Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mulling over the Mean Loez

A clever post by Lamed Zayin brought this to mind.

An old problem with the Me'am Loez on Bereishas is that he has some very awful things to say about black people. I don't remember his exact language, but it's clear from his words (as they were translated into Hebrew from the original Ladino, at least) that he imagined them all to be sexual devients of minimal intelligance.

By our standards, in 2005, these views are unaccaptble, and ought to cast a large shadow over the rest of his writings. Yet, they remain in publication.

This isn't PC handwringing. I am not carrying a brief for black people, nor do I seek an appology from the Meam Loez's publishers and heirs. I simply wish to point out that the Meam Loez was wrong, and to wonder aloud why we're shy about saying so, and unwilling to take his incorrect ideas out of circulation.

In the grand scheme of things, what's more damaging to the Jewish people? The ideas of the Mean Loez which encourages us to hate perhaps a third of mankind, creatures that were made in God's image and share with Him a universal covenant? Or the ideas of the Tiferes Yisroel, among others, who teach that the world God created came into existence, by Divine command, billions of years ago, and not thousands of years ago?

So, what does it say about Judaism in 2005 that it is the latter, and not the former, which provokes outrage and fiery condemnations from our leaders?