Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Paylocity founder Steve Sarowitz: Baha’i ‘made sense to me right away’

Paylocity founder Steve Sarowitz, a member of the Baha'i faith, outside the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette. Turned to Baha'i after a trip to Akko, Israel — the “spiritual center” of the religion. | Michelle Kanaar / Sun-Times

Steve Sarowitz, 51, Chicago tech entrepreneur, Paylocity founder, philanthropist, raised Jewish, now Baha’i, which teaches there’s “essentially one faith being revealed over the history of humanity.”

Raised in Homewood as a Reform Jew.

“I had a pleasant upbringing in the Jewish faith . . . We were the three-day-a-year Jews.”

“Wasn’t passionate” about his religion, but “I was always a believer in God.”

When he was a baby, his mother had a “life-after-death experience” in which she said she “went through a tunnel,” saw flashbacks and was asked by God whether she wanted to stay there or resume her life.

“I always believed in God ’cause my mom told me she talked to Him.”

Still, growing up, he didn’t “think about religion that much . . . I was thinking about everything else . . . sports . . . girls.”

To the extent he contemplated faith, wondered: “Are the Jews right and the Christians wrong, or are the Christians right and the Jews wrong, or maybe the Muslims are right?”
                                                              ***
First encountered the Baha’i religion — which today, according to estimates, has at least five million adherents, many in the Middle East — while a student at the University of Illinois.

He went to the Jewish student center during a presentation on “progressive revelation,” learned about “the Baha’i vision that . . . one God sent all the messengers, all the founders of all the great faiths with the same essential message, which is to love God and love thy neighbor and that the differences” among the major religions “were rather minor and that it was, in fact, one faith being revealed over the entire history of humanity.

“The idea of unity and continuity . . . a single reality . . . made sense to me right away,” though he didn’t become Baha’i yet.

                                                              ***

He and his wife raised their kids Jewish, but he revisited the Baha’i faith years later when a running buddy asked him to join a Baha’i “study group.”

Wealthier after Paylocity, the human resources and payroll provider, went public in 2014, decided to do “a lot more” philanthropy and heard about a plan to put a community center for Arab and Jewish kids in Akko, Israel — the “spiritual center” of the Baha’i religion, to which the faithful worldwide face during daily prayers.

Sarowitz considered it a sign and helped, visiting Akko and the shrine of Baha’u’llah, who died in 1892 and is viewed by the faithful as the “latest” of God’s “divine educators” — among them Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad.

“I had a profound spiritual transformation . . . I was already a Baha’i in my heart, but I walked out teaching the Baha’i faith.”

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“The main tenet, the most overriding value in the Baha’i faith, is unity, unity of religion, unity of mankind. It’s trying to take away all the things that divide us . . . getting rid of all prejudices . . . sexism, racism, nationalism. Baha’u’llah had a beautiful quote, he said the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

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How often do members go to services?

“Very rarely.”

But there’s a minimum of one “obligatory” prayer to be said daily.

Baha’i members in individual towns in the Chicago area get together for a “feast” — to pray together, eat together, handle “community business” — every 19 days, the length of a month in the Baha’i calendar.

There are just a handful of Baha’i temples around the world, including one in the United States — in Wilmette, along Sheridan Road.

                                                             ***

The Baha’i faith has long faced persecution in the Middle East, including Iran, was an early voice in the 19th and 20th centuries for women’s rights and against racism.

“Service is part and parcel” to the faith.

                                                             ***

Sarowitz has helped fund community centers in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and is bankrolling a documentary about the Bab, who is considered a prophet and “heralded” Baha’u’llah.

                                                             ***

Sarowitz’s great-uncle fought for Israel’s independence with Menachem Begin, who later was Israel’s prime minister.

More than 20 family members were killed in the Holocaust.

                                                             ***

“Honesty is the foundation of all virtues.”

“God doesn’t look like anything to me . . . We can only know God as his attributes, so God is kindness, God is love . . . charity, philanthropy . . . truth, wisdom.”

                                                             ***

Baha’i followers are “are peace lovers” but not necessarily “pacifists” — so while they work for peace, there can be a “use of war, but it should be very limited.”

                                                             ***

“I find our message resonates particularly with millennials, who are really into the oneness of humankind.”

In the Baha’i faith, “there is no hierarchy, so I’m not above or below anybody.”


