Donald Trump in front of a massive stars and stripes

Is the United States of America really the ‘good’ side of Edom?

After going into Yom Kippur in Israel with newspapers blaring headlines that Trump had given permission to Turkey to ‘invade’ Syria (!), I thought it was timely to try to track down what the Gemara says about the ‘good side’ of Edom.

I know there’s an idea being floated around that America is somehow the ‘good’ side of Edom, and that Trump is somehow akin to the Roman Emperor Antoninus, who had a very close relationship with Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi around 1800 years ago.

As things continue to get more and more ‘interesting’ in the international arena, I thought it was time to actually track down the sources in the Gemara that talk about Antoninus, most of which I found in Avoda Zara 10a and b. We can learn a lot from seeing what the Sages actually said about ‘Edom’ and its rulers, and how that maps on to modern-day America, and its rulers.

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The discussion begins in 10a, where the Sages are discussing idolatrous holidays and festivals.

They start talking about something called the ‘Ginusya day of their emperors’, and Rav Yehuda explains:

This is the day on which idolaters inaugurate their emperor.

The Gemara then asks:

But do [the Romans] appoint the son of a king as a king?

The Artscroll notes then state:

“The Emperors of Rome did not reign by hereditary right, but were selected by the previous ruler, or by the Senate.”

Does this sound familiar?

The Gemara then goes on to quote a verse from the prophecy of Ovadiah – which is very interesting in its own right, not least because of the following quotes from it:

“Even if you raise [your nest] like an eagle of if you place your nest amongst the stars, I will bring you down from there…..

“[T]he house of Yaakov will inherit those who had dispossessed them. The house of Yaakov will be fire, the house of Yosef a flame, and the house of Esav for straw. And they will ignite them and devour them. There will be no survivor to the house of Esav, for Hashem has spoken.”

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The allusions to Edom being America seem obvious. The bald-headed eagle is the American emblem – and appears on the logo of the CIA, amongst other things – and ‘the stars’ are also prominently linked to the USA, in just about every sense of the word, beginning with their flag, moving through the space exploration program, and ending with Hollywood.

Let’s continue.

American white supremacism

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Rashi explains in his commentary on Genesis 36:43 that Edom is the ‘ancestor’ of Rome.

The Gemara continues to explains that Rome is ‘inferior among nations’ (quoting Ovadiah) because they:

“Do not appoint the son of a king as king.”

Clearly, the Sages aren’t impressed with the idea of ‘democracy’. The Gemara continues that Edom / Rome is “very despised”:

“Because they do not have their own writings or language.”

These descriptions also ‘fits’ the USA perfectly.

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The Gemara now introduces us to the Roman Emperor Antoninus, who had a close relationship with Rebbi, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The discussion begins with how the Roman Authorities – aka the Senate – are ‘persecuting’ Antoninus, and how Rebbe advises him to kill them off one at a time, and “to not contend with all of them at once.”

Rebbe is scared to state this openly, because he’s wary of being bugged. The Gemara says:

“One can never be sure that a private conversation will remain secret.”

Admittedly, this does sound a little Trump-like. Let’s continue. The Gemara next explains about how Antoninus has a daughter who is acting in a way that could cause her father to become embroiled in a public scandal, and again Rebbe advises him on what to do with her.

Next, the Gemara describes how Antoninus is secretly sending Rebbi sacks full of crushed gold disguised as wheat, so that Rebbi will have money to pay the greedy Romans who will come after Antoninus. Then, the scene switches to the secret visits Antoninus would make to Rebbe’s house, where he’d kill the servants who accompanied him.

The Gemara says:

“Every day, he would wait upon Rebbi. He would serve him food and serve him drink. When Rebbi wished to climb onto his bed he would bend down before the bed and say [to Rebbi]: “Climb up on me to your bed.”

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Before we get into the next, really interesting part, I feel the urge to state the obvious, namely that Trump isn’t doing this for any Jewish sage, last I heard. He’s not sending Rabbi Berland sacks of gold, he’s not letting Rav Kanievsky use him as a footstool, he’s not asking the Biala Rebbe questions about how to keep Ivanka in line…

For sure, Trump has a problem with his ‘Deep State’ trying to take him out of action, same as Antontinus did, but without any of Antoninus’ corresponding personal piety. Let’s continue.

The Gemara now gets into a very interesting discussion that has reverberations for us, and our generation, and our confusion of how best to handle, and relate to ‘Edom’ / America. Antoninus asks Rebbi if he’s going to enter the World to Come, and Rebbi tells him yes. Antoninus then starts quoting the prophet Ovadiah at him, and says:

But it is written ‘and there will be no remnant to the house of Esav’, which implies that the descendants of Esav (Edomites / Romans) will not enter the World to Come. Rebbi responded: “That verse speaks only of one who acts in the manner of Esav.”

