Saturday, November 04, 2006

Star of David Made from Three Rhombs

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
If indeed the three Biblical religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - could truly meet on the ground prepared by the Prophets, the drawing representing such a situation could be again the six-pointed Star composed of three interwoven rhombs:

In this case, the middle field of the Star is formed by the middle parts of the three rhombs. Each rhomb, distinguished by its particular shade, is subdivided into three sections: the middle part may represent the moral side of each religion, while the upper triangles may represent the spiritual, and the lower triangles the respective ritual aspects:

It is not accidental that the moral side is the central and largest part of the rhomb. Morals give meaning and value to daily life. As such, they should be the main concern of each religion. A religious teaching which overemphasizes the spiritual or ritual sides will inevitably incline towards asceticism and fanaticism. It is the middle field which connects the ritual with the spiritual, and balances these two aspects. We can, like our fathers, see it as the vestibule in which our deeds decide our fate in the life beyond.
The upper triangles, which symbolize the spiritual teaching of each religion, all point heavenward. Whatever the positions of these triangles in the hexagram, they are above the latter's center, which could be interpreted as being above the Sephirah Splendor (Tipheret) of the Kabbalistic Tree.
The ritual aspect is meant to express the Divine reality as it operates on each level, supporting and strengthening the morals that pervade daily life. As said in the Torah: "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may become wise in all that you do."
Each religion has its particular rituals, but it is in the middle field of morals that we can find our common ground and understanding. It is on this ground that we can come to "one consent". The more strongly each of these religions focuses on the one Divine revelation, and brings the core of its self-understanding into congruence with it, the better. It is only with such congruence that our star composed of three rhombs will transmit this state graphically.
Lessing, in his Nathan the Wise, puts this idea forward in the parable of the Three Rings. We could depict them as follows:
This design can also be found in the cupola of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem:
There is nothing new under the sun

From my personal experience, I could verify, to my own surprise and excitement, the truth of this Biblical saying in regard to the above designs of interwoven rhombs and rings. Some months after I had designed them, my eyes were opened to perceive this idea already expressed in the stone carving of Beth-El. This ancient design clearly demonstrates the common center of all these triangles, rhombs and rings.

Mutilated Star of David

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
Photo is courtesy of Dr. Asher Eder
Most of the confusion and strife in our world arises from the fact that people, however much they claim to be acting out of good will, pursue the ideal of peace and welfare in accordance with their own personal opinions and ambitions. By nature these are rarely if ever, in harmony with the Divine instructions as enjoined by Moses and the Prophets. This of course leads to all sorts of antagonism, often turning out to be directed against Israel, the "people of the Book". In the long chain of such hostilities, the Shoah, and now the Arabs' jihad ("Holy War") against Israel point out this sad truth.
Future historians will likely describe the darkest and most shocking chapter of the 20th Century as the period when the people destined to be the royal priesthood of all Mankind were threatened with extinction. It was (and still is) this threat which forces Israelis to take up arms, diverting much of their spiritual energy into the struggle for mere existence.
Incidentally, this threat to physical survival has served to further the old Jewish aspiration towards self-fulfillment in accordance with the Divine call from Mount Sinai2. With the Shoah in Europe and the refusal of other nations to accept Jewish refugees, Jews were left with no choice but to return - legally or illegally - to the Land of their Fathers as the shelter for physical survival and base for spiritual renewal.
Dr. Theodore Herzl may have realized that such "circumstances" would enforce this return when he told the First Zionist Congress in 1897: "Within 50 years you will have the Jewish State, whether you want it or not."
In this context, the ongoing battle here in the Land of the Fathers is but a continuation of the armed resistance that began in the Warsaw Ghetto. The world seems to have forgotten that during the days of the Warsaw revolt, the Grand Mufti Amin Husseinii began to call, in the name of Allah, for a "Holy War" against the Jews; that he broadcast his call from Berlin as the Nazis' friend and ally; and that in 1946, after Auschwitz and before the foundation of the State of Israel, he forged the Arab League into an organization for all-out war against any Jewish settlement in the land of Palestine (as it was then called).
Following the Mufti's call, the Arab nations chose to fight rather than adhere to their Koran, which could have guided them "to give refuge and help to those who have been exiled and have struggled in the way of God."4 The Arabs could have granted Jews the right to settle in the country of their ancestors, even under Arab suzerainty. A convincing historical model could have been King Cyrus the Great5, to whom the Koran refers to as Dhool Qarnain.6 But instead of taking King Cyrus as an example, the Arab leaders, blinded by pride and hatred, pushed the people of Israel to the sword just at the time of their most tragic calamity.
This hostility of the Arab leaders after the Second World War is in sharp contrast to the attitude of Salah-ed-din, who suggested to the Rambam that the sage could call upon the scattered and persecuted Jews to return now - after the defeat of the Crusaders - to the land of their fathers. There is a similar contrast also to the early Turkish Empire, which welcomed those Jews who managed to escape the Inquisition.
The present battle is another example of armed resistance in Jewish history after the Babylonian captivity, the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks, and the doomed revolt against Rome. It shows that Jews go to war only when the very existence of their nation is at stake.9 Israel's will to survive concurs with King David's foundation of everlasting Zion. The peace desired by all cannot be achieved by exterminating or curtailing Zion, Zion being a mark of Man's Divine destiny.

