The Staff of Moses
THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS
The Book of Leviticus gives details of the various commandments and injunctions that G-d gave to Moses in the Wilderness. The Israelites were commanded concerning what sacrifices they should make, what animals they should and should not eat, what emissions, animals, and objects would make their bodies or utensils impure and how they should be purified. They were given commandments concerning sexual intercourse, righteous behavior with their fellow man, and festivals. They were told how they should behave when they entered the Land of Canaan and what social and economic arrangements they should make.
Nachmanides: The Connection Between Law and Land
The connection between the Law and the Land is best summed up by Nachmanides (1194-1270). Not everybody would necessarily agree with Nachmanides on every point but what he says does appear to fit all relevant Biblical passages. The extract below is a free translation:
AND THE LAND IS DEFILED: THEREFORE I DO VISIT THE INIQUITY THEREOF UPON IT, AND THE LAND ITSELF VOMITETH OUT HER INHABITANTS” [Leviticus 18:25].
Nachmanides goes on, in the same vein, bringing verses to prove that G-d has a special relationship with the Land of Israel and in the Land of Israel it is especially important to worship ONLY HIM and keep His commandments. Nachmanides points to the case of the Samaritans. After the ten northern tribes were exiled from their lands the Assyrians settled pagan nations in their place. These pagans were attacked by bands of lions. It was explained to the king of Assyria that these attacks had come upon the newcomers because they did not worship the G-d of Israel or keep His laws.
Scripture is especially strict concerning sexual offences that if transgressed cause the Land to be polluted and vomit the offenders out of it. Are not sexual offences pertinent to the physical body rather than to the land? The secret of the matter, however, is contained in the verse,
WHEN THE MOST HIGH DIVIDED TO THE NATIONS THEIR INHERITANCE, WHEN HE SEPARATED THE SONS OF ADAM, HE SET THE BOUNDS OF THE PEOPLE ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL;FOR THE L-RD'S PORTION IS HIS PEOPLE; [Deuteronomy 32:8-9].
The Almighty G-d created everything and made the power of [physical] things below dependent on [spiritual] forces above;.He distributed to every people and country its own angel, as it says,
BUT THE PRINCE OF THE KINGDOM OF PERSIA WITHSTOOD ME; [Daniel 10:13]
and ;LO, THE PRINCE OF GREECE SHALL COME; [Daniel 10:20].
[Nachmanides here understands the reference to mean guardian angels of the nation];The Land of Israel, however, is the inheritance of G-d and unique to Him. G-d did not appoint over it any angel or other spiritual ruling power. G-d gave the land of Israel to His special people, the seed of His beloved ones, as it says,
YE SHALL BE A PECULIAR TREASURE UNTO ME ABOVE ALL PEOPLE: FOR ALL THE EARTH IS MINE” [Exodus 19:5], and it says, “SO SHALL YE BE MY PEOPLE, AND I WILL BE YOUR G-d [Jeremiah 11:4].
You shall not have any other higher spiritual beings over you, whatsoever. G-d sanctified the people who dwell in His land (so that they be dedicated to His Name) with the sanctity of sexual prohibitions and numerous commandments. It therefore says;
YE SHALL THEREFORE KEEP ALL MY STATUTES, AND ALL MY JUDGMENTS, AND DO THEM: THAT THE LAND, WHITHER I BRING YOU TO DWELL THEREIN, SPUE YOU NOT OUT [Leviticus 20:22]. And it says,
YE SHALL INHERIT THEIR LAND, AND I WILL GIVE IT UNTO YOU TO POSSESS IT, A LAND THAT FLOWETH WITH MILK AND HONEY: I AM THE L-RD YOUR G-D, WHICH HAVE SEPARATED YOU FROM OTHER PEOPLE [Leviticus 20:24].
G-d separated us from all other peoples who have guardian angels over them. G-d separated us by giving us His land and by He being the only spiritual entity in charge of us [without any intermediary]. The Land of Israel, which is the inheritance of Almighty G-d, will vomit out those who pollute it. The Land will not tolerate the worshippers of idols, or the committers of sexual offences.
WHEREFORE THEY SPAKE TO THE KING OF ASSYRIA, SAYING, THE NATIONS WHICH THOU HAST REMOVED, AND PLACED IN THE CITIES OF SAMARIA, KNOW NOT THE MANNER OF THE G-D OF THE LAND: THEREFORE HE HATH SENT LIONS AMONG THEM, AND, BEHOLD, THEY SLAY THEM, BECAUSE THEY KNOW NOT THE MANNER OF THE G-D OF THE LAND [2-Kings 17:26].
Numerous other verses confirm and expand on these points, e.g.
SO THAT I COME AGAIN TO MY FATHER'S HOUSE IN PEACE; THEN SHALL THE L-RD BE MY G-D [Genesis 28:21].