“This was also taught in a Baraisa: And there will be no remnant to the House of Esav. It could have been thought that this applies to all Edomites. To dispel this notion, [the Torah] states: To the House of Esav. By naming Esav, it teaches that only where the Edomite acts in the manner of Esav is he condemned; otherwise, he may enter the World to Come.”

All this is a direct quote from the Gemara.

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In the Artscroll notes it states:

“Edomites are barred from the World to Come only if they act like Esav (a barbarian who scorned God, committed murder and violated women.)….[A]ny gentile (even if he is not a ger toshav, who formally accepts the seven Noahide laws) has a portion in the World to Come, provided he does not emulate the barbaric Esav.”

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American white supremacism

Before we get into a discussion of whether the USA has a history of acting like the arch-hypocrite Esav, pretending to be good, pure and holy while actually rampaging around the world slaughtering anyone who stands in the way of its economic goals and other materialistic desires, let’s just return to the Gemara in Avoda Zara 10b.

Antoninus is still having difficulties believing Rebbi’s assertion that he will make it into the World to Come, and tells him:

But it is written: “There (in Gehinnom) is Edom, her kings and all her presidents.” Apparently, all the leaders of Edom are assigned to Gehinnom!

Rebbi replies that the verse isn’t talking about all Edom’s kings, just most of them; and that the verse states:

All her presidents, and not all her ministers.

The Artscroll notes explain:

“A president is a ruler of Rome who is not a king, but serves at the behest of the Senate (see Tosfos). A minister is a royal adviser (presumably a senator) – Raavad.”

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In other words, every single president of Edom / Rome / America is going to gehinnom, but here and there, there may be some Edomite royal heads of state, and also the odd Senator and Congressman who may actually escape the rampant moral corruption enough to make it into the World to Come.

The Gemara continues with more discussions about the relationship between Antoninus and Rebbe, and the Artscroll notes trace this back to the prophecy that Rebecca is told when she was carrying Esav (Edom) and Yaakov (Israel) back in Genesis, 25:23. I.e. the two babies are two nations, and when one is up, the other will be down.

“Two nations are in your womb…the elder shall serve the younger.”

The Artscroll notes then quote Rabbi Gedalyah Schorr, author of Or Gedalyah who explains that:

“Ideally, Yaakov-Israel and Esav-Edom were meant to enjoy a harmonious and complimentary partnership. Esav…was supposed to defeat evil, while Yaakov…was to promote good. Had Esav fulfilled his role, he would have been equal to Yaakov.”

This view is based on the midrash that states that six tribes should have descended from Esav and six from Yaakov, but this didn’t happen as Esav went bad, failed to live up to his spiritual job, and so Yaakov married Leah instead (who was Esav’s intended bride) and the whole course of Jewish history changed.

Again, Rav Schorr believes that the ‘perfect partnership’ between Edom and Israel did actually occur – uniquely – for one brief interlude in history, when Antoninus was (secretly…) subservient to Rebbe.

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From what I can tell, this passage in the midrash appears to be the basis of the idea that Trump is some sort of Edomite ‘good guy’, but there is absolutely no discussion here of any sort of ‘Edomite’ aspect of Moshiach and there is also a very large distinction made in these sources between EDOM and ESAV.

Parts of the former can make teshuva and get some share in the world to come. But Esav can’t. This is a very important distinction to make, if you’ve been reading articles like this.

Assuming Trump is a retread of Antoninus, the most that would mean is that he’s sneaking Rav Kanievsky sacks of gold and asking Rav Berland coded messages about what to do with Ivanka. Even Antoninus couldn’t and didn’t free Israel from Roman rule, nor give permission for the Jews to rebuild the temple.

And even making that equivalence between Trump and Antoninus seems to be stretching us past reality.  As we already mentioned, Trump is not sneaking billions to any Jewish sage, nor waiting hand and foot on any rabbi. If I’m wrong about this, please do let me know, as clearly that would change things.

Which bring is to the last part of this discussion, which is this:

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Is it realistic to assume that America is the ‘good’ part of Edom, and not actually the bad, unfixable, ‘Esav’ part of Edom?

And that’s where the conversation is going to get a little sticky, because once you move all the brainwashing about apple pie and Uncle Sam out the way, you’ll find that American history is just one, big list of atrocities, genocidal actions and wars. Sure, they were always dressed up as being ‘good’ and holy, but really, they boil down to America using its military might to bully the rest of the world into doing what suited it best, economically.

