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Hoshana Rabah 2006
Pâ•qid Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu celebrating Ho•sha•nâ Rab•âh with fellow congregants at Beit ha-Kᵊnësët Mo•reshet Âv•ot in Ra•a•nanâ(h), Israel
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Sukkah Beit

(Hut, Booth or Exhibit #2)

Lacuna of 1st-Century Nᵊtzâr•im Ha•lâkh•âh

What Was the Ha•lâkh•âh of Ribi Yᵊhoshua?

Initial assumptions, when unfounded, predetermine pseudo-logical conclusions.

For example, those who assume the Bible wrong until proven right proceed to reason to far different conclusions than those who assume the Bible right until proven wrong. One can easily see that, since neither side can be proven, neither side will be moved from their initial assumptions. Neither of these two approaches is logical! This is why this argument persists, destined to remain unresolved.

Those who assume there is no Creator until the existence of Creator is proven proceed to reason to far different conclusions than those who assume there is a Creator until the existence of a Creator is disproven. One can easily see that, since this issue can be neither proven nor disproven, neither side will be moved from their initial assumptions. Neither of these two approaches is logical! This is also why this argument persists, destined to remain unresolved.

So what is the logical approach? Don't assume! A logician (and scientist) begins by realizing (s)he doesn't know and rejecting either set of assumptions; then, (s)he researches and discovers which premise is supported by the weight of evidence.

(If you want a discussion to be constructive, first be sure whomever you're talking with isn't clinging to unfounded initial assumptions. You'll be wasting your breath if you're talking with someone who is grinding an axe rather than learning, insisting (s)he is right until you prove differently—even if (s)he has scholarly or scientific credentials.)

This same principle holds for those who assume "Jesus" and his "apostles" were Christians in contrast with those who assume Ribi Yᵊho•shua was a rabbinic Pharisee Jew. There are thousands of issues of Ha•lâkh•âh for which there is no record of any comment by Ribi Yᵊho•shua. Christians fill in these thousands of blanks with Christian doctrines and culture. However, the honest student will recognize that, historically, he is incontestably documented to have been a Pᵊrush•iRibi. Thus, rather than begin with Christian assumptions, the logician and scientist must fill in all of these thousands of blank spots, where no comment by Ribi Yᵊho•shua is recorded, with Pharisaic rabbinic, not Christian, doctrines and culture except instances for which the evidence—compatible with, and accepted by, those rabbinic Pharisees—credibly demonstrates Ribi Yᵊho•shua taught otherwise.

Filling the thousands of blank spots, where no comment by Ribi Yᵊho•shua is recorded, with Pharisaic rabbinic principles instead of Christian doctrines suddenly and drastically repaints the picture to a Pᵊrush•i Ribi Yᵊhud•i—180° opposite to the Christian image!!!

Further, it will be seen in the other sections of our History Museum that the historical record indisputably documents exactly how, centuries after the fact, Hellenist Roman Christians redacted—rewrote—the accounts they had heard, a few decades after the fact, from Hellenist (Pauline) Jews, into a Hellenist Romanized / gentilized image that matched their Hellenist Roman perceptions.

Only a few examples of Ribi Yᵊho•shua's views on Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh remain extant following the Roman destruction of Torâh scrolls, Davidic genealogies, rabbinic literature generally and brutal antinomian and misojudaic Roman suppression of Judaism between 135 CE and the 4th century. When superimposed on 4th-century Roman Hellenism, as Christians assume, unsurprisingly, the result appears to suggest Hellenist Christian doctrines. When superimposed, instead, on 4th-century traditions of his own Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh, however, the result resolves startlingly clear – as refinements of, and rebukes against hypocrisy relative to, mainstream rabbinic Ha•lâkh•âh, as witnessed in 4Q MMT (Sukâh Âleph).

Thus, the only way to retrieve and restore the authentic teachings of this 1st-century Pᵊrushim Ribi is to first retrieve and restore the Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh.

Restoring the Ha•lâkh•âh of Ribi Yᵊho•shua

Retrieving and restoring 1st-century Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh is not straightforward. As Oxford historian James Parkes observed in his authoritative book (The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, A Study in the Origins of Anti-Semitism), Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh changed significantly between the 1st century CE and the 4th century. For example, the references in Talmud, compiled only in the 5th century, reflect rabbinic rejection of the Roman-fabricated Hellenist Christian idol, J*esus, which has no connection whatsoever to the 1st-century Torâh-teaching Pᵊrushim Ribi.

Not only is the entire 1st-century Pᵊrushim Ha•lâkh•âh a lacuna, the Nᵊtzâr•im ceased to exist in the literature in 135 CE, leaving no description of Nᵊtzâr•im Ha•lâkh•âh.

