Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Easy Erev Rav Way Out

It has become increasingly common in some circles to blame all of Israel's problems on the 'Erev Rav.' Any Israeli figure from Shimon Peres to the police officers at Amona are described as Erev Rav. Now it's entirely possible that we do indeed have the Erev Rav among us. Certainly many of those who have come to Israel, particularly from Russia, are not Jews. But at the same time the 'Erev Rav' is an easy way out to avoid dealing with the reality of the problems in the Jewish people.

Our Destroyers have all too often tended to come from us. Were Korach and the Meraglim Erev Rav? Were most of the kings of Yehuda and Yisrael Erev Rav, some of whom came out of the seed of David? Were the descendants of the Hasmonoim who allowed the Romans to take over? Was Josephus who betrayed his men and defected to the Romans and then composed a slanderous history of the Jews, even now being used in academic circles as legitimate, also Erev Rav? In the 20th century were the Yevsektsia and the Kapos, Erev Rav?

There may well be Erev Rav doing their destructive work among us, but that does not change the fact that they are most likely outnumbered by Jews doing the same thing. It was not only Russians at Amona. It is easier and more comfortable to deny that, to believe that Jews do not do such things to other Jews. Indeed the response of many Jews from isolated communities going on the internet and first encountering Jews for Palestine, Jews for Jesus and even Jews who think Hitler was right is to contend that they're not really Jews. And sometimes that is indeed the case. Other times though unfortunately these people are of Jewish origin. Ignoring that is to give way to a dangerous illusion of a seperation between them and us, to imagine that our children cannot become like them and that their behavior does not reflect on us.

Unfortunately Jewish history is a pattern, a pattern of exactly this kind of behavior we are seeing now. Looking back to the fall of Bais Sheini, we can see the very same events manifesting themselves over and over again. We can see the factions, the misplaced and misdirected fanaticism, the explosion of messianic beliefs and the utter disunity that gives way to a complete collapse. It can be seen but little is done about it. In that context 'Erev Rav' becomes a defense mechanism rather than a solution, a way to avoid acknowledging the problems within the Jewish people, rather than a way of dealing with them.


Keliata said...

Warning: semi-long comment/question.

Very interesting! Though I didn't know exactly what erev rav refered to when I first read it, I got the general idea. Your point about the enemy from within is important, and I think some do underestimate it, in light of what Olmert and Sharon before him have done.

I also did a search of the words erev rav. This is the first thing I got, a website which read, in part:

"The entire 974 generations (Hagiga 14.) which are `Erev Rav which are the souls from the world of chaos, G-d transplants them every generation, and they are the bold-faced of the generation. Our Sages said that in the period of "messiah's footsteps" impudence will become great... and the `erev rav will return to be the shepherds of Israel" - Safra ditz'ni`utha, chapter 1, beginning with the words "They were not watching" (3).

Is this correct? From what I have read, there are five types of erev rav. The website writes that,

"Arguments which are not for the sake of Heaven come from the Erev Rav, those who jump forward to teach and to take the crown of `let us make for ourselves a name' - Tikkunei Zohar, p. 91, beginning and who caused [it] (v. Maimonides, Hilkhot Talmud Torah 5:4: `and every knowledgeable person who has not reached the level of teaching (spiritual conduct) and teaches is wicked, idiotic and rude... These are the small intellectuals who have not studied Torah as much as they should, but try to make a great impression on the boors and the people of their own town, and so they jump up and sit at the head of the line of sages who come to discuss cases and teach Israel."

WOW, it means people who have not reached the level of spiritual conduct. That could apply to so many liberal/secular people, couldn't it? Or those who get on high horses to say religious Jews have everything all wrong?

kahaneloyalist said...

Sultan please explain what you mean by certain statements
1.the misplaced and misdirected fanaticism, Who are you talking about?
2.the explosion of messianic beliefs, are you saying you dont think Mashiach will be here soon?

Sultan, the Erev Rav are not Jews who arent really Jews. According to the Vilna Gaon there are two types of Erev Rav: Those Jews who are born without Jewish Souls and Jews who through their actions have taken on the character traits of the Erev Rav.

Sultan Knish said...

KH - 1. I mean minor factions battling it out among themselves, people fighting over the little details while the whole house burns, everyone wrangling over their own utopian vision instead of pulling together.

2. I believe Moshiach can come any day, as he could have come any day for the last few thousand years. I am far from certain that this year or the next though is ultimately more probable than the next century or millenium. I hope he will come every day. But I do not know when he will come.

Sultan Knish said...

Ruth - There are a lot of views on the Erev Rav. The original term refers to the 'mixed multitude' who left Egypt with Moshe. They were the prime initiators behind the golden calf. There are various views on whether they have continued to perpetuate within the Jewish people to this very day and in what forms.

kahaneloyalist said...

Sultan, there is a consensus of opinion among the Gedolim that Mashiach will be coming soon do you believe they are mistaken?

Sultan Knish said...

I beg to differ but there's no consensus, there are some major rabbonim who have indeed said that, there are far more who haven't said anything at all

and if Rabbi Akiva could be wrong, I'm afraid some modern day Rabbonim could be too

Keliata said...

This is over my head

kahaneloyalist said...

Good point, but with Rebbe Akiba he was right in that Ba Kochba was supposed to be Mashiach but he did Averos which prevented him from completing his tasks

Sultan Knish said...

possibly bar kochba was supposed to be moshiach, possibly not....certainly supporting him proved to be a big mistake

only Hashem is omnipotent and never makes mistakes, all human beings do

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