Sunday, March 11, 2007

Conservative Apikoris on the Parsha -- Ki Tisa

OK, I'll admit, I'm not being proactive, as this is last week's parsha. So go sue me.

Anyway, I didn't get my revelation until I was sitting in shul, bored out of my skull, reading the commentary from Chumatz Etz Hayim, the official chumash and commentary of Conservative Judaism.

So here goes:

It is written: (OK, printed, in Etz Hayim.):

Verse 10: And He said, "I hereby make a covenant; before all your people I will perform wonders such as have not been created in all the earth or for any nation; and all the people in whose midst you are, will see how awesome is the deed of YHVH which I will perform for you.

Verse 11: Preserve for your own sake that which I command you today. I am driving out [from] before you the Emorites, the Canaanites, the Chitites, the Perizites, the Chivities, and the Yevusites.

Verse 12: For your own sake, be careful not to make a covenant with the people who live in the land to which you are coming, lest it be a trap in your midst.

Verse 13: Rather you must shatter their altars, break down their monuments, and cut down their asherah-trees.

Verse 14: For you must not prostrate yourselves to another god, because YHVH---Jealous is His Name--- He is a Jealous Almighty [G-d].

Verse 15: [Take care] not to make a covenant with the people who live in the land, and go astray after their gods [religions], and sacrifice to their gods, [for he] will then call you and you will eat of his sacrifice.

Verse 16: You will [then] accept his daughters [as wives] for your sons. His daughters will stray after their gods, and they will lead your sons to stray after their gods.

-Exodus, Chapter 34

Etz Hayim provides the following "D'rash commentary" on verse 13:

Why this troubling emphasis on destroying the holy places of the Canaanites and shunning their sacrificial occasions? The Israelites were a young, impressionable nation and the Torah is concerned that the highly sexualized, orgiastic fertility cult of the Canaanites would be irresistibly seductive for them [as the incident of Ba'al Peor in Numbers 25 attests.] Even decent people can be vulnerable to sexual temptation, which is why the Torah speaks out in such extreme uncompromising terms against the Canaanite cult.

This commentary begs the question of why the "orgiastic fertility cult" of the Canaanites is so bad. Is it because the cult is an "orgiastic fertility cult" or is it because this cult involves the worship of idols instead of YHVH exclusively? After all, why shouldn't YHVH be OK with an orgiastic fertility cult in which YHVH was the sole subject of worship? It would certainly so wonders for shul attendance, and maybe even kids wouldn't drop out of Hebrew school.

There;s another problem with this Torah passage: The eminent Israeli Holocaust historian Yehudah Bauer wrote the following about the causes of antisemitism:

It seems that cultural, political,economic, or theological crises can all be causes [of antisemitism], or part causes, of a phenomenon [antisemitism] that cannot be explained monocausally. At the basis, and this of course is an attempt to answer the famous $64,000 question (don't worry, I won't get the money), is, I think, the fact that the Jews produced a civilization that differed in some central aspects from the civilizations around them. Monotheism may have been invented by the Egyptians during the times of Akh en aton, the Sabbath may originate in Babylon (the name shabbat sabbatu is Babylonian), others may have tried to limit or abolish slavery, Hebrew social legislation may have some precedents elsewhere, but nowhere were all these, and other, elements, combined in a religious ethnic social ideology that was formulated over a long period of time and as a result of considerable internal conflicts. On its basis there developed a way of life, with changing, but clearly defined customs that solidified into laws sacralized by religious belief.

