Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shadows of Trinity on the Shelf

Nothing heavy to write about today. Just good news that Shadows of Trinity has made it on to its first bookshelf. That's a big day as any author who's books are sold through elecronic web based outlets can tell you. Mind you, it's only one local store but it is part of the Take Note chain and Paper Plus chain so there's always the potential if it does well in one store it will start spreading through the chain until it's in hundreds of stores around the country. Every book has to begin its life somewhere and now that Shadows of Trinty has had its baptism, we will have to watch and see what a little publicity can do.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Curse: War Of The Amelekites

Now one might presume from the title that I’m going to write a discourse on an ancient people that are nothing more than a speck on the tapestry of history and exist only as a footnote to the pages of antiquity. But there in itself lies the anomaly because as an ancient people they were never eradicated as had been commanded by God (see Exodus and Samuel I)and therefore became part of an eternal curse upon the Children of Israel. To those whom have heard my discourses upon this subject in the past, they are well aware of not only how God’s promises are everlasting, but so are His curses if he intends them to be so. It would be na├»ve of us to presume that He only issues positive utterances and the opposite cannot be true. As He clearly states to Moses, He is both the merciful God as well as the wrathful God. The Lord of redemption and the Lord of vengeance.
First we must examine who were these Amelekites that are mentioned several times in the pages of the Old Testament and why would they be of any significance today. We first encounter the Amelekites through the wanderings of the Children of Israel through the wilderness. They are the semi-nomadic inhabitants of the desert. Those areas that comprise the Negev, the Sinai and Saudi Arabia. They do have some cities under their control, as is mentioned in the Bible and there is also a king that reigns over them. In other words, they are the forerunners of the Bedouin and Arab populations of what was once referred to as the Trans-Jordan.
Now, the Amelekites were a fierce and warlike people that given a choice between peace and battle, tended to choose the latter as it was part of their psyche. When Moses and the Children of Israel requested to pass through the land, promising not to turn left nor right, but to march towards Canaan without disturbing the Amelekites’s existence, they were refused. This refusal earned these desert people the anger and retribution of God, and he made it very clear that he would put an end to their violent ways. There would be a day of reckoning for the Amelekites.
That day came once Saul was anointed as King of Israel. The prophet Samuel advises Saul, that God will hand the Amelekites over to Israel and it would be Saul’s responsibility following the battle to ensure that they are obliterated from the face of the earth. Such was to be their punishment. Not to be reduced, not to become enslaved, not even absorbed. Total elimination, down to every last man, woman and child. Extremely harsh, when you first examine the judgement, but one that was not open for debate or question. Unlike his dealings with Abraham, God was not willing to negotiate with Saul. As one reads through the book of Samuel I, the impression is given that Saul did eliminate the population after defeating their army in battle. But we know this is not true, because as its described in Samuel II, David had to meet the Amelekites in battle much later, and although he defeated them, they continue to appear in the history of the Kings of Israel and Judah. Whenever there appears to be an opposing force united for the purpose of defeating the Jews, the Amelekites are there.
So why then does it say that they were eliminated? Therein lies one of the problems with setting oral tradition into written scripture. It can be influenced by the personal leanings of the editor or redactor. As religiously scrupulous as they may have been, it would have been difficult to accept that God, whom is love and mercy, could also be wrath and vengeance. Yet God tells us that himself in the Bible. He openly admits it. He’s prepared to make the tough decisions when He knows that ultimately it would be to the benefit and safety of those He loves. Would not any father be prepared to defend his child by whatever means was necessary even if it meant killing the attacker? And in this case, He knew very well what the future would bring if the Amelekites were permitted to continue to exist.
It tells us in the Bible that when Samuel came to see Saul after the battle, he heard the bleating of the sheep taken from the Amelekites and he was filled with rage at Saul’s defiance of the instructions from God. “Not one sheep, nor cattle beast, nor possession of the Amelekites was to be taken from them and kept alive,” he screamed at Saul. The King defended himself by saying that the animals were taken to be a sacrifice to God to celebrate the victory and that there was no intention to keep the animals alive, which may have been very true, but the editor of the story took Samuel completely literally, and the prophet was anything but literal. What Samuel had heard were the wails of the children of the Amelekites, the cries of their woman, and the moaning of their men from within the camps of the Israelites. Taking prisoners from what remained of the enemy for household servants was quite common back then. It was part of what was referred to as the spoils of the victors, and it was the presence of these ‘spoils’ for which Samuel condemned Saul and his family. It was never about the bleating of sheep!
And the curse was quite clear as it is expressed in the Book of Samuel. Saul’s reign over Israel would come to an end for himself and his family and the Kingdom of Israel would be handed over to its neighbour. Most commonly, this was seen as a prophetic statement alluding to David as the future King. But what kind of prophecy would this be, considering that it was Samuel, himself, that had the authority to anoint a new king if he so desired. If it was that simple, then it really wouldn’t be a prophecy at all, but merely a political decision made by Samuel to demonstrate his displeasure in Saul’s disobedience. And why use the reference to neighbour? Yes, we can argue that the tribe of Benjamin was surrounded by its Judahite neighbours, but this doesn’t make sense in a monarchical structure which had unified the tribal confederacy into a single people. Benjaminites and Judahites were Israelites at this point and not neighbours since the borders were now gone.
No, it is clear that the intent of this curse was to be far more reaching and severe than a mere change of ruling family would suggest. It wasn’t a punishment to be borne by the House of Saul alone; all of Israel was guilty of the sin. In its entirety, the victorious Israelite army had committed the affront to God by disobeying his orders and taking into their households prisoners of war that they intended to keep as part of the share of the spoils of victory. Therefore any curse would have to be a punishment for all of Israel.
Israel’s neighbours were the Amelekites; the same people that were supposedly defeated. We can also state that this would apply to the Amorites and the Moabites, and the Philistines, etc., but in this particular instance, it was only the Amelekites that God was referring to. They would be the instruments of his punishment. In the same way they were intended to be part of the reward for Israel’s faith, by which their armies were handed over to be decimated and the security of Israel would have been secured everlasting had they done as they had been instructed. Now that same people would become the bane of Israel’s existence. The Kingdom of Israel would be plagued by constant overthrow, attacks and acts of terror by the neighbours they had let survive. We have our first instance of the mirror policies of God. Where the reverse reflection can be as real as the actual entity standing in front of the mirror. The failure of one is to the advantage of the other.
The presence of this curse is clearly evident. Throughout its entire existences as the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and the territorial provinces of Galilee, Samaria, Judea, or Idumaea, this neighbour has surfaced time and time again to wreak havoc upon the Jews. In fact, it was during the reign of the Herodian family that we witnessed the pinnacle of this ancient curse. When Amelekites, then referred to as Idumeans, had risen so high within the political arena of Judaea, that Herod and his descendants actually wore the crown of Israel upon their heads. Now, you should be able to see how prophetic the words of Samuel truly were. After all, he was Samuel the Prophet, not Samuel the king-maker, and unless we recognise that the Books of Samuel truly are prophetic, then his title wouldn’t make too much sense since the books in his name on first appearance seem to be merely chronicles.
Understanding the prophetic nature of this curse then explains much of what has transpired in the Land of Israel for the past two thousand years. Exactly as it was foretold, it has come to pass. The land would seesaw between Israel and its neighbour. The neighbour would be a constant and perpetual thorn in Israel’s side. Whenever, a Kingdom of the Jews would rise to power, or attempt to do so, this neighbour would continually try to upset the balance and attempt to seize the kingdom for itself. In essence, the Amelekites are doing nothing more than following the path that God had set for them three thousand years ago when Israel failed to carry out their instructions and obliterate them as a people.
Once more a Kingdom of Israel exists in the world. Certainly, we don’t refer to it as a kingdom in its current existence. It’s a state, a democratic country, which stands alone in a sea of hostile Arab kingdoms. But political reality and religious reality don’t have to be perfectly aligned. State, kingdom, republic, or principality, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to curses. The fact remains that its very existence means that the Amelekites are duty bound to try and deconstruct Israel for no other purpose than it exists.
Rather than refer to the other indigenous people of the Middle east as Palestinians, it would be far more appropriate to refer to them by their true origins, as descendants of those semi-nomadic people of the wilderness areas of the Trans Jordan that had infiltrated over the centuries into the Land of Israel during those times when a population vacuum was created by the dispersion of the Jews into foreign lands by the conquering powers. They are Amelekites. They have been so for thousands of years, and they will forever remain so.
Therefore it is imperative that we understand, who these people are. The actual rationale for their belligerence and persistent hatred of the Jewish people. This unnatural detestation of Jews, since it must be remembered that their acts of terrorism have not been isolated to Israelis, but to Jews the world over. And when they talk of destroying Israel it is the intentional driving the Jews in the sea not Israelis that they make allusion to. An abhorrence that goes far beyond land control issues, since the desire is not merely have governance over the land but to eliminate the presence of Jews from the land itself and the world over. Those that may try to suggest now that their expressions of ‘driving the Jews into the sea’ were merely rhetoric and not based on actual intent have little understanding of their motivation. Recognising that they are the descendants of the Amelekites makes everything perfectly clear. They have no other options but to act in the manner in which they do. Their actions are predetermined by a curse that has been infused into the core of their existence since the days of Saul and Samuel. And not until they become reconciled with their past can this vicious circle be broken. Either they must let the Children of Israel pass safely into the land of Canaan unmolested, thereby rectifying the original curse that had been placed upon their heads, or they must bear the consequence of God’s demand to Saul to eliminate them from the face of the earth, and in so doing, the curse becomes lifted from Israel once and for all. Clearly the choice of how this is to end is in the hands of the Amelekites.

