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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rachel story makes Muslims nervous

There have been some rumors that the Matriarch Rachel appeared to Israeli soldiers in Gaza and helped steer them away from danger. Some prominent rabbis in Israel are supporting the story, others are a bit more skeptical.

Perhaps the best summation comes from David Hazony at Commentary:
For weeks now, we have been hearing rumors about a mysterious woman who appeared before Israeli troops in the thick of the Gaza battles. Not just any woman, mind you, but the biblical Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, matriarch of Israel. (My nine-year-old daughter gave me an excellent speech about the pluses and minuses of believing these rumors.) Israel’s former chief rabbi, Mordechai Eliyahu, announced that he himself had sent her. And now another former chief rabbi and Shas spiritual leader, Ovadiah Yosef, has confirmed these reports.

This is the point where I’m supposed to say how ridiculous it is. A hoax, or a superstition, or something. But I’m not gonna’ do it.

I don’t care if you call the appearance of Rachel a metaphor or a miracle. There is a point in rabbinic discourse where miracles and metaphors all mingle together, where the word “literally” loses its meaning, making room for midrash — the art of saying something illiteral and literary. To say that Rachel was with our soldiers, that our matriarch was protecting her boys, is a deeper statement than anything that can be made by a professional reporter with a camera.

Let’s give the religious spinmasters the benefit of the doubt. Of course she wasn’t there. But, of course, she was.
It is most interesting to see how this story is being reported in the Muslim world. Usually, Muslims are the ones who publicly ascribe their actions to supernatural or divine influences, and they also believe that their religious values are what will help them to ultimately destroy the mostly infidel, secular Jews.

But now they are seeing that the IDF soldiers who entered Gaza did have a greater public spirituality than in previous operations. They are talking about miracles, about prayer, about their increased desire to wear tefillin and tzitzit.

And when Jews talk about G-d, Muslims get nervous. Their entire worldview of Jews is based on Jews having fallen from grace because they angered Allah by not doing their commandments and by not listening to their prophets. Even anecdotal stories about Jewish spirituality on the battlefield get lots of attention in the Arab and Muslim media.

Now, Islam Online is quoting "experts" on Judaism to try to debunk the Rachel story (in Arabic only, of course.)
Commenting on this story in history, a Palestinian professor, an expert on the Jewish history spoke to "Islam Online. Net," saying: "It does not have a scientific basis; Rachel, the wife of Prophet Abraham, Prophet Yusuf's mother, is not known to have participated in the fighting having sanctioned the extermination of children and women."
It goes without saying that this "expert" cannot get even the basic outlines of Rachel's life correct.
Dr. Zakaria Sinwar, a professor of history at the Islamic University in Gaza, and an expert on the Jewish issue, he said: "The Torah did not mention in their books that Rachel was a woman fighter, or participated in the fighting in one day, or sanctioned the extermination of children and women. "

According to Dr. Sinwar in an interview with "Islam Online. Net," "Israel has tried from the outset to show that this is a religious war .. their scrutiny of religious reading of the Torah reveal a dimension of ordering the bloody killing of the young."

He said that the "repetition of the talk about the emergence of Rachel during the war demonstrates that the Israeli soldiers lack the sense of the military .. Are they waiting for Rachel to show them on the whereabouts of the resistance and mines?!. Is Rachel a better means of spying then their advanced technology?!".

He added: "After their failure, the soldiers tried to give an aura of holiness and a religious dimension. Their talk about Rachel is not linked to any historical or religious facts, only naive attempts to imitate what is spoken by the people of Gaza from the verses of Allah and victory in the battle against Israel .. The soldiers say that the angels of Gaza also have fought with us. "

The Palestinian resistance has emphasized the "Islam Online.Net," that God directly supported them, bringing a dense fog, which enabled them to plant and detonate improvised explosive devices in the mechanisms of military occupation.

During the war in Gaza the Israeli media showed images of a soldier on the tank reading the Talmud, and the second leading some religious ceremonies before the launch of missiles, and the third wearing a Jewish skullcap religious symbol.
One only tries to debunk stories that one's audience might otherwise believe.

The terrorists that pray that their Qassam rockets kill Jewish children seem to be getting a bit uneasy that the Jews are praying at the same time to help kill the terrorists. It is almost as if they realize, deep down, that G-d might prefer to be on the Jews' side, as He appears to have been for other wars between Jews and Arabs.