Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Vezos HaBracha/Simchas Torah—Brotherhood

Devarim 33:9-- “He says to his father and his mother, ‘I don’t recognize him/her’; and his brother he does not acknowledge; and his children he does not know..."

The recent news that J Street has been the recipient of generous sums of funding from Arab and Muslim groups that are at least nominally hostile to Israel, if not outright antisemitic, that the non-Jewish enemies of Israel have caught on to making common cause with Jews seeking to undermine the Jewish character of Israel if not make it disappear outright [at least, those who aren’t Neturei Karta] is unfortunately never surprising.

A recent article in Harper’s by Naomi Klein—“Minority Death Match”—may provide a window into the new “replacement theology” of J Streeters and their “progressive” chevra. To be sure, J Street are probably not “frum” enough in their adherence to progressive ikkarei emuna, at least in the mind of those like Klein, who seems to have wrested the mantle of formulator of said tenets from the likes of Michael Lerner. [And say what you will about Lerner…he has a son serving in the Israeli army.]

In other words, its not surprising that the Left has employed their own version of 33:9. What might be more surprising is that, from the Right [again, not even having to mention Neturei Karta], occasionally we might actually be SUGGESTING a version of 33:9.

For Jews to get upset that evangelicals do exactly what their faith demands of them is ridiculous. In the free market of ideas, what suffuses the Jews to think that we can’t complete? Let the evangelicals do what they like. To whatever extent they succeed, the indictment is not on them, but on us.

This from an Orthodox Rabbi [Daniel Lapin] who has adopted conservative ikkarei emunah with the claim that they closely dovetail the real ones. Which is nearly as disingenuous as the J Street/Tikkun progressives claiming their “theology” is, or should be, the I’d like to see if Lapin would express similar sentiments if you replace the “evangelicals” with “radical Islamists” or “homosexuals”. After all, he actually mentions the “free market” beferush, so maybe their expressing their “beliefs” falls into that category of a conservative ikkar emuna.

I would say that ALL of these cases, to various extents, embody 33:9 [with Neturei Karta serving as a paradigm].

And, I’m willing to actually give the progressives a leg up here: first, because at least I don’t have to countenance the impression that they’re on my side; and second, for a very salient historical reason, articulated by Michael Medved, in a recent Commentary symposium addressing Norman Podhoretz’ query “Why are Jews liberals?”:

The liberal belief that Jews should be pro-choice and pro–gay marriage has nothing to do with connecting to Jewish tradition and everything to do with disassociating from Christian conservatives. According to this argument, Catholic and evangelical attempts to “impose” their values on social issues represent a theocratic threat to American pluralism that has allowed Judaism to thrive. Jews, like all Americans, vote not so much in favor of politicians they admire as they vote against causes and factions they loathe and fear. Jews fear the GOP as the “Christian party,” and as the sole basis of Jewish identity involves rejection of Christianity, Jews will continue to reject -Republicans and conservatism.

As you may have guessed, I have no problem with that sentiment; maybe I’m ging the liberals too much credit, but doest the Gemara say about Mordechai that “since he rejected idolatry; and all who reject idolatry are called Yehudi (Jew)" (Megillah 13a)? Israel Zangwill [who married out] once wrote “The Jews are a frightened people: sixteen centuries of Christian love have broken down their nerves.”

Obviously, this is oversimplifying, and yes, Christianity is certainly no longer the driving force behind apocalyptic anti-Semitism; that theology has [ironically] been replaced. Still, one who do well to remember a converse of “Es echav lo hikir” [or is is inverse? Contrapositive? Now you know why I gave up on the LSAT’s]:

“Hatzileni miyad achi miyad Esav”.

Beware of any proclamations of brotherhood, whether it comes from our brothers…or our other brothers.

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