Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
"This is what the Lord God says: Israel is my first-born son." (Exodus 4:22)
Elsewhere in scripture, God makes similar, unequivocal declarations regarding the Sonship of Israel. For example, He declares:
"All those who raged against you shall be put to shame and confusion; they who fought against you shall be destroyed and perish. You will seek and never find them, those enemies of yours. They shall be destroyed and brought to nothing, those who made war on you." (Isa. 41:11)
And, in fact, this has been and will continue to be the case. No less a Gentile than Mark Twain wrote:
"The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded into dream stuff and passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone. Other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was.....All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass away, but he remains." (Mark Twain, Concerning the Jews, republished by Running Press, 1985, p. 29)
Other prominent Gentiles have shared Mark Twain's beliefs about the Jews. For example, the Russian novelist and theologian, Count Leo Tolstoy wrote:
"The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He whom neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy, he whom neither fire nor sword was able to wipe off the face of the earth. (Quoted in Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 10)
Even the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche -- long believed, incorrectly, to have been an anti-Semite -- asserted, "The Jews are the strongest, toughest, and purest race that is now in Europe. (ibid, Vol. 8) And my own mentor, James Kirsch, frequently told me that C. G. Jung repeatedly told him, "The Jews are the kings of the Psyche" -- the Lords, as it were, of the soul.
Yet, it is not that God exempts Israel from suffering -- on the contrary, He has ordained Her for it, to be "a thing despised and rejected by men" (Isa. 53:3) -- but rather that She is destined to survive those whom He condemns to be the agents of Her suffering so that "they shall know that [Yahweh] discriminates between [them] and [Israel]. So it was that he promised Abraham:
"I will make of thee a great nation.....And I will bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee; and through thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:2-3)
Now, notice that it is only one "nation" -- Israel -- and not many nations, as commonly believed -- of which God will make Abraham the progenitor. Granted, those other nations, the "families of the earth," will be blessed by Abraham (and, by extension, also blessed by Israel, his only son) but they are blessed by and do not spring from our father Abraham, as Israel does.
Therefore, Israel is the litmus paper, as it were, by which God tests the world, the "families of the earth:" Those who bless Israel, he blesses; those who curse her, He curses. History has proven this true. As Mark Twain said, "The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was.....All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass away, but he remains." The pogroms, the inquisitions, the holocausts, the suicide bombings are spears by which Israel is "pierced through for [its persecutors] faults, crushed for [their] sins....And through [Her] wounds, [they] are healed." (Isa. 53:4-5)
This Covenant of Suffering is the patrimony of Israel, God's first-born Son. But the question still remains, Why Israel? Why not the Gentiles, for example? Why this nation of arrogant, stiff-necked, ungrateful, argumentative, bellicose Jews? (Of which, thank God, I am one.) The answer, we submit, lies in what we call "The Paternity of the Patriarchs," which we shall discuss at length in the next section.