Paylocity founder Steve Sarowitz, a member of the Baha’i faith,
outside the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette. | Michelle Kanaar / Sun-Times

http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/paylocity-founder-steve-sarowitz-got-rich-turned-to-bahai-religion-face-to-faith/

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The "New Jerusalem" of Baha'u'llah

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
Bahá’í World Centre • P.O. Box 155 • 31001 Haifa, Israel
Tel: 972 (4) 835 8358 • Fax: 972 (4) 835 8280 • Email: secretariat@bwc.org

12 May 2008

To all National Spiritual Assemblies

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

As the worldwide Bahá’í community proceeds with a unified and coordinated endeavour to advance the process of entry by troops, developments of far-reaching significance at the Bahá’í World Centre, foreshadowed in our message of Ridván 2006 to the Bahá’ís of the world, are now occurring.

The way has been opened to further beautification of the environs of the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, the Qiblih of the people of Bahá, described by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the “luminous Shrine” and “the place around which circumambulate the Concourse on high”. After negotiations over several years, agreement has been reached with the Israeli government for the acquisition of a rectangular plot of land 90,000 square metres in area, located between Bahjí and the main road, which is currently being used by the government.

The property in the possession of the Faith has been further augmented by the conclusion, after negotiations which extended over some twenty years, of a land exchange with the Israel Land Administration, by which a portion of the land bequeathed to the Faith in the Ein Sara neighbourhood of Nahariya, north of ‘Akká, is being exchanged for an additional 100,000 square metres to the east of the Mansion of Bahjí, an area of about 32,000 square metres adjoining the island at the Ridván Garden, and the caravanserai adjacent to the Mansion of Mazra‘ih. Discussions are continuing with the authorities for a further exchange, using more of the Ein Sara land to acquire additional property in close proximity to the Bahá’í Holy Places in the ‘Akká area required to protect the sanctity and tranquillity of these places in the face of the rapid urbanization of the region.

Measures are now being taken to formulate a comprehensive plan for the development of these Holy Places in the years immediately ahead, in a manner which will preserve the distinctive characteristics evident when Bahá’u’lláh blessed them with His presence, while providing facilities for the growing number of pilgrims and visitors. Work has also been completed on the restoration of the Junayn Gardens, a small farmhouse and orchard north of Bahjí visited occasionally by Bahá’u’lláh, which was subsequently donated to the Faith.

An extensive project is now under way for the restoration of the Ridván Garden to its condition when visited by Bahá’u’lláh at the termination of His nine-year confinement within the walls of the prison-city of ‘Akká. Described by Him as “Our Verdant Isle” and as the “New Jerusalem”, Bahá’u’lláh rejoiced in the tranquillity of the setting, “its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst.” Included in the work being carried out here is the construction of a circulating water system, which will recreate the island frequented by Bahá’u’lláh, and the restoration of an antique flour mill, which was in use during His time.

No less significant is the work being carried out on Mount Carmel. The International Archives Building, constructed over fifty years ago at a time of limited resources in the Holy Land, is being extensively renovated and its facilities developed. This edifice, described by the Guardian as “the permanent and befitting repository for the priceless and numerous relics associated with the Twin Founders of the Faith, with the Perfect Exemplar of its teachings and with its heroes, saints and martyrs”, is being strengthened structurally; provisions are being made to render it accessible to the disabled; the method of display of its relics is being improved; a comprehensive security system is being provided; the exterior stonework is being restored; and its interior is being enhanced through installation of a granite floor.

Detailed plans have been prepared for the renovation of the Shrine of the Báb, the “majestic mausoleum” extolled by Shoghi Effendi as “the Queen of Carmel enthroned on God’s Mountain, crowned in glowing gold, robed in shimmering white, girdled in emerald green, enchanting every eye from air, sea, plain and hill.” This work will include installation of earthquake-resistant reinforcement not visible to pilgrims or visitors; preparation of the three chambers not previously available for meditation or worship; repair of the dome; and replacement of its tiles, which have become worn and discoloured, to return them to their pristine lustre.

The work being carried out at the World Centre of the Faith represents far more than repair, renovation, and beautification of buildings and gardens of historic significance. It can best be assessed by reference to Bahá’u’lláh’s designation of Mount Carmel as “the seat of God’s throne” and by recognition of His followers that the Qiblih is the holiest spot on the surface of the planet, while the places in which He found respite are forever sanctified by His presence. From that perspective those who participate in this endeavour, either through their dedicated labours or through their sacrificial contributions of funds, are privileged to an extent far beyond their capacity to comprehend.