Curses are a funny thing. You try not to beleive in them, but the reality is that you can't escape them. As I write the stories, those published such as Blood Royale and Shadows Of Trinity, and those hopefully soon to be published such as Deliverance and Zutra, I realize that just as there exists this perpetual curse on Israel and the Palestinian or Arab neighbours, there is also one that has existed on my family history as well. No matter how far we have risen, whether in Southern France or Mesopotamia, or Galicia, etc., we, being the Kahana, never fully achieve the freedom that we are destined to fight for. Everyone of those ancestors died in their efforts to achieve that particular goal for their people. How does one break the curse? As with the Amelekite Curse it can only be achieved when a completely different approach is taken. I'll let you know if I find it!

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Therefore I Am

One would think the words are self-evident. Perhaps even rhetorical and obvious. Yet the more I encounter life, the more I recognize how few of us know where, who or even why we are. Somewhere through life we became unteathered from that which we we want to be. We adopt causes thinking they will give us purpose only to be disappointed when we find that they are not solutions but enigmas in their own right. How is it that we have drifted so far from the core of our existence that we have become strangers in time merely passing through the cosmos of eternity.
Once upon a time "I AM" had meaning and substance. God knew what it meant when he spoke to Moses from the burning bush declaring, "I AM THAT WHICH I AM." He was the everything, the totality of existence. There at the beginning, the middle and the end. There was no doubt in his omnipotent mind of his purpose or his existence. And for the longest time mankind was satisfied that it could be nurtured by its relationship with the Almighty and be certain of its own purpose and existence. But following the Renaissance, the reassurance of purpose and fulfillment became lost in a changing world of science and exploration. That which had grounded us to our past was no longer capable of securing us in the future. Doubts arose and soon people felt lost in the propensity for dynamic change. A new edict was required and thankfully Descartes gave man the ring upon which to grasp and find safe harbour. "I THINK THEREFORE I AM" and once again mankind had something to believe in, a value system upon which to ground his morality. He had himself, the limitless boundaries of his own mind and he reveled in the greatness that man could aspire to.
How long could mankind believe in itself? Not long before the doubts arose once more. With science the ability to destroy and obliterate became increasingly simplistic and soon that same principle which Descartes espoused to the glorification of mankind was now threatening its very survival. The more man thought, the more powerful became his engines of destruction. The Great Wars came and now more than ever mankind pondered his place and purpose in the universe. Science was a false god, feeding the wants and desires but failing to nourish the individual's need to know, 'Why'.
When all appeared lost, there came a single spark of enlightenment from an inconspicuous voice nestled between the two great wars. He represesnted the courage, the youth and vitality of the best of those nations that fought against the tyrrany of the oppressors. He rode the seas, daring the elements and braving the storms of heaven and earth. And though his voice was soft he spoke those immortalize words that Moses first heard from the Creator himself. "I YAM WHAT I YAM". So said Popeye the Sailor Man. Was that truly the best we had to offer?
There is a moral to this story, a purpose and reason that I have told it. More and more I hear people saying what's wrong with this world. It's all going to hell. The predictions of earth's destruction in 2012 (Soon to be a realeased movie by the way starring John Cusak) are met more with a sense of elation than fear. Not that I believe the world will end in 2012 but you would still think people would still be thinking "What if" and "What can we do about it?" What else should I expect or they expect when after three thousand years we've taken God's words and placed them in a mouth of a caricature of irresponsible violence. Popeye really wasn't the poster boy for self-restraint and rational thought. We have left ourselves with nothing to uphold. Our value system has been flushed, our leaders would appear to be in competition to whom can lie, cheat and steal the best, and our youth see video games as reality. Our jobs have become our existence, our families are dysfunctional, our marriages don't last as long as our affairs, and our murder statistics are the only numbers that are constantly improving over time. If the downward spiral is to be stopped, if the dissolution of society is to be thwarted then it is the responsibility of each one of us to provide the subject and verb that precedes "Therefore I Am." In my case I guess it would be "I WRITE THEREFORE I AM." And through my writing I hope that I can reach and change one life at a time. Or perhaps it's my scientific endeavours and I'd say, "I FIND CURES THEREFORE I AM." Either one is a justification of my existence. Perhaps its time for all of us to stand before that burning bush and make our own pronouncement.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

THE WELL OF JACOB

So now begins the search for clues to solve the mystery of Jacob's well. As suggested in my last blog, my ancestor Jakob was sending down a messages through the ages. He knew exactly what he was doing; of that I have no doubt. Placing a not so discrete inscritption on his cover page referring to the Karaites on a book that was supposedly a Talmudic commentary would be like placing a red flag in front of a bull. You only do it if you know you're going to get an anticipated response. But a response from whom is the question. The fact that Jakob was able to get away with this sort of thing was a further indication that he was considered a secular writer and the rabbinical colleges wouldn't have been using his books in their teaching programs. So if not intended for Rabbinical studies, then who else did Jakob think would be reading a book on Talmudic law? You have a choice of two other possible groups;religious scholars that examine the discourses much in the same way a biologist examines cells under a microscope, or else the Karaites themselves who studied the Talmud so they could point out the inconsistencies and its failings. In truth, Jakob Goldenthal was probably writing for both these groups, since he made no attempt to conceal the fact that he was sending a message which was obvious from this single coverplate. But this was only from only one of his books and he authored many. At some point I will have to review his work on Aristotle. My copy of the book is becoming quite frayed and aged, and I've been reluctant to do much with it but I think it deserves a thorough search for cryptic messages as well.
And nothing could be more cryptic than his reference to the Well of Jacob. I have been searching through a tonne of information regarding this well. It has quite a history and was far more significant than merely a place to water your sheep. Knowing which avenue to venture in trying to decode his reference will be the hard part. Not impossible though. I'm certain that it will shout out to me when I stumble across it. And I have begun the deliberate search to find the answer in earnest so as far as I'm concerned, it's only a matter of time. To all you cryptohistorians out there, I ask your help on this quest for understanding. Your suggestions and analyses are most welcome. Your input is essential.

The Old Testement never talks directly about the well dug by Jacob. It does talk about the land he purchased outside the village of Shechem and one must assume that the well was required to water his livestock. The bible does tell us that he was quite wealthy in that regard, having herds and flocks that were envied by the people of Shechem. And at the time of Jesus there was a specific site referred to as Jacob's well as recorded in the New Testament.

