Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Lab Rab Challenge

Lab Rab writes:

In light of DovBear's excellent post yesterday on the social values of the prophets, I issue him a challenge: To put into practice the education of these prophets into the world, by quoting a relevant passage from each of these neviim related to Democratic social values every day.

I am confident that he could go at least two months without straining. The only potential hitch would be a paucity of intelligent comments, since the grand yeshiva world ignores the later prophets, whether to prioritize Talmud, or to avoid the politically relevant content.

To kick off the grand Neviim study-fest, I propose that he start with Amos, the brave champion of the poor and oppressed. Why not start right at the beginning? Whereas God will punish Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Amon, and Moav for their acts of war on foreign countries, he will punish Israel for one primary sin - oppression:

Thus saith the LORD: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not reverse it: because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor. ... (2:6-7).

Good luck DovBear!
DB: I can't commit to posting a verse from the Prophets every day, but I have no doubt that LabRab is right: Judaism, however you define it, is neither Republican nor Democrat, but there's no doubt that the values of the prophets -especially the later prophets - align better with progressive politics.

As I wrote yesterday, for the better part of a year, many of us have dedicated a fair amount of our blogging time toward skewering the haredim for their ignorance of science and, to a lesser extent, history and other disciplines. We've taken a special delight in discovering gedolim of past generations who didn't share those blindspots, but ultimately what is the real significance of those discoveries? What have we acheived when he point out that the average Haredi Rabbi has the historical awareness of a small child? What does it matter whether we have a 5800 year old universe or a 58 billion year old universe? In either case, the poor will still be with us.

Here, again, is Amos:
I hate, I despise your yom tovim, and I take no delight from your minyanim. Even though you offer prayers as a rememberance of your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; nor will I accept the prayers that are a rememberance of the peace offerings of fattened animals: I will not look upon them. Remove from me the noise of your tehillim; to the melody of your teffilos I will not listen. Instead, let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Translation is mine, including the obvious, but not unreasonable modifications.