A funeral in Israel shows the remarkable power of faith
On Friday, March 18, in Bnei Brak, a city near Tel Aviv, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky passed away at the age of 94. I'm sure that means very little to you. Unless you are an ultra-Orthodox Jew whose life is dedicated to the study of the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible), your life will not have intersected with Rabbi Kanievsky's. However, he was important enough to Israel's ultra-Orthodox community that, on Sunday, over 750,000 men (or almost 8.5% of Israel's total population) poured into the streets of Bnei Brak to be part of his funeral.
Still, why should that matter to you? It matters because a religious text that's around 2,500 years old in its present form and existed in other forms before then, and that recognizes and seeks to tame and elevate human behavior, has such power. Compared to that, today's wokism, firmly grounded in fantasy, cannot and will not last.
Because the Daily Mail has the best photographs, I'll quote from its report:
Born in Pinsk, Belarus, he had moved to the country when he was a child and when it was still British-ruled Palestine.
He remained there for the rest of his life, becoming revered by many in the Jewish religious world, and was one of the few remaining leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel born before the Holocaust.
Police closed several highways in Israel's densely populated Tel Aviv area to traffic for several hours, and other main thoroughfares were expected to be gridlocked. Authorities urged the public not to drive into the area by car.
A separate women's section was created in the streets of Bnei Brak for the funeral that the Magen David Adom, Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross, said was likely to be one of the largest ever gatherings in 'Israeli history.'
Rather to my surprise, Reuters livestreamed all two hours of the event, which you can see here. I've also embedded below two more concise versions of the events so you can get a sense of the absolutely overwhelming sea of humanity:
And again, check out the Daily Mail's photos, which come from all the major news agencies.
Aside from being a fascinating insight into a culture that few of us know about, why does this matter? It matters because it's a reminder that, as Geoffrey Clarfield and Salim Mansur so elegantly explained, there is a civilizational conflict going on. In the West, one level is Islam versus Western values. We see that clearly because of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another level, though, is more profound, for it occurs within the West and sees an epic struggle between traditionalism and faith, on the one hand and...well, the technical terms are secularism or postmodernism on the other hand, but I tend to think of what's happening on the left as insanity.
Those hundreds of thousands of Jewish men are the ballast of faith. They are the living embodiments of a faith tradition stretching back, unbroken, for at least 2,500 years. That's when scholars believe that the Torah was set down in its present form, in the 6th century B.C. But the Torah existed long before that, in myriad written and in oral versions.
Then, beginning in the years after Christ's birth, the world's Christians embraced these core concepts, especially those articulated in the Ten Commandments. Even Islam revolves around the Bible, which inspired Mohamed's visions.
The core concepts in the Bible are unchanging: there is a God, God made men and women, marriage creates cultural stability, people should have children, slavery is immoral, coveting destroys social cohesion, etc. Dennis Prager has an excellent series explaining how these core biblical concepts create strong, healthy, prosperous communities:
Against that continuity of faith and morality, nothing leftists do or say will last. Why? Because traditional faiths, whether Western or Eastern, recognize human nature and exhort people to embrace principles that optimize the realities of human nature to benefit the greatest number of people.
Meanwhile, post-modernism and the societal deconstructionism that comes with it reject reality. In the post-modern world, slavery is virtuous if the master, rather than being an individual, is the government. Male and female are just societal constructs that can be overridden by wishing, surgery, and hormones. Race, a category that denies people's individualism and their divine spark, is immutably and completely determinative. Rampant, uncontrolled, untamed sex makes everyone happy.
The most important difference, though, as those 750,000 or more mourners show, is that religious people have babies, lots and lots of babies. Secular people do not. Secular Europe is dying (including Russia, which no longer has the wherewithal to throw bodies into battle as it once did), while religious communities are demographically booming.
Yeah, that's a lot of messaging to take out of a unique event in Israel, but I do think it's worth noting.
Image: Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky's funeral. YouTube screen grab.