Reports vary on the depth of the well from 240 feet in 670 AD to 67 feet in 1881 AD. They even vary on whether or not the well is fed from an underground stream so that the water is constantly moving making it cool and refreshing at all times or if it is dependant on percolation and rainfall, suggesting that the water could be stale. Jesus referred to it as "living water" when the Samaritan woman gave him a drink from it as gleand from the reference in John 4:6 and subsequently. It is identified as Jacob's well then and has been referred to as being such by Samaritans, Jews, Muslims and Christians ever since which is a good indication that it was call this long before Jesus drank from it. The well is located at the entrance to the valley between Ebal and Gerizim, approximately 2 miles south-east of Shechem. If its current diameter of about 8 feet reflects its original size and though 75 feet in depth now, but much deeper in ancient times as previously mentioned, then the digging of this well would have been a major accomplishment and expense. Trying to imagine workers in a confined space penetrating that deep into the ground in order to reach water when the valley of Shechem is not in short supply of streams and other water sources leaves one asking one question; Why?
Not even one question but many. Why dig three times the depth of what would be considered the water table at 75 feet? Why at Shechem, a place the bible describes as the town where Jacob's sons decimate the male population and take their wives and children to be their slaves? Why was this well so special to be identified with Jacob even though there's no mention of it in the Old Testament? And of course how did he do it? Not only the depth but how did diggers manage to go below the water level? And if the answer to that was proof that it was an underground stream that took 240 feet to reach and the high level is only the result of positive pressure then that only leads to another question. Who in their right mind would dig 240 feet to reach an underground stream and how would they even know it was there?

As for the mention of Karite holy days being celebrated at the well, this may have been Jacob's way of saying he saw little difference between the Karaites and the Samaritans. Two sects of Jews that practiced a form of Judaism without the requirement of the Talmud followed so closely by Rabbinic Jews. And if this was only a symbolic reference, Karaites being like the Samaritans, then was it possible that the Well of Jacob was also only a symbolic reference. Could my ancestor had been using it as a metaphor but if so, a metaphor for what?

If Jacob Goldenthal was well aware of the events recorded in Shadows of Trinity (http://www.eloquentbooks.com/ShadowsOfTrinity.html) could it be that the Jacob of the Well was in fact a veiled reference to his own ancestor Yakov Kahana, one of the heroes of the book? It was obvious that the Church feared Yakov was in some way an incarnation of "the Living Water." Was Jacob's use of the inscription on the coverplate merely his way of saying remember the story of Yakov Kahana? Or is there far more afoot and we are merely scratching at the surface?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Kahana Code

This blog is intended for two purposes; one, to introduce my family to my third great grandfather whom they have not had the opportunity to know since he died in 1867 and secondly to demonstrate to those that have been following the Kahana Chronicles just how the stories are preserved and passed through the generation even though the direct line of communication can at times be broken.
Cryptic paintings, Latin verse, hidden societies, anagrams, and a concealed hereditary bloodline; No, I'm not writing about the Da Vinci Code. Call it the Kahana Code perhaps, but unlike Dan Brown's novel, I'm not writing fiction, or speculation for that matter. The stories revolve around events that actually occurred and what better way to demonstrate that the legends have a basis in historical fact than to cite ancestors that have in their own way tried to preserve the stories through a code. If you think about the Da Vinci Code, and I presume most people have either read the book or seen the movie, then you will recall that the goal was to preserve a hereditary line by ensuring there were enough clues sprinkled through paintings and books to lead a trail to the heir. Well, we have the good fortune of having a pictorial and written record in the family for that purpose as well. The picture below is the coverplates of the Clavis Talmudica and its here that I will begin my tale of mystery and suspense and where you can help in resolving some of the vacuoles that still persist in my attempts to decipher my ancestor's message. Because somewhere, in this world are other families that would have been involved in the transmission of these hidden messages and their ancestors like mine would have been aware of his purpose and intent. It would be very narrow minded of me to think that he had done so only with the sole purpose of hoping one of his descendants would find the riddle, although considering his own personal history it is a possibility. Jakob Goldenthal had to be writing to a known audience, members of a society for which he was preserving the secrets. Just whom those members of his brotherhood may have been is yet to be discovered.



As the story goes, our third-great grandfather Jakob Goldenthal discovered a set of books and papers that had been hidden in his home which subsequently turned his world 180 degrees and set him upon an amazing journey. Why his father or grandfather never bothered to destroy those papers is still unknown but the possibility that they were hidden away by Shalom Shakna Kahana in a place that no one bothered to look into until Jakob two hundred years later is not unreasonable. In all likelihood, Jakob was living in the same home in Brody in whihc his ancestors had lived. In that paperwork he uncovered a story concerning the involvement our ancestor Yakov (Kova) in the 16th century who was involved in resolving the mystery behind the Golem of Prague as described in Shadows of Trinity. He would have learned of his ancestor Yakov's (notice that they bore the same name and the giving of names starting with J or A is very repetative in the family) ability to decipher signs and riddles, a trait that he too possessed. And most of all, he learned of his Karaite heritage and the plea from an ancestor long gone not to abandon that heritage.

Of course detractors would say that it's only a story and that there's no way of proving these events one hundred and forty years after Jakob Goldenthal's death. Well you can probably guess that I wouldn't be writing this article unless I believed there was a way to prove it. Not unlike the Da Vinci Code, there always has been a trail of bread crumbs. And that is where the GLEEM theory(http://hubpages.com/hub/GLEEM) becomes involved or Genetically Linked Enzyme Enhanced Memories. Whether you're willing to admit it or not, ancestors and descendants tend to think alike. As much as you may refuse to beleive it you often start acting very much like your father or mother. We are imprinted with behaviours and that's a fact. Having recognized that, members in the family would create puzzles with the knowledge that others that think in similar patterns would ultimately be able to decipher and resolve the challenge years or generations later. Not unlike the Kabbalah Wheel in Shadows of Trinity where Yakov has to understand how to translate the various languages and symbols, Jacob would have a similar ability. The ability to see signs and images where no one else can see them. Jakob Goldentha would have known that he could find ways to tranfer the stories he had uncovered to the future through the use of hidden clues. The same way that Yakov (Kova) was comfortable in speaking German, Hebrew, understanding Latin, and a smattering of other languages, he knew this knack would be transmitted down the genetic lines. And it was Jakob over two hundred years later also being fluent in a number of languages; German, Hebrew, Arabic, Latin, Italian, Romanian, Russian, and a smattering of French and English that provided me with the first clue. Because like them, I also am familiar with the same languages and that is too much of a coincidence. It was the first indication that something more was at work.




The coverplate in the figure above is Jakob Goldenthal's. He was an avid researcher a writer and scientist, traits which I obviously inherited as well. Working outside the religious sphere from which he was practically excommunicated and finding safety in the more secular university environment, Jacob would combine languagues into a single book making a smooth transition back and forth. Since most people wouldn't be able to make the transition as easily as he could, it provided him a vehicle in which to conceal his clues.

The Latin side of the coverpage appears to be quite straight forward. The title Clavis Talmudica translates as "Key (as in Index) to the Talmud" by author Rabbi Nissim Ben Jacob Cairovanensi a name that was pretty safe and would not raise any alarm bells. His page announces Rabbi Nissim was both the author and writer. But that is not the message that is recorded on the left side of the cover page written in Hebrew. I don't expect you all to be fluent in either Latin or Hebrew and I'm certainly not so bear with me as I translate for you.

It is important to recognise that Jakob toys with us, inserting and deleting words as he pleases. The Latin side with its title of The Talmud Key indicating an index is different from that of the Hebrew words. There it translates as The Book Of the Key to My Lock on the Talmud. The insertion of MANULI for those reading the Hebrew is interesting for two reasons. One that it doesn't appear in the Latin Verse and secondly because it is possessive and therefore claims it as being His Lock. Since it was supposed to be Rabbi Nissim's book, how or why would Jakob suggest that the interpretations belonged to him? The answer is quite simple. It was obvious that Jakob was intending to include information that was his own creation.

