Happy HANUKKAH! – The Jewish Festival of Lights

November 30, 2010

A message from Norbert Wied
CEO Carl Schurz Foundation

Frankfurt am Main, Germany, November 30, 2010

From December 1-9, 2010, Hanukkah (Chanukah), also known as the Festival of Lights, will be celebrated by Jews around the world. It is an eight-day holiday that starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar, and continues till the 2nd of the month of Tevet.

Hanukkah commemorates the miracle that happened after the Jew’s 164 B.C.E. victory over the Hellenist Syrians. Antiochus IV, the Greek King of Syria, had forbidden the observance of Judaism under penalty of death and had forced Jews to worship Greek gods.

After the victory, a Temple lamp has been lighted and although the lamp had oil for only one day, it stayed miraculously lit for eight days until a new supply of oil could be prepared. Hanukkah is observed by lighting one Hanukkah light of the Menorah (candelabrum) on each of the eight holiday nights, progressing to eight lights on the final night of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah festivities include games (especially Dreidel), gift-giving to children and gathering for enjoying traditional foods. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday and its religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot. It is roughly equivalent to Purim in significance. On the other hand, Hanukkah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays because of its proximity to Christmas. Some orthodox groups criticize the adoption of many Christmas customs, such as gift-giving and decoration, making Hanukkah the most secular holiday of the Jewish calendar.

Hanukkah began to find new expression in the years leading up to the founding of the modern state of Israel and has developed into a holiday rich with historical significance, physical and supernatural miracle narratives, and a dialogue with Jewish history.

I wish all Jews around the world: CHAG CHANUKKAH SAMEACH!

♪♫ “Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!” – A traditional Hanukkah song,  sung by Theodore Bikel, first in Yiddish, then in English, then in Hebrew: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxH0xF84h_0

♪♫ “Ma’oz Tzur” – a Jewish liturgical poem or piyyut. It is written in Hebrew, and is often sung on the holiday of Hanukkah, after lighting the festival lights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7U1CHqe9eg

♪♫ “Mi Yimalel” (Who can retell) – A traditional Hanukkah song here performed by Craig Taubman, The Tribe & Alberto Mizzahi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPUUjmn_Wk0

♪♫ “Lich’vod Hachanukkah” – by Chaim Nachman Bialik, a traditional Chanukah song sung by THE WESTERN WIND and Fran Avni: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FbooXzSiQk


WikiLeaks Bullshit: Much Ado About Nothing, False Flag, Strategia della Tensione, or Sabotage Act against U.S. Foreign Policy?

November 29, 2010
WIKILEAKS REAL AGENDA

WIKILEAKS REAL AGENDA

A Satirical Op-Ed by Narcisse Caméléon, deputy editor-in-chief

***

On Bullshit: It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose. (Princeton University Professor Harry Frankfurt)

And if, to be sure, sometimes you need to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or, if it does become known, that you have a ready and quick defense. (Niccolò Machiavelli)
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. (Edward L. Bernays)

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. (Edward L. Bernays)

WikiLeaks released yesterday a batch of about 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, exposing confidential information about U.S. relationships with the rest of the world and U.S. assessments of foreign leaders.

The White House denounced the disclosures as “reckless and dangerous".

The White House denounced the disclosures as “reckless and dangerous".

In light of the revelations, apparently leaked by US Army soldier Bradley Manning, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information (check out statement below).

The cables – a sampling of the daily traffic between the State Department and some 270 embassies and consulates – specify that Iran has obtained nineteen BM-25 missiles from North Korea with a range adequate to reach western Europe, and they also document Arab leaders calls for a military strike on Iran.

