Brokering the unification between Yosef and Yehudah - please see below my contributory chapter in Dr. Rivka Lambert Adler's new book: Lighting Up the Nations - Jewish Responsibility Towards the Nations Today and in the Messianic Era.
The book advocates to fellow Jews why Rivka, myself and other colleagues in this field, engage with non-Jews as part of a worldwide Torah awakening.
More details about the book and where to purchase it at the end of the article.
[I made a few additions to better explain certian concepts, they are marked in blue.]
A Brief History Lesson
I always stand amazed at how little we know about our own history. When I made aliyah in 2012, the absorption center invested a lot of time in getting the new immigrants on par with modern-day Israel history. Apparently, there is a huge need for it. We came from all over the world, very much marinated in the history of the countries we lived in; for what it’s worth – they were our homes. Now we came Home and most of us only knew the broad strokes (expulsions, Holocaust, War of Independence, Six Day War, a few prime ministers that stood out above the rest) – those historical points in history that no Jewish consciousness can be ignorant of or deny, but then again - not even that is a given these days.
If that is how it goes with modern day history, then there is almost no hope for the older chapters of Jewish history. So much so that we forgot that more than half of the family got lost a long time ago and we don’t even remember them, never mind miss them.
The situation gets even more dire when recognizing and unifying with them is a prerequisite for the geula shlema (full redemption). We somehow developed divine amnesia, caused and justified by a relentless galut, where we were merely trying to keep head above water. Chazal (Sages) tell us that we even miscalculated dates surrounding the Temples’ destruction due to severe PTSD. Still, we are commanded to remember, and that’s why things got written down. And yet most Jews, even Orthodox Jews, have never sat down and read the full Tanach. We somehow get stuck in Parshat haShavua and its plethora of perushim and the Haftarah that we usually yawn through before Mussaf.
And this is where the gap in the geula process lies, a gap that, when properly studied, can bring much more insight and tolerance on an inevitable but divine process. The gap goes something like this:
Just after the death of Shlomo HaMelech, the Kingdom split into two, the Southern Kingdom, also known as the House of Yehuda (Yehuda and Benjamin) or better known today as the Jews, and the Northern Kingdom or the House of Israel, sometimes also referred to as Yosef or Ephraim. Due to the youthful arrogance of David HaMelech’s grandson, the young Rehavam, an insulted and equally hardheaded Yerovam decided to break away from Yehuda’s authority and dragged ten tribes with him.
Yerovam faced some challenges as Jerusalem, the focal point of connection, stood center in the heart of Israel. So, he started a replacement campaign. He replaced Jerusalem with worship centers in Bethel and Dan, basically telling the Northern tribes that this is their “new Jerusalem”.
He replaced Sukkot with an imitation of some sort, shifting it one month later and he appointed priests not ranking from Levite descent. As his flagship move, he exploited and enforced an already existing weakness in the House of Israel – deviant worship - by replacing God with two golden calves, leading the House of Israel down a steady slope to full-on idolatry. Any of this sound familiar?
Rehavam wanted to take action, but God warned him not to, “for this thing has been brought about by Me.” (1 Kings 12:24), a sentiment and off set of a pattern to be painfully repeated a few centuries later when even the great Rabbi Gamliel told his followers to be hands-off when reports of a new religion reared its head. Happenstance? No. A deeply embedded correlation.
As idolatry took its toll, Hashem did remain true to His covenant with Israel and initiated a plan/event that would remove the idolaters from the Land – the Assyrian Exile. As the Assyrian forces swept over the Northern Kingdom, leaving destruction and ruins in its wake, refugees desperately made their way south to Jerusalem, the fortified stronghold. The ruling King of Yehuda, Chizkiyahu (Hezekiah), had to think on his feet how to keep the influx of refugees safe, as well as prepare the city against the approaching Assyrian war machine. Archaeology testifies to two major feats: the enlargement of the city and the rerouting of the water system. Recent archaeological findings further verified the absorption of the refugee influx.
Seal Impression “Achiav ben Menachem”. Photo:Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority.
Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, who led excavations in the City of David, discovered dozens of seals, dated to the days of the Judean kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction. These seals testify to the names which are familiar to us from the Bible during the Kingdom of Israel, and which appear in Judea during the period following the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel. One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of “Achiav ben Menachem,” two names known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel.
“These names are part of the evidence of the fact that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and they were assimilated into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration,” according to Uziel.
It is true that the Jews who were exiled to Babylon held within them traces of all the tribes. And this has been the main justification of those shunning the idea that the rest of the Lost Tribes will ever be found again, like water that seeped through the sands of time, unrecoverable. However, this stands against the Talmudic concept of HaTinok sheNishbah.
Every child of Israel is a universe in itself and, though we might have lost the ability to trace and track these souls, nothing is impossible for the Almighty. In fact, He made a promise regarding their reidentification. He made quite a few actually.
“Then the L-RD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples, from where the L-RD your God has scattered you. If any of you that have be driven as far the uttermost parts of heaven, from there will the L-RD your God gather you, and from there He will take you.”
– Deuteronomy 30: 3-4
Where Are the Lost Tribes Now?
The question is, if these sparks exist, where are they currently? Israel-based author Yair Davidiy has done tremendous work in this field, tracing the tribes from their initial dispersal and their subsequent journeys. True to tribal character, it appears that they kept together, and certain behavioral patterns are found in these respective groups. Though they are spread amongst all nations and religions, the biggest bulk seems to exist within the confines of Christianity and, more specifically, the Protestant and Evangelical movements. These individuals usually associate with Yosef and Ephraim. It is noteworthy to mention that there is a small but significant number within the Arab nations too.