Today's Pᵊrush•i Ha•lâkh•âh
Most Pristinely Reflecting Har Sin•ai

Recognizing Beit-Hileil and Ribi Yᵊho•shua who was the foremost 1st-century proponent of Beit-Hileil, as reflecting the most pristine Ha•lâkh•âh emanating from Har Sinai was relatively easy, particularly for Nᵊtzâr•im because, recognizing Ribi Yᵊhoshua as the shiakh implies that the shiakh would reflect the true Ha•lâkh•âh given by ha-Sheim to Moshëh on Har Sinai.

When the rabidly Hellenizing Yᵊhoshua ("Jason") Ben-Shimon (2) Ben-Tzâdoq usurped the office of Koheindol from his brother – and last legitimate Koheindol, Khonyo (aka Yᵊkhonyâh or "Onias") Ben-Shimon (2) Ben-Tzâdoq, the Tzᵊdoqim split into two parts: the Hellenizers who took control of the Beit ha-Miqdâsh and were subsequently called Kohein hâ-Resha, and the honorable Bᵊnei Tzâdoq who were exiled from the Beit ha-Miqdâsh, dispersed throughout Yisrâ·eil (sometimes visiting Qumrân) and eventually died out. Their genealogies destroyed by the Romans, both sects of Tzᵊdoqim became irreversibly extinct, leaving only the Pᵊrushim. (Today's "Kohanim" are purely ceremonial. None have a Biblically legitimate yukhasin.) Thus, the only heirs bearing the Mᵊnorâh of pristine Ha•lâkh•âh are Pᵊrushim.

Having established that the Pᵊrushim are the only extant bearers of the Ha•lâkh•âh emanating from Har Sinai, the question then arose: which element of modern Pᵊrushim most accurately reflects the pristine Ha•lâkh•âh of Har Sinai?

Judaic historians all agree that the community that most truly reflect the pristine ancient Ha•lâkh•âh are the Teimânim, who, regarded as repugnant and inferior "dhimmis" by the surrounding Muslims, were isolated from all outside culture for 1300 years.

"The Jewish community of Yemen is thought to be the oldest in the world, dating back to Solomon's time. In the 5th century C.E., Jewish influence was so great that the Himyaritic king adopted Judaism; however, the Ethiopian invasions ended this dynasty. When Yemen adopted Islam Jews were made second-class citizens; they were not, for example, permitted to walk on the pavement or ride on a donkey, lest a Jew look down upon a Muslim pedestrian. [Nor were Jewish males allowed to be considered men, forbidden to wear the jambiya dagger, symbolizing manhood, at their waist like the Muslims.] Jewish orphans were forcibly converted to Islam. Nevertheless, through centuries of oppression, the Yemenite Jews preserved their traditional religion. In 1172, Maimonides wrote his famous Epistle to the Yemenites, in which he expressed his sympathy for Jews of Yemen in their martyrdom and exhorted them to remain true to their faith." (Yemen, The Shengold Jewish Encyclopedia, Mordecai Schreiber, Alvin I. Schiff, Leon Klenicki, Schreiber Publishing, 2003, p. 283).

Tei•mân•im: Ancient History

"The Yemenite Jews have a unique history that distinguish them from Jews in other countries in the Arab world. The way they migrated to Yemen is different. The relationship they had to the Arab rulers and the Arab populous was different. Also the Jewish culture that developed in Yemen is very different from any other Jewish community in the world."

"We do not know exactly how Jews came to settle in Yemen. According to Yemenite tradition, a group of well-to-do Jews left Jerusalem after they heard Jeremiah predict the destruction of the Temple in 629 BCE, 42 years before the destruction occurred. Historians believe that King Solomon's trading and naval networks brought Jews to Yemen from Judea around 900 BCE. The first evidence of Jewish presence in Yemen can be traced to the 3rd century CE."

"In the early part of Jewish settlement, the Jewish presence in Yemen was very strong. The Himyarites who ruled at this time had a large number of people who converted to Judaism. Sometime after the 3rd century, the Himyarite ruling family converted to Judaism, making Judaism the ruling religion. Jewish rule lasted until 525 CE, when the Christians from Ethiopia took over." (Himyarites, History.com Encyclopedia, Jewish Virtual Library.

This also means that the Yemeni population before 525 C.E., having converted to Judaism, were Jews—explaining why the DNA of Yemenite Jews shows closeness to the general Yemenite population—Jews prior to 525 C.E. Thus, while Yemenite Jews are genetically similar to today's Yemenite Muslims, this was not due to assimilation. Indeed, Yemenite Jews remained Tor•âh true. This further demonstrates that Jews are a religious group that transcends genetic racism.

