Monday, January 04, 2021

Are we the new Saduccess?

A black preacher opened the new congressional term with a prayer that included a pun, and because the pun suggested some support for "woke" values like  tolerance, inclusion and equality, a horde of GOP Jews, led by Ben Shapiro, are now acting like they don't understand how language works.

Here is how the preacher concluded his prayer:
“We ask it in the name of the monotheistic God, [unintelligible], and God known by many names and by many different faiths, amen, and awoman,”
And here is how Ben Shapiro, noted Talmudic scholar, demonstrated his inability to recognize or appreciate puns.
"Amen" is a Biblical Hebrew word: אמן. It is a word simply meaning "may it be so." It has nothing to do with the word "man" or "woman" because it is FROM HEBREW. This is some of the dumbest s*** I have ever seen in my life.
And here is why I think all of this suggests the Ben Shapiros of the world are a bunch of Nuevo Sadducees.

The Talmud, you see, is full of puns. Many of these puns are used to support what men of the ancient world would have considered woke, or progressive values. The most famous example of them all might be the passage on Shabbat 104:
The Sages said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: Young students came today to the study hall and said things the likes of which were not said even in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun. T

Alef bet means learn [elaf] the wisdom [bina] of the Torah. Gimmel dalet means give to the poor [gemol dalim].
If there was a sneering Ben Shapiro in the wings, shouting "Those are letters. They have nothing to do with poverty or wisdom. This is some of the dumbest s*** I have ever seen in my life," the Talmud doesn't mention him. This is because much of what the Talmud records is radical, not reactionary. Using a play on language to support and advance messages of love, peace and understanding is radical. Its the 
sort of thing you do when you're the underdog, shut out of the national institutions and rejected by the establishment. Its the sort of thing you need to do when you're a black preacher, and its the sort of thing you mock when you're a comfortable member of the establishment, secure in your privilege, seeing no need for any changes. 

Of course, there were no Sadducees in 250 CE when Yehoshua ben Levi was active , but objecting to novel or "woke" ways of reading scripture is something Sadducees were known to do.  Today, we say they were "denying the Oral law" but what they were actually doing was denying new (or new seeming) interpretations of the written law that threatened their status. Its easy to frame Shapiro's dispute with the preacher in the same terms. The preacher wants people to think about inclusiveness, so he offers a pun on the word "Amen." Sadducee Shapiro feels threatened by ideas of inclusiveness so he acts oblivious to the pun, and instead pretends that the preacher is ignorant of the truths of biblical vocabulary.