So from the onset Jakob has you questioning whether this is a commentary on Rabbi Nissim's commentary of the Talmud or is this actually going to be a commentary straight from Jakob Goldenthal? The Hebrew coverplate uses a reference to "our colleagues" in the context of a brotherhood when he uses the word SHEHAVARU when alluding to who's Talmud it actually was. A strange use of the word and even more bizarre when he follows with the words MORANU and RAVENU. When used in this context they imply Our Teacher and Our Master. Definitely not the terms one would use prior to Nissim's name who's influence on the Talmud as I mentioned was only as an indexer and therefore hardly worthy of such titles of honour. And honour it was as Jakob purposely uses the word KAVOD saying Nissim was the Son of Honour. This is followed again by the words Our Teacher and Our Master Jacob Zets'l. Now Zets'l is a purposely contracted word and unfortunately I am unable to unlock the contraction as yet but I'm working on it. But most definitely it has nothing to do with Nissim's father who was referred to as Jacob the Gaon. And because my ancestor purposely used the noun for honour he was not implying that he was the son of the honourable Jacob Zets'l it is clear that he's talking about something completely unrealted to these two rabbis. So if not a reference to father and son, then who was Jakob Goldenthal referring to. The reference to Moranu and Ravenu are almost always used when referring to Moses. As the Lawgiver, he had earned these supreme titles. And as Karaites strictly adhering to the laws as handed down by Moses and implemented through his brother Aaron's decendants as high priests, then it is no coincidence that the two men adorning Jakob's coverplate are none other than Moes and Aaron. In this context it is no suprise that the Hebrew words for intercessor and recorder are used whereas on the Latin coverplate Jakob uses author and writer. Had he actually been writing about Rabbi Nissim he would have used the word MEHABAR to identify him as author not the word for intecessor. For as we know, Moses did not author the Old Testament he merely acted as intecessor as God described what to write to him and the council of 70 elders wrote it down under the direction of Aaron.

By why use Rabbi Nissim as the pretext for writing a commentary? The reasoning was actually quite shrewd on Jakob's part. Rabbi Nissim Ben Jacob lived between the years 990-1062, but the fact that he was from Kairouan (in Tunisia) North Africa was normally not part of his title. He was usually referred to as Gaon indicating that he was the head of the religious schools there. To exclude that from his title could be considered a minor insult but Jakob does not appear to have any concern for the absence of his proper title. Nissim is best known today for his Talmudic commentary HaMafteach, which Jakob Goldenthal uses as the main title on the Hebrew coverplate. The book is actually an index to obscure references and to the secondary compilation of oral traditions known as the Tosefta. Not a book that would be at the top of the best seller's list. In fact obscurity was the best way to descibe it and Jakob's decision to highlight it as a book he wanted to comment on makes no sense at all. Being an index, it was hardly the type of book that one would expect someone else to write another index on how to actually use it. That would be similar to someone writing a major univerity paper on how to use an index at the back of a book. Let's give Jakob a little more credit than that! So that in itself is the first clue that Jakob was using this particular Rabbi to point out something completely different. Perhaps it was that Rabbi Nissim also wrote other works, one of which was a polemic in which he made a stinging attack in disputing Karaism which he viewed as controverting religion, philosophy, politics, and scientific matters. Who better than an enemy of the Karaites to use as the delivery boy for your own message. Jakob would have no regrets in using an enemy of his brethren for such a purpose. Nissim also had written a collection of tales, entitled Sefer Ma'asiyyot ha-Hakhamim which contained about sixty tales, based upon the oral traditions. Again, using this medieval story teller as the vehicle to tell your own story has some ironic humour that I can see appealing to my ancestor. So, it is possible that referring to the author as the Kairouan rather than alluding to his title of Gaon as supreme teacher intentional.

One has to remember that it was up to Jakob Goldenthal to decide exactly what wording would be used on these cover plates. The same way he would have instructed the artist as to what to draw and include in the artwork. The same principles as I am involved with today with my publishers for my novels. I have final say on the style and artwork for my books and therefore in that regard, ultimate control. So if I was Jakob and placed on my Latin coverplate standard references to the Vienna library as would be expected of me as a Professor of the University of Vienna, then it would be assumed that I would make similar references on the Hebrew coverplate. But as the one making the ultimate decisions as to what to write, and if I think I've been clever enough to conceal my intentions well enough to pass the light scrutiny my book would receive by those fluent in Latin but perhaps not so well skilled in Hebrew then I might see an opportunity to play out my hand. It was a gamble, and Jakob wrote something totally unexpected which to date has escaped the critics. Instead of the library reference he wrote VEHOSAFTI ELION HAGHOIT KARATIM BESAM BE-AR YAKOV. Roughly translated this reads And The Additional Leaflet on The Holy days of the Karaites There at the Well of Jacob. Rabbi Nissim wrote no such tractate. The mere mention of Karaites on the same front page as mentioning the Talmud would be considered bizarre since they are diametrically opposed. And to further layer this unusual statement by a reference to the well of Jacob is only more mystifying. It is said that Jacob dug the well (Gen 48:12) near Shechem roughly at the base of Mount Gerzim. It is an area with an abundance of springs so the need for a well at all has always been bewildering. But the use of water in the Middle East has always been governed by very strict laws and the digging of a well there may have been one of the conditions Jacob had to meet in order to purchase the land. As there was always a danger of strife between rival herdsmen, the patriarch would have achieved a peace by digging this well and also established his independance from the other chieftains by having his own water supply. Is Jacob Goldenthal alluding to himself that somehow he would attain peace between the rival factions of Karaiate and Rabbinical Jew. By then Karaites were diminished to a point of insignificance. Was he thinking a revival of the sect? Did he have some plans in motion? It's possible because following the reference on the well he writes in Hebrew, ANI JAKOB GOLDENTHAL or I am Jakob Goldenthal as if he and the well were somehow the same. Contrast this to the Latin Coverplate where he refers to himself as the Editor and provider of the introduction then lists all his educational degrees following his name. He does no such thing on the Hebrew coverplate.

So how aware would Jakob have been regarding the events in Shadows of Trinity? Considering the letters from his ancestor Yakov Kahana would have contained some details of the events then he would have known most of the story. As I mentioned, he had full editorial powers over the artwork that would be included in his book. As Shadows of Trinity and Blood Royale were both stories that contained strong references to clandestine events in France, the role of the Kahana family pivotal in both these stories and the fact that the members of the family were far more than academics but warriors that fought to the death for the survival of their people, then it would be hard to believe that Jakob would not find an opportunity to communicate his knowledge of these events. The Kahana as I frequently remind people is from the line of descendants from Aaron via the House of Phiabi. Yakov knew this, Jakob knew this and I know this. On that basis it was obvious that I should look at the portrait of Aaron in the coverplate picture to find any hidden clues if they existed. As I had suspected, my ancestor did not leave me looking too long as there are several.

1. The most obvious indication is the design in the platform beneath Aaron's feet. It would have been normal to include something in reference to Aaron's role as high priest. A menorah, shewbread table, the ark or something from the Temple. If you look closely at the design there are two items. An Arabic styled scimitar or sword and an urn turned on its side. The sword which would be out of context with Aaron but not the Kahana is patently obvious, but the urn I still have to think about. I don't have an answer for that yet.

2. The crescent moon of the mitre on Aaron's head for those not familiar with the high priest's headdress is completely atypical of the conical mitre in white and blue that has been traditionally associated with the biblical description. If you want to see what the actual high priest clothing looked like then I suggest you go to my website at http://www.legendsofthekahana.webs.com and take a look at my son's ascent pictures where he is wearing the priestly garments. For Jakob to approve a diagram so obviously erroneous meant it had to be right for a completely different reason. A reference to the family's origins around the Black Sea possibly where the Muslim crescent would have been the dominant symbol.

3. But then altering the priests wardrobe was something Jakob was blatant about. The biblical description refers to stripes on the ephod that were gold, red and purple. Again see the pictures on my website. Jakob would have known this. If one looks closely at the diagram they will see that he had the robe covered in Fleur de Lis. The French references are pretty obvious. The only time the Fleur de Lis were used as Jewish symbols were by the Hasmonean family. So now we have a double reference. Not only to the French history I alluded to earlier but also the combined entity of Priest-Kings which not only the Hasmoneans were but also the Kahana.

4. But there is another item on the ephod that is a mystery. Just to the right of the incence burner is what appears to be a patch in the shape of a heraldic shield. It is covered with tiny squares. There is no reference to anything like this in the bible. The only pockets on the ephod were underneath the breastplate to hold the ummim and thummim. What is it and what does it mean? Right now your guess is as good as mine. I might suggest that it is Jakob Goldenthal's personal stance. The fact that he had adopted Oswald von Goldenthal's heraldic emblem and that as Kahana he saw himself wearing the garments in a time period almost two thousand years earlier he combined the two. Mere speculation but my best guess at this time.