The Teimânim – Paradigm For Nᵊtzâr•im Ha•lâkh•âh

Video clip
Teimânim Video: Typical Teimâni sound. Partial selection from Mizmorei Teimân, the Rosh ha-Âiyin Teimâni Choir, performing in Ra·ananâ(h), 2007.03.17.
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Amir, Dr. Yehudah
ד"ר יהודה עמיר
(Dr. Yehudah Amir), faculty, Sᵊphârâdi & Miz·râkhi Jewry, Interdepartmental Division of Jewish Studies, Bar Ilan Univ.

The Teimânim remained pristine largely because they were isolated from – and uninfluenced (unassimilated) by – the world, including from the surrounding Arabs, since the time of Shᵊlomoh ha-Melekh. All other Jewish communities have assimilated, usually severely, into the surrounding goyim. Worst assimilated among Orthodox Jews are the Ashkᵊnazim, whose culture is strongly European rather than Yisrâ·eil – i.e. Middle Eastern – and whose language, Yiddish, is living testimony of German-assimilation.

Jewish & Christian Misconceptions About Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im

Jewishencyclopedia.com publishes: "Various traditions trace the earliest settlement of Jews in this region back to the time of Solomon, and the Sanaite Jews have a legend to the effect that their forefathers settled there forty-two years before the destruction of the First Temple. Under the prophet Jeremiah 75,000 Jews, including priests and Levites, are said to have gone to Yemen; and when Ezra commanded the Jews to return to Jerusalem they disobeyed, whereupon he pronounced an everlasting ban upon them. Tradition states, however, that as a punishment for this hasty action Ezra was denied burial in Palestine. As a result of this tradition, which is devoid of historicity, no Jew of Yemen gives the name of Ezra to a child…"

This is rife with error. First, there was no "Palestine" for another half-millennium after Ëz. Beyond that, one of the Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im in our Beit ha-Kᵊnësët Teimânit, who was born in Yemen, is named Ëz! Articles that begin in error cannot be trusted to be accurate.

Over the years, a number of Christians have corresponded with me, many of them "knowing" that Yemenite Jews wear robes, etc. Their impressions are either taken from Hollywood, Christian stories or decades-old photographs they've seen in a book.

In this page, I will attempt to publish only what correlates with what I know, or can find out, from the Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im in our Beit ha-Kᵊnësët Teimânit—one of whom, Dr. Yᵊhudâh Amir (see photo), is the first person to obtain a doctorate in Teimâni studies. Along with Mori Khaim, Dr. Amir and Prof. Khaim Tawil of Yᵊshivâh University are my "goto guys." There are none more knowledgeable or authoritative concerning the Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im in the world today.

Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im In Yemen

B.C.E. ca. 975 To 4th Century C.E.

Jewishvirtuallibrary.org reports: "The Yemenite Jews have a unique history that distinguish them from Jews in other countries in the Arab world. The way they migrated to Yemen is different. The relationship they had to the Arab rulers and the Arab populous was different. Also the Jewish culture that developed in Yemen is very different from any other Jewish community in the world.

We do not know exactly how Jews came to settle in Yemen. According to Yemenite tradition, a group of well-to-do Jews left Jerusalem after they heard Jeremiah predict the destruction of the Temple in 629 BCE, 42 years before the destruction occurred. Historians believe that King Solomon's trading and naval networks brought Jews to Yemen from Judea around 900 BCE. The first evidence of Jewish presence in Yemen can be traced to the 3rd century CE.

It seems to make sense, as some scholars have suggested, that the Jewish presence in Yemen dates back to the departure of the Queen of Sheba from her visit with Shᵊlomoh ha-Melekh — ca. B.C.E. 975.

In the early part of Jewish settlement, the Jewish presence in Yemen was very strong. The Himyarites who ruled at this time had a large number of people who converted to Judaism. Sometime after the 3rd century, the Himyarite ruling family converted to Judaism, making Judaism the ruling religion. Jewish rule lasted until 525 CE, when the Christians from Ethiopia took over…"

4th Century C.E.

