Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Geopolitics as Metaphor…a Post-Chanukah Rumination

(Part 1A)
A guest rant by Chaim G. [He asked me to state clearly that this is not a post, but a rant.]

When your enemies speak listen carefully.

We've heard Holocaust deniers for decades and for decades we've been gnashing our teeth. But no one has quite elicited the angst and anger that President he-whose-name-cannot-be-pronounced of Iran has. Not only because he made a convention dedicated to spitting on our ancestors graves and ashes and not just because some twisted turncoats joined in the expectorations. No, what we find most frightening about the latter day Haman of Teheran is that he connected the dots. No Holocaust or grossly exaggerated numbers of victims and there is no legitimate reason for Israel. As much as we despise him we all recognize the cogency of his logic. Across the spectrum of Jewish thought from Satmar to Mafdal, from Chardal to Herut the two seminal events of 20th century Jewish History are inextricably linked.

In 1948 the wellsprings of Jew-hatred had been all but spent by the orgiastic excesses of the war. And so in a moment of historical aberration, the nations of the world ratified the creation of a Jewish homeland. But in the ensuing decades new political winds began to blow and history began settling back in to its familiar default settings. Now we have multiple U.N. resolutions equating Zionism with Racism, Amnesty International consistently giving some of its poorest marks to Israel, the Durban Conference and finally the Teheran Conference. Having ceded the nations of the world the authority to grant our national enterprise legitimacy we now live in mortal terror that, swayed by the Iranian President's arguments, they may withdraw it. What a sad spectacle. No one had to legitimize the existence of Nazi Germany, the USSR, Shiite revolutionary Iran or even Cuba. In essence those nations flexed their muscles and said, "We're here…do something about it."

Ay yay yay yay. It's been a long and bitter golus. But as tragic and pitiful this state of affairs is in the very real and terrifying, nuclear empowered world of geopolitics, it is sadder still when understood as a metaphor for Golus HaTorah.

Many have asked the question: Why is Golus Yavan=the Seleucid Greek exile so-called? How can it be an "exile" when the vast majority of Jews still lived in Israel and our Holy Temple still stood? House arrest maybe… but exile? This answer is based on various insights of the Maharal:

Torah is not just something that Jews learn, it is their alter ego,Yisrael v'oraysa chad hu=Israel and the Torah are one. What happens to one happens to the other. Just as one cannot expose Clark Kent to kryptonite without gravely injuring Superman so one cannot repress the Jews without simultaneously subjugating the Torah. This is why since the Golus began "lo timtza halakha brura uMishna Brurah b'mokom echod"=one can't find a clear Halcha or Mishna concentrated in one place. Torah's diffusion and, Vis a Vis other disciplines, disorganization is it's sympathetic vibration to the dispersion and scattering of the Jewish people. Whereas in other exiles the Torah was in exile BECAUSE the Jews were, during Golus Yavan the roles were reversed. Because the Torah was in "exile" mocked, maligned, marginalized and delegitimized by Greek Philosophy and aesthetics, so were the Jews. No geographical dislocation was required. As it went for the Torah so it went for the Jews.

In my recent guest post I elucidated a Rambam that requires a double standard wherein, owing to it's innate k'dusha, Torah be accorded a different, HIGHER, degree of respect than other branches of learning. But during our long golus the Torah has been so oppressed, it is so maligned and despised that one might almost settle for parity. Halevai that the Torah and her chachomim be accorded the kind of esteem and benefit of the doubt that other disciplines and their scholars routinely receive.

But currently the golus of the Torah is even deeper and more tragic than that of the Jews. Yes, sadly, Jews have abdicated pride, self-determination and autonomy waiting like beggars at the doors of the UN for the nations of the world to confer legitimacy upon them like some pimply-faced loser sweet-talking a bouncer at the velvet rope to gain admission into a trendy nightspot. But at least the vast majority of Jews doesn't doubt the fact that they are legitimate and, at the very least, are the valid peers of other nations, if not their superiors. The few Neturei Karta reshoim at Teheran are roundly and universally denounced for the traitors that they are. But the when it comes to oppressing the Torah the vast majority of Jews join in the oppression and delegitimization. In this asylum run by the inmates the Torah-traitors are not some minuscule lunatic fringe but, perversely, the very models of rationalism, progressiveness and sobriety. Only rabid anti-Semites equate Zionism with racism and impugn well-poisoning and ritual murder, literal and cultural to the Jewish People. But many Feine Yidden(sic) attribute witchcraft, cruelty, superstition, forgery, plagiarism and magical thinking to the Torah itself.

I yearn for Moshiach to come so that once and for all we Jews can finally tell all our enemies "We don't need your damned approval to validate our legitimacy or right to exist as Jews or to live in our historical homeland" but I yearn even more deeply for the eschatological liberation of the Torah and her restoration to her legitimate grandeur and ascendancy. I long for the day when the Torah will finally be able to tell all of her detractors and enemies, internal and external once and for all "I don't need your damned approval to validate my legitimacy or right to exist as a serious discipline. Perhaps sisters…you need mine"

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