to be the final remaining members of their individuals.

What’s fascinating is that when the tribe lastly reconnected with the Jewish individuals, they discovered lots of their traditions carefully resembled the way in which issues had been in Temple occasions.

The Bnei Menashe are in some ways our hyperlink to pre-Talmudic Judaism. Research present that they is perhaps our closest hyperlink to a dwelling perception of how Judaism was practiced when the First Temple stood in Jerusalem, and will even inform us how traditions had been noticed in pre-biblical occasions.

 Some issues appear similar to how they had been seemingly carried out millennia in the past, whereas others have clearly advanced. There are these issues that didn’t particularly change, however to which the sages added sure restrictions, equivalent to household purity. We noticed how the Bnei Menashe had been performing issues equally to how they’re carried out at the moment (equivalent to mourning). Different issues had been very completely different (household purity, tzitzit, no music at funerals, and so forth.).

Whereas the foundations of Judaism take us again to Mount Sinai – and lengthy earlier than – the traditions of the Bnei Menashe present us how Torah and Jewish tradition have advanced over time into what they’re at the moment.


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