Lev Tahor: By the Waters of Babylon. Part I

There is something that happens to persons who stare long enough and with a critical eye at what passes for right and truth in this world. If their brains do not short circuit from the load of that education, they will certainly benefit from an occasional rewiring. These people realise, maybe initially with great discomfort and regret, that the only situations in which they can allow themselves to react without a second thought are the ones where the outcome will be either life or death. And even then. For everything else, they feel obligated to pull back the screens, to identify patterns and to try with imperfect information to identify the grinches in the works.

I have not been able to come to any glib conclusions about Lev Tahor. I think that we have to find the pieces of the puzzle, even the untruthful pieces as they are also instructive and have a story to tell about their creators. The fairest assessment does not involve rushing to judgement. What I am trying to do for myself at this time is to understand what the group is about by reading what is available online. As with everything else, I have found a spectrum of opinions.

I have too many unanswered questions to be able to move on. What exactly did we do with these people when they were on our territory and asking simply to be allowed transit? The details provided by the media and by officials about what transpired at Piarco International Airport and behind closed doors in the offices of government officials and the Canadian embassy are murky and inconsistent. I know that much was left undisclosed. Who believes that T&T's immigration officials relied solely upon their superior Spidey senses to find the group suspicious? Who believes that these people were not in detention? Who believes that any extraordinary care was given to making them comfortable in a place in which it was never their intention to linger? Who believes that they were given a fair hearing? Who believes that international laws were wrongly interpreted, if not broken?

Daniel Brown, Canadian Immigration Lawyer, shared this opinion about the situation in Trinidad with CTV news:

"Having it become  child welfare issue isn't a reason to extradite somebody back to Canada. What you require is a criminal offence to have been committed." VIDEO SOURCE

Who believes that these Lev Tahor members were treated poorly and roughed up at the end of their stay? Well the photos don't lie. I was particularly disturbed by these photos of male persons handling one of the female members. Where was their lawyer when they were being transported?  And what prompted this same lawyer, Farai Hove Masai, to make the following condemnatory public statement about how his clients were being treated. What else is there to conclude but that his dismay must have been so acute as to be beyond suppression.

"The group retained a lawyer in Trinidad, and a letter from him to that country's minister of national security was attached to the email.
In the letter, Farai Hove Masaisai said he had not been given a reason for the group's detention and alleged they were being poorly treated and underfed.

"The manner in which they were treated personally brought me to a fundamental low and made me heavily embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a Trinidadian." SOURCE

So who are these Lev Tahor people anyway? And why did they lay the inconvenience of their cold, Canadian misery at our sunny, Carnival drenched doorstep? Well, from the brisk manner in which they were bundled up and handed over to the Canadian centurions, you may conclude that they are not financiers of any of our political parties. Another thing that you can learn is that they are not members of a cult as some have described them. They are Jews. Cults, as Tom Wolfe succinctly put it, are religions without political power and that is obviously not a description of Judaism.

But what if you are on the wrong side of that political power? Lev Tahor, has chosen that very path in their strict interpretation of the teachings of the Torah which tells them that they are to submit to being in exile until the coming of the Messiah. They would be classified by us as an ultra orthodox sect within Judaism and although you may not share their sartorial taste or their beliefs, of one thing you can be sure,  they will not be voluntarily joining those who bomb Palestinians or build settlements in disputed territory. These are anti-Zionist Jews. These are True Torah Jews who proclaim that the state of Israel does not represent Jews or Judaism. They are radical Jews, and I use that word, not as we do today to mean something new or extreme but I am returning to the original meaning and using it to describe those Jews who are closest to the radix or root of Judaism.

"We have been forsworn by G'd "not to enter the Holy Land as a body before the predestined time", "not to rebel against the nations", to be loyal citizens, not to do anything against the will of any nation or its honour, not to seek  vengeance, discord, restitution or compensation; "not to leave exile ahead of time." On the contrary; we have to be humble and accept the yoke of exile. To violate the oaths would result in "your flesh will be made prey as the deer and the antelope in the forest," and the redemption will be delayed. (Talmud Tractate Ksubos 111). To violate the oaths is not only a sin, it is a heresy because it is against the fundamentals of our Belief.

