Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

18 August 2008 / 18 Av, 5768


Kissed by a wolf


Pondering next move for newly ‘liberated’ Ephraim, MbY has T’sha b’Av encounter with ‘totem of Benjamin’


The weekend before T’sha b’Av, our Apache Warrior purification lodge -- where Sundancers prepare all year for their annual suffering -- was visited here at the Eastern Gate of the Sacred Area by a group of young people who volunteer at a mission about 35 miles away, where injured and abandoned full-blooded wolves are cared for in semi-captivity.


I had attended a Cherokee Keetoowah society meeting in 2005 when the Sacred Fire was returned from Oklahoma to Cherokee, N.C., and on that occasion became acquainted with Star-Wolf, a disciple of an elderly Seneca Grandmother Twyla who was near death.  I related to Star-Wolf dreams I had been having of an elderly woman who was chasing me with a bucket of water, and described her to Star-Wolf who identified her.


Totem of a wolf


Star-Wolf told me that Grandmother Twyla helped those whose spiritual “totem” was that of the wolf and told me this was my “totem” and I should learn about it.  All I had known previously was that my mother’s Cherokee people  -- the Hills -- were part of the Wild Potato Clan, we believed of the Old Settlers who left the Cherokee, NC., area with the Sacred Fire just prior to the Removal ordered by the traitor, President Andrew Jackson called, “The Trail of Tears.”  Great-great grandmother Sarepta and great-grandmother Nellie were part of these settlers -- the original Arkansans Travelers -- who traversed the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee and traveled across Arkansas to settle in what is today the Ark-La-Tex area and southeastern Oklahoma.  But I had not been aware of any animal totem associated with my Native side, just the Lion and the Eagle crest associated with my late father, Dell “Griffin,” z”l.


So when the invitation came to visit the wolf mission, I jumped at it, even though the only day convenient for me to visit and bring along three unemployed members of the Apache community who also wanted to see the wolves, was T’sha b’Av.  I realized this later, entirely forgetting about the fast for the first time since I can remember, which led me to wonder later whether Ephraim’s liberation signaled the time T’sha b’Av would become a feast day, rather than a fast day.


Praying about what is next for Ephraim


I had been praying about the next move for “liberated” Ephraim, liberated after 2,730 years of judgments that some believe expired on T’sha b’Av, the day the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed by fire by both Babylon and Rome 646 years apart (and my late father's birthday and the date of my birth in the Roman Calendar of 70 C.E).


Should Ephraim now reunite with the family of M’nashe separated from his brothers massing here in the American Southwest?  Should Ephraim now seek out Benjamin? Or should Ephraim now mount a campaign to move enmasse to the territories of Joseph in Samaria and begin diminishing the Palestinian majority?  But all that was on my mind that T’sha b’Av was learning of the behavior of the wolf, and hopefully better understanding myself and my spiritual mission.


The four of us were advised by our guide on behavior that was proper and improper.  By all means we were not to pat the wolves on the top of their heads, touch any part of their head or reach over their heads as this was an aggressive act.  We were also told that if we made eye contact with any of the wolves, to immediately “bare your teeth,” which would be interpreted as a gesture of friendship, such as a smile.  And we were to keep in mind constantly that a wolf is NOT a domestic animal; nor can injured wolves usually be domesticated.  At the same time, we learned that – outside of pack behavior -- a wolf is among the most loyal of animals, keeping the same mate for that  mate’s life, and giving up its life to protect its “den.”  Pack behavior is a different matter and comes with its own set of rules.


Inside a pen with full-blooded wolves


We were led inside of a pen about ¾ of an acre where two of the some 25 full-blooded wolves had been let in from a larger pen of about 22 acres.  The wolves were circling the fences and we were told to sit on a long log spaced out about 20 feet apart.  The wolves first approached Lisa, an unemployed and homeless warrior in our purification lodge, who was told to walk several feet out in front of the log and sit down.  A she-wolf came and licked her toes and feet while Lisa reached around the animal to rustle the fur on its back.


I was next in line, but the wolf did not approach me, instead, she backtracked, joined up with her mate and came around from the other end of the log, the mate greeting “Steve,” another member of the lodge who is fighting a terminal disease.  Steve has recently returned to the sweat lodge but is also unemployed.  Then the she-wolf  greeted “Emmett” (back from Arizona and also unemployed) by also licking his toes and feet.  Then, after the she-wolf had finished “greeting” Emmett, she looked directly at me from about 25 feet away, so I immediately forced a smile, baring my teeth.  I was not ready for what happened next.


The kiss


The animal lunged toward me, stopping on a dime in front of me.  She was so quick that I did not have a chance to move or think or change the expression on my face.  Then, she gave me a kiss square on the lips – not an entirely pleasant experience since she had just eaten a hunk of horse meat and licked Emmett's toes -- and then proceeded to lick my toes and feet.  As she walked away to rejoin her mate, she glanced back at me momentarily.


An encounter that intimate with the wildness of Nature took me aback.  It was only later that evening that I remembered the day had been the T’sha b’Av to end the judgments and the Almighty, I truly believe, had given me an undeniable sign.


Where, who, is Benjamin?


Benjamin, who was compared to a ravenous wolf, by his father, Jacob, is the next part of the equation.  But Benjamin will be found partly within the House of Judah (especially the Breslover and other Hasidic Jewish communities) and partly within the assimilation of the House of Israel. A likely prospect in this house is the Amish.