The Universal House of Justice

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Homeland and Holocaust - Notes on Judaism from a Baha'i Perspective

 
Secularization of western European society did not solve the "Jewish Question"; anti- Semitism continued. The French Jews, who regarded France as the most secular and tolerant society in the world, were profoundly shocked in 1894 when Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was wrongly accused of espionage. Dreyfus was sent to prison on the Devil's Island in the South Atlantic, and when evidence of the guilt of another officer surfaced the army refused to admit its mistake. French society was torn into two parties for over a decade, and one party was openly anti-Semitic in its literature. Anti- Jewish riots broke out in most major French cities. In Algiers—capital of the French colony of Algeria—the entire Jewish quarter was sacked. In the rest of Europe anti-Semitism was encouraged as well, and openly anti-Semitic politicians began to be elected to legislative positions. It became clear that anti-Semitism would not die simply because society had abandoned much of its religious trappings

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), a Jewish journalist who was allowed to cover the Dreyfus trial, took up his pen and wrote The Jewish State, the book that launched the modern Zionist movement. Herzl worked tirelessly to promote Zionism, dying young as a result. Eastern European Jews embraced it with particular enthusiasm, for persecution there was growing and citizenship in a secular state was not a reasonable expectation. In western Europe Zionist congresses debated the idea of setting up a Jewish homeland in Palestine and began courting contacts with diplomats. When World War One converted Palestine from an Ottoman Turkish province to a British protectorate and British policy came to favor establishment of a "Jewish home" in Palestine, the political conditions for migration to Palestine were set.

Palestine in 1917 had at most a hundred thousand Jews, out of a total population of 600,000. Many were refugees from pogroms in Eastern Europe; some were religious scholars who were totally uninterested in a Jewish state. The British did not allow unlimited immigration and Zionism at first had little momentum, and thus few potential immigrants. All land had to be purchased from the Arabs, who charged as much as the market would bear. As more Jews came to Palestine the price of land spiraled upward. Eastern European Jews who voluntarily migrated to Palestine were often secularist and Marxist; they founded the kibbutzim, which remain among the world's few successful socialist experiments.

By the end of the 1920s the Jewish population of Palestine had risen to a mere 160,000, and anti-Jewish violence promulgated by angry Arabs became a more serious problem. Jews began to organize military units to defend themselves, units that were broken up by the British. In the 1930s, with the rise of Naziism in central Europe, immigration to Palestine rose sharply; in 1935 alone 64,000 Jews arrived. Arab resistance grew and the British began to face the breakdown of the mandate. Arab and Jewish states, increasingly became inevitable.

The deterioration of the safety of Jews throughout most of Europe accelerated the process. In the Russian Empire tens of thousands of Jews were killed in early the 1920s, for they were heavily involved in the Russian Revolution as Marxists. Under Stalin, who was fiercely anti-Semitic, Marxist Jews suffered terribly and the religion was virtually banned. But the spread of Naziism represented far more serious a threat. In some ways systematic anti- Semitism in Germany was surprising, for violence against Jews had ceased a century earlier and Jews were thoroughly integrated into German science, literature, and philosophy. Germany was winning half of the Nobel Prizes being awarded; and a third to a half of the German Nobels were being won by Jews. But the lost of the First World War was a terrible blow to German pride and needed an explanation; blaming the loss on the Jews was persuasive to many. The collapse of the German economy in the early 1930s required a scapegoat and pushed the country to desperation. It elected a demagogue in one of the first national elections it had ever held. Hitler had an obsession against Jews and as a result Naziism bolstered its nationalist theories of racial superiority of the Germans with arguments of Jewish genetic inferiority and conspiracy theories of Jewish dominance of the German economy. Even before Germany began military action it began to crack down on its Jewish population. Two hundred thousand Jews fled Germany for France, Holland, and countries beyond Europe.

Creation of a powerful German military machine and its use to conquer France, Poland, and much of the Balkans and the western Soviet Union brought much of European Jewry under German authority. Nazi-occupied Poland alone had 3.3 million Jews, and Hitler could do anything with them he pleased. Labor camps where Jews and other non-Germans were reduced to slave labor were built, then concentration camps. When the Soviet Union was invaded the Jewish populations of occupied Soviet cities were rounded up and shot in the hundreds of thousands. While some two and a half million Soviet Jews fled the German armies, a million and a half remained behind, and most were killed.

In 1941 the first gas chambers were constructed. Ironically, as the tide clearly turned against Germany, Hitler and his generals put a higher priority on the "Final Solution" to the Jewish problem than on prosecuting the war. Trains carrying Polish, German, and other Jews to death camps were given priority over military trains carrying soldiers and supplies to the front. Ninety percent of Poland's Jews were gassed, shot, or worked to death. At Auschwitz alone over two million human beings were gassed and incinerated. The war saw the cold-blooded killing of six million Jews, almost two thirds of the total in Europe.