(Btw, the UK preceded the US, and is also totally corrupt and the ‘Esav’ part of Edom. Anglo Saxon culture also included the Nazis, who were clearly also really bad. However, we’re focusing on the US, because that’s who is still empire-building, and controlling the State of Israel, in 2019.)

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The United States committed the first ever genocide, when it brutally killed off millions of its native Americans over the course of a few decades, as I wrote about HERE.

For 250 years, it built its economy off the back of black slaves who were initially brought to America against their will, and then bred by their slave masters like so much chattel. No-one really knows how many blacks lost their lives amidst brutal conditions, worked to death by their pious, white American owners. No-one knows how many black women slaves were assaulted by their white masters. Blacks didn’t count as real people in America until well into the 1960s and the time of Martin Luther King Jr – and probably well beyond.

Then, we have all the European Jews that were barred from entering the US before and during World War II, even though Roosevelt knew they were being slaughtered by the millions. America held off from really joining the WW2 effort in Europe until the last possible minute, waiting for Stalin to have millions of his soldiers killed by the Nazis, and for the UK to be brought to its knees as an Imperial power.

And then, the US decides they are going to drop not just one nuclear bomb on Japan, but two. And not just on a smallish city of 10,000 people but on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where they killed almost a quarter of a million people, half of them in under a minute. This from Wikipedia:

Over the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings killed between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day.

This was totally cruel, totally murderous behavior. You want to try out your nuke? Pick a small target! Keep bombing in increments, until the Japanese gave up! Why bomb two such big cities like that, chik chak, with such terrible loss of life?

To this day, the United States of America is the only country to have actually used its nuclear weapons to destroy tens of thousands of people.

American white supremacism

Post WW2, the Dulles brothers and Eisenhower decided to secretly ship 1,600 hardcore Nazi scientists over to the US, as part of Operation Paperclip.

That Nazi science has morally corrupted the US in a million different ways, particularly in the realms of medicine,  biology and economics and industry, which most people still are blissfully unaware of. (Btw, I think that number is way too low. If you include intelligence assets that were ‘taken over’ by the CIA and the British, the number of former Nazis working for the West bounds into the thousands.)

The US has spent decades since WW2 rampaging around the world, starting wars whenever its economic interests are threatened, that have totally devastated whole countries and left tens of millions of people dead, homeless or totally impoverished and with nothing to look forward to.

Of course, American actions are always dressed up as ‘good’ and ‘holy’ and above reproach ‘, but really?

America is acting exactly like Esav.

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Is everyone in the US acting like Esav? No, clearly not. There are many good noahides / non-Jews in the US – and also in other parts of the Edomite Western world – and these people will be the parts of Edom who will make it to the World to Come, as described in the Gemara, above.

But America’s politicians? America’s presidents? America’s generals? America’s elites?

There is absolutely no basis in fact or Jewish sources for believing that these people are even close to being the ‘good’ part of Edom.

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What the sources do seem to clearly show, however is that the USA = Esav, mamash.

Right down to its ‘presidents’, senators, eagle emblem and stars and stripes flag. Here and there, there might be a good politician, but the Gemara is clear:

[A]ll the leaders of Edom are assigned to Gehinnom.

The LEADERS of Edom are all the politicians, heads of states and European royalty.

But America itself is obviously acting like ‘Esav’, pretending to be 100% kosher, but really just a pig.

And the sources are clear that:

[T]here will be no remnant to the House of Esav.

American white supremacism

Which is why I find statements like this to be extremely puzzling:

“When Esau is seen helping Israel, it is a sign Moshiach is right around the corner,” Rabbi Kessin said.

In explanation, Rabbi Kessin quoted the Bible concerning the prophesied fate of Jacob and Esau told to their mother, Rivka.

And Hashem answered her, “Two nations are in your womb, Two separate peoples shall issue from your body; One people shall be mightier than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

The rabbi noted an ambiguity in the Hebrew text that had vastly different import.

“Due to the absence of pronunciation markings, the wording of the Torah text can be read either as ‘va’ya’avod’, meaning he shall serve, or ‘va’ya’aved’,  he shall enslave,” the rabbi explained. “Esau will help Jacob by either serving him or by causing him to suffer since suffering is a way to bring God back into the world.”

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So, is Trump a possible reincarnation of Antoninus?

It’s possible, especially if you take into account Trump’s pronounced ‘anti war’ stances, but unlikely, especially if you look at recent tweets like this:

“President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God… But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore.”

Does this sound like the kind of guy who’d be sending Rav Berland secret sacks of gold, or letting Rav Kanievsky use him as a footstool?….

If you look through the history books, there are other Roman leaders who sound far, far more like Trump than Antoninus Pius. And we’ll take a look at that side of things in the next post, BH.

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Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

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