The documents also divulge U.S. diplomats were ordered to engage in spying by obtaining foreign diplomats’ personal information, such as frequent-flier and credit card numbers. The documents could abash the Obama administration and destabilize its diplomacy. In cables drafted by U.S. diplomats, French President Nicolas Sarkozy is called “Emperor without clothes”, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is described as an “alpha-dog,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai is “driven by paranoia,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel “avoids risk and is rarely creative.” It also allegedly said that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi never travels without a trusted Ukraninan nurse, a ‘voluptuous blond’.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed concern in a statement that Wikileaks release could jeopardize private talks with foreign governments and opposition leaders. The Pentagon announced yesterday it will take action to prevent future illegal releases of classified information.

In a opinion piece for the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, calls these revelations an act of sabotage. Really? Or: Better bad press than no press at all? Or Bullshit as usual…

Read full story.

***

Remarks to the Press on the Release of Confidential Documents

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
November 29, 2010
Hillary is very angry about the disclosures...

Hillary is very angry about the disclosures...


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. Do we have enough room in here? I want to take a moment to discuss the recent news reports of classified documents that were illegally provided from United States Government computers. In my conversations with counterparts from around the world over the past few days, and in my meeting earlier today with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey, I have had very productive discussions on this issue.

The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems. This Administration is advancing a robust foreign policy that is focused on advancing America’s national interests and leading the world in solving the most complex challenges of our time, from fixing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing human rights and universal values. In every country and in every region of the world, we are working with partners to pursue these aims.

So let’s be clear: this disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.

I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama Administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge. The President and I have made these partnerships a priority – and we are proud of the progress that they have helped achieve – and they will remain at the center of our efforts.

I will not comment on or confirm what are alleged to be stolen State Department cables. But I can say that the United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats’ personal assessments and observations. I want to make clear that our official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but here in Washington. Our policy is a matter of public record, as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world.

I would also add that to the American people and to our friends and partners, I want you to know that we are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information. I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again.

Relations between governments aren’t the only concern created by the publication of this material. U.S. diplomats meet with local human rights workers, journalists, religious leaders, and others outside of governments who offer their own candid insights. These conversations also depend on trust and confidence. For example, if an anti-corruption activist shares information about official misconduct, or a social worker passes along documentation of sexual violence, revealing that person’s identity could have serious repercussions: imprisonment, torture, even death.

So whatever are the motives in disseminating these documents, it is clear that releasing them poses real risks to real people, and often to the very people who have dedicated their own lives to protecting others.

Now, I am aware that some may mistakenly applaud those responsible, so I want to set the record straight: There is nothing laudable about endangering innocent people, and there is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends.

There have been examples in history in which official conduct has been made public in the name of exposing wrongdoings or misdeeds. This is not one of those cases. In contrast, what is being put on display in this cache of documents is the fact that American diplomats are doing the work we expect them to do. They are helping identify and prevent conflicts before they start. They are working hard every day to solve serious practical problems – to secure dangerous materials, to fight international crime, to assist human rights defenders, to restore our alliances, to ensure global economic stability. This is the role that America plays in the world. This is the role our diplomats play in serving America. And it should make every one of us proud.

The work of our diplomats doesn’t just benefit Americans, but also billions of others around the globe. In addition to endangering particular individuals, disclosures like these tear at the fabric of the proper function of responsible government.

People of good faith understand the need for sensitive diplomatic communications, both to protect the national interest and the global common interest. Every country, including the United States, must be able to have candid conversations about the people and nations with whom they deal. And every country, including the United States, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries about issues of common concern. I know that diplomats around the world share this view – but this is not unique to diplomacy. In almost every profession – whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business – people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. And so despite some of the rhetoric we’ve heard these past few days, confidential communications do not run counter to the public interest. They are fundamental to our ability to serve the public interest.

In America, we welcome genuine debates about pressing questions of public policy. We have elections about them. That is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy. It is part of who we are and it is a priority for this Administration. But stealing confidential documents and then releasing them without regard for the consequences does not serve the public good, and it is not the way to engage in a healthy debate.

In the past few days, I have spoken with many of my counterparts around the world, and we have all agreed that we will continue to focus on the issues and tasks at hand. In that spirit, President Obama and I remain committed to productive cooperation with our partners as we seek to build a better, more prosperous world for all.

Thank you, and I’d be glad to take a few questions.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll begin with Charlie Wolfson of CBS in his last week here covering the State Department.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Where are you going, Charlie?

QUESTION: I’ll (inaudible) into the sunset, but let me get to a question.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, sir. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, are you embarrassed by these leaks personally, professionally? And what harm have the leaks done to the U.S. so far that you can determine from talking to your colleagues?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Charlie, as I said in my statement, and based on the many conversations that I’ve had with my counterparts, I am confident that the partnerships and relationships that we have built in this Administration will withstand this challenge. The President and I have made these partnerships a priority, a real centerpiece of our foreign policy, and we’re proud of the progress that we have made over the last 22 months.

Every single day, U.S. Government representatives from the entire government, not just from the State Department, engage with hundreds if not thousands of government representatives and members of civil society from around the world. They carry out the goals and the interests and the values of the United States. And it is imperative that we have candid reporting from those who are in the field working with their counterparts in order to inform our decision-making back here in Washington.

I can tell you that in my conversations, at least one of my counterparts said to me, “Well, don’t worry about it. You should see what we say about you.” (Laughter.) So I think that this is well understood in the diplomatic community as part of the give-and-take. And I would hope that we will be able to move beyond this and back to the business of working together on behalf of our common goals.

MR. CROWLEY: Kim Ghattas of BBC.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Kim.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I was wondering whether you could tell us what you think your upcoming trip is going to look like. Presumably, a lot of the people who have been mentioned in those alleged cables are going to have conversations with you. Do you think it’s going to cause you discomfort over the coming week as you engage in conversations with those leaders?

And I know you don’t want to comment on the particulars of the cables, but one issue that has been brought up into the daylight is the debate about Iran. What do you think the impact is going to be of those documents on the debate about Iran in the coming weeks and months?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Kim, you’re right. And I don’t know if you’re going on this trip or not, but we will be seeing dozens of my counterparts in Astana, and then as I go on from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and then ending up in Bahrain for the Manama dialogue. And I will continue the conversations that I have started with some in person and over the phone over the last days, and I will seek out others because I want personally to impress upon them the importance that I place on the kind of open, productive discussions that we have had to date and my intention to continue working closely with them.

Obviously, this is a matter of great concern, because we don’t want anyone in any of the countries that could be affected by these alleged leaks here to have any doubts about our intentions and our about commitments. That’s why I stressed in my remarks that policy is made in Washington. The President and I have been very clear about our goals and objectives in dealing with the full range of global challenges that we face. And we will continue to be so and we will continue to look for every opportunity to work with our friends and partners and allies around the world and to deal in a very clear-eyed way with those with whom we have differences, which of course brings me to Iran.

I think that it should not be a surprise to anyone that Iran is a source of great concern not only in the United States, that what comes through in every meeting that I have anywhere in the world is a concern about Iranian actions and intentions. So if anything, any of the comments that are being reported on allegedly from the cables confirm the fact that Iran poses a very serious threat in the eyes of many of her neighbors, and a serious concern far beyond her region.

That is why the international community came together to pass the strongest possible sanctions against Iran. It did not happen because the United States went out and said, “Please do this for us.” It happened because countries, once they evaluated the evidence concerning Iran’s actions and intentions, reached the same conclusion that the United States reached – that we must do whatever we can to muster the international community to take action to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state.

So if anyone reading the stories about these alleged cables thinks carefully, what they will conclude is that the concern about Iran is well founded, widely shared, and will continue to be at the source of the policy that we pursue with likeminded nations to try to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ve got to let the Secretary get to her airplane and get to her trip. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I will leave you in P.J.’s very good hands. Thank you.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, did you talk to anyone in Pakistan or India?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam. (Inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: What we’ll do is we’ll take, say, a 30-minute filing break, and then we’ll reconvene in the Briefing Room and continue our discussion.


Hamburger Grüne provozieren aus reiner Machttaktik Neuwahlen

November 28, 2010
Dagegen-Partei Bündnis 90-Die Grünen

Dagegen-Partei Bündnis 90-Die Grünen

Pressemitteilung

Hamburg – 28. November 2010 – “Die Grünen wollen aus purer Machttaktik Neuwahlen, um noch schnell die guten Umfragen im Bund zu nutzen, bevor die Blase platzt”, erklärte FDP-Generalsekretär Christian Lindner nach dem Scheitern der schwarz-grünen Koalition in Hamburg.

Nun stünden Union und Grüne mit leeren Händen vor dem Wähler. Die von den Grünen geforderte Abschaffung der Gymnasien sei Dank engagierter Eltern verhindert worden und beim Bau des Kraftwerks Moorburg seien die Grünen ohne äußeres Zutun umgefallen. Neuwahlen seien nun eine “Chance für einen Senat der Mitte, der für Wachstum und Bildung und nicht gegen Wachstum und Bildung arbeitet”, meint Lindner.

FDP-Parteichef Guido Westerwelle hielt fest: “Wir freuen uns auf Neuwahlen. Sie bieten die Chance für einen bürgerlichen Neuanfang in Hamburg.” Es sei jetzt an der Zeit, das “Gewürge und die Hängepartie” zu beenden. Dadurch, dass sie “das Weite suchen, wenn es schwierig wird”, würden sich nicht nur die Grünen selbst disqualifizieren, sondern das Modell Schwarz-Grün gleich mit. “Schwarz-Grün ist ein toter Vogel, so Westerwelle, der einen “guten und engagierten Wahlkampf” ankündigte.

Über den folgenden Link findet man Informationen über das wahre Gesicht der Grünen: www.gelb-statt-gruen.de

Pressekontakt: FDP Hamburg – Henry C. Brinker – Telefon: 040 3099 880 – Email: hcb@fdp-hh.de


The Meaning of Hiram in Freemasonry and Judaism

November 27, 2010

Forever Faithful and Forthright, We Pledge Ourselves to Guard The Light. (The Magic Flute, Mozart)

All men are equal; it is not their birth, but virtue itself that makes the difference. (Voltaire)

It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right. (Winston Churchill)

HIRAM

HIRAM

Hiram Abiff & the ever-dying gods

by Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, Emeritus Rabbi of the Great Synagoge, Sydney. Past Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales.

This paper was delivered at the Discovery Lodge of Research, Sydney, on January 27, 2010.

***

In the third degree ritual the central feature is the death and upraising of Hiram Abiff. It brings solemnity and drama into the occasion, though our version lacks the theatricality of some other rites which use costumes and elaborate dialogue. All versions believe it is a true story that happened at the time when Solomon constructed the Temple in Jerusalem, but those who look for Biblical backing are bound to be disappointed.

In an article I wrote for the “NSW Freemason” in 1978 I examined the view of W. Bro. Rev. Morris Rosenbaum concerning the Biblical account as found – with intriguing differences – in the First Books of Kings and the Second Book of Chronicles. The relevant chapters are I Kings 5, where Solomon asks his friend Hiram king of Tyre for building materials; and II Chronicles 2, where he asks him also for an expert artisan. Both passages feature a – non-royal – Hiram, who in one account appears to be an architect-craftsman and in the other an artisan skilled in working with brass. Both are called Hiram in tribute to the king: it is possible that Hiram was a generic name for a king of Tyre, like the title Pharaoh for a king of Egypt.

Rosenbaum thought there were two separate Hirams. The Hiram of the Book of Kings is the son of “a widow of the tribe of Naphtali”: the one in Chronicles is the son of “a woman of the daughters of Dan”. If there are two Hirams the mother of one is from Naphtali and the mother of the second from Dan; if there is only one, which I will argue in a moment, his father is from Naphtali and his mother from Dan. The connection with Tyre is more than geographic co-incidence, since there was a Tyrian school of craftsmanship and Solomon wanted to use Tyrian expertise.

Next problem: if Hiram (or at least one of them) is the son of a widow, his father is dead. II Chronicles mentions Hiram aviv, “Hiram his father”. Maybe Hiram the father started the work and Hiram the son completed it. This is the view of the 19th century commentator Malbim, who quotes I Kings 7:40 and II Chron. 4:11, though Malbim may have been influenced by the Masonic legend that Hiram was murdered; when I Kings 7:13 says that Solomon “sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre” it may mean that an escort was sent to bring the younger Hiram to Jerusalem to finish his father’s work.

This in outline is Rosenbaum’s theory, but I believe he has read too much into the scriptural account. The Books of Chronicles are not always objective history and it is possible that we have not two Hirams but two versions of the one narrative with slight differences between them.

If then there was only one Hiram, how are we to handle the reference to “Hiram his father”, with its implication that father and son were both involved in the work? The answer is that av, a father, does not necessarily mean a parent. It can also be an originator or master. Hence the title “Hiram Abif(f)” tells us of Hiram’s professional status as a master craftsman, not about his parentage. Even so, there is no objective evidence that one Hiram dropped out and another replaced him. It is more likely that there was only one Hiram and the Bible does not record his eventual fate.

For that we have to go to legend. In a moment we will examine the Masonic version, but first we need to know whether Jewish Midrash knows of a murder during the building works and whether the victim could have been Hiram. There are Midrashim (e.g. Pesikta Rabbati, Friedmann ed., 1880, p. 25a) which hold that some of the builders met an unusual death, but Freemasonry compresses the tragedy into the death of one builder, the foreman, and though the midrashic material speaks of the dead men entering the afterlife, Freemasonry thinks the foreman was restored to earthly existence, though it is silent as to his subsequent life.

The Midrash asserts that whilst the Temple was being built none of the workmen died or even became ill, enabling the project to proceed apace – presumably illustrating the principle that God protects those who are engaged on a sacred mission (Talmud Pesachim 8a). However, once the project was completed, they all died, for God wished to prevent heathens using the Temple builders to erect idolatrous shrines, illustrating the rule that one must ascend in sanctity and not descend (Talmud B’rachot 28a). The builders were assured of a rich heavenly reward, and as for Hiram the master craftsman himself, he went straight to Paradise and never tasted real death (Louis Ginzberg, “Legends of the Jews”, vol. 4, page 155 and notes).

There is a midrashic idea that nine people did not die in the usual way but entered Paradise alive. These included Enoch and Elijah… and Hiram king of Tyre (Derech Eretz Zuta 1:9; Yalkut, Gen. 42 and Ezek. 36:7).

The commentators debate whether Hiram really deserves a place in the list, but in any case the reference must be to Hiram the craftsman and not Hiram the king. The formulators of Masonic ritual possibly knew enough Hebrew to access rabbinic works, but they totally changed the Midrash to make Hiram die a very earthly death at the hands of the other workmen and then rise from the dead. They must have been influenced by Christian tradition about the death of Jesus, though they were careful not to turn the story into an antisemitic canard. However, we should not read too much theology into the Masonic story, which probably has contemporary political motives.

If the story as we have it has been deliberately crafted (I dislike the stronger term “fabricated”) with a basis in the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish Midrash, we must still investigate whether there are additional sources from other cultures. But first we have to add one more attempt, over and above those of countless historians, to posit a theory of Masonic beginnings.

There are three main historical theories about Masonry. One begins at the time of Creation with God as Great Architect, Grand Geometrician and Master Builder, Adam as the first Grand Master, and Masonry as a thread running through ancient history. The second does not make claims about Biblical times but posits a fellowship of builders working on the great edifices of the Middle Ages. The third sees Enlightenment man creating cultural-scientific societies to study ideas and ethics and giving them a pre-history, a well-known habit developed in the interests of credibility.