If the tribes stick to their ancestral character, it is then also easy to connect the dots that Yosef can be found in most of the world-governing countries in the West, most predominantly the UK and the US. If so, Yosef has provided for his brothers over millennia. It further does not come as a surprise that Zionist Christians have always felt the obligation, and played a key role, helping their Jewish brothers to return to Israel, with tremendous efforts since the 18th century. Studying their motives proves this obligation stretching beyond a missionary agenda, although such an agenda cannot be excluded.
In a most profound study, Israeli mathematician Shaul Kullok discovered that major changes within Christianity correlate and act in the same behavioral pattern that deals with the exits and entrances into Eretz Israel and other major historical events of the Jewish people.
If Yosef and the rest of the brothers are indeed out there, and these studies and behavioral patterns not only support that thesis but indicate where they are located, then we have an obligation to investigate and reach out, and for those doing this, it might even be their very tikkun in furthering the geula. This has been the sole purpose in my working with the nations: to identify my lost brothers and sisters, and to at least put a strong narrative out there of who the Jewish People actually are, negating the anti-Semitic narrative ascribed to us over two millennia.
The bloody history of Christian antisemitism has changed its colors into a more “palatable” deceptive missionizing Hebraic disguise. It is no wonder that proud and God-fearing Jews who never gave up nor in, do not want to have anything to do with, never mind navigate, this new minefield. What Happens Now?
This is where things get complicated. Just as the Biblical narrative is often a prototype of a future event that needs to reoccur, usually on a grander scale, the time is coming soon for Yosef to not only give the reigns and the current seat of power it holds in the world over to Yehuda, but also to again submit under the “mechokek” (lawgiver). This inherently means that Yehuda has faithfully kept the Torah in all its facets, and the Ten Tribes, when rejoining, will have to realign, ridding themselves from all idolatrous notions.
[The only current way to rejoin is through Jewish Orthodox conversion. This is evident in the name of Yehuda that carries the letters of the ineffable name of G-d together with the letter “dalet”, indicating the “door” or way in (יהודה). Ultimately Mashiah Ben David will be able to reallocate and unite all the neshamot (souls) and nitzutzot (sparks) with their tribal and ancestral roots.]
Yehudah whispering in Yosef's ear, giving him an ultimatum
Chazal describe, in impressive detail, the powerful face-off almost of cosmic proportions between Yosef and Yehuda in Egypt and what really went down. The prophets reiterate this in copious accounts, which means we are inevitably going to face a challenging transition. A merger is never easy to negotiate. Everyone is bringing something noteworthy to the table. The prophets gave us the outlines, but we are stuck with figuring out the logistics and the goal to not throw the baby out with the bath water.
In my ten years in Israel, I have spent the majority of it working with those souls braving this no man’s land. What I’ve seen is a very complex dynamic with tremendous potential, but also riddled with pitfalls. I have seen the very dubious, initially hidden, but lately openly flaunted messianic missionary agenda here in Eretz Israel, proudly prancing that they have “arrived” at the pinnacle of all knowledge, being upgraded from what they now call idolatrous Christianity but also knowing just that much more than the blind Jew regarding the Jew’s own faith – leaving poisonous pamphlets in their wake.
I have also seen sincere souls shunning these actions from their fellow Christians, trying their best to build bridges over this gaping chasm, with a hands-off policy regarding missionary work. I have seen the majority of them sincerely challenging the bulk of their own theology.
I have seen fellow Jews dangerously and sometimes shamelessly overstepping red lines in the name of bridge-building. I have even witnessed some losing their direction due to this irresponsible approach. On the other side of this dangerous feat, I have stood, embarrassed, witnessing the purposeful extortion of facts by Jews, blaming, even framing those few Christians who are making a sincere effort to work together, by the unethical tweaking of their social messages to fit their narrative.
I have also seen Jews proudly representing the Jewish people with no compromise or moving an inch on who we are and what we believe, bringing the truth and beauty of the Am Segula (treasured and cherised people) to a very ignorant, unchallenged and distorted picture that persists among the nations. These colleagues might just be the best frontline defense for the Jewish people, by steadily and patiently changing the current landscape regarding the world’s tainted opinion of the Jews.
If I can put this process into my own words, it is that of loving Father, knowing, and celebrating His sons’ unique strengths and personalities, but also suffering their weaknesses. Remember, God did not choose a man, He chose a nation rooted in twelve brothers. That’s twelve. Not two. (Yehudah and Benyamin).
Knowing that this nation was set for a long, winding journey of tikkun, He set unique safety measures in place to make sure all the nitzotzot (divine sparks) will safely make it to the other side. In His unfathomable wisdom, He harnessed both their resilience, as well as their weaknesses that had to be perfected, into a quintessential algorithm, if you may, and built vessels accordingly that will deliver them on the doorstep of the geula. According to this wisdom and the necessary tikkun they had to make, He placed them in these “vessels” or "Time Pods" respectively.
Note to the non-Jewish reader: I am describing this from a Jewish perspective, to help explain to a very wary Jewish audience why we engage with the nations.
The split of the Kingdom was preparation for the transition of the Twelve Tribes, ultimately to unite them in the end as the whole House of Israel. They were placed into two "Time Pods", if you may. The Northern Kingdom went first, primarily because of the idolatry that was running rampant in their midst. The Ten Tribe Time Pod took on the character of the cause of their exile. The sages speak of this as the klippah. We already mentioned those dynamics, including the replacement of and/or a medium to God, Jerusalem and the festivals.
At this juncture, it is important to understand that both Houses suffered idolatry, ultimately falling to the lowest spiritual point respectively BUT also that most of the time, both Houses were only caught up in a deviant form of worship.
Why is this important? Because many sincere souls seek a genuine relationship with God but fall prey to deviant worship due to a lack of knowledge.