Monday, September 28, 2009

The Golem

This month they are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Judah Loew, often referred to as the Kabbalist Maharal. The stories say he delievered the Jewish Community of Josefov in Prague from persecution by creating an inhuman creature from clay. Of course, creating such creatures was nothing new to kabbalists. Perhaps the definition should have been limited to "overlarge men" rather than something supernatural. Men used to commit specific acts under the guise of religious mysticism. Singer and Rosenberg based their books on the original legend of the Golem of Prague as passed down by Katz who just happened to be the Maharal's son-in-law. Obvious distortions occurred as a result but more so out of necessity than by accident. Yes, there was a banker involved, as was the mayor and several other prominent people just as the mythological tales reveal but what they don't tell you is that the Emperor did have reason to lay charges and historically, did take possession of the mayor's fortune after Meisel's death. These are all facts and the story as presented by Singer, although quaint and enchanting, does not provide the history behind the actual events. The crimes committed by the banker, the printing house and the Golem were more than legend but in actuality historical facts.
The reality was that in the year of 1588, the city of Prague was held in the grip of terror, victim to the murderous rampage of an inhuman monster created from the seeds of hatred and sown through religious intolerance and mortal greed. Therefore the legend of the Golem must be viewed from this perspective to appreciate it fully.
In my novel, Shadows of Trinity released by Eloquent Books the full story is revealed comparing the legend against the historical documentation. In this story, there is an exposure of those intentionally proclaimed as its heroes to be nothing more than the notorious villains who were prepared to destroy their own world. The real hero was a Karaite Hacham who for all his efforts has been sadly forgotten.
Shadows of the Trinity, for the most part, is a non-fiction historical novel, revealing a series of strange and world-shattering events that occurred during the years 1588 and 1589 in Prague, the Bohemian capital of the Austro-Hungary Empire. It is a social commentary on why people believe that in order to achieve something good that they must commit evil to do so.
As for the Maharal, the current legends will proclaim that he was the chief Rabbi of Prague. That's a lie. He was turned down twice for that position. The first time in the late 1580s and the second time in 1604. Why, because the community knew all about him and they didn't want him. In February 1592 he met with the Emperor Rudolph II and within a month he had packed his bags and taken his family to Poland. Of course his son-in-law described it as a meeting where the Emperor wanted the Rabbi to explain Kabbalah to him and they had a fantastic relationship. Well, hardly fantastic since Loew wasn't allowed to return to Prague until shortly before his death in 1609. So when you read Shadows of Trinity, keep in mind, the story of the Golem as you may now know it was all based on these distortions. And the truth is stranger than fiction.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Whys (Wise) of Karaism

Why Karaism,

It’s a legitimate question and one that I have been asked quite frequently. Usually it’s more in the manner of, “Why would I practice an archaic, redundant, practically extinct, cultish, out-dated, ridiculed, persecuted, minimalistic, redactorial deficient, and unrefined religion?” Precisely because of everything they have identified Karaism as being in their view is the reason that I celebrate the purity and message of my Karaite faith. Archaic, yes, it is the original. The collector’s item so to speak; the way God handed it over and wanted it to be. Redundant, most certainly, because it has been copied over and over so many times and is seen as the platform upon which Rabbinical Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been built but like so many things that have been copied, it is only the original that retains the necessary qualities that were essential. Practically extinct, well that is what happens when people abandon teachings that were designed to uphold morality, upright behavior, the practice of brotherhood and the essence of humanity. No one can argue with me that in today’s society these qualities have been lost and considered by many useless because they prohibit the madness that has gripped mankind in its pursuit of wealth, power and lust. But there is still a huge difference between extinction and hanging on. And as long as we do exist, we are prepared to be the flag wavers and heralds of the restoration of those essential qualities. Cultish, perhaps that is what happens when you count your numbers in the thousands rather than millions. You become introverted and recluse. That was not as it was supposed to be. We were intended to be a ‘light unto the world’, God said so, and all that is required is a rekindling of that flame. Myself and others will carry that torch until such time that the flames spread across the world. Ridiculed and persecuted are paired and for those us who have ever been taunted by howling mobs we understand that their aggressiveness, belligerence, and generally misguided cruelty is nothing more than their expression of fear of the truth and the message that negates everything they preach and say. That has become the way this world deals with those that have something worthy to say, contrary to their own beliefs. They intimidate both through the media and physical assaults, knowing that in debate they would lose so they must resort to their baser instincts. All it does is confirm that which they have attacked was superior in every way. Minimalistic and redactorially deficient are proof that it was the word of God and not the creation of later editors that added their own personal touches for reasons that only served their own interests. Of the other religions that have taken the minimalism of the Torah and either rearranged, added, altered, restructured, and reinterpreted its teachings I can only wonder upon whose authority they did so. Certainly not God’s as he gave us everything we required when he related the Torah through Moses. And as for unrefined, these redactors and editors altered the unalterable and now look at the mess the world is in because one simple message was converted into hundreds mostly at odds with one another. These so called refinements by learned men have done nothing more than set brother against brother and bring mankind to the brink of destruction over and over again.

In The Beginning

What was true in the beginning is certainly true now. Within the Old Testament there are hundreds of laws. Laws on how to interact with our neighbours, our families and our friends. Laws on how to make oaths and keep promises. Laws on how to pay proper respect to God and our fellow man. Even laws that govern our business dealings with others. It’s not an easy five books to read in a single go in order to learn and understand all the laws contained within them. In fact I would hazard to guess that most people haven’t made it even half way through the Torah, preferring to set it aside and watch the Simpsons as the preferential means by which to learn about proper interrelationships with our fellow man. That was sarcasm and it wasn’t as if God was not aware that this would happen. So in essence he provided us with a table of contents commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments. All laws within the Old Testament in some manner pertain to these Ten Commandments. God provided us with a summary that we could learn and we could remember. Everything else was his commentary so that we could see how to apply these commandments properly. That being the case, then why has so much time and effort been expended by the various religions in order to establish sets of laws and decrees that sit over the body of laws that God had already provided? Why do we have oceans of legislation that in many cases run contrary to the laws stipulated and commanded by God? How is it that the various religions can contest these laws by adding volumes of material that supersedes them and then claim that they are still strict adherents? For those that practice Christianity remember that it was Jesus or Yeshua that said to his Minian and Nazarite followers, “I have not come to change the Laws of Moses but to confirm them.” Or to my Muslim cousins remember it was Mohammed that was quoted in Qur’an 2:248 when he spoke of the return of the Ark of the Covenant, “Should it be returned to the Jews then it will be a symbol and sign to the world that Judaism has always been the one true faith.” The Ark itself was merely a container. What it contained was the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the Law, as it is practiced by Karaites and therefore the existence and proclamation of Karism is the proof that Judaism has always been the one true faith. And to my Rabbanite brothers, whom have written extensively new sets of laws into their Talmud practically replacing all the originals as ordained by God and then arguing to the Nth degree as they tried to prove which interpretation of those new laws was superior to another in the Mishnah, I can only suggest that the burden of your writing is nothing more than a false monument to your own attempts to exceed God’s own words by drowning them in the sound of your own voices. All three of your so-called great religions have acknowledged that the keystone was nothing less than the laws and commandments as originally passed down to Moses by God at Sinai, so why have you spent so many centuries trying to bury the stone?