Nor can peace be achieved by mutilating its symbol, the Star of David, as a fanatical Muslim did while Jordan ruled Hebron, when he cut off two corners of the six-pointed star on the tombs of Isaac and Rebecca:

True and lasting peace, and thus the fate of Man, "does not depend upon his ability to learn new lessons or to discover new things, but upon receiving the lessons he was taught by the prophets thousands of years ago", as an inscription at the Rockefeller Center in New York says so rightly.
The Koran, the holy book of the Muslim, pronounces this truth in a similar way. We read there:
We also gave Moses the guidance, and We bequeathed upon the Children of Israel the Book (Tanakh) for a guidance and for a reminder to men possessed of minds. So be thou patient; surely God's promise is true

(Sura "The Believers", 56,57)
And We said to the Children of Israel after him (i.e. Pharoah): 'Dwell in the land; and when the promise of the World to Come comes to pass, We shall bring you a rabble (i.e. a mixed multitude).

(Sura "Night Journey", 8,106)

Remember our servant David, the man of might... We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and speech decisive... David, behold, We have appointed thee a viceroy in the earth; therefore judge between men justly... A Book we have sent down to thee (the Psalms), Blessed, that men possessed of minds may ponder its signs and so remember.

(Sura "SAD", 16,19,25,28)

To every one of you [i.e., Jews, Christians, Muslims], we have appointed a right way and an open road. If God had willed, He would have made you one nation; but that He may try you in what has come to you. So be ye forward in good works; unto God shall you return, all together; and He will tell you of that whereon you were at variance.

(Sura "The Table", 53)

