Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The truth About Moreinu's cursing the Palestinian People!

I hate how they make it seem like everything Chacham Ovadia says is some political statement. He's talking to a group of, usually poor and not very well educated, residents of the most destitute neighborhood in Jerusalem, Schunat HaBucharim, who are in for a weekly two hour speech in cold dry halacha (I was often in attendance). He was giving a bracha before the speech for the new year (as he would be able to give the speeches before Rosh HaShana). He quoted the prayer recited on the eve of Rosh HaShana that says "May our enemies be cut off", as, as our "enemies", obviously included the leaders and constituents of the Palestinian terror groups that have been plaguing and murdering our people for decades. And it's of course that two second sound byte that the secular media chooses to quote, and not any of the two hour drasha of innovative approaches to halacha, or the beautiful mussar and ethics that he discussed that evening. Even though you'd be hard pressed to hear something that's not Torah from the mouth of חכם עובדיה, still, his Torah you'll never hear from them (while all they do in the Mosques on Friday is curse Israel and talk about military aspirations)...

Also, he wished the prayer upon "Yishmael". This is another topic: the Israeli media always tries to single things out as if they're very recent historical phenomenon. As if there were never Haredim before 1948, as if there were never Zionists before 1948. According to them, there were barely even Jews before 1948. Everything in the world started in the here and now. Obviously that's absurd. The relationship between Jews and Arabs for example; way older than 1948. Unlike European Jews, we have always been praying for the destruction of "Yishmael" in our prayers and our songs. Even a thousand years ago, one of the songs written for Simchat Torah, called "יום שמחה לישראל", goes through the entire alphabet withing joy upon Israel and destruction upon Yishmael (and it's extremely descriptive). Our greatest poets, even from the Golden Age in Spain, called Yishmael our greatest enemy and have prayers to G-d for their downfall all throughout their poetry.

So, again, חכם עובדיה is not, nor has he ever been a politician. He spearheaded the founding of a political party, but only, in his own words, to have more funds stipend to Sephardic religious institutions. He is no more than a rabbi and a "halachist", and  uses the same terminology that was always used, especially today when the Arabs are at our necks to such an extent.

Zionist Satmers

I think the Neturei Karta and other Satmar Chasidim are being more than a little misleading about their own ideologies to the secular media solely in order to deride the Zionist ideology in the eyes of the Nations. They urge people to differentiate between "Jews" and "Zionists", explaining that only Zionists believe in Occupying Palestinian land and killing innocent civilians, while they portray themselves, representatives of real Judaism, as political doves.

I feel they are being openly misleading since the Satmar must believe in Mashiach. Because if they didn't, they would be outside the pale of Orthodox Jewry by all standards. They believe in a Mashiach who will be accepted to Satmar standards, but if there one day is a may who conforms to all their Messianic requirements, they will be compelled to follow him. And in every version of the Jewish story, whether you're Satmer or Abayudaya, Mashiach leads the Jews back to Israel. Here's the tricky part; there are already Palestinians in Israel. But they too will of course accept the authority of a Satmer Mashiach, because he is, after all, not Zionist. ...won't he? Well, we have a tradition about the Messianic Era that states "עולם כמנהגו נוהג", nothing will happen on a supernatural level. Besides for the return of the Jewish state under Mashiach, things will be the same. In that case: no. The Palestinians will not leave their houses because a Satmer Mashiach tells them to or because a Lubavitch Mashiach tells them to! In that case, there can be no way around some level of bloodshed. Even the Satmer agree to that. Just because their Mashiach hasn't come YET, doesn't mean they don't believe that he will or that they gave up on their Messianic dream to occupy Palestine.

I think it's silly to imagine a Judaism exclusive of Eretz Yisrael, and what living there entails. I'll give you an example; I think it's stupid how the כיבוש הארץ is always attributed to Yehoshua and Yehoshua alone. It says clearly in the summer parashyot which no one ever bothers to read that Moshe Rabenu was also involved in many of the initial campaigns East of the Jordan. That's right, the man who received the Torah twice with his very hands has the same person to draw his sword and fill it with the blood of the armies of the Bashan and the Emori, to make way for Jewish Settlers. And let us not forget the author of the beautiful Tehillim which fills our mouths every day of the week; David Hamelech, another great pillar of normative Judaism, waged wars with neighboring nations only for the sake of acquiring land! Even according to Satmer, Judaism and "Zionism" cannot exist without each other (for them they do now, but they have not and will not always be apart).

The Christians are also very misrepresentative of themselves; they say that, notwithstanding events like the Crusades and Inquisition, "essential" Christianity is peaceful whereas essential Islam is warlike. That's pure rubbish my friends; there is an oft-quoted verse, among many others of it's kind, from the mouth of the Prince of Peace himself: "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword". The only possible PC explanation that could be given for such a statement is that in the Gaelic Bible, the word for sword is actually exchanged for the word for peace. Yes, but the Bible was not written in Gaelic...

All three of us, Jews Christians and Muslims, have to stop being squeamish about what our scriptures actually say.....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The State of the Written Word in Crown Heights

Nothing much of great import to report, friends, besides for the fact that on Tuesday night, after a direct wall-to-wall facebook invite, I decided to attend one of the writing meetings (most likely a spin-off of the poetry meetings) orchestrated by the honourable Mr. Baruch Tauber. I had been feeling my creativity wane anyway so I felt it would be good for me. And it was. Tauber had an image prepared for us which we were to see, and subsequently formulate a story from. In this case it was a girl and a man on a highway fixing a car. Based on that I started writing a short story, since I wasn't sure what protocol called for (it turned out vignettes were more appropriate), and based as well on the fact that, as I've mentioned here before, I'm trying to work on my narrative writing. It was about a girl with divorced parents who was having a frictional relationship with her father who had custody of her on Sundays only. Long story short, my idea was to have them reconcile as a result of a   non-injurious car accident (perhaps I'll post it here later). Though I admitted that was quite a dull scenario, and quite honestly not one I'm interested in myself, but time was of the essence.

Also in attendance from the world of Chabad blogs was Feivel ben Mishael, and I got a chance to chat with him a little afterwards. One thing that stands out in my mind from my conversation with him was the strange reason he admired the no comments policy of Yossi's blog. He said that he's concerned that other bloggers will argue with him and espouse ideas that are seditious to Chabad on his blog. I was flabbergasted to hear of such a withholding of the First Amendment from a compatriot. Though of course his ideas were sound based on Chabad ideology, but I shiver to think how they interact with those of other faiths if they cannot even have a dialog with those of their own faith...

Feivel also mentioned how he's blogging less these days, much like me. And much like me, not because he's lacking ideas, but because the transferral of those ideas from electrons in the brain to pixels on a screen often seems daunting. Perhaps I am just projecting my own issues upon others, but I think there's less blogging going on in general at the moment, and in the Chabad community in particular. It can't just be me, since Sara Bonne seems to be struggling with quite the same issue.

Another Chabad-blogger-related-issue that's crossed my mind is that the poetry slam itself seems not to be happening much recently. I think it may have to do with the fact that it's biggest protagonists were the Kings and the [TRSers], who are now living more sedentary lives, and have less of a need for poetry slams. Oh well, lets hope them well and hope the occasional slam returns in the autumn.