God Does Not Play Dice

As I sat yesterday with a good friend and she explained to me why she was so dissatisfied with the organized religions that she is familiar with, she mentioned to me that my writing on Karaism has provided her with the semblance of a spark of interest to look at the essential religion that is the Keystone of the other three and perhaps with some effort on my part it would rekindle a spark within her to find her path to God. But like so many in today’s world that have become disaffected and disenfranchised, she has chosen to adopt more natural beliefs to govern her day to day life. Science in its overwhelming rush to reproduce all the secrets of life in some ways has been responsible for this resurgence of what once was the Earth Mother and Sky Father faith, a belief in the natural laws of nature and though not actual entities unto themselves, they are something that people can touch and feel close to. Protecting the earth, the atmosphere, and the biosphere gives them a purpose and direction. There is even a determined effort by some groups to see that these beliefs in nature actually replace the belief in God as a supreme being that governs the universe. These Green Party adherents with their candle worshipping ceremonies and pagan adapted chants seek not only to gain political clout in their efforts to control but also have introduced their own cultish indoctrination to become the collective mind of their adherents. Mind control when one explores the paganistic rituals of Mother Goddess or Mother Earth was recognized very early on in mankind’s history and why it was soon learned that it was a force to be feared not revered. It led to numerous practices that violated mankind’s rights and one should not be easily fooled into thinking it cannot happen again. History does repeat itself and many of the anti-society activist groups that flaunt our laws, advocate violence to achieve their own ends, and breach the rights as individuals all have ties to these Green Parties in some way. Often it is the same people that are in positions of power in both camps. Nature is nothing more than a physical force, a natural process. It operates under strict sets of rules. Those attempting to worship these forces are missing the point. Whether it be an applied force or an initiated process, some consciousness at a much higher level had to set them in motion. Nature is nothing more than an extension of God’s implementation of a structured and patterned universe. And though he knew we would not become aware of this fact for a very long time after he provided the Laws to Moses, he included laws designed to protect the natural environment, such as sabbatical years for fields, prohibition of gathering fruit outside a certain distance from the tree, prohibition of gleaning all the fruits, provision of natural feed for wildlife, etc. All these laws and far more exist in the Torah. There are many scientists that now wish to argue the point I raised of a patterned and structured universe. By profession, I am a scientist in medical biotechnology yet I have no problem in reconciling the discoveries of science with my faith in God. If anything, every discovery only further reinforces and confirms that faith. Albert Einstein, one of the world’s premier scientists also found that same truth, with each discovery reaffirming his faith in God. When challenged in that regard, he uttered his belief that the universe is not a haphazard event that has no preconceived direction in his now famous line, “God does not play dice!” Yet, there remains a large body of scientist determined to prove him wrong, more dedicated it would seem to eradicating Einstein’s statement and therefore the existence of God, than the virtues of the pursuit of science with their unabated pursuit of random based physics, quantum physics and string theories. But what they refuse to admit is the existence of repeating patterns within the physical universe because if the patterns were acknowledged then it would automatically negate any randomness and would suggest it was by intentional design. As soon as you mention intentional design, then you have to acknowledge a higher power. The design is obvious to those that just sit back and look at what our modern sciences have taught us. To everything there is a central core and movement that surrounds it. Though at this time we only know of one universe, our universe is in motion but exactly what it is moving about or moving towards we do not know. Within our universe are countless galaxies and they are rotating around the central core of our universe. What is at that core we don’t know? Some say it is merely the size of a pinpoint from which are universe was created in the Big Bang. Others say there is an interdimensional black hole which will eventually engulf our universe and extrude us somewhere yet to be identified in a cosmic rebirth. Whatever this universe is rotating about, there is something at the core, of that science is certain. And each one of these galaxies in our universe rotate around their own central core; millions upon millions of stars dancing about this core in a preset pattern. And these stars, each with their own set of planets, asteroids, and comets providing a core around which these planets or similar navigate about, once again in a calculated and measurable manner. And these planets and planetoids, just like our earth will have a central core with layers and mantles that rotate around it with perpetual motion. And upon some of these planets will be life, and if it is an advanced life form then it will experience embryonic development beginning as a neurotube with everything else maturing about it as the fetus progresses through various stages. And this life will consist of cells, the cytoplasm of these cells filled with structures and organelles as they circulate about its nucleus. And these cells will consist of atoms, each with their own nucleus with electrons revolving about them constantly. And even now as we speak, science is exploring a whole new world consisting of subatomic particles and when they finally release their results I will bet that once again the concept of a Central Core will be repeated. You see, Einstein was right, God does not play dice. Randomness, if it was the overriding principle of the universe would be catastrophic. Everything would cease to exist because that outcome was just as plausible as its coming in to existence. So by definition, continuous survival at any level cannot be a random event and therefore it is being overseen by established physical rules. We also know that in order to have rules then they have to be established or created by something or someone. Therefore logic dictates that in order to have continuous survival this must be overseen by something or someone. This is nothing more than the impeccable logic of: If A=B and B=C, then it must hold true that A=C as well. All of which is clearly defined not only in the belief structures of Karaism but also in its precepts and ideology. And therefore in answer to the initial question of Why Karaism, I can safely answer through logical argument: If (A) my faith as a Karaite brings me closer to God’s direct words and laws since as I’ve demonstrated all other religions have layered these laws so heavily that they are barely discoverable, and (B) God’s laws are the prime direction of the Universal Laws of existence and lastly (C) the Universal Laws of existence are necessary for my and everyone else’s survival, then the logical argument where A=C, a proven and accepted concept would state that it is my Karaite faith which ultimately guarantees my and everyone else’s survival. If you cannot accept it on an argument of faith, then at least accept it on the logical one.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Rabbanite Wolf in Karaite Sheep's Clothing

The following is a classical representation of my greatest fear for the future of Karaism. That we will fail to be diligent and allow ourselves to be destroyed from within. The house we live in is quite fragile. No longer is Karaism surrounded by stone walls and turrets. The remnant of us can best be descibed as nothing more than a wooden shack with shuttered windows that can barely keep out the cold. In that regard if we do not remain vigilant, we will see this poorest of structures collapse in a strong wind. In order to once again build stone walls that can weather the storms, it is necessary that we first find those boards that suffer from dry rot and remove them before it spreads.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, there are those within the Karaite communities that would appear to enjoy the fact that we are fractionated and cannot unite ourselves into anything representing a common front. The individual below that I'm corresponding to in this open letter is well known amongst the Karaite bodies for his beligerance, and demeaning ways. He claims to be a moderator for one such group of Karaites yet he seems to spend more time making disparaging remarks against other communities than tending to his own brotherhood.

These individuals, that exist within our communities extolling their Karaite beliefs yet sowing the seeds of dissent, derision and conflict will be the cancer that spreads throughout our body should we not act to remove the disease before it becomes malignant.

As you read the letter below, you will understand how insidious they are in spreading the blackness that is their true agenda, always cloaking themselves in innocence and pointing the fingers at everyone else. Like the child that screams, "he hit me first", but overlooking their entire set of actions that precipiated the event and would ultimately expose their own crimes.

Immediately below my response to his letter you will be able to read my antagonist's own words and will then understand the reason for my response. To those Karaite Hachams that should chance upon this blog, I can only hope that you will recongise this individual for who and what he truly is and protect your communities against the creeping darkness that he spreads. We need to ensure that the rights of all individuals within Karaism are preserved. That they are free to interpret the Tanach in a manner that is relevant and proper to themselves and that they are protected from having their beliefs attacked by unscrupulous individuals masquerading as part of the Karaite community.

At this point I will let you read my letter in response to this modern day Saadiah. This man that has made a concerted effort to attack not only myself but others in the community for no other reason than he believes himself to be entitled to do so. Just like Saadiah.

Well Zvi,
I'm afraid it isn't as simple as you would like. You certainly have an incredible talent for overlooking all that you have done and said over the past five weeks. As I recall, it was you that started making demands and vitrolic attacks on my person, appearing on my hubs, in the chat rooms and wherever you felt you could exert some misguided concept that you have some degree of authority. And now for you to suddenly proclaim it's ended because you feel threatened, that is what happens when you open the proverbial can of worms. Now you must face the fallout from your own malicious actions. One of the most infamous individuals that had this same misguided notion of self importance was Saadiah. That is why I constantly refer to you and he being one and the same. But it is the fact that others in the Karaite community have brought it to my attention that they too have also suffered your vicious attacks and they have felt helpless to deal with you. I am not like them. I have always fought for what is right and the protection of others. I am very transparent and if you had looked you would have seen in my professional career I am responsible for saving lives but in order to do so I accept that sacrifices have to be made. God understands sacrifices that must be made in order to protect and save people but unfortunately there are a small minority that refuse to understand it and they have over the years tried their best to intimidate me. From threats against my life to harassment of my family but they have not swayed me, they have not made me cower in fear, and they certainly haven't stopped me from my committment to save lives. Had you bothered at first to do your homework you would have seen that you could never have intimidated me as you initially tried. So when I see that there are some of my own people that are unable to defend themselves, I will pick up their gauntlet because in case you haven't realized it by now, that is my purpose in life; that is what the Kahana have always done.

To those that you have attacked in the past, let this be their vindication for their suffering at your hands. Why don't we start with your lying ways. Your first lie is your claim that you have not spread your venemous tongue to my contacts or family. Well then you'll have to explain this taken from a letter from a distant cousin of mine. You just accidentally appeared on her family website I guess.

> Can you please respond to this since you have more of the research
> than I do.
> Thank you.
> Julie
> From:
> Subject: [Goldenthal Family Blog] Comment: "Family History"
> To:
> Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 8:04 AM
> New comment on your post #111 "Family History"
> Author : Zvi (IP: ,
> E-mail :
> URL :
> Whois :
> Comment:
> Shalom and greetings.
> If I ever notice or get alerted that Dr. Allen Goldenthal has
> posted a hub proving he could trace the family's geneaology back
> lineally to `Anan ben Dawid and even conclusively show that he
> traces back to the Phiabis and High Priest Elyaqim (Alkimus) and
> that the earliest post-Tanakh generations of your family connect
> *directly* to biblical era kohanim from the 5-4 centuries BCE
> mentioned in the Tanakh _the same exact way_ he did with the
> ancestors tracing back to the 1590's, I'll issue a public apology
> in the comments space below that hub AND on Melekh ben Yaaqov's
> KaraiteInsights chatroom.

Does it look familiar Zvi-Saadiah? It should. It's your intentional comments on a website hosted by members of my family that you deny you ever did. That's your first lie and it is as obvious as the nose on your face.

Now we look at your lie number two. You ask what will I do to you that measures 100 fold. As everyone will see from our correspondence below, I specifically said that what you do to others will come back upon you 100 fold. I was doing nothing to you but only warning you that the ill will, and harm you try to do to others would come back to haunt you. As the self nominated Torah Keeper you should have recognized that reference. It was Moses telling Pharoah to be careful of what he intended to do to the Hebrews as God would exact a punishment far greater based on the words from his own lips. So once again, you have failed to understand what was intended and have made up some fantastical story of me intending to go after your family websites. Though groundless and based on some paranoid delusion of yours, it still counts as another lie.