Although the Koran also contains a number of verses rebuking Israel harshly for its sins, none of them contests or denies the nation's Divine call and Covenant. In this, the Koran remains true to its own statement that it "confirms the Book that was before it, and assures it."
This shows us, among other things, that the present hostile attitude of the Arab nations is not in congruence with Islamic teaching as represented by the Koran; it is rather the outcome of willful interpretation. Thus, the Koran itself could be of help in overcoming this hostility and reconciling the Muslim world to Israel. This in turn could pave the way to the fulfillment of one of Isaiah's grand visions:
"In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying: 'Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria, the work of My hands, and Israel, Mine inheritance." (Is.19:24,25)
Thus, if we go back to the original text of the Koran, and for that matter to that of the Paul’s writings, too, and try to understand them according to their own testimonies as being in compliance with the "Book", we could see that these three books do not contradict one another, even though they ordain different rites for their respective followers. Contradictions and hostilities have arisen as a result of the ambitious stressing of some aspects, and the shunning of others. As soon as Jews, Christians and Muslims come to understand their respective books as integral parts of one Divine Truth, we could each find and play our proper part, like different members of an orchestra under one director.
As we may gather from the above quotations, the different Scriptures do not aim at any discord but rather at understanding and concord. A passage from the Jewish morning prayer which refers to the holy servants of God could serve as a leitmotif and become valid for all of us. This passage reads:
"...they all do with apprehension and reverence the will of their Creator; they all open their mouths in holiness and purity, in poesy and melody, and bless, and praise, and glorify, and revere, and sanctify, and enthrone the Name of God, the great, mighty and awe-inspiring King, holy is He... They all accept unto themselves the rule of the Kingdom of Heavens, one from the other, and give leave to one another to hallow their Creator. In gratification, with purified speech and with sacred melody, they all exclaim in unison and reverence: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory".
A pre-condition for this “exclaiming in unison” is the “purification of speech” . The present different concepts and views of holiness will have to be purified by tracing back to the original meaning in compliance with the Torah and the Prophets (whence this concept comes from) a.
This threefold “Holy”, taken from Isaiah (6:3), is generally understood as expressing the ascending -vertical- degrees of holiness. The purification of thought and speech would allow us to understand it also as adjacent, horizontally so-to-speak. That is, it could then well mean that the three great religions which came forth from Abraham’s descendants - Israel, Christianity and Islam - may, each under the guidance of its respective angel , say its "Holy", in consonance and unison with one another. This would honor, even sanctify, His Name, and put no one to shame. "Grace and truth would meet, and righteousness and peace would kiss each other."
There is no other way to peace. The "Jewish problem" is, since the days of Abraham, the problem of those who are unwilling to incorporate into their world view the meaning of Abraham's existence and his Divine call, and that of Israel after him.
In our time, this problem has assumed the form of anti-Semitism in Christian countries, and of anti-Zionism in the jihad of the Muslim countries.
These rivalries within Abraham's extended family may have been an historic necessity for the sake of the development of humanity, but they are not meant to last. They were never meant to turn into hostilities, rather, as the Koran says so aptly, the different rites were given to us so that we may compete in good works, as mentioned.
As these three religions went out from Jerusalem into the world, so do they return now, to meet physically and spiritually. It is fitting that this process is occurring in our time, when all of us must choose whether to have one world, or no world at all.
Should these religions - whose mutual antagonisms were surely not ordained from on high, but are the result of human shortcomings - bring another bone of contention into this troubled world, instead of working towards understanding and peace? If life or death, blessing or curse are put before us, we should choose life. To choose life demands right decisions and activity based upon the eternal laws of Creation and the Creator.
Life is no longer a free gift; we have to merit it. We all have to draw upon ourselves the blessing by returning to the source of life, the Creator of All.
We are told that the Lord wants to sanctify His Name by re-gathering the people of Israel into their home country, the “Land of the Fathers”. Consequently, all of us – Jews, Christians, Muslims – are called upon to sanctify His Name in accordance with this declared will of His. Jihad against Israel; and attempts to forge Israel into a nation like all the nations [read: worshipping Baal Peor on Balaam’s advice], or to convert its people to other religions, are detrimental to the sanctification of the Lord’s Name, and would be counterproductive. The result would be more strives and wars.
If we want peace, we cannot do away with the Biblical instructions or even with parts of them (as has been attempted by nihilism and atheistic Communism). Neither can peace be achieved by border adjustments or by other political devices. True, the desire for peace exists, but to create and foster a genuine love of peace, and to prepare the peoples of the world to embark on the path to that goal, we must come to understand and implement the teachings of the Prophets. Without such a religious foundation, peace treaties can easily turn out to be mere stratagems in the waging of war.

Dr. Eder's notes:

While in Western thought freedom and liberty have often the connotation of being free from laws, or of making laws according to the taste of the majority, or even of permissiveness, the equivalent Hebrew word חרות, herut, is the same which the Torah uses in the phrase: "... the word of God graven ((חרות upon the tablets" of the Decalogue (Ex.32:16). This implies that Man's true freedom lies in his ability to live up to the Divine Law, unhindered by Pharaohs and the like. Thus, the Hebrew word implies commitment and responsibility. See Jer.30:8,9; Ps.106:47;1.Chron.16:35; Ethics of the Fathers 6:2; also Luke 1:74. However, חופש, hopesh, liberty, is a prerequisite for חרות , the freedom to live up to the requirements of the Torah.

Amin Husseini, the main organizer of the anti-Jewish riots in 1920 and 1921, was given by the British the office of the "Mufti of Jerusalem". He styled himself "Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine", and used his office to instigate many more riots and pogroms, causing the death of hundreds of Jews and of thousands of Arabs who he accused of cooperating with the Jews. The riots of 1936/38 were directed against the immigration of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The British deposed him, and he moved via Lebanon to Iraq, where he played a main role in the pro-Nazi revolt of 1941. It was quelled, but he escaped to Nazi Germany. Caught and released by the French, he went to Cairo in 1946, where he continued his "work".

