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What is Israel? What is a Nation of Priests?

By Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.

What does it mean to be “Israel”? Are only Jews Israel? Is being Israel a bloodline, or is it a mission and an obligation?

The Torah clearly states that God chose the nation of Israel to be His chosen people. Yet, what were they chosen for? Moses says that Israel is a nation of priests. Isaiah states that Israel was chosen to serve as a light to the nations. No where does it say that by being chosen by God to serve Him was Israel made any better, smarter, richer, more handsome or beautiful that any other nation.

While it is written that Israel has been drawn close to God, this closeness does not mean that every single Jew enjoys an intimate relationship with God, and a communication with Him superior to everyone else. The meaning of being a chosen nation has fallen victim to an awful amount of misinterpretation, much of it based on racism, prejudice, and arrogance.

The Torah teaches that Israel, as a nation, was chosen by God to serve as His agents to bring about change in all of humanity. This mission for Israel includes all the descendants of the Biblical Jacob, divided as they have been into the twelve tribes.

For more than two thousand years, the vast majority of Israelites have been separated from their original identities. Since the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel in Biblical times, the Israelites have been scattered over the face of the earth. Now, over two thousand, five hundred years later, the modern descendants of the Biblical Israelites are most likely to be found in every country, and nation on Earth. Their numbers must certainly be in the hundreds of millions.

Today, and since the fall of the southern Kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE, the survivors of Judah are called Jews, after the name of Judah. However, it is Biblically clear that Israel and Judah are not synonymous terms. Judah is only one of the twelve tribes. Judah is only 1/12 of the nation of Israel.

Even though the other tribes may indeed have been separated from their identities, they are still, nevertheless, part and parcel of Israel, and still subject to the calling of God, to be a chosen people, and a light to the nations.

God does not need the other tribes to be Jewish in order to continue using them to further His Divine plan for humanity. Although Israel might not know itself, God still knows who they are, and uses them accordingly, as His tools to direct, and guide humanity.

For a nation of priests, it becomes vital for one to understand what specifically a priest is supposed to be, and what he is supposed to do. What is the essential role of a priest? In Torah tradition, the priest stood between Heaven and Earth, and served as the conduit to balance the two, bringing them into harmony. Later Jewish tradition ascribed the attribute of pursuing peace to the first High Priest, Aaron, Moses' brother. Tradition exhorts us to be like the disciples of Aaron to love peace and to pursue it, to love people, and to bring them close to the Way of God (Torah).

To be a light to the nations, to be a faithful, and functioning member of a nation of priests, one must thus follow the attributed role model of the first High Priest Aaron. The “priest” must pursue peace, love people, and seek to assist them to live better, more natural lives, in accordance to natural, and universal law (Torah). This obligation is incumbent upon all Israel, all twelve tribes. The one who embraces this obligation, and indeed pursues peace, building bridges, and seeking the betterment of humanity is fulfilling the role God designed for Israel.

Regardless of whoever a person may be, regardless of one's background, one's present religion, or any other cultural, ethnic or national identity, those who act as Israel is supposed to act, are in fact acting as Israel. Such committed human beings are fulfilling the role, and purpose of Israel, they are acting as the conduits for making peace between Heaven and Earth.

We may indeed call these individuals “spiritual Israel.” And, who knows, if it were possible to trace bloodlines back thousands of years, it stands to reason that these peoples, who embrace this level of human compassion, may very well be the descendants of the actual Israelites who stood at Sinai to experience the telepathic message from God.

An ancient tradition teachings taught us that it is the students of wisdom who increase peace in the world. To emphasize this point the teachings makes a moral reference to the Biblical teaching of the prophet Isaiah. “And all your children will be learned about YHWH, and great shall be the peace of (bana'yikh) your children” (Isaiah 54:13). Do not read the final word as “bana'yikh” (your children), rather read the word as “bona'yikh” (your builders).

Those who promote harmony, balance and peace between peoples, these are the true builders of the world. This course of action is called wisdom, and those who follow it are called the students of wisdom. They are the true disciples of Aaron. They are the ones who are fulfilling the role of God's Israel.

The peacemakers, therefore, are the true chosen people, the authentic “nation” of priests. Although bloodlines may have become lost, and confused over thousands of years, identity today can be discerned through moral character, honorable behavior and the spirit for universal harmony. Peacemakers are the builders who build the bridges over our cultural, religious, and other divides. Peacemakers proclaim the Biblical message that not only is God one, but so too is all humanity.

Superficial religions argue, and bicker over shallow unimportant things. Such shallow religious teachings, and the shallow individuals that follow them should be role models to no one. Religions today have become weighed down, and oppressed by crushing divisive doctrines, dogmas, and theologies. This is why true Torah is not the way religion is today. The true faithful who follow Torah, live every moment in the Way (Halakha). They should never allow themselves to be called, or to be otherwise identified with the superficial, shallow, and hollow expressions of an interpretation of Torah, which has no basis or source in the truth that Torah itself represents.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” A faithful priest, disciple of Aaron, regardless of who he or she is, is still the one who is faithfully executing the role of Israel, and is being a “light to the nations.” Such a one does not have to be a Jew. There are still eleven other tribes from which one can originate. Such an “Israelite” is recognized by the building of bridges, and the making of peace.

God has His ways. God knows His own. For the sake of a united “spiritual Israel,” we too should put aside all our superficial differences. Instead of focusing on what divides us, we should instead focus on working together to bring peace, harmony, unity, tolerance and enlightenment to all of Gods' creation. This is what it means to be a member of a nation of priests, and to be a true tool in the Hand of God. This is what defines God's Israel.

Spirit is “thicker” (deeper) than blood. In messianic times, this is how the “lost tribes” will be identified, and welcomed home.
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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
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