Now, there are enough genealogical tables on the internet concerning my family that even someone like yourself that appears to have difficulty linking concepts together should have been able to appreciate it. It's actually been quite easy for my family since we have always linked back to certain individuals. In the 19th century we link back to Jakob Kahana Goldenthal. Everyone in my family is aware of his role. Those directly descended like myself knew him as Dr. Jakob. Other lines in the family simply referred to him as the Professor. You had the opportunity to google him long ago. Just three words would have done it. 'Jakob Goldenthal and Karaite' and you would have had a wealth of information and resources. Not everything he wrote was proKaraite, because he felt there were some issues in the community as well back then. But I still find it amusing that the Rabbanites claim him as their own now, even though they had issued an arrest warrant for him back in the 1830s. You see, they still tell lies too. But as I said, if you had done your homework you would have seen that Jakob linked himself back to his ancestor Yakov Kahana in the 16th century. And Yakov could link himself back to the Yom Tov Kahana another three hundred years earlier. And so on, and so on. All of it is there if you had even bothered to look. Even with all the miscellaneous reports I provided regarding rabbinical tracings that had been done for many of their families going back over two thousand years, you still chose to ignore the existence of these. Because in your mind it can't possibly occur. It takes a very simple concept. It's called trust. I trust the stories passed down by my relatives. I trust the documents from my ancestors. And I trust that the only reason they would keep the genealogical stories alive was because it was accurate. Trust is a very special concept within Karaism. We trust in our ancestors legacy otherwise we would have been swept away by the tide of rabbinical teachings long ago. It's obviously something that you are incapable of and a trait lacking from your character. So you're accusastion that I haven't provided any data to support my genealogy is a crock. I've supplied plenty and your statement is nothing more than lie number three that you have told.

Now you wish to say that I have trafficed in the slander of one of my own people. No, I haven't because I don't consider you one of my own people. Besides your not being a very nice person, and therefore I would normally have nothing to do with you this is another factor. And that reason that I don't consider you one of us is from words that you have written with your own hand. They were as follows, perhaps you will recognize them:

Zvi says:
5 weeks ago

Shalom sir.

I was born Jewish and consider myself very close to Qaraite Judaism in belief and practice

You see, if your were truly Karaite you would never express yourself as having beliefs close to being Qaraite. Close to being Karaite is Rabbanite. It's close but it certainly isn't the same thing. A true Karaite would say, "I was born a Karaite Jew and that is what and who I am." Close to, approximating, similar, these are all excuses for someone that doesn't fully follow and believe in Karaism. Sort of like those that say I'm Jewish but I believe Jesus is my messiah. Sorry, but they are not the same thing. So your claims that I have exuded hatred for you are false. I don't hate you, I don't even recognize you. You are to me a Rabbanite that has masked himself in a Karaite cloak for the purpose of perpetrating your malicious doctrines against anyone in the community that you choose to direct your attention upon. And there have been quite a few that have told me about what you have tried to do and said about them. So that is now your fourth lie that you have committed in an attempt to claim that I have directed a campaign of hate against you when it has clearly been the opposite not only in my case but many others that you have perpetrated.

Now you openly admit to being on the Karaite insight chat room once again. In fact, you've just written on the chat for Yom Teruah. Perhaps your memory is failing but I do recall a couple of weeks ago, Melech asked you to stay away from the chat, and not to bother us with your presence their any longer. At that point you wrote back that you would do so and begged Melech not to reveal on any of the other chats some insidious and contemptable deeds you had perpetrated. Do you recall that? I do and so does everyone else that read it on the chat. Perhaps you should come clean and tell everyone what it is you did? What sins have you committed Zvi-Saadiah that you are afraid the rest of us will hear about? And here you are, breaking your promise and back on the Karaite Insight site by your own admission. You failed to keep your promise and that is now your fifth outright lie.

Five glaring lies in the course of one email. Amazing! I would think that you're going for some sort of record. And on top of it you wrap yourself in the name of Torah Keeper. How can someone who lies so efficiently and constantly even conceive of themselves as being the Torah Keeper in any manner possible.

As I told you before, take a good look at your reflection in the mirror. Either drop the charade or seek help. This is not only the view I have of you but is how you are seen by others that I have talked with as well. Take this not as slander but as good advice.

Avrom Aryeh Zuk

To those interested in knowing what the correspondence has been actually about, the following is some of the direct correspondence from this asidious fellow named Zvi. I present it here for everyone to see and judge. When we permit people of this ilk to speak disparingly of any of the members of our communites we invite disaster. Why he does so has been a topic amongst several of us. There is talk that like Saadiah in the 10th century, he is a Rabbanite that initially pretended to befriend the community but always with the intent of destroying it. Saadiah made a pont of going after each Karaite intellectual and leader in a most argumentative and vicious manner. Perhaps a thousand years later nothing has changed and they still use the same tactics:

For the last time: I did not contact specifically any of your family members, eaither through your contact list or by other means. You're insisting on this lie because you have little integrity and probably feel you cannot prove your grandiose claims of being descended from Elyaqim, the Phiabis and Tanakh-mentioned, earlier Second Temple era kohanim.

What will happen to me a hundred fold? You seem to be stupid as well, because no one in my my family that I'm aware has any kind of website, let alone one similar to yours (I concede this and am not ashamed of it...).

Since you''ve publicly claimed to be descended from those abovementioned kohanim through some of your hubs, you owe the public an explanation how you actually back up such bombastic statements by writing at least another hub dedicated to this topic.

You accuse me repeatedly of being a false Torah keeper, yet you've lied multiple times about me (including via the email I'm responding to) and have trafficked in slander twice on the KI chatroom about me, including a day or 2 ago, and exude outright hatred for a fellow member of your people, not to mention nurturing your grudge and planing a revenge on me, -- all this in contravention of explicit Torah commandments forbidding such behavior.

Should I receive another hate email from you, it'll be the last I intend to read. So please take a hint and proceed now to indulge in far more positive pursuits such as the one I've suggested to you.

Happy Yom Teru`ah,

On 9/18/09, Allen Goldenthal wrote:

You don't have to be afraid of me. You only have to be afraid of how you'll be judged. When you wrote on the Goldenthal wordpress site, you chose to go directly after members of my family. You can't even see your own lies. As you have done, so it will happen to you a hundred fold. I feel sorry for you. Those that know my family's origins, have seen the documents, have heard the stories, know exactly whom we're descended from. Those people count. You don't. Prove something to you? You're not worthy of the effort.
The only lie is you thinking of yourself as a Torah Keeper. You don't even understand the meaning of it. As I've said, you and Saadiah are cut from the same cloth. Take a look in the mirror, the reflection may surprise you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Karaites and Rabbanites: Eternal Dualism

The concept of dualism is integral to Judaism though at first one might not recognize how essential it has been and currently is. From the earliest times, dualism has always been an present as part of Judaism and in most cases these pairs have been antagonistic towards each other. From its inception we see the twinning of Moses's pysche between that of Egyptian Prince and Hebrew exile. His division of state and religion between himself and Aaron. Down to the division of Canaan when the tribes were split between allegiance to either Ephraim or Judah, which later manifested as the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah. Whereas the north was more integrated into world politics and economics, the south was actually more backward and isolationist. Everything was reproduced in duplicate from two royal houses to two temples and two priesthoods. And even more so in the southern Kingdom which was ruled in tandem, by a royal descendant of the House of David and a priest from the House of Zadok, each having vetoing powers over the other. When the exiles returned from Persia, the House of David no longer had any genuine authority and in order to fill this vacuum there arose a group that referred to themselves as the people’s representatives and they became the Yin to the Priesthood’s Yang and vice versa. When the Maccabees upset this relationship and assumed both Kingly and Priestly duties, they had temporarily eliminated the dualism and their Hasidic supporters quickly restored that imbalance by forming the Pharisee movement which was anti-Hasmonean (Maccabean) to encourage the separation of the Judean State from it Seleukid Greek overlords. In other words they sought to revive the isolationist policies of the earlier Kingdom even though this was impossible as the world had become a much smaller place. This eventually manifested itself into to political parties, that being the Sadducees representing the Hasmoneans and Priesthood and the Pharisees, supposedly representing the people.

But after 1300 years of established dogma, the task before the Pharisees was insurmountable as long as the people held on to the traditional ways. Therefore it was necessary for the Pharisees to reinvent the 'religious wheel' if they were to wean the people off the past. With their entire focus on being ways in which to diminish the priestly authority and check their privileges, it meant eliminating anything in the religious doctrines that supported the priests in their recognition of being a separate and aristocratic class. First to go were personal purity and sanctity, which were attributes of the priests but not the common people. By adopting the same purity and sanctity rituals, the Pharisees were claiming to be as holy as the priests and in some ways holier by claiming to be more strict in their observance. Of course they overlooked the fact that priestly sanctity and recognition was ordained by God in the Torah and they had no such claim but that wasn’t about to stop them in their efforts to seize power. Whereas manhy of the dietary laws were restricted to the priests which in turn released the people from the heavy burden of adhering to them in a world that did not recognize such laws, the Pharisees insisted that all the people must follow all of the dietary laws as well, thereby claiming the Priests have been relieved of that burden and were no longer necessary for that purpose. They had been made redundant.

In so doing, the Pharisees also ensured that there would never be acceptance of the Samaritans within the fold of a greater Judaism which unification had been gaining momentum since their priesthood was as pure if not purer than that of the Jerusalem priesthood and their Temple on Mount Gerzim was just as sanctified by the ancient traditions. The Samaritans who stood for priestly prerogative and strict adherence to the Torah naturally allied themselves with the Sadducees within this dualistic framework.

