Friday, December 23, 2005

Teaching Toby Torah

I'd like to point out, yet again, that Toby Katz is a moron, and that Yaakov Menken facilitates her stupidity. [DB: The preceeding was written in haste, and was unnecessarily harsh. Toby Katz, you have my apologies]

Today's example:

TOBY: It was a Rashi in last week’s parsha: Esav sonei le’Yakov

Though longtime readers of Cross Currents may wish to know how Toby squares her reliance on this Rashi with her well documented love of Catholics, Christians and other decendants of Edom, we'll leave that for another time. The point today is she's misunderstood and misused the quote, in the way that Jews have been misunderstanding and misapplying that quote for generations.

DOVBEAR: It’s not a “Rashi”. It’s a quote from Shimon Bar Yochai that Rashi cites, and you’ve managed to mangle it. The quote doesn’t say that Esav the nation hates Jacob the nation. It says Esav the individual hated Jacob the individual which is obvious from the context.

Rashi is attempting to explain the dots which appear over the word "and he kissed him." One opinion says the kiss was not a real kiss, but a bite; therefore the word was dotted. Rav Shimon Bar Yochai goes the other way saying: "halacha byaduah [that] Esav has hate for (soneh l') Ya´akov, but his mercy was aroused at that moment, and he kissed him with all of his heart." Halacha often means law, but it's hard to understand what kind of law this might be. It isn't discussed in the Shulchan Aruch, for example.

Yaakov Mencken however is never hesitant to obviate an uncertainty.

YAAKOV MENKEN: What sort of “known law” would it be, if it only meant that one long-dead individual hated another? Toby Katz didn’t mangle anything at all, she merely knows how to read Rashi and Medrash.

Simple, the word halacha, here, does not mean law. It means "tradition," as in we know from our tradition that Esav (the individual) hated Yaakov (the individual) and were it not for the dots, we'd presume the kiss was fake. The dots are there to tell us that what we know about Esav should be set aside, because here he acted out of pure love.

The idea that Shimon Bar Yochai means for this to be a lesson about Jews and Gentiles doesn’t fit the context. The subject of R’ Shimon’s observation is Ya’akov’s brother, not the nation (Edom) descended from him. Moreover, if this was meant to be a lesson about nations and not an observation about people, the text would speak of Yisroel and Edom, not Esav and Yaakov.