The holy Talmudic sage Reish Lakish (Rebbe Shimon ben Lakish) was a Baal Teshuva and even a gladiator before Rebbe Yochanan - his future brother-in-law and learning partner - brought him back to Hashem. Reish Lakish was skilled in all areas of combat arts. As such, he was an authority on fighting, weapons and warfare. Reish Lakish says (see Gemara in Tractate Sota, 25b) that Israel is the fiercest of nations. The Maharsha, in his classic elaboration of the Gemara, says that Israel inherited its fierceness from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The "Pnai Yehoshua" adds that if Israel would put its efforts into fighting rather than Torah, it would rule the world. The Malbim in his elaboration of Parshat Vayichi and Jacob's blessing to each of his twelvw sons before he died, says that each of the tribes of Israel had its own style of combat. In short, as opposed to the wimpy stereotypes of "Fiddler on the Roof" and the cowering Jew make that above-cited Gemara hard to believe for those Jews who don't know enough about their own people, the Jews are rough dudes.
Here's more to substantiate Reish Lakish's point: stop and think who the greatest guerrilla fighters of all time were: how about Abraham and Eliezer, who defeated four entire armies. Or how about Shimon and Levi, who right after their Bar Mitzva, wiped out the Canaanite town whose prince raped their sister Dina. Don't forget the Maccabees, a small family of Cohanim who routed the Syrian-Greek army. Think about Bar Kochba, who with his small band of followers defeated the Roman Army and reigned as king for two years. If I had the time, I'd write a book on this, for there's so much to add...
Let's fast forward in history: who is the one people that the Moguls, the British, the Russian Army, the entire US military or anyone else has ever been able to defeat? If you answered the Afghan Pashtuns, you're right.
The are loads of research, proofs and documents showing the link between the Pashtuns (aka Pathans) and the Jewish People. Anthropologist Shalva Weil of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem says, "Of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case." Researcher Nadav Sofy notes, "The Pashtuns are beyond any doubt the 10 tribes of Israel. The have more than 40 Jewish customs and commandments rooted in Torah, Talmud and Kabala."
If you're still skeptical about the Pashtuns being one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, take a long at some of their customs (gleaned from the above links and other resources, especially this article):
- Pashtuns obeserve Saturday as their Sabbath and light candles on Friday night
- They don't eat shellfish (lobsters, shrimp and crabs), they don't use camel milk and they don't mix milk and meat
- They circumcise their baby sons on the 8th day
- They cover their heads at all times.
- Many do not cut their sidecurls
- The women perform a ritual immersion in the river at the end of menstruation.
- Their names are right out of the Torah.
- They carefully avoid eating blood - they check eggs for blood and salt their meat after slaughtering.
I can go on and on, for there are dozens of additional points, but I'm sure you get the idea.
Compare the Pashto language to Hebrew; for example:
* Gazera means carrot. In Hebrew it is Gezer
* Dor means an era. In Hebrew the word Dor refers to an era or a generation.
* Orezy means rice. In Hebrew it is Orez.
* Qurban means sacrifice. In Hebrew it is Qorban
What do our own sages say about this? Professor Navras Jaat Aafreedi of the Presidency University in India refers to our great rabbis Rebbe Saadia Ga'on (9th Century, CE) and Moses Ibn Ezra (11th Century, CE) who mention Afghanistan and the Pathan territories in Pakistan as the home of Jews descended from the lost tribes.
What does all this have to do with today?
Rebbe Eliezer ben Hyrcanos says in tractate Sanhedrin that when Moshiach comes, he'll tell the lost tribes who they really are and bring them back to Israel - this is the Israel of Moshiach and Torah, for Hashem's law will reign. You know what that means? The Pashtuns, who today make up the bulk of the Taliban, will become the defenders of Israel.
Just looking at them is like looking at brothers. Change the attire of the Pashtan elders pictured below (image with appreciation to thepashtuntimes.com), and you could be looking at the men around a Seuda Shlishit table in our local Sefardi synagogue - notice that all these men have untrimmed beards and sidecurls tucked under their lungee, their traditional turbans. As we can see, a lot of excitement awaits us as Moshiach comes, may it be soon, with the ingathering of all the exiles, amen!