With the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD the feuding continued in the form of two schools of teaching. Oddly, the Pharisees viewed the destruction of the Temple as a victory. They claimed it was vindication of their belief in the ‘evil’ of the priesthood and the negation of the effect that the Temple had over the minds and hearts of the people now made them susceptible to their teachings. It is ironic that their Rabbinic descendants now mourn over the loss of the Temple and talk of its restoration for the coming of the messianic age even thought such events would once again mean that they would be stripped of the power and authority that they had fought so zealously for. Of the two schools that developed, one was the school of Shammai and was represented by the teachings of Eliezer ben Hyracanus and Jose the Galilean. They called for adherence to the law as it was before the establishment of the Pharisees, demonstrating that even with the loss of the Temple there was no need for change. The other school was that established by Hillel, the champion of Pharisaism and the man that began the systematization of an entirely new body of laws. The Pharisees of the school of Hillel strove to exclude and annul the laws that had any Sadducee overtones. There was a wholesale rewriting of all the laws into what became the Talmud. Many of these obvious alterations can be found when one reads intact original documents prior to the Pharisees making their alterations such as in Greek versions of the scriptures, Aramaic versions and the text known as Pseudo-Jonathan.

But not only can the early Sadducee laws be recovered through reconstruction of these early texts but it can also be demonstrated that the laws as practice by the Karaites are a preservation of this original Halachah and therefore the ancient dualism is alive and well under the Rabbanite versus Karaite beliefs. Therefore Karaism should not be looked upon as a recent manifestation of a revolt against Rabbanism but as the genuine article; the once original beliefs and practices of the Jews as they were intended to be against those that purposely altered them. It should be obvious therefore, that the initial claims by the Pharisees that the old laws were only self-serving on behalf of the priesthood so that they could maintain an aristocratic lifestyle to the detriment of the people were completely false since there is no such aristocracy living off the suffering of the multitude now, and Karaism as a viable and practiced religion still exists. Therefore any Rabbinical argument that supports the ancient Pharisaic claim is just as false and just as hypocritical in its masking of the truth that the entire accusation was nothing more than an attempt to seize power from where it properly rested as ordained by God.

Dualism is obviously a fact of life in Judaism. It has existed from the creation of the people up to and including present days. Philosophically, it was essential for the cultural development of the people and may in many ways explain why of all the ancient peoples and religions, Jews have been the most successful in surviving all the adversities that the world has shunted their way. By having this seesaw balance between political and religious factions, it has similarly swayed and maneuvered the minefield of religious and cultural intolerance with one sect dominant while the other is in remission and then when circumstances changed the balance may have similarly shifted with a reversal of roles. So in fact what might at first appear to be detrimental has been a very successful survival mechanism? With the reestablishment of Israel, perhaps the seesaw once again is shifting and we will see a rise in Karaism with an accompanying intellectual growth that rivals the period of Karaite flourishing experienced during the Muslim Golden Age?

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Karaite Schism

Over the years I have been accused countless times of belonging to what mainstream Judaism considers a heretic sect. From being called “Aher” or 'the other', to having my knuckles rapped with a yardstick by the Rabbis that taught me for having dissenting opinions and contrary beliefs. It’s not easy to accept being outside the mainstream and being punished for being so. But that has been the history of the relationship between Karaites and Rabbanites for over a millennia now. The former punished by the latter for holding heretical beliefs. And I thought long and hard about that history and the long held accusation that we were heretics and therefore labeled for an eternity. What is a heretic? By definition it is one who espouses unorthordox religious doctrines. A misbeliever, religious outcast who holds beliefs in conflict with traditional religious dogma. Upon reflection it became clear to me that we were not the heretics at all. By definition it was Rabbinical Judaism that was guilty of that role. And that is the irony of the situation for when we examine the schism between Karaite and Rabbanite Judaism, there has always been promulgated this major assumption that Karaites were the sect which broke away from mainstream Judaism but this misinformed concept just happens to be the one widely expounded by Rabbinical Judaism. Of course we’d be the heretics as they rewrote the history because to admit the truth would necessitate that they also admit the lie.

In the Beginning
Since the role of the Kahana is to ‘restore’ then it is my family responsibility to correct this falsehood if possible by providing you, the reader with enough information to draw your own conclusions. That after all is the primary premise of Anan ben David’s teachings. ‘To draw truths from reading for yourself.’ But in order that you are informed, it necessitates that you understand where it all began. Everything has a beginning, even the schism. After the return from Persian exile in the fifth century BC the power structure in Judea lay in the hands of the priesthood. It was an uneasy balance since for the first time, the powers that be recognized we could not live in isolation from the rest of the world but must strive for a careful balance between self-rule and being a satrap for much greater powers that dictated laws on the scale of world empires. But under this theocracy there was a growing undercurrent for religious and political democracy as the youth of subsequent generations dreamt of freedom and independence outside Empirical governance. But as long as at the head of the nation stood the high-priest, a descendant of the family of Zadok there would be no monarchy that was the symbol of an independent kingdom. For all intents, the family of the high priest now represented the nobility of the nation and exerted control over both the secular and religious lives of the people but because they weren’t kings themselves they could swear allegiance to their Persian and subsequent Seleukid masters without fear of abandoning God.

Growing Dissent
This relationship of a subservient Judean province would never satisfy those restless for independence and dreaming of a Kingdom of God where His was the chosen nation to the exclusion of all others; that element in society wishing to obtain power for themselves and therefore accusing the priestly ruling class of ignoring the needs of the common people. They were agitators, activists, rebels and worst of all from an educated class that were opposed to hereditary recognition since that would exclude themselves from ever holding power. Whereas the high priesthood preserved the ancient laws, customs and observances, not permitting modification with changing times, their detractors claimed them to be out of touch with the political environment of the world as a whole, willingly bending their knees to foreign kings that were pagans and therefore the enemies of God. These adversaries found the priests to be easy targets amongst the youth and hotheads of a nation by showing that the governing class had allied themselves with the Syrian-Greeks and were adopting some of the disgusting habits of the Greek culture. This latter accusation didn’t need to be anything more than demonstrating that the priests were making daily sacrifices on behalf of the Empire. As paradoxical and nonsensical as it would be to be accused of both remaining static and unchanging, as well as guilty of adopting foreign culture at the same time, nonetheless these were the charges leveled against them by this new radical class of Judean society and like so many other ridiculous claims made by those wishing to change societies, the more unfounded and absurd the claim, the more accepted it becomes by the masses. Not unlike the Nazi claims of Jews of being both the leaders and perpetrators of Communism but at the same time heading up all the financial banks and industries of the world thereby being the evil controlling financial industrialists keeping the people in poverty. When one thinks about it these claims are mutually exclusive but to the ignorant masses it was the fuel that ignited the holocaust.

Rise of the Pharisees
With the victory by the Maccabees over the Seleukids, the government passed from the hands of the select priestly families to the Asmoneans, a lesser Aaronic family, and therefore much to the chagrin of the priestly detractors that had hope for a wholesale change. Considering these others had comprised a large portion of the Hasidim, allies to the Asmoneans, they felt they were entitled to share in that power if not assume it completely. But the Maccabees had their own agenda and not only did they assume the high priesthood they declared themselves to be Kings, which was totally unacceptable by everyone. Especially when as Kings they swore allegiance back to the Seleukid Empire they had won their independence against. When the sharing of power failed to occur with the radical educated class, these rebels renamed themselves the Perushim (Pharisees), or what we would understand at the ‘separated’ since they considered themselves to be separate from the rest of the world, separate from the Asmoneans whom they now considered enemies, and desirous to enhance that separation by severing all ties to the Empire. These Pharisees were now against any power being centralized within the priesthood and were determined to end this arrangement which was dictated in the Torah. Key amongst the Pharisees beliefs was that personal purity and sanctity amongst the people outranked that of the priesthood. A concept totally in defiance to the rules passed down by God to Moses. They began claiming that there existed an oral set of laws that overruled much of the Torah which had only concentrated on the Priestly requirements. This oral set of laws was the one intended for the common people. For example, no longer were the laws of purity and food only stringently required for the priests to follow, as these were initially imposed in order to free the people of the burden to do so, but now they must be performed by the common people. In essence, the Pharisees expanded the laws, or essentially rewrote themselves into the laws so that they could claim a role in the governance of what had been a theocracy and ‘bring power to the people.’ Of course this really wasn’t about power to the people but about power to the rabbis as they would tell the people what was best for them.

Pharisees Become the Rabbanites
Once the temple was destroyed the Pharisees laid claim to being the only governing body in Israel and immediately rejected all the traditions that had been preserved as priestly rights. One must look upon this event and wonder just how much of the Temple’s destruction was being orchestrated by the Pharisee Rabbis. After all, as long as the Temple existed the priests would still hold the majority of the power and the hearts and the allegiance of the majority of the people. Examining the historical records and seeing where the support came for such rebels as Simon ben Gioras and John of Gischala, the two men ultimately responsible for the Temple’s destruction by using it as a fortress to fight the Romans, the fingers do point at these Pharasaic leaders. Destroying the Temple gave them the opportunity to remove the seat of power from Jerusalem and centre it at Jamniah under their own leader Rabbi Jonathan ben Zakkai, whom just happened to sneak himself out of Jerusalem in a coffin before its final destruction. One must wonder what his role in the entire revolt had been before he made the decision to flee for his life.

This new Rabbanite school in Jamniah did not sit well with everyone, and the school of Shammai still clung to the old traditions feeling that to abandon them would be a betrayal of the Torah. But the school of Hillel was quick to disagree, not only emphasizing the great victory of the Pharisees but began to establish an entire new systemization of laws. It was not entirely unexpected when a descendant of Hillel, then claimed the title of being Prince of Israel. The Pharisees had attained what they had wanted from the beginning; power. The school of Hillel zealously rewrote the laws to exclude and eliminate any of the traditions that had been exclusive to the Sadducees and even rewrote some of the scriptural texts to remove the original priestly functions. Fortunately, those that refused to abandon the Sadducean ways, preserved these as the Zadokites and Boethians, and eventually as part of Karaite traditions.