So in conclusion I will say this. Though my third great grandfather has been gone and buried for almost one hundred and fifty years, it think if we listen and look long enough we can still hear his voice.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ring of Fire

Science and religion have rarely made the best of bedmates, but when the two worlds are merged into a single entity you find yourself in the presence of greatness. Giordano Bruno was one such man. The mixture of religious doctrine and scientific genius created one of the brightest sparks of mankind. So advanced was his thinking that the Church feared he would bring about their Armegeddon.
Yet, as much as they feared him, they made no immediate attempts to contain his brilliance. One must ask the question, why then after so many years of Giordano Bruno's scientific heresies, philosophizing, womanizing, and contempt for the robes he wore as a Dominican priest, did Pope Clement finally have him burned at the stake. What was it that prevented Clement's predecessor, Sixtus V, a pope notorious for his murdering of close to thirty thousand opponents that he had labelled as brigands from doing so much earlier. And why was it only after Bruno spent two years in Prague, as friend and sometimes confidant of the Emperor Rudolf II, (a man also despised by the Church until they removed him several years after burning Bruno by forcing him to abdicate and naming his brother as Holy Roman Emperor) that the Church finally felt it had to act?
Even then, they could only find the courage to sentence him to death only after eight years of imprisonment. And then the charges by which they convicted him had nothing to do with science but was the result of a new charge, that of denying the Trinity. What exactly did Giordano Bruno confess to that they felt it necessary to extinguish his exceptional brilliance? History is not without its sources that escape the book burnings and bannings in spite of the Church being very thorough in its eradication programs. Many of the clues as to what Giordano Bruno did during those two years in Prague that finally sealed his fate can be read in the book Shadows of Trinity released by Eloquent Books. Bruno was a complex and complicated man, who took a path which led him to his own personal salvation. What he learned about the Trinity in Prague sealed his fate. The two men he befriended while there were feared by the Church as much as he was because they had the capacity to teach Giordano something not even science could provide; the Truth. One was a Karaite Prince, the other the son of the famous seer Nostradamus. United, they were the Trinity. The book is available at the publisher's website http://www.eloquentbooks.com/ShadowsOfTrinity.html or from Amazon Books and Barnes and Noble. Two years in Prague that ultimately changed the world and only then can you appreciate and understand the man, the genius, and the reason the Church feared him most. Once you've read Shadows of Trinity, then the secret that led to his final comment to his inquistors as the flames ringed his body when he stated, “I believe you fear me more than I could ever fear this sentence?”

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

We Were Warriors

Once upon a time there was a people that despite their small numbers would not hesitate to fight for what they believed in; for what they considered right. It doesn't necessarily follow that they won each time because they didn't, but they knew that for every loss there would be a victory some time, some place in the future. For a thousand years that belief was consistent and unfaltering. We fought the Egyptians, though halfheartedly I must admit when Shishank stormed Jerusalem and lost. But Solomon made up with his father-in-law and the Egyptians withdrew. We fought the Assyrians and lost the northern kingdom but more so through the assimilation that followed. We fought the Babylonians and lost but fortunately they in turn lost to the Persians and we were given back our institution to self govern. We fought the Greeks and actually won, but then gave away that freedom immediately afterwards through alliances with Antiochus, the same ruler we fought against so that we could become a self-governing vassal state. No one said it had to make sense. And then we fought the Romans and lost. Sixty years afterwards we fought them again, and lost again. Three hundred years later we tried it again but we didn't fare any better that time. But by the fourth century AD something had drastically changed in our makeup and our mindset. We no longer saw ourselves as warriors, definitely not as victors, and we certainly lost the aptitude to keep challenging the powers that be.
There were singular moments when individuals did rise to the occassion and for the span of a few years there were even hazy reflections of the ancestral warriors and the sweet taste of victory but then that same insidious change that occurred in the fourth century would pervade our thinking and we would sacrifice all that we had gained. The story of Mar Zutra is such an episode where our freedom had been re-established only to have it sold out from under us.

For anyone that knows my belief system and is familiar with my thinking they may already know what I'm alluding to. Where I feel the blame is to be laid and how I see us once again as a people faltering and failing to embrace that warrior heritage that is the core of our existence.
After the wars against Rome, notice I say wars because most are of the beleif that there was only a singular war which is completely incorrect, we abandoned that which was the essential elements of our existence. Not our stalwart belief in God, but the tools that he handed us to ensure our continued survival through the ages. I'm referring to the Rod and the Sceptre. There came amongst us a group of relgious philosphers (hasidim) that felt the two institutions were archaic and irrelevant. They dismissed them as the flotsom of an outlived aristocracy, no longer essential. They presumed that without a Temple, without a base or kingdom to rule, there was no longer a need for either priests or kings. And in their haste to bury both castes they forgot that it was not their decision to make as God had forbade any man to wrest these from between his knees (this is a biblical expression, not mine). Yes, I blame Rabbinical Judaism for our downfall through the ages.

Now before everyone gets in an uproar and starts proclaiming what the Rabbis have always insisted that if not for them we never would have survived as a distinct people amongst all the other nations, let me say this; 'CRAP'. The Talmud, is the work and interpretation of men and if anything, it has caused more confrontational arguments than agreements. Long after it was written you still had the Rashis and Maiomondes, and the hundreds and thousands of Rabbis that followed still trying enforce their interpretation as the correct one. How ridiculous. Because as any knowledgable Karaite can tell you, Anan ben David had summed up everything that had to be known in a singular revision; "If what you read seems good to you, then it is correct." It was a powerful statement. So powerful in fact that by the tenth century, the Rabbinical sage, Saadiah grew very concerned that the rabbinical Judaism he and his colleagues professed would actully become subordiante to the Karaite beliefs that he made it his life's ambition to destroy all that was Karaite. Though you may find it hard to uncover this edict I'm about to reveal, since an effort has been made to erase it from Jewish History, Saadiah, once enshrined as the Gaon, or chief Rabbi, pronounced, "To Kill a Karaite is no Different Than Killing a Dog." What did this actually mean? It meant that you could kill a Karaite without being charged with murder. And they did; literally in the thousands.
It is inconceivable that we who were once warriors would turn upon our own brethren, simply because one group decided that somehow it became their right to rule the hearts and minds of the people. And that same group would preach whenever as a people we would become oppressed by other nations that we should put our trust in God and that he will deliver us. That it is not up to us to deliver ourselves. How many holocausts have we suffered because of such faulty logic? How many more must we endure before it is finally questioned, who are these people that claim the authority to speak for God?

We are at a crossroads now. As Karaite, I'm only one of thirty thousand remaining in the world. Even most of my family following the death of Yakov Kahana (see Shadows of Trinity) abandoned Karism and adopted what was then mainstream rabbinical Judaism. But in case you have not noticed, there is a tide turning in the world. A tide that suddenly looks at today's Israel with its six million people and says, "How dare you exert your beligerance over 500 million Arabs. How dare you declare yourself a Jewish Homeland but WE acknowledge the right for a Palestinian state to exclude any Jews from living within its borders. How dare you pronouce Judaism as your State religion, even though you let millions of Muslims and Christians live freely within your country to practice their religion, while those of non-Muslim faiths are not allowed to publicly practice their religions in a large number of Muslim countries. How dare you claim an entitlement to the land on which you have been a presence on for three thousand years continuously, have fought and died over for an equal length of time as mentioned at the start of this article, and try to use that to refute OUR claim that you are merely the creation of post world war European guilt." You can hear it now. It's whispered in the streets, it's shouted behind closed doors, it's rising in its tenor and rhetoric from the lips of presidents that are willing to deny the truth. As a Karaite I can see the winds of change. We have seen it many times over our existence. We have not abandoned either the Staff nor the Sceptre. And though our numbers are diminished we still recall that once We Were Warriors.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Celebrating Murder


As extreme as the title might appear, that is exactly what will be happening in the beautiful city of Prague in September of this year. It's not a theatrical production, or a Mardis Gras, or even a Cinco de Mayo type celebration, it is the celebration of what everyone presumes to be a myth, but in reality was a series of murders conducted over a couple of years which have now been overlayed with a legend of mythical proportions in order to protect the people involved.

