“When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law…. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” (Deuteronomy 17:18–19)
Carrying forward the tradition of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his home this past Sunday, October 7, for his sixth official Bible study class attended by dozens of formal guests.
The Shmuel Ben-Artzi Bible study, named for Netanyahu’s father-in-law, brought the prime minister’s family together with the parents of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach—three Israeli teens Hamas abducted and murdered in June.
“We are excited on this occasion by the participation of the parents of the three wonderful youths, the wonderful parents, who also symbolize the great sacrifice and the nobility of spirit and greatness of soul of our nation at its finest,” Netanyahu said at the event. “I greet all of you, along with my wife, Sarah, with a welcome and a real hug, which is the hug of the entire nation of Israel.”
Also attending were dozens of academic and rabbinic leaders, with Education Minister Shai Piron helping lead the exploration into the first portion of the Bible, B’reisheet (בראשית, In the beginning). (Israel Today)
With a side reference to a Torah commentary by Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1040–1105), Piron noted that the Creation account reminds us of God’s sovereignty over the world, allotting it to whomever He desires.
Rashi’s argument states: “Should the nations of the world one day tell the people of Israel, ’You are thieves, for you have conquered lands that belonged to seven nations,’ the people of Israel would answer, ’The whole world belongs to God; and He gives it to whomever he wants.’”
God Himself confirmed this principle of sovereignty during the days of the prophet Daniel. God required King Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge the rulership of Heaven and to “renounce your sins by doing what is right.”
Disregarding this prophetic warning, the king went insane and lived with wild animals, eating grass like an ox until he finally raised his eyes toward Heaven and praised the Most High.
With regained sanity, Nebuchadnezzar confirmed,
“His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: ’What have You done?’” (Daniel 4:34–35)
The prime minister added that many today deny Israel her birthright. At the UN General Assembly, a Latin American Ambassador approached Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and said, “You know what the word Israel means? It means ‘to deceive.’”
That such an accomplished man in international leadership can be so wrong about the fundamental nature of who Israel is reveals the deep-seated hatreds and biases against Israel at all levels of society.
A brief Bible study, however, would reveal to this ambassador the meaning of Israel; for example, Israel (Yisra-El) first appears as a name when God gives it to the patriarch Jacob after he struggled with an angel for a blessing. The angel told Jacob,
“From now on, you will no longer be called Ya’akov (Jacob), but Yisra’el (Israel); because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)
Researching the roots of the two Hebrew words (Yisra and El) on the web as well as a simple reading of the Bible reveal to the nations the meaning of the name of Israel, but leaders have been blinded from even that plain understanding.
While Israel—her name and her people—is continuously defamed, it is encouraging to see that the next Netanyahu generation—brothers Yair and Avner—has taken hold of their Biblical heritage. (JPost)
Avner won the National Bible Quiz for Youth in 2010 and has often led the family’s private Bible studies, which occur at least once a week, Netanyahu said on Sunday.
The portion studied, Genesis 1:1–6:8, will be read again once observers of the Simchat Torah holiday on October 16 wind back their completed Torah scrolls to the columns of Creation, starting the Torah cycle over for the new Jewish year.
“The cyclical nature of the reading of the Torah, and starting to read it afresh, is also symbolic of the renewal of our nation in our country,” Netanyahu said to his guests. “Despite all of the attempts to annihilate us, we rebuild ourselves anew every time, with a truly deep connection to our roots but at the same time growing the tree that is called the Nation of Israel—with our deep roots and the branches that turn up and outward.”
“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” (Psalm 119:111–112)