The Talmud Changed the Original Laws
Fortunately some texts explaining early traditions still exist, such as Philo of Alexandria’s commentaries. Philo living in the first century while the Temple still existed provides us with an insight into how Judaism used to be before the Pharisees and their descendants the Rabbanites changed them. For example, the first day of the seventh month called Tishrei, was the Day of Trumpets, as trumpets are to be blown that day at the offering of the sacrifices. Their sounding is a commemoration of the giving of the Law. Yom Teruah was a day to make loud noises or praises. This can be done by the blowing of any instrument even the human voice. There was never any previous custom of referring to the first day of Tishrei as the New Year and making it sacred in that respect. Considering it was the seventh month, it could hardly be the New Year and since most cultures view the end of winter and start of spring as being the start of the year, choosing the start of autumn by the Rabbis to call the New Year hardly makes any sense at all. So why do it? Well if we accept the story handed down in by my relatives it has to do with the fall of the Temple on the 9th of Av, a month and a half earlier. With the destruction of the Temple, the Rabbis were given a new life, power and authority that they couldn't achieve with a strong priesthood. So after a month of mourning the loss of the Temple they wanted to celebrate their new beginning. So in essence, not the celebratio of a New Year but the celebration of a New Beginning, the dawn of the age of Rabbis. Essentially, they created a holy day for self glorification.

The list of laws that Philo expounds is exhaustive but in almost each case it is in line with Karaite laws and traditions. Since Philo predates the Talmud, then it can only be assumed that the Talmud has not interpreted the old traditions but actually invented new ones. One has to ask then, why if these old laws and requirements were known did those writing the Talmud purposely alter the belief and traditional structure. The common Rabbinical excuse is that after the destruction of the Temple, the old laws were lost and there was a cultural amnesia that took hold requiring the Rabbis to reinterpret the entire body of Halachah (Laws). It is even said that Philo’s works had been lost and unavailable until discovered by Azariah dei Rossi at the end of the sixteenth century. One might be willing to grant them this excuse if it wasn’t for the fact that the Karaite scholar Kirkisani makes reference to the works of the Alexandrine and how they were eagerly studied in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries. One can safely assume that Philo’s works were always available but purposely avoided by the Rabbanites because if they were to be made publicly known then the general Jewish population would recognize that they had been deceived into following new traditions that were in conflict with those given to the people by Moses. So it was never the Karaites that were the heretics but instead the Rabbanites that altered, transformed, obliterated, and purposely forgot the old traditions in order to cement their rise to power.

Kahana Genealogy

From some of the comments I have received regarding my articles, there seems to be a misguided belief by many that the ancestry of today’s Jews has somehow been wiped clean as a result of the Nazis destroying Jewish records throughout Europe. This in many ways is a fallacy since for the majority of the Jewish population the records weren’t kept in the first place. Contrary to the Nazi propagandists, only a small percentage of Jewish families were of a socially high status, industrial magnates, or prominent in state politics that they maintained family historical records. Peasants, as most of the European Jews were, had no reason to keep records that had absolutely nothing of value to offer the future. This attitude was actually encouraged by the Rabbis who felt glorification of one’s past was tantamount to arrogance and false pride and only the House of David had the right to lord itself over others. Larger cities did keep records of the Kohenim or priestly derived families and these were usually kept in the synagogues and as a result they were destroyed during the war. Amazingly, in spite of telling the common people that glorification of one’s ancestors was not desirable, there was a major effort by the rabbis in Europe to try and prove that they were descendants from the House of David. So what does that tell you about their motivations? Amongst Karaites, recording the family lineage was a sacred trust. All part of the historical justification of Karaism in the first place. And as you can see on my website Legends of the Kahana, the memorization of ten generations was necessary for the Ascent Ceremony. And since in most cases the Nazis overlooked Karaite communities leaving their historical records alone, it meant that anything written was preserved. In my family we have the good fortune of having a very complete genealogical records available. So to those that wish to argue with me about the impossibility of knowing my ancestors, I’d like to present them to you. With the hope even that some of you that read the record may possibly identify links to your own family if you have Jewish ancestry. As you will read, many of the branches have been lost to us but there is a chance you may know of some descendants that existed. But I’ll start from a more recent time point, that being from my ancestor Yaakov Kahana in the sixteenth century. His story is the ‘stuff of legends’ and I can proudly look back upon his life and say that what he did determined the direction of my family for the next four hundred years. So that being the case, I will begin there as I provide you with the Generations of the Kahana.

Kahana Chronicles

And in the year 1589, Yaakov Kahana, died in the city of Prague and his body was buried in a strange place by the Emperor and to this day we do not know where he was laid to rest. His wife Raisa Shakna remained in Brody with their two children, a son Yusef and a daughter Tanit. And Yusef held possession of the letter given on behalf of his father by the Emperor Rudolph II which granted the family rights and privileges which were to honour Yaakov for what he did in Prague during the years 1588 and 1589 which is described in the book Shadows of Trinity, and he hid the letter away until such time that his family needed to call in the favour from the Emperor. But Yusef grew in the ways of his grandfather on his mother’s side, Rabbi Israel ben Shakna, and he forgot the ways of his father for Yaakov was not there to guide him in the Karaite beliefs, since he was only a youth when Yaakov died. And Yusef Kahana married Reisel Heller, the daughter of a rabbi and they had a son, Aryeh Lieb Kahana, and he in turn begat Shalom Shakhna Kahana, who begat two sons, Jacob Kahana and Abraham Kahana. And Jacob had three sons, one named after his father and was also called Shalom Shakhna Kahana, and Joseph Kahana of Heller, and lastly Zeev Wolf Kahana, and they were rabbis in their day forgetting the ways of the family. And this son Shalom Shakhna Kahana had a son Abraham Aryeh Lieb Kahana, who in turn had a son Solomon Zalmon Kahana and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And those are the generations of Shalom Shakhnah Kahana the son of Jacob Kahana the Elder.

And the other son Joseph Kahana of Heller had many sons, and they were Mordecai Kahana, whom in turn had his own son Judah Kahana, whom begat Daniel Kahana, whom begat Mordechai Kahana, whom begat Judah Kahana and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son named Daniel Kahana, whom begat Mordecai Kahana, whom had a daughter Esther that married Judah Greenfeld and that is the last we know of the descendants of that son. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son Haim and that is all we know of his line. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son, Abraham Lieb Kahana and he had three sons, David Heller-Kahana, Joseph Dov Heller-Kahana, and Hirsch Heller-Kahana and that is all we know of this line. And Joseph Kahana of Heller had another son Judah Kahana and he in turn had many sons, Jakob-Jokel, Zeev Wolf, Leibish, Nachman, Simeon Hirsch, Jehiel, Joseph Mordecai and a daughter Nissel. And there were no sons of Jakob-Jokel Kahana, and that is the last of his line that we know of. Zeev Wolf Kahana had a son that went by the name Nechemye Kahn and took for his wife Dvoyra, and begat Berisch Kahn whom also married a woman named Dvoyra and they in turn begat many children, Rikele, Nehemiah, Fradel, Henry, and Naftali. And Henry Kahn married Lottie Berkovics and they in turn had many children, Devorah, Gordon, Benjamin, Louis Avram-Leib, Annie, Esther and Joseph and that is the last we know of this line. And Naftali went by the surname Kahan and he married Estera Weiner and they begat Benjamin, Henry, Pepi, Gussie and Jennie and that is the last we know of this line. And Judah’s son Leibish had two sons, and these were Isaac whom married a daughter of the Panet family, and they had a son Arie Leibish, and that is all we know of the descendants of that line, and Berel (Dov) who married Sarah Taube Dortort and they had children, Fanny, Deborah, Simon, Louis, Regina and another daughter whose name has been lost. And Deborah married Sam Lieb Kalish and they had children, Rose, David and Helen. And Simon had children named Victor, Szeren and Louis. And Louis married Paula Klein and had children Laura, Adolph, Ernest, Harold, Sarah, Jesse and William. And Regina married Yehoshua Mordechai Dortort and they had children Arie-Louis, Sara Taube and Chaim Fishel. And the daughter whose name has been lost married a man surnamed Burger and they had two daughters, Sara and Ella and that is the last we know of the descendants of this line. And Judah’s son Nachman had a son Joseph Leib and two daughters, Malka and another whose name has been lost. And Joseph Lieb married Hantcha Panet and they had a daughter Frida Rivka. And Malka married Samuel Fruchter and they had a son Judah Arie. And the daughter whose name has been lost married Jacob Rosenberg and they had as son, Judah Abraham. And Judah’s son Jehiel had five children, Katriel, Haim Joseph Dov, Moses, Mordechai Arie, and Judah Jacob. And Haim Joseph Dov went by the surname Kahana-Heller and his children were Katreil, Moses Nachman, and two other daughters whose names have been lost. And Jehiel’s son Moses had a son Zvi Hisch Kahana-Heller. And Jehiel’s son Mordechai Arie married Tirza Fish and they had a son Yehuda Menachem Kahana and two daughters. And Yehuda Menachem Kahana married Frida Rivka Kahana, the daughter of Joseph Lieb Kahana and Hantcha Panet. And Jehiel’s son Judah Jacob had a son Samuel Zanwil Kahana and this is the last we know of the descendants of Jehiel.