This year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Judah Loew, often referred to as the Maharal, a kabbalistic master that has been credited with the saving of the Jewish community of Prague in the sixteenth century by magically creating a Golem. For those that don't know the Kabbalah, that is the same Jewish mystical arts that Madonna is both student and adept at. A golem was an artificial human created from clay that could be brought to life through the use of magical arts. Having suffered through several persecutions, the worst being a mob led by the priest Taddeush that tore apart not only the Jewish Quarter of Josefov but several of the Jews residing there as well, Rabbi Loew and his son-in-law, along with several others decided to create the Golem. The story goes that at first he would only strike at those that tried to harm the Jewish community but then something went wrong and it started to attack innocents as well. Rabbi Loew then had to stop the creature by rubbing one of the letters (aleph) off its forehead, which caused it to die (if an artificial human can die) and then concealed its body in the synagogue attic where some say it still rests today.

Strangely, the claim today is that no one knows why this story came about nor why Rabbi Loew was attributed to have made a Golem. A story which has been fairly common for the last two centuries and is now widely distributed. There really is nothing strange about it. Why do we have any of the many legends that surround famous people from the past? Because they did do something at least similar to the myth that's being told. King Leonitis did take on a massive Persian army with only 300 Spartans. Course there were several thousand others from different Greek cities but we won't destroy a good legend by mentioning them. And Helen did have a face that launched a thousand ships, but we won't mention that it was her infidelity that practically destroyed all of Greece with ten years of bloodshed. The point that I'm making is that we have our modern day myths as the result of actual historical events and the Legend of the Golem of Prague is no different.

The actual events are historically recorded, with the killing of the priest Taddeush, as well as the Archbishop, the nephew of Pope Sixtus V, and several other prominent people. These all were attibuted to a terrifying protector of Josefov that had been conjured from the dark arts by its kabbalistic master. For those interested in reading the story behind the myth, I suggest you pick up a copy of Shadows of Trinity, which can be found at the publishers website at http://www.eloquentbooks.com/ShadowsOfTrinity.html or from places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble on their websites. Truth makes a great story and as they say is often stranger than fiction.

But back to the celebration. Here is an individual that did feel he was protecting his people from the scourge of anti-semitism. No doubt that was his motive. Noble in its intent but when the loss of innocents become involved then doesn't the solution become as bad as the cause? And what did Rabbi Loew actually achieve? Yes, for a period of 19 years, the community was protected from further threats of pogroms and riots, but not long after his death, once those hate mongerers knew he wasn't coming back from the grave, they led a massive attack against the Jews of Prague. This took place during what was a dynastic war between the Catholics and Protestants (amazing that they actually took time out from killing themselves to go kill the Jews in the city) and then to celebrate their peace accord in which both churches agreed to live harmoniously in Bohemia, they burned 86 prominent members of the Jewish community at the stake claiming that they had attempted to poison the Christian leaders of these two factions and were therefore the root cause of the actual civil uprising. The reality is that once you have a Golem, then you must always have a Golem otherwise the threat that you used to achieve your intended goal is no longer there and you've actually encourage the exact opposite to occur because of retribution. The massacre of 1611 was retribution!

And was Rabbi Loew this saint of a man that was given the accolades of being Chief Rabbi of Prague? No, there's where myth has definitely taken over from reality. Judah Loew was actually turned down twice by his own community for the position of Chief Rabbi. The first time in 1587 when Rabbi Melling was elected to the position and the second time in 1604 when they elected Rabbi Ephraim. Simply, the leaders of the community and the other Rabbis didn't want him as their spiritual leader. Not only didn't they want him, in many cases they feared him. On February 23rd, 1592 Rabbi Loew was summoned to the palace to meet with the Emperor Rudolf II. I guarantee it wasn't to talk about Kabbalah as the supporters of the rabbi claim. Within a few weeks Rabbi Loew had packed his bags, packed his family and was gone to Posen, not to return to Prague until shortly before his death in 1609. Does that sound like the act of a man that was given the keys to the city as they would want you to believe? Only after several hundred years have passed, has all this been forgotten and the same man is now being celebrated as the saviour of Prague.

So for all those intending to attend the celebrations in the Czech Republic this year, think about what I've had to say. And if you are there, take the time and search for the grave of one Yakov Kahana, the real hero behind the Golem story as you discover in Shadows of Trinity. He's buried there somewhere and that's the real mystery!



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Monday, June 8, 2009

Of Witches, Werewolves, Vampires, Angels and Demons

You have to love the wisdom that emanates from the mouths of your children. Their ability to state what's on their minds without the hesitency that we all gain as adults is sometimes brutal but overwhelmingly honest. It's a trait we all seem to lose as we become part of the adult working force and enter society with all its restrictions and political correctness. And what have we actually created with our acts of hypocrisy and social obligations; A mess to put it quite frankly. A world that is spinning out of control because somewhere along the way it lost what we once called morality. The overriding sense of wrong and right that was engraved in stone. You knew there would be a punishment for every improper deed you did and that was often enough to keep you walking the straight and narrow. Now there is no discipline, no sense of fairplay, and definitely no morality.
So when my daughter asks me why I choose to write of historical events because in her mind real author's know that success lies in writing books devoted to the celebration of the antihero, dipped heavily into the ether of demons and the supernatural, then I better have a good answer since so much of their lives are wrapped up in the hoodoo voodoo of this new age. Whether your child considers themselves Emo or Goth determines whether they just hate society or wish to watch it burn in Hell. We can shake our heads all we want but the truth of the matter is that it's our fault that they're immsersed in those attitudes. Why? Because we took their heroes away. We had to obliterate the masked man in the white suit that always defeated his nemesis in the black hat and Snidely Whiplash styled moustache. Someone said that it gave children the wrong impression that colour determined good or bad and that could result in racism. And just like that they were gone! Then we had to remove God from religion so as not to suggest that the God of one religion was superior to that of another. Perhaps if we had thought about it more thoroughly we would have recognised that the solution was not to toss out God from religion but to remove religion from God. Whether one believes in the physical forces of the universe, the God of the Bible, the Force from Star Wars, it's all God. God didn't have to be removed from schools and public services. What had to be removed was the false sense of superiority that one believer held over another. But that's all a discussion for another day. The fact is the youth of today want to believe in a world created by the likes of a Stephanie Meyer. They want to emulate the world that author's of this alternative reality have fashioned, where the supernatural meshes intricately with that of humanity. Where darkness is inseparable from the light because in their own minds there is no longer a distinction. Death and life have become confused and meaningless with the preservation of life no longer paramount nor sacred.
So to be asked why I don't expend my efforts to write about the witches, werewolves, vampires, angels and demons that now haunt their everyday existence, I took great pleasure in replying that I do. The only difference is that I relate these attributes of horror to real people, that did cause terrible suffering and by which the people had to bear the repurcussions of the evil manifest in these human forms. There were witches in my newly finished novel Zutra. They were women of power that exerted magical forces over the men in their lives, twisting them until they performed like marionettes on chainlink strings. Oh, and there were werewolves too. Men that could change their form on any given day, masking the deceit and visciousness of their own personna until they tore the hearts from the innocent. Zutra's father died on the cross because he failed to see the werewolves that existed amongst those he thought were his friends. And of course their were Vampires, none so much as the Lady Avital that sucked the life blood from both of her husbands, father and son, until they were too weak to resist her alluring charms. But in spite of the evil that flourished, there were still angels that would not succumb to the evil that pervaded their world. Men and women who could rise above the wickednss that men do and would willingly risk their own lives in order to stem the evil tide. Zutra was such a man. Patricius longed to be such a man. And the Princess Ti-Ping was definitely such a woman. As for demons, they are always in disguise. They're the ones not happy until they destroyed everything about them even if they have to sacrifice the world and all they hold dear to do so. You will find many demons existed in the world in which Zutra lived. He had no choice but to become a demon slayer.
So you see, much to my daughter's surprise, I do write about this dark Gothic world they wish to envelop themselves within. But in my stories there still remains that fine line between Good and Evil. I still have my heroes in white hats or shining armour. Because it is not about the colour. It was never about the colour. It was always about doing what was right. And if my words can re-establish the belief that this world did have, does have, and will have heroes, then perhaps we can save it from ourselves!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Zutra is Searching for an Agent

So what's next you ask in the Kahana Chronicles series. Well, next is book 5. Wait you say, the last one to be published was book 8 and now you're following with book 5. What's going on?
Welcome to New Math. The actual reason is that I never know what compulsion or story-line is going to pop into my head at any given time. Book 1 actually will at some time in the future but not yet. All I can say is that Zutra was screaming to get out and it's one hell of a story. And you probably never even heard his name before even though he changed the world. Following his death there was a virtual pact between the Byzantines, the Sassanids and I'm afraid to say it, even the Rabbis to ensure that his story never was repeated. The name Zutra was synonymous with freedom. It was a call sung loudly by the 400 that were one of the most feared military units with their dervish style of fighting. And to the two women that shared his life it infused one with love and the other with hatred.
The success of Zutra and his renegade Byzantine general Patricius were an embarassment to them all as he forged his own kingdom along side the Tigris River, a kingdom that remained free for 7 years only to brought down by the betrayal of his father-in-law, Reb Hanina and the other rabbis that had dedicated their live to stipping the power away from the Exilarch. This is the story of one man that took on the world and for a few short years actually defeated it. There are no punches pulled in the telling of this story. What he did and what was done to him are all historically accurate. And those that still were responsible for his death and the death of his father, the extermination of a kingdom, and the extinguishing of freedom are not going to be happy about it.