The Lost Ten Tribes were destined to be exiled and forget the correct worship of G-d. In the future they will return, acknowledge the Almighty, and re-settle the Land. Jacob represents his descendants. When He returns to his spiritual and physical inheritance MY FATHER'S HOUSE IN PEACE”) then He will once again return to the G-d of Israel.
Not every authority would necessarily agree with Nachmanides but his explanation does explain the Biblical message taken as a whole. This means that even if the Lost Ten Tribes do not have to keep the Law at present they will have to do so in the future in order to return to the Land.
This brings us to elucidate several important concepts:
Identifying as an Israelite
Many people in the West are descended from the Lost Ten Tribes and from “Captive Jews”. People in these regions who feel an Hebraic affinitiy can safely assume that they are of Israelite descent. Even if they are not, the fact that they dwell amongst Lost Israelites and identify with them will make them part of Israel in the Last Days (Ezekiel 47:23).
Keeping the Law
Eventually the Lost Ten Tribes will return and be accepted anew into the Covenant of Moses (Malachi 3:22; Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 10; Zohar, “VaYechi”). At present they have other goals and duties to fulfill. Technically they are Gentiles and not obligated by the Law (Jeremiah 3:8, Yebamot 17). Their obligations under the Law have been suspended temporarily (Hosea 1:9).
Moving to Israel
In the future, the Lost Ten Tribes will return to re-settle in the land and they will accept the Law. Some sources indicate that they will return to the land before they renew the Covenant of Moses. Nevertheless, in principle: Settling in the Land, as an Israelite, requires the keeping of the Law of Moses. This means, in effect, of being a member of the Jewish religion. Today, it may be that only about 20% of the Jews in Israel are formally religious BUT many of the others are in some process of returning. Most Jews in Israel today are faithful to the basic concepts. They circumcise their children on the eighth day, they speak Hebrew, they fast on the Day of Atonement, they either keep the basic dietary laws or wish they did, and in numerous other ways they demonstrate an underlying adherence to the Law of Moses.
If, at this point, a Gentile member of the Lost Ten Tribes wishes to return to the Land of Israel he cannot do so by claiming Israelite descent. The reason is that he does not keep the law nor are is he obliged to do so. At the individual level there are answers. Members of the Ten Tribes as a whole however, will have to re-affirm their Israelite ancestry as part of, and together with, the Israelite entities amongst whom they dwell.
The Evolutionary Processes of Identification
The message of Brit-Am to Gentile members of the Lost Ten Tribes is that they should become conscious of their identity and spread this consciousness to others. They have a duty to their own tribe and to their ancestors to become aware of whom they are, on the individual and communal level. They also have international obligations and a duty towards Judah. Judah also has a responsibility towards them. The initial stage should be one of awareness of Israelite ancestry and this consciousness should be transmitted to as many people as possible. The progress of the individual towards open identification and re-unification with Judah should be within his community and, as far as possible, together with it. This is the message of Brit-Am.
Incidentally, some ignorant people have claimed that the truths that Brit-Am promotes are liable to mislead people and give them the wrong impression. It has been stated by ignorant and hostile types that we are liable to cause Christian Gentiles to think that, since they are descended from the Lost Ten Tribes, they are the same as Jews and should be able to settle in Israel under the Law of Return. We have never said anything like that. On the contrary, we have always gone out of our way to describe things as they are, even at our own expense. We know of no case of anybody having misled themselves or been misled by others, because of us. Certain people HAVE received wrong ideas of the said nature from other sources and then come to us and we, at Brit-Am, have endeavored to set them straight.
People should realize that only through intensified research and publicizing the results will a wide-spread acknowledgment of Brit-Am identity take place. Even when this knowledge does become widely accepted, settlement in the Land will be contingent on keeping the Law of Moses. Eventually the branch of Judah and the branch of Joseph will re-unite as described in Ezekiel chapter 37. This unification will take place between the two bodies acting as complete units. It will not be put into effect by the declarations of individuals.
MOREOVER, THOU SON OF MAN, TAKE THEE ONE STICK, AND WRITE UPON IT, FOR JUDAH , AND FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HIS COMPANIONS: THEN TAKE ANOTHER STICK, AND WRITE UPON IT, FOR JOSEPH , THE STICK OF EPHRAIM AND FOR ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL HIS COMPANIONS:
AND JOIN THEM ONE TO ANOTHER INTO ONE STICK; AND THEY SHALL BECOME ONE IN THINE HAND [Ezekiel 37:16-17].
The Book of Hosea speaks at length concerning the return of the Lost Ten Tribes.
It also speaks of the return of Judah.
Rabbi Zvi Kalisher (1795-1874) commenting on Hosea chapter six said that, “Judah [i.e. the Jews] will prepare a harvest before you (Ephraim), after that there will be a great ingathering, and afterwards indubitably will come the [preliminary] Messiah, Son of Joseph, and rule in Jerusalem.” Judah will prepare the way for the ingathering of Joseph prior to the re-unification of the Jews with the Lost Ten Tribes.