And Judah’s son Joseph Mordecai Kahana-Heller had a son Jehiel Zevi and a daughter Channah Yente. And Jehiel Zevi had four children, Hayyim Aryeh Kahana, Joseph Mordecai Kahana, Jacob Gedaliah Kahana and Shraga Feiwish. And Hayyim Aryeh had a son Nahman who married Batyafa and that is the last we know of the descendants of Judah Kahana Son of Joseph Kahana of Heller. And those are the generations of Joseph Kahana Heller the son of Jacob Kahana the Elder.

And Zeev Wolf Kahana the third son of Jacob Kahana the Elder, had two sons, Judah Lieb Kahana and Abraham Aryeh Kahana. And Judah Lieb had sons Samuel Zanvil, Kalonymus and Aryeh Lieb Kahana. And Judah Lieb had two children, Nissel and Simcha Israel Kahana. And Simcha Israel had a son Samuel Zanvil. And Kalonymus had a son also named Samuel Zanvil. And Aryeh Lieb had has son named Nathan Zanvil haCohen Kahana. And that is all that is known of the decendants of Judah Lieb Kahana.

And Abraham Aryeh Kahana, the son of Zeev Wolf had sons Itzhok Kahana, Jacob Kahana, Joseph Kahana and Aharon Mordecai Kahana. And Itzhok Kahana married Rachel and they had a son Mordecai that was also called Mortche-Lieb Kahana and later in life he adopted the surname Goldenthal and he was married to Hanah Leah Belzar. And the children of Mordecai and Hanah Leah are well chronicled in the books of the Goldenthals of New York and there is no need to describe their generations here.

And Abraham’s son Jacob had sons Joseph Lieb Kahana and Itshak Kahana. And Joseph Lieb Kahana married Reizl and they had a son David surnamed Goldenthal whom married Mollie. And David and Mollie’s children were Joseph, Bernard and Mary. And Joseph married Anna and Bernard married Annie Kantrowitz and Marie married a man surnamed Newman. And the children of Bernard and Annie are well chronicled in the books of the Goldenthals of Connecticutt and there is no need to describe their generations here. Of the children of Joseph and Anna we have no knowledge of their descendants. And Abraham’s son Itshak Kahana married Sura Ryvka and they had children Zelman, Moses Samuel Gershon, and Kalonymus and all were surnamed Goldenthal. And of the children of Zelman and Kalonymus we have no record but Moses Samuel Gershon married Sara Meir and they had two children Baruch Mordecai Goldenthal and Leya Goldenthal. And of the descendants of Baruch Mordecia and his sister Leya we have no record.

And Abraham’s son Aharon Mordecai Kahana had a son Zanvil Kahana who in turn had a daughter Sara and that is all that is known of the descendants of Aharon Mordecai Kahana.

And Abraham’s son Joseph had sons Julius and Jakob and a third son Nathan Hirsch who were all originally surnamed Kahana. And Julius adopted the surname Goldenthal after his brother Jakob obtained it for all the family and had three sons named Israel, Saloman and Joseph Lieb Goldenthal. And Israel had a son Iosif and a daughter whose name has been forgotten. And Iosif had a son Alexander and a daughter Rakhil. And Alexander married Carolyn Klarsfeld and they had a son William and daughter Edith. And William married Simone Grere and they had a son Henry Alexander Goldenthal and a daughter Mariamne. And Henry Alexander married Nawal El Hachem and that is all that is known of the decendants of Iosif. And the daughter of Israel whose name has been forgotten married a man surnamed Halperin who had deserted the Russian army and needed to be hid away. They married and he in turn adopted the surname Goldenthal but in actuality his descendants are Halperin and there are many in this family living in Israel that go by the surname Goldenthal today.

And Saloman the Son of Julius had three daughters, Katharina, Bertha and Rosa and the descendants of these daughters has been lost to us.

And Joseph Lieb had a grandson Bruno Goldenthal but the name of the father of Bruno has been forgotten and these are the all the descendants of Julius Goldenthal.

And Julius’s brother Nathan Hirsch married Marie and they had three daughters, Sara (Chaje), Tobi, and Rebekah Goldenthal. And Sara married Abraham Virtman and their children were Samuel, Esther and Mihaley. And Tobi married Ignatz Klein and their children were Emmanuel, Leni, Marie and Rebekah. And Rebekah married Solomon Neuman and they had a daughter Marie. And these are all the descendants of Nathan Hirsch Goldenthal.

And the third brother of Julius and Nathan Hirsch was Jakob Kahana who was the first to obtain the surname Goldenthal when it was granted to him by Oswald Von Goldenthal, a German aristocrat who was the burgermeister of the town of Goldenthal. Now the stories of Jakob Goldenthal are well known not only because of what I have written but also what is recorded in the Royal Archives of Austria. It was Jakob that found the letter from the Emperor Rudolph of Austria that had been given to his ancestor Yusef Kahana on behalf of his father Yaakov Kahana and used the promises of the past Emperor to request favours from Franz Joseph the Emperor of his time. It was this letter that obtained a place in the University of Leipzig for Jakob Goldenthal though he had no formal education, and it was this letter that obtained him the position of Principal for the Jewish districts in the Ukraine. And it was this letter that obtained for him the position of Professor at the University of Vienna. And it was this letter by which he became private tutor for the Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her children only to live in the shadow of innuendo afterwards. But there were many good things that Jakob Goldenthal did that overshadowed those that accused him of doing evil to the community and to those that were involved in his life. And Jakob had three wives the first whom he left in Romania while he travelled and lived elsewhere in the Ukraine and Europe. And this wife whose name has been lost to us had a son David and a second son named Haim Moses. And David married Reyzyl whom was also called Rosa and they had a son Simon Zeev HaCohen Goldenthal and two daughters, Etlya and Sura. And Sura married Nakhman Rapoport and that is all that is known of her descendants. And Simon Zeev married Sara Zelda Fraida his cousin the daughter of Haim Moses and she had a sister Clara. And their children were Morris, Max, Emma, Bessie, Clara and Zvi Hirsch that was called Harry. And Harry married Sophie Herscovitz and they had many children of whom are my aunts and uncles. And their son Joseph was my father and that is the line of my tradition.

And Jakob’s took a younger wife Anna Goldenblum who was also known as Johanna and whom he married in Vienna. And together they had a daughter Sidonia who married Armin Reisman and they in turn had a daughter Irene.

And Jakob’s last wife was Rosa and the children of this marriage are unknown to us and their descendants may have perished in the Holocaust.

And the story of Jakob Goldenthal is yet to be written as part of the Kahana Chronicles for there are many things he did in his lifetime that also are worthy of remembering.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Kahana Karaites

As you can read from my blog on the Khazar and the historical book on the Polemic entitled Khazari there are different versions of the book in existence even though the one in my library from 1795 may be a little hard to come by. What that leaves it the popular version by Judah HaLevi, the Sephardic poet and scholar being constantly reprinted with all the additions that he made. Unfortunately Judah HaLevi had an intense hatred for Karaites and therefore devoted large sections to his edited version of Khazari to attack Karaite beliefs and argue against Karaite interpretations. Hence what should have been a book on a fascinating piece of history involving the Khazars becomes nothing more than a Rabbanite anti-Karaite polemic. But with every article of anti-Karaite dogma we also glean important information that is useful and provides benefits elsewhere in understanding Karaite beginnings. So though Judah HaLevi might not have realized it, he was actually providing support to the Karaite argument that we were and are the original Judaism in our beliefs.

To back some of his arguments, Judah HaLevi makes use of the earlier book Mishnah Avot, Chapter 1 in which he tries to explain exactly where we Karaim have fallen off the rails. He says, "The next generation was that of the High Priest Simon the Just and his disciples and friends. He was followed by Antigonus of Socho of great fame. his disciples were Sadok and Boethos who were originators of the sects called after them Saddocaeans and Boethosians." He then borrows from another text and says, "He was followed by Joshua ben Perahyah whose history is known. Among his disciples was Jesus the Nazrene, and Nittai of Arbela was his contemporary." This is later followed by his comments, "As regards the Saddocaeans and Boethosians, they are the sectarians who are anathematized in our parayer. The followers of Jesus are the Baptists who adopted the doctrine of baptism, being baptized in the Jordan. The Karaites turned their attention to the fundamental principles, deducing the special laws from them by means of arguments. The damage oten extended to the roots, through their ignorance rather than intention."

From these sentences its difficult to understand exactly which group HaLevi resents or detests most. It is very interesting that his view of Jesus was nothing more than a Jewish sect and that Jesus was a teacher that had been trained by Joshua ben Perahyah. Therefore Christianity was to him an offshoot of one these Jewish sects that he harbored ill feeling towards. As for Karaites, we are the product of the Sadducees and Boethians and as he mentioned even in the Amidah prayer the Rabbanites remind themselves how much of an anathema these two sects were.