King Cyrus reigned from about 558-529 B.C.E. Being righteous and just in all his ways, he allowed the Jews to return home from their Babylonian captivity. He even ordered that the reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem be financed by the Persian treasury, 2.Chron.36:23; Ezra 1:1-3; 5:13-16. Prophet Isaiah speaks of Cyrus as Messiah of the Lord (45:1). It was mainly in the period of the Persian suzerainty that the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, was compiled.

Sura The Cave, 83-98. The term Dhool Qarnayin means literally "Lord of the Two Horns", and is often understood as the "Lord of the East and the West". According to a comprehensive study of the Maulana Abu'lkalam Azad by the Indian Ministry of Education, it refers to the two-horned ram mentioned in Dan.8:3 as a symbol of the Median-Persian Empire founded by Cyrus. Thus, Cyrus is understood as Dhool Qarnayin. See Pasargadae - The Oldest Imperial Capital of Iran, by Ali-Sami (translated by Rev. Sharp), Shiraz, 1971, pp.181-207.

Sheikh Dhar-el-Omar is another example. After conquering Galilee (northern Israel) from the Turks in the 18th Century, he suggested the leading rabbis of Maroc and Constantinople should call upon the Jews to return to the land of their ancestors and help build it up.

From the time of the Romans until 1948, the people of Israel were indeed "accounted as sheep for the slaughter" (Ps.44:22; also 14:4) who "opened not his mouth" (Is.53:7). Also the present war, by the Arabs called Jihad (Holy War), is an all-out war in religious trappings aimed at annihilating the Jewish state. Arab leaders hope to achieve their goal with the help of the "naturally" anti-Semitic Christian world, as outlined in a conference held as Al Azhar University, Cairo, in September 1968. For details, see Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel, Extracts from the Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research. Copies available from :"Les Editions de l'Avenir", 10 rue de l'Avenir, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland.

Sura The Table, 52; Jonah, 38; and others. Yet, Muslim leaders deter their peoples from reading the Book ) Tanakh) by defaming it as a rabbinic forgery. This in disregard of the fact that the Book was canonized many centuries before the compilation of the Koran, and that the Qumran Scrolls prove the accuracy of the Tanakh ("Book"). However, the Koran speaks of a time when the Muslim peoples will become aware that their leaders led them astray from the truth (Sura, The Confederates, 66-69; Sand-Dunes, 8,9; and others).

The names Egypt and Assyria not only describe countries; they stand also for spiritual attitudes: Egypt (El-Misr) for Man governed by and adoring the forces of Nature (as symbolized by the Nile); Assyria for an anti-religious, might-adoring attitude (see above, note 9 of chapter 17). When these two will come to know the Name of the Lord, they will join with Israel. Babel is not mentioned in this context. Apparently, it is still too much entangled in its haughtiness: "We would have healed Babel, but she is not healed..." (Jer.51:9).

One of God's epithets used in the Psalms is indeed מנצח , menatzeah. The English translations render it usually by "Chief Musician", but actually it refers to the Most High who directs the course of the events unto His victory. This becomes clear especially in Psalm 67, and Is.42:1-3. See also Hirsch on Ps.4:1. – This basic idea is expressed also in 1.Cor. 14:32,33 which says: “The spiritual gifts of prophets are subordinate to prophets; for God is not a god of confusion but of peace”

This passage is quoted from the end of the first berakhah (benediction) before reading the sh'ma (Hear O Israel). It is important to note that the text of the Kedushah (sanctification) reads: "We sanctify thy Name in the world even as they sanctify it in the heavens above...". This indicates, among other things, that it is only after the nations hear God's pure word with an inner understanding that they will unite and accept (crown) Him as their King, and will enjoy the blessings of peace. Peace is the fruit of our cooperation with the forces on High.

Zephan.3:9. The Hebrew term reads properly "purified language", i.e. free from alien thoughts and connotations. It hints at the healing of the Babylonian language from its confusion. See also Hirsch, Ps.29:6,7.

