|Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile|
Monday, March 1,
Note: Ordinarily, MbY does not copyright his writings and they are freely available. However, to help ensure that nothing in these highly controversial articles is taken out of context, each article must be reprinted or disseminated in its entirety. Permission to do so will be freely given with an email to MbY. See contact information.
Review of Book of Mormon hopes for Torah-based revival
introduction: LDS Church aspiring to firstborn Ephraim could vindicate Joseph Smith
by Maggid ben Yoseif / credentials
© 2010 Jerusalem Torah Voice
COMING: Postscript: What's wrong with divination?
Due to questions raised, a precise definition according to Halachah together with exegetical evidence is forthcoming.
As a toddler, I would stand on a tree stump and throw my stuffed Tiger over my back and then go "Tigger hunting" in the tall grass which back in the early '50s, usually got mowed about twice a summer. Once, Tigger hid in a patch of briars and Mother carefully retrieved him and picked out the stickers so he was good as new. But on another occasion when I couldn't find Tigger, he showed up in rags a few days later when he got into a scrap with the lawnmower. Mother restuffed him and sewed him back together. His eyes were now two different sized buttons and the stripes included polka-dots but he was My Tigger.
In researching this review, I about concluded that next to Native Americans, that the Mormons were the most persecuted people who lived in this nation barring possibly some Irish peasants and the later descendants of slaves. You can probably identify your Book of Mormon with my Tigger. I know that in spite of the attacks, that the book is part of you. I never intended to run over your book or Joseph Smith with a "lawnmower." But compared to Torah, there are some thorns and stickers about which I feel compelled by the Great Spirit to make you aware. It is my hope that a Torah-based revival will erupt among the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Joseph Smith put on his pants one leg at a time
Like you, like me, like Moses, like the Rambam, Joseph Smith put on his pants one leg at a time. That means he was human and made mistakes. One of his doosies was declaring Egyptian papyri to contain the story of Abraham as told in Egypt. Years later, after the Rosetta stone was located making it possible to translate hieroglyphs, the papyri turned out to be part of a "funerary text" from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Still, the LDS Communities today (LDS, RLDS, Community of Christ, etc), thrive. Many have hearts that are soft toward Native Americans. My own heart has evidenced their sincerity. There is understanding and compassion and in many a genuine desire to make things right. With rare exceptions, this comes from the sprigs of grass and those who LDS leaders would call "weeds." You must unite like roots under the grass and begin studying Torah again. Then Torah will be discussed at your gatherings and Torah will be taught. One day Torah will bring a worldwide revival. Then you will have assumed the leadership of Firstborn Ephraim and vindicated Joseph Smith despite his failures.
Background materials consulted
I still occasionally read the Book of Mormon in connection with research of the early 1800s. This is mostly to determine whether Joseph Smith's understandings about the early inhabitants of this land can confirm parts of Native American history and spirituality we are only now piecing together. I also usually compare it with the contemporary Native American histories. Notably these are the 1775 "History of the American Indians," by the Scotsman James Adair who dwelt 40 years among my great-grandmother's Tsa-la-gi. Following him, the poet John Howard Payne, did a great service for the Central Band Cherokee as the best friend of the principal chief in the early 1800s. Payne, who also penned "Home Sweet Home," mouth-harped on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line during the War Between the States, left an unpublished journal of 2,300 pages much of which dates to before the 1830s Removal.
During my first sojourn in Israel from 1987-90, I befriended Henry Noach, now a Reform rabbi is Japan. Rabbi Noach is a direct descendant of Mordecai Noach, who was contemporary with Joseph Smith and lived nearby. Mordecai Noach's journals and writings also advocated a means of "living in common" as part of his "Ararat"community before it failed from lack of funding. Henry also introduced me to Rabbi Eliyahu Avichayil, who has pioneered in locating the vast majority of M'nashe along ancient southern Chinese trade routes and among the Shinlung on the border between Burma and Thailand. Finally, I have read Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews," (1823) which Mormon apologist B.H. Roberts posed as a possible thematic source for the Book of Mormon in private research contributed to the University of Utah by his adult grandchildren in the late 1980s.
Five-years since Book of Mormon received in mail
My personal quest to understand the "message" of the Book of Mormon (ignoring at first whether it was inspired), began five years ago when I received the book in the mail from Dr. DeLynn Hansen of Provo, UT., who enclosed a note telling me it was all about the House of Joseph for whom I was searching.
I have since sought the wisdom and mentorship of two stalwarts in the value and strength of the Book of Mormon and its covenants, regardless of anything. The zeal of my friends and expounders on fine points, Tim Hogg of Caldwell, Idaho, and Terry Weldon of Soldier, Iowa, with combined experience in the Book of Mormon approaching 100 years, has also shown me the good hearts of many LDS toward Native Americans. I also believe the covenants promoted by my friend Terry Weldon from Smith's work, could have relevance to "Saints" (tzaddikim) in the "Latter Days." Certainly the seed planted by Smith has produced fruit properly focused in these Last Days on the House of Joseph in the Americas.
My review shall pick apart neither your Book nor your beliefs except when major points do not conform to the only standard that should hold Ephraim accountable: Torah. Rather, we suggest a little pruning, which Jesus said was necessary occasionally in order to bear "much fruit."
Since most conflict in the world is rooted in religious differences, it would serve all religions well to periodically re-examine their foundations to see whether they line up with Torah and the Prophets. The Book of Mormon devotees and the Mormon community may be ready for such a review, which would lead to a revival of monumental significance and proportions and be the proper response of the Firstborn. And should any be too proud for such a review, consider the Hopi who await the coming of one who will end their religion.