It must be appreciated that much of the Karaite approach to the law and nature is based on Aristotle's approach to philosophy; man's place in the universe and how everything within nature interacts. Although Rabbanites will now insist that they have always been great followers of Aristotle and that Maimonides, the Rabbanite scholar unified Jewish beliefs with Aristotelian philososphy, this as I will demonstrate from HaLevi's writing at a similar time period was a tremendous stretch of the truth. Maimonides may have had a strong leaning towards Aristotle but that should not be interpreted as meaning all Jews had a strong leaning towards Maimonides. The fact that Aristotle presented a 'natural philosophy' which today we would interpret as Botany, Biology and Physics, studies which were not intially embraced by a large portion of Rabbanite Judaism and other religions because Aristotle searched for a logical explanation of their existence rather than a creationist approach. Even his comment that the size of the sun is greater than that of the earth and the distance of the stars from the earth many times greater than that of the sun, then...the sun shines on all the stars and the earth screens none of them, would have been heretical to the majority of Rabbanite Judaism that still believed the sun was nothing more than a sphere that went around the earth along with the stars and these were placed in concentric rings around the earth. That is not to say Aristotle didn't use a geocentric model of the universe, but that he had a more practical and logical approach to the study. Similarly, he defined all life as having a soul, whether it be plant or animal and only the degree of the soul changed as one moved up the scale of life. Furthermore, the attributes of animals were defined by need, for example ruminants had four stomachs because they didn't have teeth that could suitably grind their food. This was very different from the early Rabbanite Jewish approach that God created everything like an artist paints a canvas. It didn't have to be logical.

So with the Karaite attitude, as initially stipulated by Anan ben David referring to the Torah, that if we read a book and what it says seems good to us, then we can accept and believe in it, that made it far easier to adopt much of what Aristotle had to teach. Karaites recognized that Aristotle's rational deductive approach could be applied to the laws (halachah) and this sent Judah HaLevi into some of his most beligerant diatrbies against Karaites. He condemned Aristotelian Philosphy as it meant Karaites could justify approaching the study of the Torah and laws using human reason rather than relying on tradition. He even went on to say that the use of human reason, the questioning of why it is written, will lead to heresy. For example he condemns our philosophical approach for leading us into the heresy of denying life after death and failing to believe in resurrection. These are primary beliefs by Rabbanites, and although there are many Karaite communities that have adopted them too, there are still a large number of us that don't share these beliefs, instead following the earlier Karaite understanding of life without reward and punishment after death. Do I consider myself a heretic for not believing in these traditions? The answer is no and I'm certain as my third great grandfather, Jakob Kahana Goldenthal was writing his treatise on Aristotle, he also had no discomfort in the thought that he may have been a heretic according to Rabbanite standards either.

So where Judah HaLevi saw the Mishna Avot as a condemnation of all things Karaite, there is a Karaite version of this text which provides a somewhat different chronology of how the belief in the Torah and the laws were handed down directly to the Karaim. In this chain of events, "Antigonus transmitted it to Joseph ben Yoezer of Zeredah and Joseph ben Yohanan of Jerusalem. They transmitted it to Nittai the Arabelite and Joshua ben Parahiah. Nittai and Joshua transmitted it to Judah ben Tabbai and Simeon ben Shetah. In their time Simeon ben Shetah sought to ban the true written text. Woe! Judah ben Tabbai who stood in the breach made it clear the true faith, the faith of the Karaites, may the Rock of Ages protect them. He made strong and preserved His truth as it had been since the ancient days supported by clear truths." Here we see the Karaite version in which Simeon ben Shetah is attributed as being the father of Pharisees and hence Rabbanites but is defeated in his quest to replace the Torah with oral traditions. Of course we know this didn't happen and Rabbanites became dominant but we're entitled to our own happy ending to a story as well.

From what I have disclosed thus far, it is evident that prominent Rabbanites like Judah HaLevi were not above peforming extensive editing on ancient texts in order to disseminate their anti-Karaite messages. And in response, I will admit that as Karaites we would equally alter a text to defend our beliefs. With all these changes, the difficulty is in establishing what was the original content of the text and how much has it been distorted. I think my third great grandfather asked himself this question quite a few times. And the more I read his texts and manuscripts, the more I come to the realization that he did find the answer quite often as well. One of the messages he passed down through the family was that we were descended from the house of Phiabi, which I've mentioned in quite a few hubs. Furthermore, as our original family title was Kahana, he made it perfectly clear that we could directly show our line of descendancy from the Yom Tov Kahana seen in Because of Yom Tov's own genealogical records, tracing back another thousand years was quite easy but finding the actual connection between the house of Phiabi and the origin of the title Kahana would be nearly impossible. But to Jakob Goldenthal with his strong belief that the answers would still lie in these ancient texts no matter how much they were distorted by later editors preaching their own personal polemics, it was only a matter of time to find the answer.

Following from the Karaite response to Judah HaLevi's version of the Mishna Avot it continued that, "Judah ben Tabbai transmitted it to Shemaiah; and Shemaiah to Rev Shammai who transmitted it to Rav Kahana the Priest ben Eloni." In his research Jakob Goldenthal confirmed that Eloni being referred to was none other than Elioneiai the son of Caiaphas. Now there are historical documents available by which we can make some connections. It is documented that the children of Elioneiai were his son Jonathias and his daughter Martha. And Martha married Jeshua ben Gamaliel of the House of Phiabi. And as we are aware from my family, Kahana was a title and not a proper name. Therefore the son of Eloni from the Chain of Transmission was being referred to as the Kahana (or the Great High Priest) and this was not his proper name. As the House of Phiabi was referred to as that line of priests with the greatest claim to the high priesthood, then it would stand to reason that the son they were referring to was actually the son-in-law and none other than Jeshua ben Gamaliel. Since we already knew historically that Jeshua had married Caiaphas's granddaughter it would identify this as the moment in history when the family obtained officially the title of Kahana. Jeshua was the first and it was carried forward from then on.

The Karaite Chain of Transmission then lists the sons of the son from Kahana which differs from the genealogical chart attached. As this chart was looking at the lines that formed the ancestry in my family it overlooked brothers and sisters along the way. Some of whom I believe would explain the Chain of Transmissions genealogical record leading to the family of Anan ben David. Although our families were related, intermarrying time and time again through distant cousins it resulted in two distinct Chains of Transmission. What is most striking is that the names used in both lines are practically identical as both families preserved the traditions of naming after dead ancestors.

Considering that Judah HaLevi's entire goal was to disparage the historical accuracy and beliefs of the Karaites of which the historical component was and is critical, he actually provided us with a great service. By forcing a response from Karaite scholars he inadvertantly made us preserve our historical documentation to a much higher standard than the Rabbanites had which made it possible for later scholars such as my third great grandfather in the 19th century to fill in some of the gaps that existed, thus highlighting the fact that as Karaites we have a continuity from ancient times that only confirms that our beliefs are a direct extention of the same Judaic practices from Temple times.

As was detailed in Shadows Of Trinity, these beliefs provided a code by which we lived by and as in the outcome of that book, died by as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Once Upon a Time There Were Karaites in Romania

Because my family came from Romania in the 1890s, it's only natural to assume that there would have been left behind members of the community that never migrated to North America. That being the case, then finding the remnants of the Karaite community should be simple. But they're gone, vanished, obliterated so to speak, leaving one to ask the qustion, "What has happened to the Karaites that were in Romania?" Once in North America the family spent very little time discussing life back in Peatra Neamt. And since they left in the 19th century they would have lost all contact with Romania during the post World War II communist purge. Well faced with this lacuna in knowledge, I thought about it and realized I probably owe it to my ancestors and any family that may have been left behind to find out exactly what did happen to them. Family wise I know that some emigrated to Hungary from Romania and then on to Israel in the twentieth century but that was only a handful and not necessarily representative of the community. There were still hundreds unaccounted for.

It is said that Karaites in the Ukraine that live in the western provinces of the country are slowly becoming extinct. Therefore it is no surprise to me that this may have already occurred to the small pockets of Karaim in Romania. After all, if the Ukraine with its significant Karaite population in the Crimea can't sustain its smaller pockets outside this region, then how would it have been possible for Romania to do so. There is a report that in the town of Galich, in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of the Ukraine there are only five Karaite women left and they are all betwen the age of 70 and 90. It would be safe to say that the Karaite presence in Galich does not have much longer to survive. It is only the existence of the Crimean Karaites today that suggests that in the past there had been a healthy Karaite Jewish presence around the Black Sea, including in parts of today's Romania, primarily in the trading ports from the mouths of the Danube and the Dneister Rivers; their presence in Moldavia definitely occuring by the 16th century but may have been even earlier.
Even by 1914 the presence of Karaites in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was becoming scarce. The Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph, prohibited Karaites from military service fearing that the Karaites were so few that they could be counted on one hand and if he permitted them to be killed at the front, then the nation would die out completely. Franz Joseph was not prepared to allow that to happen.

The Karaites in the Ukraine built their temples (kenessa) but the last one was erected in Galich in 1836 and remained functional for 120 years. It was that same time period that my third great grandfather left Brody Galicia under a cloud of controversy and I can only hope that this was not related to the demise of the Galich community at that time.

A hundred years ago in the Western Ukraine there were ten Karaite communities. In Galich there were 167 Karaites but after 1939, when the town came under Soviet rule they unsurprisingly, began to die out. When Nikita Krushchev came to power in the 1950s, the communists decided to destroy the religion of the Karaites for whatever reason.Perhpas simply because it was an ancient religion which went against the communist party stance that there is no God. They claimed it was the community's refusal to do military service but so few hardly made a difference. The communists confiscated their property, exterminated their community and completely destroyed the temple buildings. Karaites were even blacklisted by the Committee of State Security of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic and documents regarding their participation in anti-Soviet activities were kept by the KGB. These documents included the efforts in the 1940s of two Karaite women, Yelena and Hannah Leonovicha, who were known members of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, to hide members of the resistance in their home. They also called for the overthrow of the Stalinist regime which resulted in Yelena being stripped of her citizenship for 5 years and sentenced to 10 years in the gulag while Hannah took refuge in an Orthodox church which they set on fire, burning her alive.
The Communist propaganda machine used the activities of Yelena and Hanna Leonovicha as proof of the terrorist threat represented by the Galician Karaites. The communists banned the opening of a Karaite museum displaying domestic artefacts, ritual objects and archive materia. They then completed the job by destroying the last Karaite temple and still not satisfied started destroying the ancient Karaite cemetery in the village of Zaluvka in the Ivan-Frankivsk region. This cemetery had existed for 500 years and had even remained untouched by the Nazis in the Second World War. With official approval, Soviet citizens were permitted to cart away headstones, smash memorials and destroy the graves. With these events occurring with the Soviet Union, it is not surprising that the small communities in Romania also vanished without even a mention.