"Ethiopian rule ended in the 7th century with the Muslim conquest. The Muslim conquest changed Jewry in this area forever. Jews went from being equal to dhimmis (2nd class citizens). They were required to pay a poll tax, a standard tax for Jews, Christians and other protected peoples in the Muslim world. They did not have much contact with other Jewish communities. Over the years their culture took on similarities to Arab culture. Little is known about this early part of Arab rule in Yemen, but we know the Jewish community was in distress from letters in the Cairo Genizah." (Sarah Szymkowicz)

With the exception of the Egyptian exile, being surrounded by Arabs, "[taking] on similarities to Arab culture," was the case from before the time of Har Sinai. Unlike Europeans, Arabs and Jews are similar in many ways. The contrast that should be understood is the affect of surrounding Arab cultures, the indigenous situation comparable to Iraq (Babylon)—from which Avrâhâm originated—as contrasted by the affect of surrounding European cultures. Dissimilarity from Europeans and similarity with Middle-Eastern Arabs is the norm for Jews, who are a Middle-Eastern, not European (!), people. Within the Arab sphere, the difference between Yemen and Iraq (Babylon) is that in Yemen the Jews were far more isolated from, and were far less influenced by, the surrounding Arab culture. In short, the Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im are the most pristine prism through which the ancient Torâh of Har Sinai—and, therefore, י--ה—can be seen.

From A Land of Pure Dreams by Stanley Mann (WZO)

Yemen is villages spread in the mountains and mountains bordering the Red Sea. It's a country of a natural wall which traps wet clouds of the monsoon rolling in from the Indian Ocean to the south and east. Its two thousand miles south of Jerusalem and a patient Jewish community that waited three thousand years to come home. It's a country where Jews settled during the reign of King Solomon during the period of the First Temple. Here one could see the "glowing religious fervor of the Yemenite Jew." The Jews who on Sabbath "would spend almost the entire day in the Synagogue in prayer and study, and a community surrounded by an aura of holiness." It was a land of pure dreams waiting for the return to Zion.

Encyclopedia Judaica reports "No historic sources are available which prove the authenticity of the traditions and suppositions concerning the beginnings of Jewish settlement in South Arabia, and particularly in Yemen. It can be assumed that during the Second Temple period there were [already] Jewish merchants who lived [in Jewish communities] in the capitals of Babylonia and Persia and traded with Saba and Kush. The temporary settlement of Jewish merchants and agents in Yemen in the course of the business became in due time a permanent settlement and Jewish communities started to develop in South Arabia" ("Yemen," 16.739). "…Even in Muhammad's time, during the conversion of South Arabian tribes to Islam, Jews were not mentioned" (740)… Information concerning Jewish communities in Yemen from the 11th century bears witness to the continuity of Jewish settlement in this territory from pre-Islamic times, as it is not reasonable to assume that the Jews then started to immigrate to Yemen from other countries…" (741).

Yeminite Jews believe that forty two years before the destruction of the First Temple, 75,000 Jews under Jeremiah left and settled in Yemen. By the beginning of the sixth century there was undoubtedly a strong Jewish community.

Encyclopedia Judaica reports "After the fall of [Yᵊrushâlayim] in 587 B.C.E., the Babylonians allowed Jeremiah to remain with the new governor Gedaliah at Mizpah. When Gedaliah was murdered after only a few weeks of governership ([Yirmᵊyâhu] 41.1-2), his followers, fearing Babylonian reprisals, fled to Egypt, taking the prophet [Yirmᵊyâhu] with them against his will (Jer. 40-43)… The refugees who had taken [Yirmᵊyâhu] with them found asylum at Tahpanhes (Daphne), the present-day Tell Defneh, just within the Egyptian border, east of the Delta. There the last words recorded from [Yirmᵊyâhu] were uttered (43.8–13.44). After this, no more is heard of him. Presumably [???], he did not survive for long and died in his sixties. According to a later tradition recorded by [Church leader and Christian apologist, therefore entirely unreliable] Tertullian [(155 – 222 C.E.)… he was stoned… The unreliability of this tradition is evident from a passage of Jerome's commentary on Isaiah, where he records another tradition according to which Jeremiah died in Egypt of a natural death." ("Jeremiah," 9.1351

On the other hand, II Maccabees reported (2.1-9) that, fleeing the impending invasion by the Babylonians (which occurred in B.C.E. 587), Yirmᵊyâhu fled, taking the "tabernacle and ark" (Greek not yet verified) with him and secreting it in a great cave in the vicinity of the mountain that Moshëh had climbed to view the promised land. Thus, some archeologists connect the search for the lost ark with the emigration of the Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im to Yemen with Yirmᵊyâhu ha-Nâvi ca. B.C.E. 6th century.

Which parts are historical and which parts are not is the great question.

6th Century C.E.

At the beginning of the sixth century, a local Himyarite king, Yusef Asar Dhu Nuwas, converted to Judaism and Yemen indeed became, albeit for a short time, a Jewish kingdom.

There were hundreds of separate Yeminite Jewish villages, as Jews built synagogues all the time, depending on the good will of the Moslems. The Yeminite Jews were great scholars of Jewish knowledge. Individuals knew by heart the Torah, the prayers and large portions of Jewish literature.