Below is a brief synopsis of the characters that played such an important role in this insurrection and its subsequent demise. Let's hope that Zutra can find an agent bold enough to represent it because they will find themselves under attack from several oganisations that still would like to see these events remain buried!

Mar Zutra Kahana, was born around 480 in Mahoza, which today would be located in Iraq. He was the hereditary Exilarch, indicating that he was the rightful king in exile and both a royal descendant of King David and a priestly descendant of Aaron. In 496 when he was sixteen years old, he watched as his father Huna was crucified by the Persians and in 498 he lead a revolt in which he won the freedom of the people he ruled over for seven years.

Julius Flavius Patricius was born around 445, the son of Aspar, the Consul of the Byzantine Empire, becoming Caesar under the Emperor Leo in 470 and considered next in line for the throne. In love with Leo’s daughter Ariadne but married to her sister Leontia, Patricius had to flee for his life in 471 when his family was accused of treason and Leo had his father and brother slain by what is commonly referred to as the Revolt of the Palace Eunuchs. For twenty-five years he became a soldier of fortune in the orient until one fateful day in 497 when he escorted the daughter of the Emperor Hsiang of China to the city of Mahoza.

Princess Ti-Ping, the young and beautiful daughter of the reigning Chinese Emperor of Northern Wei who was offered to the young Exilarch when he assumed his throne in order to forge an alliance between the eastern and western worlds. Though initially a marriage of diplomacy as the Empire of Northern Wei was constantly under attack, what resulted was a passionate and genuine love that became a modern tale of star-crossed lovers and the bane of Great Shah's existence as he attempted to regain the Persian throne.

The Lady Avital, betrothed to Zutra as a young girl but married instead to Zutra’s widowed father at the insistance of the leaders of the religious community, she bore the old Exilarch a son, and soon after became responsible for the death of Zutra's father. Unable to accept her marriage to his father, Zutra forced the Lady Avital, now a widow into a marriage as his second wife, only to find that doing so, he took the mechanism to his own demise into his bed chambers.

Ariadne, Empress of Byzantium, who had been engaged to Patricius son of Aspar only to have the engagement broken by her father the Emperor Leo and her hand in marriage given to Zeno, a man she hated and despised, while her betrothed was then married to her younger sister Leontia. As the real power behind the throne, she not only plotted against her husband but once he was dead, she used her power and influence to name the next emperor, whom she married thereby retaining her influence and power over the Empire. Twenty-five years later, she finds herself torn between the love she still bears for the only man she ever truly loved or to hold on to the throne as the most powerful woman in the world.

This is their story; this is my family's story.

Sins of my Fathers

When I was young, my maternal grandmother who raised me was somehow aware of a particular one of my ancestor’s indiscretions on my father’s side. Whether she knew of these events because of stories she heard from her parents, or whether it was from information she gleaned from my father’s side of the family when those two sides were still talking with one another I can’t say for certain but she knew nonetheless. I can’t say that there was any fondness for my paternal family by my grandmother after my father exited from my life when I was nine months old, and she certainly didn’t hold back any opinions on the matter. She would tell me how they were all a notorious bunch of Galitzianos, from a family that had once had power and recognition only to lose it all and were now nothing more than wandering gypsies bereft of all they once had. Womaniser and gamblers that still believed they were something special even though they had been stripped of everything. It would be easy to attribute this rant of hers to being typical of the animosity that arises from a family split except for some of the references she had used which were actually reinforcing the concept that they had been far more in the past than they were in the present. The clincher though was a statement that she once iterated that the downfall of my paternal family came from the selfish actions of one of the ancestors long ago. That one man had brought about their demise in her eyes through his own selfishness. She raised it as a warning for me, as a warning against false pride and lack of humility. A caution against following in my ancestor’s footsteps.
I later discovered that this man she spoke of was none other than my third great grandfather. He had risen well above his humble origins of Brody Galicia, eventually rubbing elbows with Emperor’s and Queens. Being awarded gold medals in both London and Paris, and rewarded handsomely by the Emperor Franz Josef to stations well beyond his level of academia. You see, Jakob had never gone to what they referred to back then as the Gymnasia. It didn’t mean the health centre as it does now, but in fact was a reference to high school. Jakob had no formal education, yet he was able to enter directly into a university and years later was appointed a professor at the University of Vienna. Not a bad achievement for someone without their high school certificate. Lately I’ve been finding myself dwelling upon the events in my third great-grandfather Jakob’s life to a considerable extent and my grandmother’s comment on his being selfish.
The decisions he made when examined from an antagonistic viewpoint could all be considered selfish. But when one takes into consideration the motivations that drove him to his choice selection then it is possible to gain a different perspective.
Turning his back on his destiny after the finding of the documents past down from his ancestor in the 16th century was a natural outcome of living a lie. The concealment of his past which was in direct conflict with the future planned for him meant that a decision had to be made one way or the other. He chose to preserve the ways of the past; the ways of his ancestors. Is it selfish to deny others the right to determine your future?
Taking the funds provided to him by the community in Brody which he used to pursue a doctorate in Middle Eastern languages and literature instead of enrolling in the Rabbinical School in Leipzig as the money had been intended might also be viewed as selfish. I know when the arrest warrant was issued by the Brody community they were thinking far worse than merely selfish, such as criminal, contemptible and far worse, but then wouldn’t one consider all the money that Jakob returned in the future to the children of not only Brody, but in Germany and Austria to fund their education (although only of a secular nature) through the benevolence donations of the Golden Thaler a fair return on the community’s investment? Shouldn’t one be allowed to compensate for their ‘criminal’ actions and gain forgiveness?
The irreparable rift between Jakob and his father was originated by his father’s actions of disowning his son. It was an age when such action by a parent meant that a man’s honour was at stake to challenge the action. A vow was a vow no matter how much it may have been regretted in the future. But even so, Jakob warmly welcomed his brother Julius when he arrived in Vienna, not only providing for him but obtaining for him a position in the university archives as well. Even though Julius had been bound by his father’s vow as well to never again communicate with Jakob whom was to be considered dead, it did not stop Jakob from extending a helping hand to one that had previously turned his back on him. That can hardly be categorised as selfish, can it?
And when the Emperor Franz Josef appointed Jakob as the personal tutor to his young and impressionable empress, Elisabeth, was it Jakob’s fault that they should be drawn together to such an extent that the Emperor’s mother had to question as to whom really fathered the Princess Sophia when she was born? I’ve seen many portraits of the young Elisabeth and I know exactly what my third great-grandfather felt each time he was in her presence. If such an attraction did occur, was it selfish to let it develop or was it merely the natural course of romance?
The retribution against Jakob for what may have been considered his final indiscretion in the previous paragraph did lead to the family being stripped of much of its honours. But those honours were only obtained through Jakob in the first place. They were his to lose if he so desired in a matter of speaking. I’m currently working on Jakob’s life story in the 9th Book of the Kahana Chronicles and exactly how he will be presented I cannot even tell you at this point. The writing takes on a life of its own.
So on reflection of the true meaning of selfishness, I am led to question does it truly exist or is it merely the perspective from which we view the actions. If we accuse an individual of such behaviour could it be only because we lust for what they have obtained and therefore to view selfishness is only possible if we in turn possess jealousy? Are we truly able to say that if we found ourselves in similar circumstances we would behave in an entirely different manner? In life there are so many questions but so few answers.