I'd like to believe that I am wrong and that should I visit Romania in the near future that I find that the old communities still exist. But I really don't hold out much hope for that possibility. I think those of us that have survived did so only because of the migrations in the nineteenth century and those that remained found themselves lost in the Soviet purges. Sadly that has been a historical reality of Karaites. But we're still here and that in itself is a miracle. And that means there's hope that some day we will be able to restore the community to its once glorious past.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Karaite Looking Beyond Exodus

As the title would suggest, this hub is a continuation of the previous one on the Exodus story which I was reminded by a Rabbanite reader that I had not yet provided the rest of the story I was telling. He didn't exactly say it in that manner. It was more in the vein of "You have nothing to support your information and I demand that you remove your hub immediately!" Typical Rabbanite although he had the audacity to say that he has some Karaite leanings. That's like saying you're a little bit pregnant, or some of my best friends are '______' , well you can fill in the ethnic slur. How typical of rabbanites not to debate, not to try and see perspectives other than their own narrowminded vision but to actually make demands on everyone else to either agree with them or get off the planet. And that has exactly been their attitude from Saadiah Gaon, their great rabbinical scholar who physically persecuted us to the point of slaughter and the Great Maimonides who branded us heretics and therefore deserving of death. So what should I expect from this modern version of hate and prejudice? Well, I'll just do one better, I'll provide the rest of the story so he and those like him can struggle with their own conscience and beliefs. And they have a lot to struggle with and be accounted for. Even something as simple as lighting of candles on the Sabbath, a practice which Karaites do not follow because of the prohibition of making fire on the Sabbath, they will denounce us for and then justify their practice of doing so by giving it greater sanctity and holiness from their Talmud than the rituals which were ordained within the Torah. You can view rabbinic justification on sites such as . If it was really that important to enjoy your food by seeing it then try eating before sunset. But to condemn and ridicule another sect because they wish to follow the Torah literally, that is not acceptable. Not a thousand years ago and certainly not now. But if you'd like to read how a Rabbi admits that they falsified the ritual to make it appear as if it was ordained in the Torah then you can read where Rabbi Scheinerman does just that.

The High Priest Karaite View of History
It should be mentioned that the Karaite view of history is very different from that of the Rabbinic view. Whereas Rabbanites have always given the historical record a practically sacred status, Karaites have viewed them as stories with moral lessons. Whereas to a Karaite the laws and commandments in the Tanach are irrefutable and non-transmutable, the historical record was always viewed as something that had been edited over time. This is confirmed by modern studies which confirm there were several editors and redactors, often referred to as the P (Priestly) editors, J (Yahwist) editors and M (time of Moses) editors. Yet, the Rabbanites will stand their ground and insist that the Torah was never tampered with even though as I inferred in my first article on the Exodus, they have knowledge that the editing has taken place many times, and not necessarily for the better. It is fortunate that because Karaites have always viewed the historical documentation as being prone to editing, we have preserved many of the stories as we knew them in the 8th century. So the natural question to follow would be how do Karaites know what is historically accurate and what isn't. Professor Fred Asten from San Francisco State University described Karaites' ability to draw historical conclusions as the result of the interaction of historiosophic assumptions, sectarian apologetics, and external influences. In otherwords the insights we have gained form our knowledge of the past and our freedom to read and explore the texts of other religious and non-religious sects. By drawing on points of intersection we can establish historical likelihoods. This was expressed by Asten in his statement that "Karaite historical pronouncements offered variations and alternative readings to what were understood as historical materials derived from the Mishnah, Talmud, and other works of the rabbinic canon, as if to say that the rabbis simply did not understand their own texts." And he was right, that is exactly what we were saying then and saying now.

The Exodus story that I began last blog is one such example. The editors have left obvious markers of their handiwork. The question I last raised was in regards to the children of Moses or more specifically the absence of his children from the Torah. We are given a brief glimpse of what my have been it it wasn't for the fact that Numbers 3:1 got edited. It opens with saying that "These are the generations of Aaron and Moses..._ Sentences 2 through 39 provide the details of Aaron's sons and their official positions as well as all the other Levites and how they would officiate under Aaron's sons. But any record of Moses's sons is completely eliminated which in respect of the first sentence we know that at some point in time these details were present. Modern researchers would say that this was likely the handiwork of the P editor. But why would a Levitical editor wish to bury any evidence of Moses' children and their roles? At first reading it would appear that we are at an impass. Because there is no other references in the Torah referring to Moses' children after the Exodus, the natural assumption is that they never performed any task worthy of recording. Quite astonishing since even the most inferior child of a great man is often placed in a role of great importance as a sign of respect for his father. This is simply a fact of life and a reality of succession.

I wouldn't have obviously raised this scenario unless I had an alternative to present to this impasse. And this alternative is directly related to the issue of the addition of the letter 'nun' that I mentioned in the previous hub. Since the nun was a marker that signified Moses, then it's addition could hardly be considered an alteration of the Torah as long as it was clear to all that it had been added. This addition in particular has to do with Judges Chapter 18. In Hebrew versions of this story insert the letter nun in line 30 in the name of the priest's grandfather. The nun is elevated above the letters in the rest of the name so that it is clearly marked that it was an insertion. If the word is read without the inserted letter, then the grandfather's name is Moses. And suddenly we recognize that the priest in question is no other than Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses. And all his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the day of captivity. Because the inserted nun made the grandfather's name Manasseh, this obvious fact was overlooked. The indicators were always there. First of all, the priest was a Levite and as you move through the Levite names in the earlier mentioned list, there is no priestly house of Manasseh. Secondly we know it can't be Manasseh, son of Joseph, since that was not a priestly Tribe and even Manasseh's descendants in the list in the next paragraph have no sons named Gershom. Thirdly the name Gersom was unique to Moses son. Any one else in the Torah is named Gershon, But more importantly is how the Danites came upon this priest Jonathan. They recognized him in sentence 3, indicating that he was a person of note that had become separated from the rest of Israel. He was suddenly serving in the house of Micah, a Zidonian, and an individual living outside the tribal territories, who had actually hired Jonathan as his own personal priest. All indications are that this particular priest had become an outcast from the other Levites, stricken from their register of those serving the tribes, but yet of a high enough parentage that he was instantly recognized. As an exile, he hired himself out as a priest, his stature great enough that even a Zidonian would hire him. And he had enough clout that he had his own Ephod, the priestly tunic of the high priest having properties of divination. But he also had teraphim and graven images both forbidden possessions for a high priest. This Jonathan saw himself of such high standing that he considered himself the Cohen Gadol and above the scriptural laws. Who other than a son of Moses would consider himself the equal of Aaron and his children. The Danites obviously thought him worthy of this position and pledge their allegiance to him so that he would become the independent high priest of their tribe, taking his ephod and images with him.

From Numbers 26:29 onwards we know the sons of Manasseh were Machir who had a son Gilead and Gilead had sons named Iezer, Helek, Azriel, Shechem, Shemida and Hepher. Hepher had a son named Zelophehad who had no sons but daughters. From Numbers 36:1-12 we know that these daughters had cousins from their father's brothers offspring, so there are names absent from this list but for the most part it is an indication of all the tribal chieftains in the Tribe of Manasseh. This is a further indication that this Jonathan son of Gershom was a true Levite and not descended from Manasseh, nor was their anyone named Manasseh of a priestly position in the tribe of Levi. This truly was Moses' grandson.

Is there any indication of what may have caused the friction between the sons of Moses and the sons of Aaron in the first place? For Jonathan to be in exile in the lands outside of the tribal boundaries would suggest whatever his crime it had to be great enough to warrant expulsion. The answer appears to lie in Judges chapters 19, 20 and 21. The priest of these chapters is most likely Jonathan and the order of the chapters may have been switched in order to hide this fact. Four chapters in judges dedicated to one person, who obviously ranked so high that it was not considered out of proportion to those that actually were judges of the nation. Four chapters to someone that was referred to simply as a Levite. Extraordinary, unless he was the son of Moses. And in these three chapters we discover a man of great power that exercised this authority over a country possibly in excess. It is interesting that it is said this Levite had a concubine and servants. Not what you would expect from a Levite. But with marriages of the high priest restricted as indicated in Leviticus 21, it makes sense that if the woman was a harlot he could not make her his wife lest he lose his position as a high priest. Therefore she remains a concubine but this would have been a point easily condemned by his adversaries, whom were most likely the priestly descendants of Aaron. He obviously loved the woman that he chased after her but this was his downfall. As a result of the events in those chapters this Levite was responsible for the death of thousands and practically wiped the Tribe of Benjamin from existence. In light of these events it might be understandable how he became exiled in the first place.

From Judges 18 we learn that this Jonathan fathered a line of priests that served within their own House of God from Shiloh for the next four centuries. So we do have a clue as to what happened to the sons of Moses but because they were in direct conflict or competition with the sons of Aaron they have been practically wiped from recorded existence.