Monday, September 25, 2006

Maybe there's something to hashgacha pratis

Yessir good ol' Divine Providence. The Big Guy Upstairs who I'm not even sure exists seems to have sent me a big message this Sunday. The question is do I believe it or not.

There I am in my big Conservative shul on the High Holy Days, my least favorite time of the year, mainly because of the crowds of people who seem to need to have every prayer carefully explained to them by the rabbi (even though the Mahzor has a perfectly good translation and explanatory notes.)

So after the haftara, I'm kind of zoning out when the rabbi gets up for his sermon. Ah good, I need a nap. But no, it was that time of year for the dreaded "Israel sermon." Well now, if all our distinguished Rabbi Dr. X wanted to do was exhort us to have some solidarity with our beleagured fellow Jews in the Land of Israel, I'd go along with that, even if it's their own fault that they're beleagured. I had a family memeber who got hit with a felony charge (you don't want to know) and I've stuck with him/her, despite the fact that I was ready to throttle him/her (figuratively, of course) for being so stupid. Blood is thicker than water, after all.

But no, our dear hired man/woman of the cloth decided to to be a political pundit, giving a rundown of the sorry events of last summer, pretty much repeating every Likud/Kadima talking point verbatim. If only he had spouted Meretz talking points. (Forget about Labor. Amir Peretz sold his soul to the Kidima devil, and now he's political history. What a tragedy.) Actually, political punditry of any sort is totally out of place in a High Holy Day Sermon. I mean, aren;t we supposed to get some sort ofdeep spiritual uplift. If I want politics, the mighty Lord Kos or Reb DovBear (or heck, my own Dad) serves perefectly well.

The droning on about how the Israeli army is the most moral army in the world, even though this rabbi never served in it, even as a rabbi, let alone a real grunt, so how does he know. (I've gotten other stories about how "moral" the IDF is from ex-Zahal guys, not to mention reading Ha'aretz.) Well before long this sorry product of Ismar Schorsch's defective JTS curriculum was punching all my emotional buttons, and I had to quick, get up, doff my tallis as if I was heading to the restroom, and walk out. Yes, I know that Rabbi Dr. Pinchas Giller has posted a comment in Dov Bear that walking out on the Rabbi's drash is like telling the rabbi to go to hell, but he's wrong. I walked out to keep myself from telling the rabbi to go to hell (and to avoid the subsequent lynching.)

So there I was in the Men's Room fuming and angry at the whole damn Zionist cabal that is endangering the safety of the entire Jewish people everywhere in the world, including the State of Israel. I relieve myself. Wash my hands. (You might say I'm a neurotic Jew, but you can never say that my Mama didn't teach me right). Take a deep breath and go back into shul. Except that while we were doing musaf, I was still so angry that I called on Hashem to not write this congregation and the entire Jewish people in the Book of Life this year. Write us up for destruction, God! Let the Arabs drive those arrogant Israelis into the sea, and then drag them out again and force them to live as dhimmis under the rule of the Caliph Mad Mahmoud! Force them all to pass through IDF security checkpoints with Arab ID cards. Either that or exile them all to Biro-Bizjhan and take their kids from them and have them raised as Russian Orthodox Christians! And then send a few pogroms to entertain the smug, complacent self-righteous middle-class suburbanoid American Jews! Man, Iwas going! If the traditional theology about Hashem and what He does on Rosh Hashanna is correct, I don't know what He made of me.

Well, I did calm down. The sound of the Shofar helpd. It's one of the few Jewish rituals that's nonverbal. Baruch hashem, sometimes we Jews are so full of words it drives me crazy. Second-rate intellectual dreck. But at last, the long loud note of t'kiya gedola drowned out everyting and relaxed me.

Until I got home, that is, and had to start cooking lunch. You see the Apikoris kitchen is roughly the same size as the average galley in a 25 foot cruising sailboat, which means it's very small and there's not enough counter space to do more than make an sandwich. But I was trying to make a gourmet lunch, and before long, I had an onion chopped up on the cuttingboard. But just then, my beloved offpsring, Apikoris Junior, come shuffling into the kitchen.

"Dad," he whined, "I'm hungreyyyy."

He goes over opens the fridge, and gets out a container of Saturday's leftover chulent, which he plops in a bowl, and heads for the microwave. Unfortunately, the cutting board with the chopped onion is right in front of the microwave door. It's the only flat counter space available. So Junior opens the door (in his defense, he was trying to be careful), and then knocks the cutting board of the counter and before long, the kitchen floor is covered with chopped onions!

That might have been OK, but I had already oiled the skillet and had added the chicken to brown. So then I had to sweep up the floor, as the mere sight of a broom and dustpan will make Junior run for the hills. Then I had to wash off the cutting board and chop up a new onion. It was about then that I smelled the smoke of burning oil over by the skillet. So I rushed over and my foot slid on a patch of oil that had spattered on the floor. Fortunately, the burns were only first degree, and soaking in cold water relieved the pain. And then, to add insult to injury, the dinner gave me heartburn! (Serves me right for drinking that leftover half-bottle of Bordeaux.)

So that night, as I was clutching my chest burping with discomfort and dealing with a reddened painful hand, I wodered whether Hashem was sending me a message. Then I thought, Nah, everyhting can be explained by a rational cause. But then again, the destruction of the first Tempe can be explained by a rational cause, too. The King of Judah Jehoichim was a vassal who double-crossed his much more powerful liege lord, Nebudchadnezzar. You don't need God to explain the Exile. I still don't know whether I need God to explain my disastrous Rosh Hashanna Lunch.


Blogger Just me said...

Nice to see a Jew with "baytzim," who's not afraid to form his own opinion. I like your humor, too.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous uncle moishy said...

So there I was in the Men's Room fuming and angry at the whole damn Zionist cabal that is endangering the safety of the entire Jewish people everywhere in the world, including the State of Israel.

There's a lot of territory between your rabbi's slavish adherence to the hasbara party line and your quoting from the Tony Judt playbook above.

Or to put it another way, in a gray-shaded world, disowning the rabbi's black-and-white take on the matsav doesn't oblige you to adopt a diametrically opposed white-and-black POV yourself, does it?

1:32 AM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

Or to put it another way, in a gray-shaded world, disowning the rabbi's black-and-white take on the matsav doesn't oblige you to adopt a diametrically opposed white-and-black POV yourself, does it?

Of course, you're correct.

While I might have some symnpathy for Dr. Judt's theories in pricniple, they are obviously not practical to carry out.

My preference is for a secular, democratic State of Israel, which would be more or less like the current state, excpet that there owuld be strict seperation of religion and state, and more efforts would me made to integrate the non-Jewish minority into the mainstream of the state.

I would also like to see Israle take more positive steps to show the people in the West Bank and Gaza that Israel really has no interest in stealing any more of their land. This would involve dismantling (forcibly, if necessary) the illegal (by Israeli Law) settler outposts, and relocating the seperation wall to be at or within the 1949 cease-firelines.

Also, if the Israelis are going to go after hezbollah, that's fine, but don't insult our intelligence by inflicting collective punishmenton the entire Lebanese people (i.e. trashing Beirut) andclaiming you're in a fight for your life and you'reonly attacking Hezbollah.

Israel has no one to blame but herself for the fact that most Lebanese are now pro-Hezbollah.

9:56 AM  

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