The Jews

Artwork by Elhanan ben-Avraham

“The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?” – Mark Twain

Jewish people have been from ancient times, going back some 3000 years, commanded from the Torah to educate their children, creating a literate group in a predominantly illiterate world (“you shall teach these things diligently to your children, and speak of them while dwelling in your home, as you walk on your way, when you lie down and when you arise” – Deuteronomy 6, part of the central ‘Hear O Israel’).

This created a mental aptitude and ability which served the Jews well as they were kept for many centuries from joining guilds and universities or owning businesses, the immense pressures of antisemitism forming the sharp Jewish mind like diamonds that could survive and even prosper in the few fields open to them, a tiny sliver of less than 1% of humanity going on to achieve such heights as many Nobel Prizes in many fields- even Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) in Literature. Think of the predominant Ideas on the face of the Earth today- for better or worse- be it nuclear energy (Einstein), psychiatry (Freud), communism (Marx), Hollywood (MGM, Sam Goldwyn, Steven Spielberg et al), and the monotheistic religions arising from Judaism- Christianity in all its forms, and Islam –  and the Bible, born of the Jews, and Jesus the Jew (who said “Salvation is of the Jews”) influencing not a little the development of the entire western world.

Not to mention forging a modern viable but tiny Jewish state from the ashes of the Holocaust, and in the face of constant threat and opposition back in their ancient land after a 2000-year dispersion, an historic phenomenon unparalleled.

The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’ – Ezekiel 36

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Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published five illustrated books of poetry, painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, and most recently produced THE JERUSALEM ILLUSTRATED BIBLE, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.