The Sabbath for the Yemenite Jews was regarded as a foretaste of the Messianic Era; it was a time for the families and the community to share all the possessions and joys of life. At home, on the Sabbath the Yemenite Jews sang the sixteenth century songs of the famous poet Shalom Shabazi.

The Synagogues were called Kanis (also al-Kanis meaning big Synagogue.) They were modest, domeless, one-story structures with whitewashed walls. A Jewish house was generally not allowed to exceed the height of Moslem houses, and Synagogues had likewise to be lower than the lowest mosque.

The entrance to the Synagogue was an unpretentious gate bordering the street, leading some three to ten steps down into a courtyard where the congregation washed their hands and placed their shoes in small lockers before entering the place of worship. Thus the Synagogue was built partially below ground level, which created a greater sense of height inside the building than outside. It provided the congregation with air-space, while allowing them to fulfill the promise of Psalm 130: "Out of the depth have I called, O L-rd."

The Synagogue was named after its donor, or founder, usually an important rabbi who had gathered the community around himself. Thus we find Synagogues with names such as Kanis Bayt al-Usta, or Kanis Bayt al-Shaykh.

The interior of the Synagogue was as modest as that of private homes, particularly in the poor rural areas. There were no chairs or benches; worshippers sat on the floors along the walls, legs crossed in oriental fashion, on mattress-like cushions (farsh) or sheep-skins (Jarm) spread on large black goat hair carpets (fara-iq). In some villages there were simple palm-straw mats (Hasirah).

In the Synagogue walls there were niches (Khizaneh) opened or filled with wooden doors which served as cupboards and in which the worshipper's prayer books were kept. Each worshipper brought from home a piece of fabric measuring 50 or 60 cm to be hung on two hooks on the wall behind his seat. He also provided the cushion (wusadeh) on which to learn, and a small bench (marfa) on which he rested his book during prayer and study. The wall hangings and cushion gave a colorful look to the synagogue despite its whitewashed walls and dank carpets.

The Synagogue was subdued not luxurious, where community members gathered daily for prayer, teaching and discussion and also to drink coffee (gishr) brought from home in coffee pots, and occasionally chewing qat leaves (smoking was not allowed). Women were generally not seen there although there were some Synagogues which had a separate room with a separate entrance visited mainly by the older women.

The Synagogue was a place of profound spirituality and a gathering place which even used to lodge travelers. On the northern wall, facing Jerusalem was what called (in Hebrew) Hekhal, known as the aron-ha-kodesh. The Hekhal was a broad niche in the wall, 80 cm above the floor, whose inner walls were often covered with scarves, and in which Torah schools were kept in upright position. Below the Hekhal there was usually a closed storage space serving as a genizah for ritual objects no longer in use.

The number of Torah scrolls owned by the Synagogue varied according to the wealth of the community. In San'a, the capital of Yemen, for instance the largest synagogue Usta had 150 scrolls, Hubareh had 20, while in the villages there were very few. When not in use, these were sometimes kept in private homes to guard against theft. The wooden doors of the Hekhal, which were closed with a lock and bolt were reportedly sometimes richly carved or even inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

The curtain drawn over the Hekhal, called by its Hebrew name, Parokhet, was made of silk, velvet, or cotton, framed by a border of different fabric featuring a geometric pattern, a row of rhomboids (mshawsaq) against a background of contrasting colors.

Torah scrolls wrapped in scarves, are among the few Yemenite ceremonial items that have been preserved and brought to Israel. The protective cases called by the Hebrew term tiqm, are wooden boxes of octagonal of 30 cm flat on top and bottom. They were made of two identical sections, held together with brass hinges at the back and shut by brass hooks in the front. The richly painted design and color combination are evidence of the excellent carpentry work and a high order of artistic ability.

Inside the Torah case four to five scarves, called Masarat in Arabic and mitpahot in Hebrew enveloped the scrolls for maximum protection. One of the scarves was used to cover a part of the script while reading the Torah, in order not to stain the scrolls with perspiring fingers. It was considered a pious deed for women in Yemen to donate pieces of jewelry (attaching them to the Torah mantle) this tradition has continued in the Yemenite community in Israel. When the Yemenites left for Israel a large majority of ceremonial objects were left behind, buried in wells and other hiding places. Many objects were broken beforehand in order to prevent their desecration by Muslims, who might have used the objects for secular use.

