My Tribal Heritage

My inclusion here of these two scripture passages represent in capsuled duality of symbolism, my tribal heritage. The first ,by it’s factual historic existence affecting Israelites, and way beyond toward influencing civilization itself.

The second, by the essence of it’s qualities that were integral to the culture, the conduct, the aspiration and spirit of the home, the village, the society, to which I was born. Secularism, which prevailed, by proclaiming the “book of books” as our heritage, in fact, truly, indigenously and spontaneously caused the Bible to become an integral part of our lives.

The Book of


Blesses is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brigeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The Book of


10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
11 Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee, they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.
13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.
16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The “Book of Books” is another reference to the “Tanah” in it’s Hebrew origin, which millennia on, was my mother’s tongue, then my shepherding, soldiering, and creative life language , by words, character, and by it’s guiding spirit. An example: speak = daaber, sayings = deebrot, 10 Commandments = Haa Deebrot ; at times over-ruling the dictates of grammar in uniquely biblical Hebrew communication, interweaving past and future, as though empowering toward accomplishing the yet to be, directly translated (Isaiah 2:2 ) “and it was at the last of the days”.

Hebrew is an immensely interconnected language, ever articulating in the fewest words possible. Many words are of two or more meanings, and the writing is right to left. The Hebrew Bible is forever printed identically, unchanged by it’s sacred text, same word on same page in the same position, musically noted for chanting and vowels designated by dots and lines, for an identical accurate pronunciation by all readers, from any and all Bible publications.

These few mechanical factors of the Book in it’s origin, when added to it’s meaning as spiritual teachings, which were for millennia of our history serving as our guiding torch. One recognizes the Book in it’s incomparable position of representing my unique tribal heritage.

My First Stone

In sentiment, belief and hope

In 1996 while visiting my Mom in Israel, I rang a friend who urged me to join his organized expedition of four Jeeps, sixteen individuals of potentially contributing occupations, for an idea in Hevel Aadulaam, south of Jerusalem. This region retained it’s Biblical look to date by it’s vegetation, small villages, narrow roads, small vineyards and orchards, and the countless caves in the hills from the days of the Macabees’ rebellion against the Roman occupation of Judea.

As the four Jeeps stopped and historical summary set the stage for the purpose of our coming, which was to create an American style theme park in that location, enlisting our eventual contributions.

My own negative reaction was instantaneous, and I whispered in my friend’s ear: “when you are finished, pick me up over there”, as I was pointing to a small bridge 500 yards down the road.

The concrete bridge spanned a rain river, the dry bottom of which was paved by pale stones of varying sizes, shimmering in the sun. As I gazed at the stones, a male voice on my right by the bridge asked me what I was looking at. Having just removed myself from the group, I had hoped for least conversation and said: “Aren’t these stones beautiful?”, without looking at the speaker. Then came his comment: “this is David’s river, historians believe that within 100 to200 yards from here David fought Goliath”.

Being a former shepherd, having been taught by Bedouin shepherds, who perpetuated the traditional ancient mid-eastern style of shepherding ; as a child I was given their tool, the slingshot, made of sheep’s wool and goat hair braided together, which I used for years.

Then the Hebrew Bible scripture line of:... “ selecting five brook pebbles...... and his slingshot in his hand”......I Samuel 17: 40 , came to mind and I rushed to select my five pebbles, then faced the bridge in hope of thanking the man who I could not see. Thinking that he had moved on, I rushed up the road and looked in all directions, but he had vanished, and my thought was— he was not a real man— but an apparition.

Then I thought of a line that years on after September 11, I posted publicly : “when faced with Goliath of adversity, remember the shepherd boy David, and his first pebble, blessed by God”.

Then I chose my first pebble out of the five to carry with me always.




“Tikvat Chut Ha’shani” - The Scarlet Ribbon of Hope

The combined use of these three Hebrew words were first expressed prior to the Israelite conquest of Jericho, quoted in the Bible as Joshua 2:18. Throughout the centuries of our Dispersal, this distinctive phrase, The Scarlet Ribbon of Hope, reverberated among our people as a token of our ancient hope; the return to Zion.

Passed on in my hearing as a child time and again, growing as I did in Israel, it clearly spoke of a most empowered, prayerful wish, ever on the lips of the secular pioneers of Zionism around me. These dedicated people, whose life change was of such an extreme nature from the European homes which they left, through the Scarlet Ribbon were bound by an everlasting umbilical cord, linking them to their Source, that which they never denied and for which, by their pilgrimage of devotion, they responded to, answering the call of these three words to revive and regenerate the Israel of old.

“Ha’tikvah” - The Hope, Israel’s national anthem, written long before the State was declared, is an anthem like no other. In six short lines it articulates the essence of Jericho’s promise:

Voices in the heart within
Jewish soul is yearning
Our hope is not lost yet
The hope of two thousand years
To be free people in our land
The land of Zion - Jerusalem

Strangely, a search for well-documented historical accounts of this most ancient and meaningful phrase yields very few results, even with the scholarly aid of rabbinical sources. Even so, the basics of the story are a matter of history.

* God promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel to be his people on his designated land.
* God guided Moses to liberate His people from Egypt and gave them the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
* God empowered Joshua to unite Israel’s twelve tribes as His one people, under his given Torah
on their land, a process which began during the conquest of Jericho.

“Tikvat Chut Ha’shani” - The Scarlet Ribbon of Hope. This distinctive expression was originally coined by Joshua’s two spies as words of instruction, words of promise, words of oath to Rahav who sheltered them in Jericho. Placing the ribbon in the window of their escape guaranteed Rahav’s survival in the coming Israelite attack.