The third theory is bound up with 17th and 18th century events. The Stuarts ruled England from 1643-1688, except for 1649-1660 after Charles I had been executed by Parliament under Oliver Cromwell. The last Stuart, James II, had to abdicate in 1688. After the Hanoverian George I assumed the monarchy in 1714, the Stuarts mounted invasions in 1715 and 1745 via Scotland but failed to win back the throne. They lived in exile in France with support from some quarters in England. They were called “Jacobites”, from the Latin (and prior to that the Hebrew) for “James”. Some Jacobites were Masons, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James II; some French and Italian lodges were entirely comprised of Jacobites, who may have adopted or invented Hiram Abiff to represent the executed Charles I and to express their belief in the restoration of the Stuarts.

Plans for the return of the Stuarts were made in secret vaults which may have been Masonic lodges. HA’s refusal to divulge a secret bolstered the pledges of confidentiality which these Brothers made to each other. This theory implies that Jacobite influences were involved in the development of Masonic ritual, which was the combination of the ideas and efforts of a number of men, notably Anderson, Desaguliers and Preston, though they might have been kept in the dark about the hidden agenda of Jacobite lodges.

Hiram’s name was not new to the authors of the third degree since he is referred as the master artisan in the Regius Poem of c 1390. The first time we find the Hiram legend in a degree ritual is in the 1730 pamphlet, Freemasonry Dissected, by Samuel Prichard, though there was a rival attempt to give Freemasonry a death/resurrection story in the narrative of Noah and his sons (Graham MS, 1726; cf. Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984, page 77).

Hiram Abiff conveyed the message better because the Noah story lacked betrayal, violence, martyrdom and revenge, even though there was a theory that his sons put his body together again after he died. Hence HA supplanted Noah and settled into the newly created third degree.

The idea of Hiram as Charles I might derive from Elias Ashmole (1617-92), the antiquarian, lawyer and alchemist who is the first (or second) known Speculative Freemason, initiated in 1646. Ashmole (like other early Speculatives, Robert Moray, Inigo Jones and Nicholas Stone) was a Royalist and a supporter of Charles II, and his lodge may have practised Masonic ritual with a Royalist meaning. However, we do not know enough about the ways of early Speculative lodges and can only conjecture.

C.S. Madhavan of the Grand Lodge of India notes that a drastic change entered Freemasonry between the first and second editions of Anderson’s Constitutions. In the first edition in 1723 we read only that “The king of Tyre sent (Solomon) his namesake Hiram Abif, ‘prince of architects’”. The second edition in 1738 speaks of the sudden death of Hiram Abiff who was interred “in the Lodge near the Temple”. The new wording shows that the displacement of Noah by HA had taken place between 1723 and 1738.

The change must have had something to do with Prichard, whose work was published in 1730, but we need more than circumstantial evidence. English Masons would presumably have welcomed the general idea of a good man who died and rose again and would have been on familiar territory in linking royal history with poetic symbolism in view of the well-loved legends of King Arthur, the symbol of chivalry and idealism, about whom Tennyson later wrote, “He passes to be King among the dead/And after healing of his grievous wound/He comes again” (Idylls of the King, 1859).

The Hiram Abiff story was not concocted out of thin air. On the other hand no-one has found any proof that there really was a Hiram Abiff who was murdered on the Temple site and then brought back to life by his supporters. Nor has anyone proved that there was an Israelite custom to pray at “high twelve”, to bury a person in proximity to the Temple, or to place an acacia sprig on a grave. There is also no proof that the real Hiram (unless he was the king of Tyre) was on close terms with King Solomon.

HA is a cultural typology developed at and reflecting the mores of a later time. Its lineage appears to have travelled through two disparate lines:
• the well known concept of gods and messiahs that die and overcome their death (examples are Osiris, Isis, Horus and Tammuz), an idea that appealed to members of secret or other societies who saw true believers martyred but the cause survive;
• widespread accounts of disasters that occurred during the building of churches, palaces and other major edifices.