The horror produced two results of lasting significance. One was the Nuremberg trials and the creation of international law against genocide. The second was awareness of the need to create a Jewish state. Not only were Jews convinced it was essential, but international sympathy made Jewish migration to Palestine easier. The result was an explosion of the Jewish population of Palestine. When the British sought to prevent Jewish immigration a campaign of terrorism—coordinated by young men like Menachem Begin—forced them to reverse their policy. The Czech government agreed to sell arms to the Jewish agency (the coordinating agency of Jews in Palestine), which began importing weapons via a clandestine airfield. When the British surrendered their mandate in 1948 to independent Jewish and Arab states, Israel was prepared to defend itself against Arab invasion. The Jewish question was replaced by the Arab question, for hundreds of thousands fled the land that became Israel. But the Jews reestablished their own sovereign state, for the first time in over two thousand years.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Baha'i New Year reception held at David Citadel Hotel - Jerusalem

Baha'i International Community Naw Ruz (Baha'i New Year) reception at David Citadel Hotel - Jerusalem
2017



Baha'i International Community Naw Ruz (Baha'i New Year) reception at David Citadel Hotel - Jerusalem
2017

Baha'i International Community Naw Ruz (Baha'i New Year) reception at David Citadel Hotel - Jerusalem (2016)
Photo (R to L) : Joshua Lincoln Secretary General & Barbara and Kern Wisman

Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Pope Pius IX and His Tablets to the bishops, monks, priests (and rabbis)

"O POPE! Rend the veils asunder. He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds, and the decree hath been fulfilled by God, the Almighty, the Unrestrained… He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven even as He came down from it the first time. Beware that thou dispute not with Him even as the Pharisees disputed with Him (Jesus) without a clear token or proof. On His right hand flow the living waters of grace, and on His left the choice Wine of justice, whilst before Him march the angels of Paradise, bearing the banners of His signs. Beware lest any name debar thee from God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Leave thou the world behind thee, and turn towards thy Lord, through Whom the whole earth hath been illumined… Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom… Arise in the name of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, amidst the peoples of the earth, and seize thou the Cup of Life with the hands of confidence, and first drink thou therefrom, and proffer it then to such as turn towards it amongst the peoples of all faiths…" - http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/PB/pb-26.html
"Tell Me then: Do the sons recognize the Father, and acknowledge Him, or do they deny Him, even as the people aforetime denied Him (Jesus)?’ Whereupon she cried out saying: ‘Thou art, in truth, the All-Knowing, the Best-Informed.’" - http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/PB/pb-41.html
The Baha'i perspective of the return of Christ has little in common with the modern Christian understanding. A relevant quote from the Master on this:
"Know that the return of Christ for a second time doth not mean what the people believe, but rather signifieth the One promised to come after Him. He shall come with the Kingdom of God and His Power which hath surrounded the world. This dominion is in the world of hearts and spirits, and not in that of matter; for the material world is not comparable to a single wing of a fly, in the sight of the Lord, wert thou of those who know! Verily Christ came with His Kingdom from the beginning which hath no beginning, and will come with His Kingdom to the eternity of eternities, inasmuch as in this sense “Christ” is an expression of the Divine Reality, the simple Essence and heavenly Entity, which hath no beginning nor ending. It hath appearance, arising, manifestation and setting in each of the cycles." - http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/je/BNE/bne-177.html
The association of Baha'u'llah and Christ (Messiah) has more to do with the Mahdi prophecies (which are important in Islamic theology). Unfortunately Baha'i scholarly studies on the Mahdi/Qa'im traditions were written in Persian and Arabic and remain, for the most part, untranslated.