The change from the passive to the active form is indicated by the wording of the Abrahamic blessings. In Gen.12:3, it is said: "... and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (ונברכו, shall be blessed is a niphal, passive form), while in Gen.22:18, and Gen.26:4, it reads,התברכו בזרעך כל גויי הארץ and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves in thy seed , והתברכו) they shall bless themselves, is a hitpael, reflexive form). To begin with, Abraham's blessing and teaching came indeed upon the nations without their desiring or working for it. Later on, Christians and Muslims did much to spread the Biblical message all over the world, trying to attract the nations to their respective creeds. Now that Israel's resurrection furnishes a vivid proof of the Abrahamic covenant, it is upon the nations, aware of the veracity of the Biblical teaching confirmed by the historical events, to desire and work for the blessing. They shall do this in consent with Israel, as indicated by the words: "in thy (Isaac's) seed (or: with thy seed)"; i.e. no longer against. Gen 26:4 says clearly that this will happen after the establishment of the land covenant: "... and I shall give to thy (Isaac's) seed all these countries; and (then) all the nations shall bless themselves in thy seed" (v. note 19 of chapter 19). They will draw this blessing upon themselves by blessing Isaac's seed as an outflow of the generally known fact that the one who is good to another is in fact good unto himself (v. note 3 of chapter 11). Isaiah's famous vision (2:2) expounds to us this word of the Torah. See also s.72:17. Concerning the Jewish people, the idea of "blessing themselves" in the country is expressed in Is.65:16 (-25), and others.

The idea of the return is beautifully expressed by the Hebrew word תשובה , teshuvah which can also be translated as repentance, answer, response. The words to settle, to rest and Shabbath, derive also from its root word (v. chapter 13). Thus, the Hebrew concept of return, repentance, is actually one of the responses of the Divine call (v. the famous question in Gen.3:9: "Man, where art thou?"), by taking up the responsibility in accordance with the proper response, to settle in the land in peace and to come to rest on Shabbath and to sanctify it. On the other hand, "the wicked are like the troubled sea which cannot rest... there is no peace to the wicked" (Is.57:20,21).

Rabbi Hirsch, on Ps.34:15, enjoins: "Peace is by no means to be the one supreme goal for which everything else must be cast aside... we should sacrifice for the sake of peace only that which is ours to give away, such as personal interest, personal advantages, our own claims and our honor. But peaceful relations with our fellowman... can never atone for any discord we may have with God... we must be ready, if necessary, to chance opposition and hostility even of an entire world and to stand alone, with God and our sense of duty as our only allies."

"The Muslims are also free to break their covenant with the enemies if they are uneasy lest the enemies should betray them...", is one of the principles of Jihad, according to Shaikh Abdullah Goshash, Supreme Judge of the Hashemite Jordanian Kingdom. Quoted from Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (as above in note

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The whole idea is brought out beautifully in the morning prayer of Rosh ha'Shannah (the Jewish New Year, it being the Day of Enthronement of the Lord God of Israel, and of Divine Judgement). One of its passages reads: "... all those whom thou hast created shall bow before thee, and they all shall form one union to do thy will fullheartedly...".

The menorah, the seven-branched candelabrum, formed by six branches fixed to a middle shaft (Exod.25:32) is usually shown with three legs. Only the Arc of Triumph in Rome depicts a menorah resting on two hexagonal slabs (apparently a fake was used as a model). Flavius Josephus records that the menorah sacked in Jerusalem was "of a different shape" than the one in common use (The Jewish War, book 7, ch.5, par.5).

Antonia Fortress

Picture of Antonia Fortress hexagram is courtesy of Dr. Asher Eder. The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass
Also, several Moslem monuments in India display it. However, in Islamic circles it is mostly known by the term Seal of Solomon.

However, Islamic art eventually refrained from using the hexagram, as did Christian culture.
A rather curious board game in the shape of a six-pointed star is known today as Chinese Chequers. Each player places his pieces in one of the outer triangles and has to move them across the middle field into the opposing triangle, leaping over already occupied positions. The idea behind the game is that the players reach, and fill up, the opposing triangle "beyond" the middle field (cf. "Polarities" chapter). This game was apparently played by Roman soldiers, as we may infer from an engraving found on one of the flagstones of the inner courtyard of the Antonia fortress in Jerusalem: