Monday, December 19, 2005

Cross Currents: No shame no brains II

Not to be outdone, Toby Katz provides a few laughs with a post so bad it takes the breath away.
With Chanuka coming in a few days we can be sure that along with the Chanuka tree and the Chanuka wreath, we will have the annual round of phony newspaper stories about Chanuka being the holiday of religious freedom.
Phony newspaper stories? Sorry, but this mischarecterization of Chanukah is most often repeated by Aish Hatorah Chabad Lubovitch, and other groups who wish to mislead unafilliated Jews. It's also been heard from time to time at the White House.

Back to Toby:
Of course this story is total nonsense. What was really going on was that the Greeks persecuted the Jews because they couldn’t stand the Jews’ uppityness in declaring that they had the only true religion and the only real G-d. The Greeks believed in lots of gods and would have happily welcomed Buddhists, Wiccans, Gaians and whoever else wanted to join—as long as they didn’t claim to have the One Exclusive Truth. That claim to truth really stuck in their craw.
The sweet irony here is that though the Greeks might not have welcomed Toby, neither would the Macabees. Do you think Judah and his brothers would have had much use for someone like Toby who practices a version of Judaism they would certainly consider strange and foreign? Under the Macabees you could be their kind of Jew, and nothing else. Not one of the modern variations of Judaism we recognize would have been accepted. The Macabees, to use Mis-Nagid's great formulation, were not "Charedim with swords."

More Toby:
Strangely, the biggest enemies of the Maccabees (who were the Torah-true Jews of the day) were not Greeks but Hellenist Jews. It was these Greek-loving Jews who tried to use the power of the courts, sorry scratch that, the power of the Greek rulers to overthrow strict monotheism and bring in polytheism (multiculturalism) instead.
Leave it to Toby to conflate polytheism with multicultrualism, and leave it to Toby to confuse a court with a king. Anyway, let's not forget how the chanuka story ends: Within a generation the Macabees were Hellenized -complete with Greek names: John Hyrkanus was one, Alexander Yannai was another. They were corrupt, vicious, enemies of the Rabbis. Greek in every way. Very, quickly, they became exactly the sort of people the family founders had fought against. And it didn't take long.

What Toby doesn't seem to understand is that theocracies always end up as slimy and corrupt dictatorships. And the fact that this has happened twice in Jewish history (both Temple eras) ought to slow down her enthusiasm for another go around.