This is really a good summary of the Mahdi prophecies and how they relate to the Baha'i perspective on the return of Christ :
Many Muslims expected that after the advent of the Mahdi (a descendant of the Prophet who was expected to arise at the end of time to fill the world with justice after it had been filled with tyranny), Jesus would return shortly before the Resurrection Day. Muslim lore even contains numerous miraculous acts and adventures that the returned Christ will undertake (Parrinder:122-125; Robinson:78-105). Mahmoud Ayoub has translated a particularly interesting Sufi interpretation of the return of Christ, by Isma'il ibn Mustafa al-Haqqi, which says of Jesus: "He shall return in the end to be a sign for the hour (ilm li's-sa'ah, that is, the Day of Resurrection [Q. 43:61]) . . . [For in this] is [the Islamic dispensation's] great ennoblement, in that it will be closed by a prophet-messenger who will be subject to the shari'a [divinely-revealed Law]. Both Jews and Christians will believe in it [that is, Islam]. Through him (Jesus) God will renew the age of prophethood for the community (umma). He shall be served by the Mahdi and the men of the cave. He shall marry and beget children. He shall be one of the community of Muhammad as the seal of his awliya' [saints] . . . For the Spirit of Jesus is the manifestation of the Greatest Name, and an effulgence of divine power . . ." (Haqqi in Ayoub 1980:121). In a gloss on Qur'an 2:86, the Bab says the "clear signs" God bestowed on Jesus are a reference to his future co-advent with the Islamic promised one. He identifies Jesus or the Holy Spirit that aids him as "the noblest of the partisans of [the first Shi'ite Imam or successor to the Prophet] `Ali" (the Bab in Lawson 1987:484-485).
The Bab gradually revealed himself to be the Mahdi, and prophesied the coming of "He Whom God shall make Manifest." When Baha'u'llah asserted, from 1863, that he was the promised one prophesied by the Bab, he was as a result claiming to be the spiritual return of Christ. The idea of past holy figures "returning" (raj'at) was a doctrine of Shi`ite Islam, not so very different in conception from Jesus' own assertion that John the Baptist had been the return of the Prophet Elijah. In Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Queen Victoria, he wrote, "all that hath been mentioned in the Gospel hath been fulfilled. The land of Syria hath been honoured by the footsteps of its Lord . . ." (1967:33; 1968:131). In his letter to the Pope, Baha'u'llah says that "He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven even as He came down from it the first time. Beware that thou dispute not with Him even as the Pharisees disputed with Him (Jesus) without a clear token or proof" (1967:83; 1968:73). Similar statements are scattered through Baha'u'llah's writings (1988:11; 1980b:4-5; cf. Lambden 1993). - http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/bahai/bhjesu.htm

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How many generations of the Jews brooded over the hallowed name of the Messiah as a fulfillment of their hearts' desire!

Finally He was born the Christ Child, The Word, The Son of God, at a period when spiritual comprehension was in its youthful stages, and it was not surprising that the Jews failed to recognize their deliverer in this throneless King.

(Baha'i World, Volume 4, p. 406)

Friday, March 31, 2017

The story of Israelites by Abdu'l Baha

 
At a time when the Israelites had multiplied in Egypt and were spread throughout the whole country, the Coptic Pharaohs of Egypt determined to strengthen and favor their own Coptic peoples and to degrade and dishonor the children of Israel, whom they regarded as foreigners. Over a long period, the Israelites, divided and scattered, were captive in the hands of the tyrannical Copts, and were scorned and despised by all, so that the meanest of the Copts would freely persecute and lord it over the noblest of the Israelites. The enslavement, wretchedness and helplessness of the Hebrews reached such a pitch that they were never, day or night, secure in their own persons nor able to provide any defense for their wives and families against the tyranny of their Pharaohic captors. Then their food was the fragments of their own broken hearts, and their drink a river of tears. They continued on in this anguish until suddenly Moses, the All-Beauteous, beheld the 76 Divine Light streaming out of the blessed Vale, the place that was holy ground, and heard the quickening voice of God as it spoke from the flame of that Tree “neither of the East nor of the West,” 13 and He stood up in the full panoply of His universal prophethood. In the midst of the Israelites, He blazed out like a lamp of Divine guidance, and by the light of salvation He led that lost people out of the shadows of ignorance into knowledge and perfection. He gathered Israel’s scattered tribes into the shelter of the unifying and universal Word of God, and over the heights of union He raised up the banner of harmony, so that within a brief interval those benighted souls became spiritually educated, and they who had been strangers to the truth, rallied to the cause of the oneness of God, and were delivered out of their wretchedness, their indigence, their incomprehension and captivity and achieved a supreme degree of happiness and honor. They emigrated from Egypt, set out for Israel’s original homeland, and came to Canaan and Philistia. They first conquered the shores of the River Jordan, and Jericho, and settled in that area, and ultimately all the neighboring regions, such as Phoenicia, Edom and Ammon, came under their sway. In Joshua’s time there were thirty-one governments in the hands of the Israelites, and in every noble human attribute—learning, stability, determination, courage, honor, generosity—this people came to surpass all the nations of the earth. When in 77 those days an Israelite would enter a gathering, he was immediately singled out for his many virtues, and even foreign peoples wishing to praise a man would say that he was like an Israelite.

It is furthermore a matter of record in numerous historical works that the philosophers of Greece such as Pythagoras, acquired the major part of their philosophy, both divine and material, from the disciples of Solomon. And Socrates after having eagerly journeyed to meet with some of Israel’s most illustrious scholars and divines, on his return to Greece established the concept of the oneness of God and the continuing life of the human soul after it has put off its elemental dust. Ultimately, the ignorant among the Greeks denounced this man who had fathomed the inmost mysteries of wisdom, and rose up to take his life; and then the populace forced the hand of their ruler, and in council assembled they caused Socrates to drink from the poisoned cup.