The first idea has a modern equivalent in Nietzsche’s Death of God theory, plus the religious insistence that God will make a comeback. In Jewish thinking the Death of God is inconceivable, since it is an article of faith that God was not born and cannot die (“I am the first and I am the last”: Isa. 44:6), though in a metaphorical sense it could possibly tolerate the Nietzschean notion that human beings had “killed” Him. Christianity might be thought of as receptive to a Hiram Abiff narrative as consonant with the history of Jesus. However, it is difficult to reconcile a pro-Christian interpretation with the Andersonian dechristianisation of Masonic ritual, though there is admittedly a more Christian element in the Royal Arch.

Whatever the case, it is likely that this is one more example of how Masonry utilised well-known strands of folklore to construct its narratives and rituals, often starting with sketchy Biblical material but adding so much from other sources that it almost completely changed the original story. Other examples are the stories about King Solomon and the dedication of his temple, which, though crucial to the craft, should not be taken literally but understood as an amalgam of folk ideas and literary imagination.

All Masonic writers attach symbolic significance to the HA story, regardless of its origins and political significance. A popular interpretation links it to the three stages of life; as the first degree symbolises birth, when one begins to glimpse light, the second stands for manhood, when one toils toward wisdom and experience, and the third represents old age, when human powers gradually wane but one yearns for a life after death.

Perhaps Anderson and Desaguliers, unaware of or unconvinced by Jacobite political theories, decided to incorporate HA into the third degree because the death/resurrection theme appealed to them as Christians. In 1775 William Hutchinson wrote in his Spirit of Masonry, “The Master Mason represents a man under the Christian doctrine, saved from the grave of iniquity, and raised to the faith of salvation”. The dechristianisation of the craft must inevitably have been difficult for some Masons.

However, with or without christological issues the narrative illustrates and justifies the doctrine that goodness must and will prevail over doubt and difficulty, and is evidence of the common phenomenon whereby a custom or story loses its original significance, undergoes reinterpretation and rationalisation, and gains a new message and mission.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Raymond Apple, “Who was Hiram Abiff?”, The NSW Freemason, Dec., 1978
Harry Carr, “Hebraic Aspects of the Ritual”, Ars Quatuor Coronatum, vol. 97, 1984
W.W. Covey-Crump, The Hiramic Tradition, 1934
Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, various eds., vol. 4
R.F. Gould, History of Freemasonry, 5 vols., 1905
W.B. Hextall, “The Hiramic Legend and the Ashmolean Theory”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Bernard E. Jones, Freemason’s Guide and Compendium, 1950
Jacob Katz, Out of the Ghetto, 1978
C.S. Madhavan, “The Hiramic Legend” (http://www.freemasons-freemasonry.com)
Alexander Piatigorsky, Who’s Afraid of Freemasons?, 1997
Morris Rosenbaum, “Hiram Abif: The Traditional History Illustrated by the Volume of the Sacred Law”, Transactions of the Leicester Lodge of Research, 1903-04
Gershom Scholem, Kabbalah, 1974

 Copyright © 2010 Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple & HIRAM7 REVIEW


Earl Shugerman’s Corner: NES AMMIM 2010 – Interfaith Dialogue in Israel

November 25, 2010

Earl Shugerman brings every week a serie of stories about Anglo-Saxon immigrants to Israel. This project is aimed to promote a more realistic view of life in Israel.

NES AMMIM 2010

 

Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.

Nes Ammim (Hebrew: נֵס עַמִּים‎, lit. Banner of the Nations) is a Christian community in the northern district of Israel.

 

An important fact that people should know about Israel is that roughly twenty percent of Israeli citizens are Muslim, Christian and Druze. The seven million citizens of pre-1967 borders manage to live together in a fairly democratic, but far from perfect society. Many Israelis of all backgrounds are trying to improve our society and its political awareness.

