It's the same in any lingo

בַּת-בָּבֶל, הַשְּׁדוּדָה: אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיְשַׁלֶּם-לָךְ-- אֶת-גְּמוּלֵךְ, שֶׁגָּמַלְתּ לָנוּ
אַשְׁרֵי שֶׁיֹּאחֵז וְנִפֵּץ אֶת-עֹלָלַיִךְ-- אֶל-הַסָּלַע

How can one be compelled to accept slavery? I simply refuse to do the master's bidding. He may torture me, break my bones to atoms and even kill me. He will then have my dead body, not my obedience. Ultimately, therefore, it is I who am the victor and not he, for he has failed in getting me to do what he wanted done. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? If not now, when? ~ Rav Hillel, Pirke Avot

This Red Sea Pedestrian Stands against Judeophobes

This Red Sea Pedestrian Stands against Judeophobes
Wear It With Pride

27 March 2009

What Is This Drudgery of Yours

Every year, on the first night of the festival of Pesach (Passover), Jews gather around the world to celebrate the night that they were delivered out of bondage in Egypt, and fashioned into a nation. We recount the drowning of the Hebrew babies, plagues, signs, and wonders. The story of the enslavement and liberation of the Israelites is so engrained in the DNA of the Jewish soul that we recount the tale declaring that we ourselves were liberated, that we were at Sinai to receive the Creator’s law from the Divine Presence itself. Out of this event began the transmission of the Mishnah, the Oral Law, which Moses transmitted to Joshua, and then tribal elders, until it was disseminated through the population. This line of transmission remained unbroken until the exile of the ten tribes of Israel, which were taken into captivity in Babylon. It was in Babylon that the Mishnah was written down and codified into what is collectively known as the Talmud, the Jewish legal codex that is the basis for American civil law, which was studied at Harvard by such notables as John Adams.

It is an incredible time line from Sinai to 18th century Massachusetts, but the line exists nonetheless. Am Yisrael, the Jewish people are but one of many nations with a rich oral history. Indigenous cultures around the world have kept track of years, and events in such a manner. It is as engrained in their DNA as our story is engraved in ours. Some cultures, the Maya for instance, have a written codex to which we can refer. These histories are studied. They are honored. They are respected. Not so with Am Yisrael. In fact, there is a great deal of money and effort placed into deconstructing and devaluing ancient Jewish history as well as the modern, to, which the culture of Holocaust denial can attest.

In recent years it has been fashionable to attempt to debunk, and classify as myth, the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. It begins with the usual application of science to attempt to explain whether or not the ten plagues could have taken place. From there it grows into determining how the Red Sea was parted (it is commonly known among scholars that Yam Suf is not the “Red Sea”, but the “sea of reeds,” a shallow body of water that was perhaps the scene of a tidal bore phenomenon, or possibly a wetland area that withdrew temporarily as the result of tsunami. Perhaps the Midrash is correct that the natural events that took place at the time of the exodus were set in motion at the time the universe was created. Perhaps it is entirely legend. But some feel a great sense of urgency to present evidence that nothing related to any of these events ever took place. I will not be entertaining the various theories here, just this need to debunk the exodus story.

To my mind it speaks to an ability to nullify the Jewish people. Our national identity begins with the exodus. Prior to this we were a group of family clans claiming ancestry from Abraham and Sarah, his son Isaac and wife Rebecca, and from the twelve sons of Israel (Jacob), Rachel and Leah (the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel). It is also in the exodus story that we find the binding of the Jewish people in covenant with God, when we consented to receiving and upholding the law and way of life that came with it (with varying degrees of success and failure throughout our history).

What many (I will go so far as to say most) people do not understand is that the Torah is not supposed to be accepted at face value based on the text of the story. In fact, it is considered foolish, if not on the level of sinful, to accept the Torah literally without examination of its inner meanings.

What does it mean to be enslaved in Egypt? Is it to say that the Hebrews were in fact slaves in Egypt, or were they spiritually and morally enslaved? Who were the masters, the Egyptians, a region rife with corruption, perversion, and wars? What does liberation from bondage refer to? Is it physical, spiritual, or cosmic entrapment? What enslaves a person? Vice, greed, excess, self-deprecation, immorality, addictions; all of these things enslave us.

And the battles of the Torah; did they take place, or are we looking at a battle of more cosmic proportions that borders on the mystical and lies at the very essence of the conflict humanity faces to overcome its faults and reach a purer state of existence?
[I'd like to note here that it is ironic that some commentators are fond of pointing out that the Jews invaded Canaan and went to war with the idol worshipping peoples there. But often these are the same people claiming there was no Jewish presence in the land...most illogical Captain.]