The spies’ promise to Rahav came in response to her request for an oath of grace from them, in kind for her act of grace in aiding their escape, an exchange which endowed the Hebrew language with the term: “Chut Shel Hesed” - Ribbon of Grace, or, “a touch of Grace.”

Referred to as the two teenage spies (Joshua 6: 23), they instigated an oath of promise combined with instruction, as well as a guarantee to spare Rahav’s life. (It is interesting to note how Hebrew traditional numbers were conveyed by the Hebrew alphabet, in which the number 18, as in chapter 2, verse 18, is spelled by the word Life. Both Rahav and the two boys were promised life, as an act of grace and truth on the part of each.)

“Tikvat Chut Ha’shani” conveys the unique, multi-faceted symbolism of a crucial time, place, and event in Israel’s history like no other. On the eve of a decisive battle two youngsters had whispered it in response to an act of kindness, a promise which Joshua ratified (Joshua 6:25), a promise fulfilled notwithstanding God’s instruction of doom for all life in Jericho. Grace, kindness, and an oath of truth saved the lives of them all. Mercy was extended where destruction was imminent, and the Scarlet Ribbon was the sign that the oath would be kept.

These three unparalleled words of such rich meaning have lived far beyond their day. Centuries on, after the Roman expulsion, it once more regained its ancient status. Revived again, its voice of hope resounded in us, down through our darkest ages.

* “Tikvah” in Hebrew, is understood as Hope, Strap or Band.
* “Chut” in Hebrew, is a String, a Strand, a Rope.
* “Shani”, in Hebrew, is the color Scarlet.

Preceding the conquest of Jericho, two powerful historical acts of symbolism were enacted, and one soon afterwards, by the people of Israel in following Joshua’s orders from God.

A. The erection of “Galed,” the Mound of Witness, in Gilgal (Joshua 4).
Twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes carried a stone from the Jordan River crossing, in solemn procession ahead of the Ark of the Covenant, marching into Canaan, the Land of Promise. At day’s end they piled the stones into a single mound as an everlasting remembrance for the people of Israel of the miraculous crossing, as the waters of Jordan were invisibly rolled back for them to cross over into their God-given inheritance.

B. The mass circumcision at Gilgal (Joshua 5). If A. symbolized coming into the Promised Land, B. formed an extraordinary re-dedication. Circumcision in Hebrew is “Brit” - Covenant, so named for the act which sealed God’s covenant with Abraham. The entrance into the land was accompanied by a national renewal of the Covenant.

C. The crime of Achan. The extreme public enforcement of adherence to God’s guidance. (Joshua 7)

Mighty acts as all of the above three were, none of them reached the magic aura carried through the ages of the three words said by two boys in grace and truth of life promise to a woman and her family in Jericho, a city destined for total and complete destruction.

In numerous ways, the fulfillment of the Zionist dream of the 19th-20th centuries during the passionate rise in the return to Zion, is as miraculous as the original series of events when Israel first marched into its appointed land under the leadership of Joshua, and into the ceaseless wars that were inevitably to follow.
Arguably Jericho’s three reverberating words should have been Israel’s motto if not its very insignia.

What powerful three words of hope they have become for us, a verbal banner-like emblem expressing an inherent attitude of symbolisms, a “Shofar”- horn blowing, a reunification yearning for our people on our land. Three words for which, (as with the well known “Next Year In Jerusalem,”) throughout the past two millennia were uttered as a prayer of the highest of all wishes to come true . . .which it surely did.



From the earliest time of my self awareness, I recalled my spontaneous forgetfulness, uniquely in regard to the unwholesome; if an individual fit such a category– that person’s name inevitably slipped my mind. The contrast to my memory norm was/is of extreme, as my memory in regard to subjects of my interest could easily be described as– total recall, just as it’s visual aspect is of photographic memory.

Growing up in Israeli circumstances, cultural black and white attitudes influenced my formative years, enabling /fostering an ever decisive if not blunt reaction to become second nature in distinguishing right from wrong. That matter of fact behavior forever caused unexpected cultural conflicts with those around me since settling in New York City in 1962. I came as an emigrant artist to New York’s art center, yet no one seemed to have understood my instinctive harsh cut-offs from whatever I perceived to be of an unwholesome category.

Later years in American life instated the politically correct as the norm, perhaps it’s being eased to predominance was due to fading color strength of values by the rising brightness of material goals, perhaps that rise was ushered in to mainstream society by a traditional soft and polite longtime mellowing majority . By contrast to which my own inclinations remained as they were– intact and apart.

When my own two brothers whom I helped to attain doctorates degrees and to become Americans, motivated by greed, aligned themselves in an act of disloyal moral betrayal with my enemy, against me years ago, my final words were obvious: “I do not know you, you exist no more and are gone from my life”. Such natural ability to act in an unshaken, everlasting conviction of extreme, while devoid of anger, placed me time and again in the harshest of light with those around me– a predicament for which I had no answer until one unexpected day in November, 2006.

That day for the first time, I recognized the footprints of my source, I understood how to link my manner of conduct with millennia of my inherent tribal custom of repeated uncompromising stands, so clearly stated in the scriptures.
Psalm 101    
1 Corinthians 5:11 1 Timothy 6:1-6 2 Timothy 3: 1-5
Matthew 25: 31- 46 James 4: 4 2 Corinthians 6: 14- 18

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