After the Israelites had advanced along every level of civilization, and had achieved success in the highest possible degree, they began little by little to forget the root-principles of the Mosaic Law and Faith, to busy themselves with rites and ceremonials and to show forth unbecoming conduct. In the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, terrible dissension broke out among them; one of their number, Jeroboam, plotted to get the throne, and it was he who introduced the worship of idols. The strife between Rehoboam and Jeroboam led 78 to centuries of warfare between their descendants, with the result that the tribes of Israel were scattered and disrupted. In brief, it was because they forgot the meaning of the Law of God that they became involved in ignorant fanaticism and blameworthy practices such as insurgence and sedition. Their divines, having concluded that all those essential qualifications of humankind set forth in the Holy Book were by then a dead letter, began to think only of furthering their own selfish interests, and afflicted the people by allowing them to sink into the lowest depths of heedlessness and ignorance. And the fruit of their wrong doing was this, that the old-time glory which had endured so long now changed to degradation, and the rulers of Persia, of Greece, and of Rome, took them over. The banners of their sovereignty were reversed; the ignorance, foolishness, abasement and self-love of their religious leaders and their scholars were brought to light in the coming of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, who destroyed them. After a general massacre, and the sacking and razing of their houses and even the uprooting of their trees, he took captive whatever remnants his sword had spared and carried them off to Babylon. Seventy years later the descendants of these captives were released and went back to Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah and Ezra reestablished in their midst the fundamental principles of the Holy Book, and day by day the Israelites advanced, and the morning-brightness of their earlier ages dawned again. In a short time, however, great dissensions 79 as to belief and conduct broke out anew, and again the one concern of the Jewish doctors became the promotion of their own selfish purposes, and the reforms that had obtained in Ezra’s time were changed to perversity and corruption. The situation worsened to such a degree that time and again, the armies of the republic of Rome and of its rulers conquered Israelite territory. Finally the warlike Titus, commander of the Roman forces, trampled the Jewish homeland into dust, putting every man to the sword, taking the women and children captive, flattening their houses, tearing out their trees, burning their books, looting their treasures, and reducing Jerusalem and the Temple to an ash heap. After this supreme calamity, the star of Israel’s dominion sank away to nothing, and to this day, the remnant of that vanished nation has been scattered to the four winds. “Humiliation and misery were stamped upon them.” 14 These two most great afflictions, brought on by Nebuchadnezzar and Titus, are referred to in the glorious Qur’án: “And We solemnly declared to the children of Israel in the Book, ‘Twice surely will ye commit evil in the earth, and with great loftiness of pride will ye surely be uplifted.’ And when the menace for the first of the two came to be executed, We sent against you Our servants endowed with terrible prowess; and they searched the inmost part of your abodes, and the menace was accomplished… And when the punishment threatened for your latter 80 transgression came to be inflicted, then We sent an enemy to sadden your faces, and to enter the Temple as they entered it at first, and to destroy with utter destruction that which they had conquered.” 15

Our purpose is to show how true religion promotes the civilization and honor, the prosperity and prestige, the learning and advancement of a people once abject, enslaved and ignorant, and how, when it falls into the hands of religious leaders who are foolish and fanatical, it is diverted to the wrong ends, until this greatest of splendors turns into blackest night.

The Secret of Divine Civilization by Abdu'l Baha
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SDC/sdc-4.html

Thursday, March 30, 2017

That mighty Jewish nation toppled and crumbled away...


When for the second time the unmistakable signs of Israel’s disintegration, abasement, subjection and annihilation had become apparent, then the sweet and holy breathings of the Spirit of God (Jesus) were shed across Jordan and the land of Galilee; the cloud of Divine pity overspread those skies, and rained down the copious waters of the spirit, and after those swelling showers that came from the most great Sea, the Holy Land put forth its perfume and blossomed with the knowledge of God. Then the solemn Gospel song rose up till it rang in the ears of those who dwell in the chambers of heaven, and at the touch of Jesus’ breath the unmindful dead that lay in the graves of their ignorance lifted up their heads to receive eternal life. For the space of three years, that Luminary of perfections walked about the fields of Palestine and in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, leading all men into the dawn of redemption, teaching them how to acquire spiritual qualities and attributes well-pleasing to God. Had the people of Israel believed in that beauteous Countenance, they would have girded themselves to serve and obey Him heart and soul, and through the quickening fragrance of His Spirit they would have regained their lost vitality and gone on to new victories.