These are very deep matters of great importance to the Jew who becomes immersed in unraveling the mysteries within the Torah. I think it’s safe to say that a majority of Jews, and virtually all non-Jews have little or no understanding (my knowledge, though considered relatively vast by some, is cursory at best, relative to those whose lives are immersed in the study of Torah). As it says in the Tehilim (the Book of Psalms), “The ignorant man does not know, nor does the fool understand.”

In terms of archeology we have a great deal of evidence as to what went on in the Middle East, particularly in the Greek and Roman eras. But still the Palestinian Authority excavates the Temple Mount in an effort to strip away any evidence of a Jewish presence there, despite the overwhelming historical record.

Why the convenience of erasing our past? To make the past more easily palatable to the agenda of the present I suppose. Alas, a fool is a fool and is always the last to know. I think the same can be said of a hateful bigot who feigns a lack of opinion on a subject, such as say, Israel and the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, along with the history of the region. I am stunned at how people thinly veil an anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish agenda (we’ll present that as a distinction for idiots who think that there actually is a distinction between the two) with a claim to have no opinion, or comprehensive knowledge. These people actually think they are masking themselves. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so fucking pathetic.

One of my personal favorite uses of historical evidence at the hypocrisy of Israelis is the bombing of the King David Hotel. Ah ha! The Jews were terrorists too, just like Hamas, the PLO, the PFLP, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs, etc. But an ignorant idiot is in ignorant idiot. An act of terror is an act of terror. I can see that argument. But as long as we’re making distinctions; let’s make one here.

The King David Hotel was not a civilian target. It was the Headquarters of the British Military and British Mandate. A series of warnings were issued to the hotel switchboard, the French Consulate, and the Palestine Post newspaper. The terror groups mentioned above almost exclusively target civilians. They give no warnings, and they are typically timed to kill the greatest numbers of people. A further distinction is that the Irgun was not an organization dedicated to a genocidal policy, despite what revisionists may say. So yes, Jews adopted methods of urban warfare developed by Michael Collins in Ireland against the British (which does not seem to be vomited in the face of the people of Ireland). Call it terrorism if you like. But let’s not call it or equate it with radical jihadism and genocide. You might serve yourself better stamping “Obtuse” on your forehead. At least that would be more honest.

And so we have history’s rewriters and editors. Holocaust denial walks hand in hand with the utterly false notion that there was ever an independent country called Palestine, or even a Palestinian governing body (this is not to say that what became Israel did not have an historical Arab population. To contend this was the case is just as false). It’s amazing to me that in a region where there was no Arab nationalism until the British created it, just family controlled tribal territories, but miraculously the Palestinians had a nation that was invaded by Israel. What’s even more hilarious (and pathetic) is that people actually look at maps of the region prior to partition, see the word “Palestine,” and hold that up as evidence. “See? I told you there was a Palestine.”

So while we’re playing “Erase That History” let’s make like the Spanish Inquisition never took place, or that the Czars never sanctioned pogroms against Jews, or that the United States didn’t turn away Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Let’s also pretend that the Arabs in British Palestine didn’t massacre Jews, and that Arabs drove out the majority native Jewish population of Jerusalem in bloody rioting. But the “I think I don’t remember moment” that I love most of all is when people say that bad things have been done by both sides, but it’s the Jews’ fault. That’s a classic.

So why not attempt to nullify the totality of Jewish history? Why not delegitimate the Exodus? Isn’t it easier to erase a people by conjecturing that they in fact never existed? Isn’t post modernism awesome?

A central story related in the Haggadah, the ritual text used for the Passover seder, is of a father and his four sons. The wise son asks, "Teach me the story and the laws pertaining to the Pesach." The simple son asks, "What is this?" The youngest does not yet know how to ask questions. The hateful son asks, "What is all this drudgery of yours?"

We are celebrating our liberation from bondage. Perhaps next year we will celebrate our liberation from the ignorant.


Anonymous said...

"Perhaps next year we will celebrate our liberation from the ignorant."

Given some reading I have been doing lately ... I am not betting on it .. but at least I know who they are ...

again... I am so grateful to be here at your blog where facts and truth are not confused with trendy opinions

Shtuey said...

Thank you Swan. It is a pleasure having you here.

I will admit that I have an obvious bias, but I do my best not to let that turn into a "my shit don't stink" pose. Alas, the history of what transpired in the region has been so twisted and, in most cases, lacks a necessary objectivity, that it's easy for anyone to find a version of it that suits their agenda.