Once a month I participate in a joint prayer meeting with the Focolare. The Focolare is the largest Catholic outreach movement with five million members. The Focolare movement is an international organization based on ideals of unity and universal brotherhood. The movement was founded in Trent Italy 1944 by Chiara Lubich. Chiara was just a teenager when she decided to found the movement. During this period, Italy was occupied by the Allies. Chiara made a choice to stay in Trent to help the wounded and the homeless. Seeing the horrors of war first hand she and her friends had vowed to live a humble life and yet to promote peace and brotherhood throughout the world using Catholicism as their base. However, they have strong connections to different denominations and various faiths. The Focolare movement is present today in 182 nations. Through a network of eighteen branches the Focolare has an impact on both eclectic and secular life. Our meetings are held at Or Hadash Synagogue in Haifa, and hosted by Rabbi Edgar Nof.

Each summer the movement holds local retreats over 100 worldwide, where members and new comers come together to discuss the movement and enhance spirituality. The first such meeting was held in Italy in 1949, while today 200.000 people participate from all over the world. Many of the people who attend are Catholics, but members of other faiths participate as well. I and my fellow congregates from Or Hadash attended this year’s event in Israel. Kibbutz Nes Ammim hosted the activity.

The Nes Amim Christian kibbutz is located between Naharia and Nazareth (all in the area of west Galilee) the home of Mary Magdalene and residence where Jesus was raised. The kibbutz was founded by various Christians from different European backgrounds. The term “Nes Amim” means “banner of nations” it was used in Isaiah 11:10. The theology of “Nes Amim” refers to the need for dialogue between Jews, Christians and all religions.

Nes Ammim 2009 was a successful and memorable experience. It was the first time in history that Jews, Muslims, and Christians from both sides of our borders participated in the convention. We were blessed be chosen as the first Jewish attendees. This year the attending participants came from very diverse backgrounds. There were individuals from Ramala, Ra’anana, Haifa, Jerusalem and even Egypt. There were also participants from Italy, Brazil and Uruguay, who traveled half way around the world to attend the occasion. The convention’s program was similar to last year’s. The three hundred participants were divided into several small groups to enjoy spiritual, artistic, and social activity. There were art classes, drama exhibitions, knitting instruction, meditation, and of course the beloved hiking trails and swimming pools. Nes Ammim hosts a church, a synagogue, and mosque. Many of us attended each other’s weekly prayers.

The three hundred individuals that attended Nes Ammim had their own beliefs, values, goals, and lifestyles. These diversities are a reflection of life in Israel and Palestine. That is the reason that this type of activity should continue in growing numbers, and that the world should be aware of them. I firmly believe that the people of this region can be an example to the rest of the world that the ploughshare can indeed replace the sword.

About the author: Earl Shugerman is a retired American Government public relations specialist,  currently spokesman in Haifa for The Jewish Agency and a writer specializing in interfaith relations. He has worked together with the Catholic and Southern Baptist Movements, the Reformed Jewish Movement and Muslim groups in interfaith activities.


Why the U.S. Senate should ratify new nuclear treaty with Russia

November 17, 2010

The U.S. Senate’s chief Republican negotiator on the New START Treaty, Senator Jon Kyl, announced early this week he will block the vote in this session.

A White House fact sheet on the treaty can be read here. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to meet with congressional leaders today to convince them to vote for the treaty’s passage.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argue for New START’s passage in the following Washington Post op-ed.

“For decades, American inspectors have monitored Russian nuclear forces, putting into practice President Ronald Reagan’s favorite maxim, “Trust, but verify.” But since the old START Treaty expired last December, we have relied on trust alone. Until a new treaty comes into force, our inspectors will not have access to Russian missile silos and the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals will lack the stability that comes with a rigorous inspection regime.”

Read full story.


GET ENERGIZED! AIPAC Policy Conference 2011 – Working to strengthen relations between the United States of America and Israel

November 16, 2010

The 2011 AIPAC Policy Conference will take place May 22-24 in Washington DC. To register, please click here.