Thursday, August 7, 2008

Devarim-Chazon: Victimology and Militancy

The story of the meraglim and the ma’aseh dibbah ra’ah, which the Gemara in Taanis relates occurred on (the first) Tisha B’Av, is repeated in this weeks parsha.

Afraid of the possible loss of their lofty status following the move across the Jordan, the meraglim embarked on a program of dual victimology: we aren’t militarily strong enough, and even if we were, we aren’t spiritually strong enough.

It worked too well. Everyone in klal yisrael—males between the ages of 20 and 60—were taken in.

The Divine response indicates what the Torah thinks of victimology: you call yourselves victims, you will be victims in perpetuity. Bechiya shel dorot.

The counter-response—the ma’apilim--seems to be equally ineffective, both as a militant and spiritual exercise. Similarly, Chazal in Gittin seem to fault the biryonim (“zealots”) for the Churban as much as anyone.

So, as much as across-the-board quietism is decried, nationalist revolutionary militance may probably seen as worse. Often they are two sides of the same coin; these are early examples, but there are many others, Jewish and non-, throughout history, where self-preceived victims become as tyrannical as their former persecutors, often toward the very people they were trying to “liberate”.

This is one lesson of Tisha B’Av that seems to be heeded even less than that of sinas chinam. In fact, it may be more a cause than effect of sinas chinam, and consequently more dangerous.

As a side note: Chazal and the midrashim state that no women were caught up in the sin of the meraglim. That they would not have been militant would be no surprise; that they weren’t susceptible to the national self-pity instigated by the meraglim might tell us something.

1 comment:

Ayelet Survivor said...

Women have always been too busy saving the Jewish people to indulge in self-pity ;)