Bahai News - 10,000 Iranian 19th century Jews converted to Bahai http://www.zipple.com/torah/20001220_torah_chanukah.shtml

Zipple: The Jewish Supersite
Torah Portion: CHANUKA TORAH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

by Yaakov Fogelman

10,000 Iranian 19th century Jews converted to Bahai

..............10,000 Iranian 19th century Jews converted to Bahai, trading membership in one persecuted community for that in another, under no coercion; they did not really want to abandon their covenant with God, according to Iranian H.U. Prof. Amnon Netzer, at this week's inauguration of the H.U. Chair in Bahai studies and "The First International Conference on Modern Religions and Religious Movements in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Babi-Bahai faiths", organized by broad, deep and pleasant H.U. Prof. Moshe Sharon. The liberated modern Jews of Iran lived amidst a stagnant medievalist Jewish community, with no Hassidic or Reform (YF: or modern Orthodox) religious alternatives, and found the modern progressive Bahai society, abandoning inequality due to gender and race, and stressing reason and science, amidst spirituality, an attractive alternative; but many continued to frequent the synagogues, especially on Yom Kippur, and even observed kashrut, etc. But their descendants gradually abandoned all contact with Judaism; will those of their descendants who are still Jewish, due to maternal descent, return to Judaism when they visit Israel's holy Bahai sites? Should we seek them out and remind them of their ancestral covenant? The Bahai Universal Court of Justice must approve even a visit to Israel by a Bahai follower, a strangely authoritarian restrictive element in a group which proclaims freedom of thought and a critical approach to truth. So is the absolute belief that Bahaullah never said or did anything wrong, unlike Moshe in the Torah, but like the leaders of other religions, which claim to replace Torah, and much of Hassidut- Can a true Habadnik admit that the rebbe was sometimes wrong? Perhaps the Bahai movement indeed fears such a return to God's eternal covenant with Israel by Bahai descendants of Jews, upon exposure to the miracle of modern Israel, the beginning of our redemption- cf. the assimilated Jews in the Hasmonean Period. I will write later, the Good Lord willing, on the religious implications of the Bahai chair and conference for H.U., including the possibilities of Jewish revival at so secular H.U., despite President Magidor's dreams of it being Heretical University, a haven for heretical talmudists! ........

...........Phil also expounds the midrashic connection (not cited) between Yaakov's cruse of holy anointing oil at Bet El and Chanuka; he crossed the Yabok to recover it and was rewarded by its subsequent use to anoint the Tabernacle and the kings of Israel and to perform the 8 day Chanuka miracle. Aharon is commanded to eternally light the eternal light (Lev. 24:1-2), right after the main Torah festivals in Lev. 23. YF: such midrashim should be more appreciated for the ideas they try to convey, than for the questionable historic correctness of their exegesis-- Rav Y. Hadari has pointed out that Chazal had to get vital messages across to their public when they had their attention, once a week, at the drasha (hence "midrash") on the weekly reading; accepted custom dictated that any idea presented had to be somehow tied to the reading. Prof. Michael Kramer of Bar Ilan spoke on these connections of Biblical accounts to future events at the Bahai Conference, "Jewish Thought and Puritan Typology: The Transformation of a Mode of Exegesis in Modern America". He noted that other faiths discarded the original simple Biblical meaning in their typology, substituting the Christians for the Jews as "Israel" and "New Jerusalems" for Jerusalem, rather than merely including themselves in the Biblical message...


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