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The Tribunal

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The Tribunal of Am Yisroel vs. HaShem (The Tribunal of the Jewish People verses G’d)

I remember I picked up this story during my training to become a Feldenkrais Method Practitioner in Munich, Germany in 1987–1991. One of the instructors was also a survivor (of another than KZ Dachau, which still exists as a Memorial near to Munich and happened to be the theme of our discussion during a lunch break) and she told us this story.

I suspected her of taking the opportunity to illustrate the fact of the Shoah (Holocaust) to the younger (and especially of the German) students. Nonetheless, she was (and still is) one of the great teachers whom I definitively allowed to influence my way of thinking. So here’s the story.

It was just after the Liberation. The survivors had been physically taken care of by the liberators and they were waiting to be transported. There were some great minds of Talmudic Scholars and of others who thirsted for the mental and spiritual activities of which they now could again occupy themselves with. The need for the day-to-day survival had been accomplished.

So they asked themselves if they, Am Yisroel (People of Israel), were still HaShem’s Chosen People. And if they were, why had HaShem let them suffer all these horrible atrocities? How about the Covenant? This legally binding formal agreement—had HaShem (Blessed be He!) kept to His part of the Agreement? And above all, if He had failed to do so, were they still obliged to obey the Ten Words, the Ten Points of the Contract, the Ten Commandments—especially the First: “Lo yiheyeh leka Elohim acherim al pana”—“Thou shalt have no other gods before me”?

Now, of course they had to be fair! They had to let a court decide if HaShem had failed to keep the Covenant—in principal, had He failed to keep them? So they decided to have a Tribunal of the Highest Order, to have seven rabbis, in the sense of learned Judges, to have three rabbis, Representation of the Accusing People and three rabbis Representation of HaShem’s Defense, all well versed in the Talmud and the other Scriptures.

Remember, Trial by Jury of Peers was stipulated in the Magna Charta, 1215—if I’m mistaken—nonetheless, way after the Proceedings of the Talmud. So, no jury!

The question of “in absence of the accused” turned up. It was countered with, “When is HaShem ever absent?”

A lot more detail were discussed and decided upon for days. Finally, they all agreed to have the Tribunal the next day.

The details of the Highest Rabbinic Trial were perhaps part of another story. Anyway, hither and wither went the tide of the Court until finally, way late in the day, HaShem was, by Decree of this High Tribunal, found guilty and the Ten Words, the Covenant was now declared obsolete.

Then, the man they had chosen as their shames, the “Server of the Religious Community,” stood up and said, “Gentlemen, it is becoming evening; time to daavern—the Evening Prayers!”

Thus, everybody stood up—and prayed!

End of the story.


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