In the interests if transparency and honesty, let me state at the outset here that this brilliant essay is completely self-serving and personally motivated. But nevertheless it does, in my opinion, contain ideas and insights that may prove worthwhile to my long-suffering loyal readers. The name of my newly published book is “Who Knows Twelve – Insights and Values From the Book of Trei-Asar (The Twelve Prophets).”
The book is a culmination of research and ruminations that have gathered in my mind, living here in Jerusalem over the past few years. It became clear to me that a true appreciation of the words of prophecy of these great and holy men of Israel is much easier to achieve when living in the Land of Israel rather than when in an apparently gilded Diaspora environment.
The literal starkness of the words of these prophets is an every day experience here in Israel. Both the good and the better are omnipresent in Israeli life and in the events that befall our society here. A true student of Trei-Asar is not surprised or blindsided by the occurrences that are part of our existence here in the Holy Land. It has all been predicted and described for us in varying amounts of directness by the great prophets of Israel.
The clarity of vision and the insight that God has a master plan, so to speak, for the Jewish people and the world generally is one of the most basic and encouraging ideas that emanates from all of the twelve prophets of Trei-Asar, and that no matter what twists and turns humans take, it is His will that eventually will be done.
Some of the wondrous events that have occurred in Jewish society and especially here in the Land of Israel are the basic topics of the prophets of Trei-Asar. The ingathering of the exiles of the Jewish people was a long cherished hope of the Jewish people but for millennia it was only a forlorn and distant dream. There was no sense of reality present as how this immense migration would occur and how a small, then arid and desolate land would somehow be able to accommodate these incoming hordes.
But the prophets of Israel all said that it would somehow happen and be successful. And that is exactly what has occurred. There naturally have been many hiccups along this way. The maabarot of the 50’s, the discrimination against different groups of immigrants, the dislocation and dysfunction that must accompany such a wrenching change of location and societal mores, all accompanied the realization of the dream of the ages and the fulfillment of the prophesy of the men of Trei-Asar.
Yet, in the big picture, which is how the prophets of Trei-Asar always saw the world, the ingathering of the exiles would occur. And so it has, albeit in a somewhat surprisingly quiet and almost unnoticed fashion. The prophets of Trei-Asar always dealt with strategy and not tactics, results and not with details.
One of the more unfortunate characteristics of current Jewish education is the complete neglect of the study of Trei-Asar. Somehow, this magnificent work has fallen between the cracks in the curriculum that exist in Jewish education.
There would be a better sense of current events and future hopes and plans if people knew and appreciated the ideas and insights of these prophets. There would be an understanding of the arc of Jewish history and of the momentous times that we now live in. We would be less bogged down in the pettiness and political smallness that is the daily grist of our media and news reporting.
We would be able to better identify the true moral issues that face us and react to them in a confident and positive fashion. The words of the prophets would inspire boldness and self-confidence, a belief in our cause and the righteousness of our beliefs. We would be less discouraged by the absence of easy solutions to our difficult existential threats and problems. In short, we would be a happier and more serene society, even in the face of hostility and hypocritical bigotry and discrimination.
The purpose of the prophets of Trei-Asar was to guide and counsel us, to inspire and strengthen us in our times of difficulty and challenge. But they cannot accomplish their mission if we are unaware of their words and presence amongst us. They are of no influence whatever if we do not study their works and share their visions. Who knows twelve? We should all answer, “I do!”