There was a great wealth of books. Throughout the long period of their exile, the Yemenite Jews not only produced many written translations, and commentaries, but also scribes who were excellent copyist in manuscripts, and teachers and scholars who excelled in studying, preserving and transmitting ancient Jewish works. There is today, not a single major public university or private library which does not have representations of Yemenite Hebrew manuscripts. Yemenite Jews in the world Jewry account for less that 3 percent, yet, a surprising high percentage probably no less than an average of 20 percent of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic and Judaeo-Arabic works are now found in Universities and private libraries in American and Europe. About one-third of the Jewish manuscripts in the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York are Yemenite. In the British library collection ten percent of the Biblical texts are Yemenite.

The entire gamut of Jewish literature could be found, in Mishna, and Talmud, Midrash, Halakhic and Haggadic Midrashim, medieval Jewish works, part of the works of the Sa'adyah Gaon and Maimonides, poetry, Kabbalah, responsa. Some of the manuscripts abounded in marginal notes which are of literary historical import. Travelers would visit the country in search of manuscripts.

In the caste-like Islamic society, the Jews of Yemen stood at the very bottom of the ladder. The Jews were virtually the only non-Muslim community in Yemen. There was a dark side for the life of the Yemenite Jew. Legally they were the property of its leaders. Every Emir, Sheikh and potentate could do with his Jews as he pleased, and used them for any kind of work he desired, for his own benefit or for his village. Jews were sometimes conscripted to work in the fields against a share of the harvest, but often they were used for hard and degrading slave labor.

"The Jews of Yemen are reduced to a lowly state and are persecuted by a people that regard itself as holy and intensely pious but which is very brutal." This was written in 1866.

Edicts by the Iman were issued against the Jews of Yemen. They could not raise their voices in front of a Muslim, could not build houses higher than a Muslim, to look at a Muslim passing on his way, or let his garment touch him. The Jew could not raise his voice in prayer or to study books outside a Synagogue, and had to always stand in the presence of a Muslim. In 1921, the Iman, brutally enforced a law whereby every Jewish child whose father had died, was taken to a State orphanage and forcibly converted, even if his mother was alive.

Hundreds of such children were hunted and captured in the 1920's and 30's and this explains the early marriages of boys at the age of fourteen. There were no Jews in government service, and they were debarred from the army. In a court of law, their evidence was not accepted against that of a Muslim. Jews were obliged to clean the public latrines.

But still the Iman, whose name was Yahya ibn Mohammed el Mansour was considered tolerant with the Jews. During his rule, the Jews suffered no mob violence or pogroms. On one occasion the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el Husseini incited the people of the city, to attack the Jewish quarter, the Iman, personally intervened. Leaving his palace at midnight on horseback, he appeared among the mob at the head of the police, and quelled the disturbance before it could start.

Famine which struck the country particularly affected the Jewish community, "people tore down their houses to sell beams for a piece of bread. There was conversion, mainly women, for those who convert are provided by the Iman with food and drink." Twenty thousand Jews died in the famines.

The Arabs might treat the Jews with contempt, but they could not take away their dignity. The more oppressed they were the more ardently did they cultivate their ancient heritage. They observed the minutest matters in life and strictly adhered to the ancient Jewish Code of Law. The ghetto in San'a might be a labyrinth of ill smelling lanes, the house low, dreary, but they showed "a high degree of cleanliness." The rooms might be bare of furniture, no chairs or bed, only carpets and mattresses on the floor, but the floors were scrubbed, the walls white washed.

The men spent the day of the Sabbath in prayer, studying and meditating. Nowhere in the world was the Sabbath observed with such holiness and joy as in the distant and undeveloped Yemen.

The Jew of Yemen had dignity which comes from skilled craftmanship. "The artisan is king." All the Jews in Yemen knew some handicraft. They were famous mainly as workers of precious metals, Jewelers, smiths, weavers, tanners potters painters, no less than fifty different manual trades. The Jews were the craftsman of the country. Every time an Arab needed some skilled work done, he had to go to the Jews. He simply could not get along without them, and that is what helped the Jewish community to survive.

Work and study went together. There were rabbis, who received little or no payment for their services to the community, but practiced some manual trade for a living. The greatest scholar might work by day manufacturing Narghiles (brass water pipes), and write philosophical treatise by night. Habashush was a metal engraver, and yet learned enough to decipher old Sabaean inscriptions from Halevy.

"Every Yemenite Jew knew how to read from the Torah Scroll with the correct pronunciation and tune, exactly right in every detail. Each man who was called up to the Torah read his section by himself. All this was possible because children right from the start learned to read without any vowels. Their diction is much more correct than the Sephardic and Ashkenazic dialect. The results of their education are outstanding, for example if someone is speaking with his neighbor and needs to quote a verse from the Bible, he speaks it out by heart, without pause or effort, with its melody."