Before the Almighty gave us the Holy Land 3268 years ago, He made these conditions: If we will abide by the Torah, it is ours; if not, we will be expelled. Alas, we sinned, and we were exiled from the land "Umipnay chatoenu golenu mayartsenu". Only through complete repentance will the Almighty alone, without any human effort or intervention, redeem us from exile. This will be after G'd will send the prophet Elijah and Moshiach who will make all Jews do complete repentance. At that time there will be universal peace.

Any suffering in exile is a punishment from G'd and we cannot do anything about it on our own because nations where we suffered are only instruments of G'd's anger at our misdeeds. The Torah teaches us how to survive during exile (Vayishlach) by being humble (not vindictive, demanding or vengeful). The Torah gives an example of this and says that in the ocean one must go under the wave (Talmud, Tractate Yevomos 121). We have to take the punishment; if we go against it, we will suffer more. The only way to alleviate suffering in exile is through repentance. We must mend our ways and pray that G'd should not punish us again.

The Jewish people remained faithful to the Belief for over 1800 years and dealt with the problems of exile accordingly and never asked for things taken from them until the advent of Zionism 100 years ago." SOURCE

Uploaded by True Torah Jews

Lev Tahor members are Hasidim. They are authentic Jews and are often referred to as ultra Orthodox Jews. Like other Haredi Jews they have distinctive lifestyles and are most easily recognised by their clothing. They believe without a doubt that their Torah was written by God and they strive to live in strict observance of Jewish Law. The Hebrew word harada from which Haredi comes has been interpreted as "one who trembles in awe of God." They are anxious to live life according to what they know to be the authentic interpretation of God's instructions.

You who tremble at His word, hear the word of the Lord. -- Isaiah 66:5


Unknown said...

I read that they were deported from Israel. Do you know if this is true? And why?

Guanaguanare said...

Michelle, Thanks for your comment. By "they" do you mean the Rabbi or the members of his community? The Rabbi is a native of Israel so I don't know anything about deportation FROM Israel. In 1990, he and about twenty of his followers left Israel and entered the USA. Perhaps what you read about was his having been deported TO Israel from the USA in May 2000. He was deported because according to the I.N.S, he had entered the country illegally in 1990 and then he later acquired the status of convicted felon in 1994 after being tried for kidnapping a thirteen year old boy in his school. Although the boy's mother denied the domestic violence, Rabbi Helbrans had said that he had given the boy sanctuary from a dysfunctional family in which his stepfather was beating his wife and the child. I have read conflicting reports. Some say that the boy testified that he had not been kidnapped and later, as an adult continued to maintain that he had not been indoctrinated or abducted by Helbrans. Other reports say that the boy had been paid to testify on behalf of the Rabbi. The Rabbi served two years in prison before his release and then he was in the process of appealing that conviction in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, when he was deported to Israel.

Three years later he had relocated to Canada where he had been granted refugee status. He had successfully argued at his 2003 hearing that as an anti-Zionist, he would be persecuted if returned to Israel. So that's how he came to be in Canada. His community in the USA followed him to Canada.

If, as an anti-Zionist, and for whatever other reasons he is considered to be an enemy of Israel, then both he and his followers will continue to face harassment living in strange lands. If he is his own worst enemy, and I am yet to find compelling evidence to support this conclusion, then he will be the main source of distress for his community.


Unknown said...

Ok. Thanks for the clarification. I never read any of that in the news.

Guanaguanare said...

I should have read this document:
"With Liberty and Justice for All...? The Trial and Prosecution of Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans." By Jacob Y. Zick before attempting to answer that last question. This author's voice, unlike many of the others who have been shaping public opinion, has the ring of truth to it and if these are the facts, then...I have no words... this is spiritual warfare.