Michael Ireland : Oct 19, 2012 : Assist News Service
(Jerusalem, Israel)—In a Bible study session marking the commencement of reading Genesis in synagogues throughout Israel and around the world wherever the Jewish people are gathered, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week discussed the story of Cain and Abel.
According to Herb Keinon, diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, the Prime Minister spent two-and-a-half hours recently studying the Cain and Abel story, telling some 17 rabbis and academics gathered at his residence that the jealousy in the tale is a “powerful engine” that he has come across once or twice in his own profession.
“There is continuity and a cycle . . . [that we see in] the eternal nature of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said. (Photo Credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Keinon says the Prime Minister’s Office, along with the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, organized the event, a [reinstatement] of a tradition David Ben-Gurion began when he hosted a regular Bible study circle when he was prime minister. Begin also held regular Bible study sessions.
Keinon says one of the questions Netanyahu posed was why the punishment God meted out to Cain for the murder of his brother was lenient, and why he was not punished with death himself?
“One of the participants responded that (the) lesson to be learned was that repairing the world—Cain went on to build a city and beget offspring that enriched the world in various ways—was more important than vengeance,” Keinon writes.
“For two hours on a mild afternoon,” Keinon wrote, “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu—with a small black kippa on his head—sat in the covered courtyard of his home with 16 rabbis, academics, Bible scholars, archeologists and linguists, and discussed the meaning of the Book of Ruth, which will be read on Shavuot on Sunday in synagogues around the world. His wife, Sara, sat next to him, and his two sons sat on a bank of chairs set to the side.
“There was something at once heartening and slightly humorous about Netanyahu setting aside precious time in the late afternoon to talk about Biblical figures Tamar and Yehuda, Naomi and Boaz, Ruth and David, while Iran loomed so large, and domestic issues beckoned so seriously,” Keinon wrote.
“It was heartening in that it is uniquely elevating seeing the prime minister of the Jewish state taking time out to study the Bible, the heart of Jewish existence. One cannot talk about Jewish historic rights to this place, which the prime minister does constantly, without appreciating and understanding the Bible.”
“The Bible is a parable for humanity,” Netanyahu said at the outset in English, giving a powerful sound bite to the cameras invited to film just the opening of the study circle. “If the Jews are able to cross the river of time, and in their vast odyssey cross the chasm of annihilation and come back to their ancestral home, that means there is hope for humanity.”
Netanyahu made clear what the message was: “Ben-Gurion and Begin believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation—secular and religious, young and old, men and women. The Bible is the foundation of our existence. It unites the Jewish people, as it has throughout the generations. It also serves not only as a foundation but also as a map and compass,” Netanyahu said.
“The Bible is always relevant vis-à-vis today’s problems and challenges. It inspires, it is a source of life for our people and I think that it is important to expand Bible study and love of the Bible among all parts of the nation.”
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