Friday, June 5, 2009

GLEEM

I'm not talking about toothpaste here but something critical to the understanding of what underlies the Kahana Chronicles. So it's time to put on my medical researcher hat. I talk about GLEEM or Genetically Linked Enzyme Enhanced Memory in my books quite alot but for those of you unfamiliar with it, I thought I should provide you with a little background before you start thinking or believing it's something out of the twilight zone.
Back in 1988 at Berkley in California there was fairly extensive research into what type of memories could be passed on. We're all familiar with instinctive memories which a newborn has inherited for survival but what about more complex memories? Can these be passed on too?
The answer from these experiments was a resounding yes. Without boring you with too many details, the basic research went as follows. Rats were trained to a maze. Once they had learned it to the point of practically being instinctive, an extract of proteinaceous material was taken from the trained rats and injected into the brains of rats that had never seen the maze before. You guessed it! They could immediately run the maze without error. A rudimentary experiment but one which underscored GLEEM completely.
In work I performed a few years later on my thesis examining origins of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (you know this as Mad Cow) I injected abnormal proteins into the spinal cords of mice and was able to produce the swiss cheese effect of this disease. How did it do it? The tissue building mechanisms of the body were fooled into thinking that the protein I injected was normal protein and began trying to reproduce it. But it couldn't and before long it started laying down a quantity of this abnormal protein which was absolutely useless for making neuro tissue. So where it couldn't make the proper tissue it left a hole.
All very interesting you say, but what's this got to do with GLEEM. Think of it this way. Our bodies want to produce proteins. In fact we want to do it so much that we constantly search for templates upon which we can start production. That is the basis of how are bodies work. We assemble amino acids into proteins. Quite a lot of it. DNA is the assembling of these amino acids as well and as for those of you that are CSI fans, we produce so much of it that we leave it behind everywhere. All over the crime scenes if you believe what you see on TV.
This takes us back to where this blog began. Memories are proteins. Nothing more than a chain of amino acids put together in such a way that they in essence become no different than a VCR tape which our brains see images and sounds and because they're past events, we label them memories. And just like those movie that are our favourites, we watch them over and over again, sometimes so much that we wear out the tape and therefore have to make backup copies. If a specific memory is important enough, tragic enough, traumatic enough, etc., then much in the same way our brain makes copies as well. The more copies, the more likely our body mechanisms will consider it essential, like an instinct or innate behaviour and will ultimately incorporate it into our genetic coding. In turn, in theory, we will pass this paticuar memory on to our children and they in turn will have the ability to experience an event that had nothing to do with them. And just like an instinct, this memory will be passed on for an eternity to all the descendants of that person.
So there you have it. As you read Blood Royale, Caiaphas Letters, or Shadows of Trinity you can now appreciate how GLEEM was invaluable to their writing.
Until next time, GLEEM on!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Religious Intolerance

It's old advice not to talk religion or politics unless you're prepared to lose more friends than make them. But what if you combine them both. Does that make you ultimately friendless? I guess we'll have to explore that hurdle when you come to it.
I found it interesting yesterday that a colleague in the writing venue decided to do a rant on her blog spot when she encountered religious intolerance. She was the victim of someone that painted themselves as a 'good' Christian versus her pagan idolatrous beliefs. Of course her beliefs were neither pagan nor idolatrous but merely the common vogue of espousing the sayings of Nostradamus and talking about the Mayan calendar's prediction of 2012 as the year the world ends. I really don't place much faith in the latter since the Mayans couldn't even predict their own eradication at the hands of the Aztecs. If they couldn't see that coming then I doubt they could predict the end of the world.
Anyways, to make a long story short, this 'good' Christian was offended that someone could believe they knew when the end of the world was coming, since she quoted that no man or woman knows the time when Jesus will return. And anyone that says they do is a false prophet. Funny that! I'd hate to think that the only reason Jesus would return would be so that he could witness the end of the world. Seems like a waste to me.
But focusing back on the intolerance part, why can't someone be allowed to believe in something other than the New Testament end of the world without being the target of abuse and derision? I hardly believe that was what Jesus was trying to teach his followers.
So where's this all leading...good question. It's leading to my comment of how little we understand prophecy in general, especially Nostradamus. As is clearly evident in Shadows of
Trinity, so many of Nostradamus's prophecies were intended to help his son survive the persecution of the Church by guiding him through certain episodes he would encounter. Not predictions of events five hundred years in the future but only several decades after his own death. When placed in their proper context, the quatrains become more of an "Oh Yeah, that was pretty obvious!"
As a Karaite, one of 30,000 remaining in the world, I know what intolerance is all about. We've borne it for two thousand years. Ever since my ancestor Ishmael ben Phiabi turned his back on the Tannim of the time and basically told them that their interpretation of the messiah prophecy was full of s**t, we've encountered that religious and political intolerance from both our own civilisation and that of the outside world. The Kahana Chronicles is a record of that intolerance and it is meant to be held up as a mirror of society. Perhaps if enough people can look at the reflection and decide that they don't like what they see, we can make the world a better place!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Incredible Journey:
Since the first book of the Kahana series has been published (Blood Royale) the question has been frequently asked, where do these ideas come from. The answer to that question is dealt with numerous times in conversations with John Pearce that narrate most of the stories. The tales themselves were passed down, inherited, encoded and for lack of a better word, 'infused.'
For those that have seen the family tree unrolled, it is an impressive sight. Two meters in height and almost five meters fully laid flat in length, it contains close to 50,000 names. With that many names, there's going to be alot of history to write about.
But the problem with history as we're taught it today is that it's viewed under a glass dome as if it's complete, finished; nothing more to learn about it. Sadly, that is far from the truth and most teachers can't comprehend that history is a living, breathing entity that we've only scratched the surface of. For every story of a Tacitus, Herodotus from ancient times or a Gibbons to give it a more modern spin, there are squirrled away somewhere a hundred or so other documents on the same subject, providing a vantage point from a completely different perspective. You have to remember, anything of a differing opinion was publicly burnt well into the eighteenth century. Thousands upon thousands of books, manuscripts and letters with differing opinions. But no matter how hard you try to eradicate those other truths, as the Nag Hamadi findings, the Dead Sea Scolls, the hidden manuscripts of Nostradamus, etc., have shown us, somewhere, someplace, are the original manuscripts just waiting to be discovered.
In that sense we are all on this voyage of discovery. How far that voyage will take us is yet to be determined. And the consequences of those future discoveries will be both amazing and world-defining.
As a young boy, my third great grandfather found a set of books that had been hidden away by his own father and a few generations that preceded him. They were a collection of books considered heretical, and a letter of introduction to the Hapsburg Royal family that was passed down from Emperor Rudolf II of the sixteenth century. A letter which he used to gain entry to the academic world by attending the University of Leipzig and then later to become of service to the Emperor Franz Josef, the decendant of that same Hapsburg family. As for the heretical books he had discovered, they were also from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Passed down by his ancestor of the time to remind him that in spite of living in a Jewish world under the influence of the Rabbis, he in turn was a Karaite and that he must never forget that. The revelation turned him into an outlaw, with an arrest warrant issued by his own hometown should he ever return. He made a decision of conscience, a decision of truth, and as he went forward in his life, becoming a professor at the University of Vienna, I doubt very much he regretted his decision.
Now oddly, I still come across the same prejudices of erroneous Rabbinical teaching that Karaites aren't Jews, Karaites don't exist, or that Karaites were the cause of all the social ills and problems that affected mainstream Jewish society. It's my turn to pick up the guantlet where my third great grandfather left off. To expose the histories that have been buried, to rewrite what currently exists in order to nullify the misconceptions. SHADOWS OF TRINITY is the first to have a major public release to do so. And as they celebrate the events of the 400th anniversary of the Maharal's death in Prague this year, let them answer the questions raised in the book regarding this highly esteemed individual. "If you create a monster to kill, does that not make you a monster in turn?" Once you've read the book, you'll have to answer that question for yourself.