Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Kinah, A Nickname and a Modern Midrash

A guest post by Chaim G. the Bray of Fundie
(The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the management)

Lately I have taken to calling frequent DovBear commenter Conservative Apikores, Moabite Apikores. Here’s why:

In the 18th Kinah these lines appear:

v’lamah yozmu Moavim v’Amonim

L’am zu ba’keruvim monim

“So why did you allow the Moabites and Ammonites to conspire against this nation, to denounce them because of the Cherubim?”

This liturgical poem alludes to a Midrash that says that during the destruction of the first Temple, while other military allies of the Babylonians pillaged the Temple compound and Jerusalem for the conventional spoils of wars, the Moabites and Ammonites did not. Instead, resentful of a Torah that arrogates a special status to the Jewish people and does not allow them admittance to the chosen nation via conversion, they had their eyes on a special prize. They took the ark cover with the attached cherubim and paraded it around Jerusalem in an open cage. During the parade they mocked the defeated Jews saying in effect, “Some ‘Chosen People’! This comes from their holiest inner sanctum and what are they? Graven images! Idols! They’re no better than the rest of us”.

I would further embellish the Midrash. As these two nations were the product of incest and infamously plotted to destroy Klal Yisrael through wanton promiscuous sex, they were mocking another aspect of the Cherubim. Chazal teach that they were anatomically correct and that one was male and the other female. Miraculously when “Yisrael does the will of G-d” they “faced” (i.e. conjugated with) one another. This is the position that they were in at the time of the destruction of the Mikdash (a paradox in and of itself but a topic for another post). No doubt these nations identified with incest and licentiousness noted a bit of hypocrisy in a nation that housed Cherubs in an intimate position in their holy of holies.

Conservative Apikores has repeatedly forwarded a, err, “solution” to the problem of Jewish continuity that consists of massive intermarriage and a more “universal” type of Jew that needn’t fret over being something set apart from the rest of humanity. In other words in his opinion it’s time to lose any parochial, constraining notions of choseness. He has further opined that humans are merely higher animals who use their sex partners as objects for their own gratification and that Shir HaShirim is an allegory for a lusty G-d perpetrating sexual violence on his chosen consort.

To me Conservative Apikores is a textbook example of the Moabite sensibility as revealed in this kinah and Midrash. I shall bl”n henceforth refer to him by the more appropriate Moabite Apikores and continue to pray that he regain both his faith and his Jewish sensibility.

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