Thursday, August 02, 2007

A few random thoughts:

The Jerusalem Post had a few interesting articles yesterday. Reading pieces like this, on the looming Haredi implosion or whatever they call it, often makes me think the writers are engaging in wishful thinking. On the one hand, all the facts are certainly on their side. On the other, you never know how corrupt institutions will find ways to perpetuate themselves. Visit your local ultra-Orthodox shul and look at the diverse membership. Eh. Hoping he's right, and hoping not too many people (and certainly not Israel as a whole) are hurt in the process.

Sometimes one wishes that even big rabbis would have someone able to take them aside and be a Dutch uncle to them. "Maybe, k'vod harav, you should consider retiring from the public stage. Or at least not talking into microphones any more. Or at least realizing you have an open mike and that people hear you and discuss you. Or at least realizing that this is 2007 and adapting your language accordingly. Or at least wear normal clothes and end the personality cult." Well, the last (the clothes, at least) is probably asking for too much. (The reisha, by the way, may seem- perhaps- to apply only to Sephardic Chief Rabbis past and present [but probably not]; the seifa certainly applies to many more.)

By the way, a more significant angle from this story than the personality of R' Yosef is an important halakhic historical point: Notice how well- word for word, almost- this ties into the GRaCh's "Rupture and Reconstruction". Ah, I have some nice memories of the history of that article.

Then there's this. Now, I'll admit I've always been a big fan of Hecht- all of his works, in fact, not just the Israel stuff- with the important caveat, as an NCSY advisor who saw me reading Perfidy said, that "you have to love Israel before you can hate it." [I'd put "hate" and "it" in quotes.] (And that led me to an appreciation of Bergson, who, thank God, is getting more and more admirers by the day. See here for a way he's entered the common parlance; see here for a real practical step. Yad Vashem, of course, hasn't taken such a step, leading me to the uncharitable but, I think, justified thought on my part that I'm proud I've never been there. Nor do I think it's a coincidence that Yad Vashem is the institution behind this extraordinarily weak effort to rehabilitate Kastner. Oh, and see this somewhat related piece as well- I think Bergson was on board. Meir Kahane once lamented that "[n]ot one in 100 outside Israel" knows about the Altalena, so it's good this was written. But I digress, a bit.) Even so, I think Lapid's assertion is very odd. Granted, the era of the Holocaust was a terrible time, and who can know or judge what people did then. But if that idea taken to an extreme, one would have to question why anyone- Jew or Nazi- would ever be held to account in court. I think that the trial (especially in a case like Kastner's) is more for us than for them- a lesson for us, telling us how we should act in, God forbid, similar circumstances or under any pressure. And so, of course, we can't be sure. But the lesson must be learned, one way or another, and there must be moral absolutes taught, or else it's all meaningless. (Of course, one can imagine what someone with Lapid's politics would answer to that. But they'd be wrong.)

Finally, there's this. I especially point to the line where Derb writes, "Ron Paul has got the Jew Thing", with a link to his article on the subject. Exactly right- it's the first thing I always think of. I don't think it's parochial of me- think the old "canary in the coal mine" analogy- to instantly judge anyone who gets the Jew Thing. There's been this whole discussion of Russell Kirk recently, for example, and yet, I, in my ignorance, can only think, "Jew thing...Jew thing..." about him. Sure, I'm Jewish and Zionist and sensitive about such things. But I think that succumbing to the Jew Thing, at whatever point, is a good sign of intellectual sickness, or at least senility. Is this a "my way or the highway" thing? Of course not. As a Kahanist, I don't expect anyone prominent to agree with me. (Sometimes it seems bashing Kahanism is a requisite to being prominent, witness Noah Feldman.) But the Jew Thing is almost always bigger than that, obvious, and troubling. I guess I shouldn't mind if others, especially non-Jews, don't let the Jew Thing of others get to them as much as it does to me, but that doesn't mean I'm free to ignore it. Oh, and yes, seemingly harmless statements about "Israel" are perfectly legitimate indicators of the Jew Thing, in my humble opinion.


Yehu said...

Yea, the charedi implosion is a fata morgana of the chilonim and MO. (incidentally the Mizrachi hates charedim much less than those two groups). This mantra is around since way before the medina... First off, there's just too much charedi money. You wouldn't be able to imagine. Big time billionnaires and small ones too. They may be or look very moern, but in ideology they're charedi even if they wear shorts. The Zaide was like that, they'll be like that too. Zaide learnt in Slobodka - he'll donate to Slobodka. This would be enough even woithout the corruption. And is true with all those who refuse State grants - Torah VYirah, Toldos Ahron, Brisk etc.,

As per Bergson/Kook, theres a lot of info out, especailly in light of the recent Seymour Reich admission. See this and this . And the big-time MO bloggers' silence on the subject is a bit suspicious. Were the MO a little too cozy with the reformists? Did they help throw Kook overboard too? I hope not. Maybe it's just their purple rage and unbridelled hatred of charedim that obscures all else on the horizon...


Joe I.

Yehu said...

s**t the links didn't come out



- some slight lunatism aside this is a great site (see the Serbian section)

Anonymous said...

it's Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Nachum said...

You are correct. I remember Chanan Porat once being introduced as "Rav" in YU, and objecting, saying he was a politician (at the time), not a rav.