Yᵊrushâlayim – From the Old City to Ir-Dawid

Ir Dawid
Ir Dâ•wid © 1983, Yi•rᵊmᵊyâhu Bën-Dâ•wid
Gapheikh, Mori Yikheya
Mori Yikhᵊyâ Gâpheikh
(Tei•mân•i pronunciation)

"In 1873 the City of David enjoyed a Jewish renewal when the מיוחס family established its home in the City of David. The family decided to leave the Old City for the City of David as their business suffered from the gates of the Old City being locked every evening and opened only in the mornings. They were the first Jewish group in centuries to settle on a hill that had such a glorious Jewish past. In 1882, new immigrants from Yemen joined the Meyuhas family and built their homes in the caves near the village of [present-day Arab-occupied] Silwan, opposite the City of David. In 1884, following the involvement of philanthropic Jews, a beautiful neighborhood was built for this community [originally] called [כפר שילוח (Kᵊphar Shi•loᵊakh; Shi·loakh [corrupted to "Siloam"] Village). This neighborhood thrived and grew, but also greatly suffured from the riots in 1929. Recovering, the Jews returned to [Kᵊphar Shi•loᵊakh] and strengthened their hold on it only to suffer again following the Arab Uprising in 1936. For two years the Arab residents conspired against their Jewish neighbors until the Jews were forced to abandon it in 1938." (www.cityofdavid.org.il/timeline_eng.asp)

Yemenite Jews, founders of K'far Shiloakh
1886 photo documents Tei•mân•im Jew founders (in 1884) of כפר שילוח (Kᵊphar / K'far Shi•loakh; Shiloakh Village, named after the ancient pool. The name of the pool was Hellenized into Greek and Latin "Siloam" during the 1st-century Roman occupation. Not until the late 1930s did the Arabs rename the Tei•mân•im Jews' village (based on the Hellenist-Roman Greek name) to present-day name "Silwan" (http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/עיר_דוד).
Tei•mân•im Jews can be identified, among other things, by the peiy•ot clearly visible dangling from over the right ear of the Tei•mân•i Jew in the foreground.
During the Arab uprising of 1936-1939, Arabs forcibly expelled the Tei•mân•im Jews of Kᵊphar Shi•loakh, occupied the village and Arabized the name to "Silwan." Today, "Silwan" remains mostly an Arab-occupied village and the Tei•mân•im have not yet reasserted their indigenous right to Kᵊphar Shi•loᵊakh. Evidence of Tei•mân•im Jews' housing in the village can still be found in the indentations from mᵊzuz•ot, indentations that remain on the doorposts of some of the homes.


With the Jewish State established, the call went out to the Jews of Yemen , 50,000 to come home at last. They trekked from the rural villages and embarked on the perilous journey south to Aden. Through the desert they carried their Torahs where the planes of Operation Magic Carpet were waiting. Battered C-47 cargo planes awaited them. This was one of the most dramatic episodes in modern history. This exodus formerly known as "On Eagles Wings" began in 1949. "They created an interesting sight as they arrived with almost no possessions. They were like prophets stepping out of the Bible. They carried with them their carefully wrapped Torah scrolls. They were slim, lithe, a graceful people, with olive-colored Semitic faces. They showed an inner force, patience and forbearance under suffering and an intense religiousness."

It took 315 flights to bring the Yemenite Jews to Israel. They took with them thousands of books and manuscripts salvaged by the various congregations from their synagogues in Yemen.

After many beginning hardships in their new land, over the time, the Yemenites blended successfully into the Israeli melting pot. Today they are estimated to number around 200,000 of whom approximately forty percent live in the greater Tel Aviv area. They are well represented in the professions. Their music and dance are considered to be the most ancient and authentic form of Middle Eastern artistic expression. Many Israeli folk songs are based on Yemenite religious poetry and musical themes. Much of the craftwork thought of as "Israeli" is of Yemenite origin. So highly regarded is this craftwork that the Bezalel Institute in Jerusalem is in large part dedicated to the study of Yemenite arts and crafts.

Today there are an estimated 500 to 1,000 Jews left in Yemen. They are spread out all over the country. Many of these Jews are believed to have stayed behind during Operation On Eagles' Wings because they were held in chains and forced to teach their trades to low-caste Muslims or did not want to leave elderly or sick relatives behind. There are no Jews left in the capital. The Jews live in relative harmony with their Muslim neighbors. The Yemeni government no longer restricts emigration to Israel and since 1990s, has shown concern for the religious needs of the Jewish community.

They kept moving that summer, over the landscapes, on foot, on donkey, some left behind and buried in the sands; they came bruised, weary, they came, the women giving birth, they prayed all day in the hot sun on the runways, fasting on that Yom Kippur and ascended as the dawn approached. They came with a dream, the Jews of Yemen.