I intimate this because of “soundings” that date back to my days as the shaliah for the Autonomous Jewish Authority in Yesha.  The first occurred in Goshen, IN in 1993 (Amish country).  The meeting was hosted by Larry and his late wife, Meredith, z”l, Borntragger of Goshen, who I had met earlier in 1988 as part of an archaeological dig at Kumran.  Larry had helped excavate the find of pituum ha-ketoret (the holy incense used in the Jerusalem Temple) in a cave I had accidentally discovered in 1988.


During a “time-out” from our meetings in Goshen, Larry suggested that I watch a movie with him called, “Frisco Kid” starring Gene Wilder as an Hasidic rabbi from Poland and Harrison Ford, a good-hearted “outlaw.”  The two fall into the hands of Native Americans and have many humorous adventures.  I won’t spoil the movie for anyone, but it is highly recommended.  But before you watch it, ask the Almighty to “open your eyes to family ties.”


Spiritual sovereignty in the Americas belongs to M’nashe


At the same time, Ephraim must reckon with the spiritual sovereignty of the alleged descendants of Lehi (LAY-HEE) ben M’nashe ben Yoseif.  These would be Native American Joes, based on correlations of the Book of Hopi and the Book of Mormon.  The latter contends that many Native Americans descend from this Jerusalem prophet who was himself was from M'nashe. While the remainder of the House of Joseph went into exile and was removed from Covenant by the judgments of Hosea 1,  Lehi's descendants who have lived apart from his "brothers" remain in Covenant with Creator.


If the book is credible -- but we have severe reservations about parts of it -- the Great Mystery, acknowledged as Wakan Tanka by most of the Western tribes and as Yo-He-Wah by Central and Eastern band Cherokee, is the God of Israel.   Additionally, the Central Band Cherokee already have DNA, linguistic, archaeological and cultural evidence of their tie to ancient Israel.   This means the Native tribes that came out of the Hopi -- although some Cherokee leaders believe the Hopi came out of the Cherokee -- would be of the One True Spirit.


In the Book of Hopi, anthropologist Frank Waters published details confided to him with the permission and oversight of Hopi elders, explaining Hopi history, prophesies, beliefs and ceremonies.   His work was published in 1967 (or 137 years after Joseph Smith published his alleged translation of an ancient Native American-Israelite history).


Ironically, it revealed details about the Hopi migrations that were prophesied by the patriarch Lehi to his eldest son, Laman around the same time that archaeologists can document the earliest occupation of the Hopi. Another portion of the book uses almost the same language as the elders interviewed for the Book of Hopi in describing how "seven cities of the Lamanites buried their weapons of war and declared a vow of peace."


The family of the late chief on Third Mesa at Old Oraibi, Mike Gashwarza, also has recently validated the Hopi origin as Jerusalem, which will be featured in a 2010 documentary to debut at the Israeli Film Festival.


Ironically, the followers of the Book of Mormon, both Latter Day Saints and Reformed LDS,  hold to beliefs that a majority of its members comprise Ephraim.

(See our assessment of the Book of Mormon).


If the book is credible, it is more evidence that the Sundance, the purification lodges, the stomps and other Native ceremonies and the Native American medicines are all of the TRUE Spirit.  Tobacco, for instance, is the equivalent of the pitu’um ha-ketoret (incense) to Native Americans who equate tobacco as having this holy purpose.  No wonder that those who abuse tobacco are sick and dying, using something holy in an unholy way.  As part of M’nashe, they may have forgotten (m’nashed) their covenant, but it remains intact.  This is also evident from the permutations of the Unutterable Name of the Almighty which are sung at most ceremonies according to the Lakota tradition, including the Apache, and the Apache’s six-pointed star, which mimic the same six directions that figure into the blessing of the Lulav and Etrog during Succot.


It seems clear to me that before Ephraim is ready for its reunion and reconciliation with the House of Judah, that it must assist in the reunion and reconciliation of its own House, which includes Benjamin, the Native American Joes and the family of M’nashe that went East along the ancient southern Chinese Trade Routes (mostly Burmese refugees and those who settled Southeast Asia).  Along the way, the House of Joseph movement must also somehow console the followers of the Book of Mormom, because of their Josephite claims.


Benjamin and the divining cup


Remember that Benjamin is part of the House of Joseph because the divining cup of Joseph was found in Benjamin’s sack and the judgment was that any son of Jacob in whose sack the cup would be found would first “die (to his other brothers),” and second, “become a servant in the house of his (the servant’s) master (Joseph).”


Solomon decided the true mother of a child claimed by two women by “asking for a sword” and intending to cut the child into and give each woman half.  The true mother would be willing to give the child to the untrue mother to save its life.  Similarly, in order for Benjamin to “live” Joseph has had to be willing to let Benjamin become part of Judah.  The Haftorah relating this story of Solomon is read along with the Torah story the same week as we read about the divining cup of Joseph being found in Benjamin’s sack.


Benjamin was a key to the reconciliation between Joseph and Judah in Egypt.  The descendants of the “son of the right (hand)”, may have a similar role today.  If Benjamin’s totem, the ravenous wolf, can learn to kiss, just imagine the kind of reconciliatory gestures of which Benjamin may be capable.


Maggid ben Yoseif


Note:  In the article above, I mention several members of the Membreno Apache community who are currently out of work and/or homeless.  Sundancers frequently have this problem.  Not only does the dance and its preparation require extensive time away from work, about which employers frown, but when a Sundancer “returns” from the Other World, the adjustment to this world is difficult.  Sundancers perform something akin to a priestly function in the Jerusalem Temple, but do not currently have the luxury of being supported by anyone but themselves.




Radio interviews with Maggid ben Yoseif on Torah to the Nations with David Mathews, Hebrew Nation Radio Network.

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