Alas, of what avail was it; they turned away and opposed Him. They rose up and tormented that Source of Divine knowledge, that Point where the Revelation had come down—all except for a handful who, turning their faces toward God, were cleansed of the stain of this world and found their way to the heights of the placeless Realm. They inflicted every agony on that Wellspring of grace until it became impossible for Him to live in the towns, and still He lifted up the flag of salvation and solidly established the fundamentals of human righteousness, that essential basis of true civilization.

In the fifth chapter of Matthew beginning with the thirty-seventh verse He counsels: “Resist not evil and injury with its like; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And further, from the forty-third verse: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and thou shalt not vex thine enemy with enmity.’ 1 But I 82 say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth down the rain of His mercy on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”

Many were the counsels of this kind that were uttered by that Dayspring of Divine wisdom, and souls who have become characterized with such attributes of holiness are the distilled essence of creation and the sources of true civilization.

Jesus, then, founded the sacred Law on a basis of moral character and complete spirituality, and for those who believed in Him He delineated a special way of life which constitutes the highest type of action on earth. And while those emblems of redemption were to outward seeming abandoned to the malevolence and persecution of their tormentors, in reality they had been delivered out of the hopeless darkness which encompassed the Jews and they shone forth in everlasting glory at the dawn of that new day.

That mighty Jewish nation toppled and crumbled away, but those few souls who sought shelter beneath 83 the Messianic Tree transformed all human life. At that time the peoples of the world were utterly ignorant, fanatical and idolatrous. Only a small group of Jews professed belief in the oneness of God and they were wretched outcasts.

The Secret of Divine Civilization by Abdu'l Baha
http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SDC/sdc-4.html

Friday, March 24, 2017

A must have for all Jewish Friends


“Flame Of Tests :
The Story of Farhang MAVADDAT”

By Mehraeen Mavaddat-Mottahedin

Price : $25.00

This book, over thirty-four years in the writing, is the story of the great love and sacrifice of two victims of Iran’s Islamic regime. In it, Mehri MAVADDAT, an Iranian Bahá’í of Jewish background, tells how her husband, Farhang MAVADDAT, an elected member of a local Bahá’í administrative body in the early aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, suffered unspeakable persecution, imprisonment and, finally, death for his religious beliefs. Farhang MAVADDAT, was a fifth-generation Bahá’í.

Trained as a chemical engineer, he worked in the field of sugar production, where he was admired for his expertise, intelligence, work ethic, honesty, and calm, personal dignity. He was devoted to the development of Iran’s industry and for those who worked in it, especially those who needed his assistance. With tenderness, great courage, and honesty, Mehri MAVADDAT shares the details of his arrest, torture, unjust trial, and, finally, after nine months of imprisonment, his cruel execution.

Binding Glue Binding


On March 23, 2001 Israeli leaders attended the first celebration in Jerusalem of Naw-Ruz, the Baha'i new year.

By Greer Fay Cashman

(March 22) WHAT was Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin Pelosoff doing at around 10 a.m. last Tuesday? Well, she was watching a fashion show. Rabin Pelosoff was among several celebrities who turned up at the Dome in Tel Aviv to see the Castro Man summer collection.

Others in the audience included model and entertainer Sandy Bar-Avni, former basketball star Aulcie Perry, sex bomb Orly Weingarten and avant-garde fashion designer Yuval Caspin.

DUE TO his absence abroad, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was unable to attend the first celebration in Jerusalem of Naw-Ruz, the Baha'i new year. Even though Sharon couldn't make it, Moshe Sharon, the incumbent of the Baha'i chair of studies at the Hebrew University, was there, as were numerous representatives of the HU, which was the first and thus far only university in the world to establish a chair in Baha'i studies.

Sharon welcomed the presence of yet another monotheistic faith in this part of the world, noting that it is largely composed of the best of the other monotheistic beliefs.

Baha'i International Community secretary-general Albert Lincoln who, together with his wife, Joan, Jerusalem Baha'i representative Kern Wisman and his wife, Barbara, and Murray Smith, BIC deputy secretary-general and his wife, Miette, were the main part of the extensive reception committee welcoming guests at the Inbal Hotel, noted that in two months' time, some 3,000 Baha'i members from around the globe will flock to Haifa, site of the Baha'i world center, for the inauguration and illumination of the new terraced gardens.

A magnificent visual feast, the gardens, funded by Baha'i communities worldwide, constitute the most ambitious and expensive of Baha'i projects to date.

