[Israel March 2015 – Conference at Netanya’s College held by the Department of Research and Studies of Bnei Anusim]
Translation of the final speech of Rabbi Dinovitzch.
It is known that in the last generations, since 70 years, there’s been a big difference between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. And this still continues today.
I just want to mention a very important point for you and for me. The difference between the one and the others lies in the fact that the Sephardim have always been more naturally connected with the secrets of the Torah, without many polemics and problems.
Wherever they lived, whether in Iraq, Iran, Algeria or Morocco, the Sephardim always knew the secrets of the Torah (Rabbi Shimon Br Yochai – HaKadosh – Zohar – Kabalah).
In the Ashkenazi world, on the contrary, has never been that easy. There were always many polemics and persecutions. They did not stray far from the framework of the known (Halakhah and Talmud). Even just trying to understand deeper the secrets of the Torah in order to teach them, was subject of controversy. Therefore I would like you to understand that many Sephardic Jews have always understood that the concealed, the unknown is an integral part of the Torah. (This happened among the Ashkenazim too but with less understanding).
Let’s go to the source, to the Prophet Obadiah, one of the greatest Prophets. At the end of his prophecy, he reveals terrible things. And I’m sure that for most of you, this will be new. He talks about the end of the exile and the return of the exiles to Eretz Israel. We read in verse 20: “The exiles of this host of the people of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the Negev”.
The prophet mentioned that all the Jews who were scattered, that is our generation, the generation of today, will come back to Eretz Israel. He called these Jews “Bnei Israel”, sons of Israel. They were exiled to the place called Tsarfat (France), and the captives or exiles of Jerusalem were deported in Sepharad (Spain). So all the people who study this verse, even the great interpreters and commentators before Rashi, tell us how to understand it. Everyone asks: how can we recognize “Israel Galut” (Diaspora of Israel) from “Yerushalayim Galut” (Diaspora of Jerusalem) if they’re all Jews, all exiles and scattered to the end of the Earth?
Why is a part called ‘exile of Israel’ and the other ‘exile of Jerusalem’? Rashi and other great commentators and scholars of Israel go in one only direction.
Rashi says that the “Bnei Israel” are the exiles of the 10 tribes who were exiled to Tsarfat, the area of France, while the “Yerushalayim Galut” corresponds to the captives of Jerusalem, those of the tribe of Judah, who were exiled to Sepharad, Spain.
There remain only the Levites and the Cohanim. Rashi lived roughly 1000 years ago, in the Middle Age, a period in which Jews would certainly not dream of returning to Israel.
Rashi says that the Prophet Obadiah makes a difference between the exile of Israel and the exile of Jerusalem, trying to state that Jerusalem is the place of the tribe of the Kings, that is Judah, and Judah was exiled to Sepharad (Spain).
The other 10 tribes, on the other hand, the rest of the Jews, were scattered in Tsarfat (France). The same scholars who know the secrets of the Torah, have given us this interpretation since a thousand years: Tsarfat in Modern Hebrew corresponds to France.
Yochanan Ben Uziel who lived more than 2000 years ago (he lived at the beginning of the last exile) says that Sepharad is Spain.
So, even according to the oldest commentators, most of the tribes were exiled to many places and particularly in the region called France, while the Sephardim came from the tribe of Judah.
We learn something great here: the Sephardim were originally from the tribe of Judah, tribe of the Kingdom, tribe of the Kings. It’s really amazing!
Then we see that the Messiah will be called Sephardic, naturally.
I’m not sure that an Ashkenazi will agree with being the donkey of the Messiah, but there’s no doubt that it’ll be a donkey. I myself am Ashkenazi e I’m willing to be a donkey for the Messiah.
Naturally, the Sephardim didn’t remain in Sepharad, and we find them now in Turkey, Italy, Morocco (I’ll tell something special about Morocco in the end) and also in Algeria, Tunisia and in other places. However their place of provenance is Sepharad.
The Sephardic character is royal, Judah is something amazing.
Now we understand why the Sephardim have always been tied to the secrets of the Torah, the hidden Torah. We know that this hidden part has been given just to the tribe of Judah, because it’s known that the final redemption that we’re waiting for, depends on the revelation of this intrinsic secret of the tribe of Judah.
When the secret will be revealed in the inner man, this light will manifest through the Torah, and everyone will receive the light of the Kingdom of Heaven for himself.
The Sephardim belong to King David, they’re the Tribe-Kingdom, something extraordinary.
The last and most important thing that I’ve been studying for a long time and I’ve heard from many references is the exile of Morocco. I’ve heard and read many books that state that Morocco is a little ‘different’ and I hope that history will not contradict me.
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai sent the great sages to Morocco. He saw through the Holy Spirit (prophetically) that the exiles of Sepharad would be established in Morocco, and he wanted this exile to be special. He sent his disciples 2000 years ago to Morocco to prepare the instruments and the place to receive these expelled Jews from Sepharad.
According to the sources, the first Jews who arrived in Morocco were disciples of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai 2000 years ago.
Before the arrival of the Sephardic Jews in Morocco there were many great disciples of Bar Yochai there. This is the reason why all the Sephardic exiles in Morocco developed the great secrets of the Torah (Babazali).
In this way I understood that all the Sephardim come from the tribe of Judah and I have no doubt that the Jews from Morocco originally came from the family of King David and this is what Rav Bar Yochai knew and it’s the reason why he sent his disciples there.
I don’t know how many Sephardim are here today but you have to be proud of your Sephardic identity. I, as an Ashkenazi from both father and mother side, have always said and heard that within the Sephardic community there’s a big powerful light and maybe this is the reason why between Ashkenazim and Sephardim there has always been some sort of controversy.
The real time of the exile of Sepharad is in the future, at the moment of the Geulah (Redepmtion). Then everyone will understand who truly is the Galut Sepharad, the exile of Sepharad.
At this time, today, Sepharad is at the gates and we’ll be glad to see all the tribe of Judah arising, revealing itself, removing the mask. All together we’ll see who’s the tribe of Judah and who’s the family of King David.
We will all rejoice together: Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Tunisians and Moroccans, and we’ll eat Gefilte Fish and Couscous together. What a delight!