What matters most is where we are now. The Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza are at the mercy of a terror kleptocracy that murders anyone who might seek common ground with Israel. I have a friend who served in the IDF in the early 80's who related a story of how, when patrolling in Ramallah, they would often be approached by Arabs bearing coffee. They would all drink together and talk, speak of the days when life for everyone would be rooted in peace. They were killed, having been labeled collaborators.
But Israel is the problem, not the Palestinian mafia that's passing as a legitimate body of governance. Whatever.

People are so willing to blindly attack Israel and Jews as the source of the misery, the thieves of the land, etc that they have no idea that the real obstacle to peace are the ones actively seeking to keep Arabs and Jews at each other's throats. Of course it is no different in America when Republicans and Democrats use gay marriage, choice, etc as wedge issues in the hopes that people will be so consumed with the divide that they don't see the common ground. The politics of hate and division is a tool for the oppression of people. It's pathetic seeing so many people fall for it again and again.

Anonymous said...

You are most welcome!!!
I think what upsets me so much about this latest trend ; besides the fact that most of the trendy stuff is based on lack of accurate history and perspective ; is that it it exactly what the holocaust remembrance warns of. For ANYONE to think that horrific cartoon depicting Israel as the jackbooted persecutors of palestinans which has been circulating ... for them to think that cartoon is anything but the worst typical antisemitism; and exactly what was done in germany to foment hatred of the Jews there ;that kind of fuzzy thinking is a perfect example of the lack of independent thought and adherence to facts . How far people can be led like bleating sheep to think that cartoon is simply political opinion in these times is horrifying.

Shtuey said...

Honestly, a post that went up yesterday at a certain liberal blog, is part two of the most uninformed, obtuse discussion on the subject of Israel and the Palestinians I have ever seen, bar none. If there isn't a blog award for that somewhere there should be.

Comments on outwardly racist blogs on both sides of the issue are better. At least they're honest instead of hiding behind inane comments trying to make it seem like they have no opinion.

lililam said...

I noticed that as well, shtuey, what a bunch of hateful hooey. I have been trying to stay a safe distance, but periodically my morbid curiosity gets the best of me. There have been some gems, however, mainly posted by the non-initiated that did not witness the destruction that was rampant there recently. I have gotten some satisfaction from those.

To return to the topic at hand, I thank you for sharing your knowledge. Despite your opinion that it is less than optimum, it is certainly far superior than mine. Unless one is raised by an observant family or majors in religious studies or Jewish history, this information is not taught in the schools. We know more about native Americans and women than Jews, and that means we know next to nothing. I often regret that my father was largely non-verbal when I was growing up, otherwise I would know a lot more. He spoke Arabic, Hebrew, and French, and was only just learning English when I was as well, and being an American, he didn't feel it was right to have us speak his languages. What a shame. I have so many questions for him now that he is gone, as I have a new-found belief that first person accounts are so much more accurate than the crap we are exposed to. I do remember visiting my cousins in northern Israel in the late 70's. They took me on a joy ride to the Lebanese border, armed with an automatic weapon. They got out and spoke with the border guards, laughing all the while, then we went back home. They didn't speak much English either, but I came to the conclusion that was a typical Saturday night, like driving down main street in a pick up truck. I saw Jews and Arabs in the Old City, co-existing with not a care, in my naive mind. Those are just snippets from my innocent first hand accounts. They are relatively meaningless. My overall impression was these people were trying to survive, just like everyone else.

Your point about people pointing to the name "Palestine" on old maps is so right on. Palestine was Palestine, not the land of what we know now as "Palestinians". And people always fail to point out why Jews were scattered to the winds initially- duh, otherwise they would never have left. I have noticed that in academic circles, the term "Diaspora" is used for many uprooted peoples and is frequently poopooed as almost trite when used in its initial incarnation, with the Jews. They are not the oppressed du jour.

Anonymous said...

And how about this one??
Let us separate the" political" cartoons from the personal ones ..
Do they not realise the HOLOCAUST was not "personal" but " political" from beginning to end it was political and the lack of insight was a large part of what allowed the genocide to happen .

Of course they do not, or they would be clear on the distinctions...

lanikai said...

Thank you so much for posting this and all the other truth you publish about Jews and Judaism. I was at another favorite liberal site yesterday and wanted to cry to see them fall into the ridiculous posture that equating Israel with Nazi Germany is somehow Ok and accurate (oh yeah, and not anti-semetic at all). I despair that even the people I often think of as smart, awake and thinking drink the kool-aid laced insanity that does that. I have often thought the jewish culture and people is like yeast for the human race, incredibly large effects in the world in every art, science, finances etc. for such a small number of people. And I think you are one of the yeasty ones making a big difference to this reader. Thanks again