Attending the new year celebrations were Foreign Minister and Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who dropped in and dropped out, colliding at the exit with Pnina Herzog, president of the International Council of Women, whom he kissed on each cheek; former director-general of the Foreign Ministry Eytan Bentsur, Chilean Ambassador Sally Bendersky Schachner, Czech Ambassador Daniel Kumermann and his wife, Jarmila, counselor at the British embassy Nicolas Marden and his wife, Melanie, and Piotr Puchta, counsellor at the Polish embassy, who was anticipating the arrival of Andrzej Pruszkowski, the mayor of Lublin, and Adam Wlodarczyk, the mayor of Radom, both important places in Jewish history, who will be attending the 21st Jerusalem Conference of Mayors which opens Sunday.

Also present were attorney Daniel Jacobson, Avinoam Brog, the brother of former prime minister Ehud Barak, Counselor at the Yugoslav Embassy Sonja Asanovic Todorovic and Rabbi David Rosen, who was "over the moon" about his first granddaughter Imbar, born last Saturday and named after her great-grandmother. Although the name is a Hebrew one, in English the acronym is In Memory of Bella Rosen.

TODOROVIC is still waiting to learn the identity of her new ambassador. Her former ambassador, Mirko Stefanovic, who completed his term here a couple of months back, and now works out of the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry, has been back to visit his wife, Ljiljana, and their daughter, who stayed on until the end of the school year. They're expecting him again next month.

FIGURES in public life seem to have seen and heard it all, and sometimes one wonders if anything can still move them.

The reactions of Gila Katsav when she hosted members of the Lions of Judah at Beit Hanassi indicated that, in three decades of being married to a public figure and sharing many of his experiences, she has not yet become hardened.

An outgrowth of the United Israel Appeal Women's Divisions of the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod, the Lions of Judah boasts a global membership of 13,000, of whom 100 are Israeli. The Lions combine fiscal commitment with hands-on involvement, and the Israeli Lions are particularly keen to help Ethiopian immigrants join the mainstream of Israeli society.

One such immigrant, Sigal (Maretha) Hobbey, held everyone, including Gila Katsav, spellbound as she spoke of her family's perilous journey via Sudan to Israel.

Recalling Sabbaths in her village where there was no gas, electricity, radio or television, and water was pumped from the well, she said that on Shabbat everyone gathered in the synagogue and spoke about Jerusalem.

"For us Israel was Jerusalem. There was no Haifa or Tel Aviv, just Jerusalem."

Their first culture shock was not when they actually got to Jerusalem, but when they encountered their first Jewish Agency representative. They had never met a white person before, let alone a white Jew!

ALTHOUGH peace in the Middle East seems as elusive as ever, not everyone has given up on it, especially US Peace Corps Alumni in Israel, who got together this week at the Abu Tor Jerusalem home of chairperson Elana Rozenman. Since not all the alumni knew each other, they introduced themselves both by name and by relating where and when they served in the US Peace Corps. Rozenman served in Colombia in the Sixties.

Among the other alumni were jewelry artist Elayne Ashbey, who served in Kuala Lumpur, AACI National Director of Development Mark Zober, who served in Sierra Leone and India, Josh Nadel, a Motorola executive who served in Botswana, Carl Hoffman from the Jaffe Institute, who brought his Filipina wife, Agnes, whom he met during his Peace Corps service there, and Marilyn Farber, an epidemiologist who served in Colombia.

Others present included Seeds of Peace volunteer Larry Malm, who surprised and delighted everyone by introducing himself as the son of Peace Corps alumni who served in Tunisia in the late Sixties.

He had brought two Seeds of Peace high-school participants, Itai Baniel from Givatayim and Tarek Arow from the village of Jatt near Hadera. The two spoke about their coexistence group, leaving room for optimism that the peace process could rise again like a phoenix out of the ashes.

Zippora Katz, who also served in the Philippines and now lives in Tekoa, was so enthralled by the coexistence discussion that she missed her last bus and had to be accompanied to the hitchhiking post from where she got a lift home.

WITH hardly enough time to catch his breath after attending meetings with Prime Minister Sharon in the US, American Ambassador Martin Indyk is heading south Sunday to familiarize himself with the activities of the Jewish National Fund, specifically in relation to the JNF's role in enhancing the national water economy, rolling back the desert and improving the quality of the environment.

Indyk will also be inscribed in the JNF's Golden Book by JNF director-general Itzhak Elyashiv.

FIRST Secretary at the Hungarian Embassy Ferenc Toth and his wife, Tinde, are about to become parents of a sabra. Papa-to-be is already practicing getting to Sheba Hospital, Tel Hashomer, in record time.

Slovakian Ambassador Maros Sefcovic and his wife, Helena, have a one-and-a-half-year-old sabra, who has become such a handful that they'll be happy to put him into the temporary care of doting grandparents as soon as summer comes.
 
© Copyright 2001, The Jerusalem Post