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

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

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