Qapheikh, Rabbi Mori Yoseiph
Rav Mori Yo·seiphpheikh (1918–2000)

Upon the death of Mori Yikhᵊyâ Gâpheikh, his grandson, מֹארִי יוֹסֵף קָאפֵח, , זצ"ל (who had lost his parents and studied under his grandfather), continued his work. Mori Yoseiphpheikh became universally recognized as the leading translator and editor of the Ramb"m in recent generations. His mastery of classical Arabic enabled him to consult the Ramb"m's manuscripts of the commentary on the Mishnâh and the Guide for the Perplexed directly, and to review the translations of Ibn Tibbon, upon which all later generations had relied. His familiarity with the world of the Ramb"m and his contemporaries allowed him to check sources and the Ramb"m's own commentary of the Mishnâh Torâh, enabling him to create an entirely new scholarly edition.

Mori Yoseiphpheikh was a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel, and presided over the Teimânim community in Yᵊrushâlayim. In 1969 he won the Israel Prize for Torâh literature. His wife, Rabanit Bᵊrakhâh Gâpheikh, won the Israel Prize for exceptional contributions to State and society in 1999, in recognition of her extensive charitable work. (This was the only occasion on which a married couple have both been awarded the Israel Prize.) He also won the Bialik Prize and the Rabbi Kook Prize and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bar Ilan University. He also officiated the wedding of a close friend of mine, which I attended. He died on 2000.07.20, at the age of 82 years.

Today in Israel
Rav & Mori Ratzon Arusi, Ph.D. (law)
מארי ורב רצון ערוסי
(Rav & Mori Râtz•on Ä•rusi), Ph.D. (Law), Teimân•i No•sakh Ba•lad•i Dor•Daim Member of Chief Rabbinate, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono.

Unfortunately, too many of today's Yᵊhud·im Tei·mân·im do not comprehend the treasure they represent. Upon arrival in Israel, Ashkᵊnazim shaved their peiyot. Now, most shave their beards. While their tolerance is admirable, they are accepting of those who inject Shami, and Ashkᵊnazim, liturgy in the Beit ha-Kᵊnësët Teimânit. Few Teimânim today seem to even know any details about the Dar·daim—the primary paradigm the Nᵊtzâr•im adopted to restore otherwise undetermined lacunae in Ha•lâkh•âh. The need to document everything possible through interviews with those who still remember life in Yemen is even more urgent than documenting Holocaust survivors. Soon, the ability to peer through this most pristine prism into Torâh life virtually unchanged since Har Sinai will be lost forever.

One of the unique aspects of Tei•mân•i liturgy is "the auction," in which elements of the liturgy are delegated according to bidding pledges to the Beit ha-Kᵊnësët.

Toward the end of the 19th century, while the Meyuhas family were establishing Shi·loakh, in Yemen a great straying into Qabâlâh was taking place in the Teimânim community. In opposition to this apostasy, מֹארִי יִחְיָא קָאפֵח, , זצ"ל founded the Dar·daim movement, to combat the influence of Qabâlâh and restore the rational (logical) approach of Ramb"m. Mori Yikhᵊyâ Gâpheikh's main work was the Milkhâmot ha-Sheim, in which he exposes the Zohar as contra-historical and the beliefs of the Lurianic Qabâlâh as avodâh zârâh.

Vashdi, Mori Khayim
מורי חיים ושדי
(Mori Khayim Vashdi)

Carrying on the Teimânim tradition, "Mori Khaiyim" Vashdi teaches the children in Beit ha-kᵊnësët Moreshet Âvot – Yad Nâ·âmi, in Ra·ananâ(h), Yisrâ·eil, to read and chant Torâh according to the pristine tradition handed down on Har Sinai.

Mori Khaiyim taped the Home Liturgy CD for the Nᵊtzâr•im and helps me often, answering questions about the Teimânim, Teimâni practice, etc.

Updating 1st-Century Ha•lâkh•âh to the 21st Century

This is further complicated by the certainty that, since the Nᵊtzâr•im didn't continue after 135 CE, Nᵊtzâr•im Ha•lâkh•âh certainly did not adapt to things like the invention of electricity, the internet, etc. Thus, retrieving and restoring a pristine 1st-century Pᵊrushim view of Ha•lâkh•âh as Hileil and Ribi Yᵊho•shua knew it, the subsequent progression of history further required bringing it up to date in the 21st century. Recognizing that this would define the background determining the interpretations of all of Nᵊtzâr•im Ha•lâkh•âh made this an awesome and daunting challenge.

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