Jews were certainly no better or worse than others, but they were different in the way they conducted their lives. Had they stayed in their hilly land, they would have been another interesting and peculiar tribe; but they spread, not necessarily by expulsion from Palestine—there was never a mass expulsion of Jews from there, either by the Babylonians or by the Romans—but rather by conversion of others to their ethnic religion, or if you like their religious ethnicity. At the beginning of the first century there were about 4 million Jews in the Roman Empire; at its end their numbers are estimated at between 8 and 10 million, despite the destruction of the Temple and the rebellion against the Romans. That was not the result of natural Increase, but of a wave of conversions. Everywhere the Jews went they carried their distinctive civiIization with them, which marked them off against their environment. Crises of whatever source could, and sometimes did, cause this basically defenceless, well known yet strange, minority to be seen as the reason for the crisis, and therefore they were subject to discrimination or attack. Jew hatred is the oldest group hatred that exists, it precedes racism, because as we know, Blacks who acknowledged Roman gods and were free men, could be and did in fact become Roman citizens of equal status. Jews were intensely disliked—they refused to acknowledge the gods, they would not share in the food with their neighbors, and on the whole they kept themselves separate. This solidified in the theological power dispute with Christianity, and later Islam. The economic stresses came later, and contrary to Marxist interpretations, they were the result of the theological tensions, not the
other way round.

So basically, what we have here is one of the world's most pre-eminent experts on Jew hatred and the worst example of Jew hatred in history teaching us that the original and basic cause of Jew hatred is, indeed, the sort of religious separatist ideology espoused in this selection for the parsha. Why would God give us a Torah that contains commands to do stuff that will cause the goyim to hate us? (and, incidentally, make it ver hard for Jews to observe it?) Were we set up as suckers by God, accepting a covenant that is impossible to observe and that seals our doom? Why didn't God give us our own orgiastic fertility cult, and while He was it it, why didn't He also command us to have a really good Winter Solstice festival that would be better than Hannukkah at competing with Christmas?


Blogger Antiquated Tory said...

But it's worth noting that the Jewish people have survived with a separate identity for many years, against many strong pressures to be absorbed. The separation rules that make us so unpopular have doubtless contributed to that continuing existence, too.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Liorah-Lleucu said...

We aren't "overtly commanded" to breathe either. That doesn't mean we shouldn't breathe.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous rejewvenator said...

It's worth noting that Jewish hatred often flares up not when Jews maintain separation, but when they assimilate. I think it was the alter Lubavitcher Rebbe who said "When the Jews don't make kiddush, the Goyim make Havdalah."

12:46 PM  
Blogger Conservative Apikoris said...

It's worth noting that Jewish hatred often flares up not when Jews maintain separation, but when they assimilate. I think it was the alter Lubavitcher Rebbe who said "When the Jews don't make kiddush, the Goyim make Havdalah."

What are you talking about? The only example of your point I can think of is early 20th century Germany, and that was a special case. And during that same era, all the other "assimilated" Jewish communities (i.e., US, Britian, Canada, Aus/NZ, etc.) were not persecuted. And the other assimilated communities that were persecuted (France, Low Countries, Norway, Denmark) were persecuted a lot less than the "unassimilated" communities (Poland, Ukraine), mainly because a greater percentage of Frenchmen, Dutch, Norwegians, etc. opposed the Nazi plans, as compared to the Poles, for example.

As for the comments of the Lubavatcher Rebbe, it's so obviously detached from reality that I wonder whether hism ind was going even before he had his stroke. Persoanlly, I think a professional historian and expert on Jew hatred, like Prof. Bauer, has more credibility on this topic than a dead Chassidic rebbe.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

regarding why we couldn't (or didn't) just have our own orgiastic cult:

You might want to check out the book "One Cosmos Under God" by Robert Godwin. The author is quite ambitious, in that he seeks to explain the whole cosmos, but from a spirital-psychological viewpoint.

He sees the development of monotheism (indeed, the whole Axial Age) as a great leap forward for mankind because it was the first time man exercised real consciousness and conscience.

Until Judaism, the average man (according to Godwin) acted like a serial killer or complete psycopath, by modern standards. Apparently people had no notion of individual responsibility. If they did something wrong, it was because a god or demon possessed them.

10:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fact the Lubavicher Rebbe's witty aphorism makes its point quite well. Kiddush means holy and havdalah means separate and his point is that when we cease to identify as Jews and keep the Torah, we are most vunerable to antisemitism.

You say that this fits 20th century Germany but not much else in history. In fact, it is an apt description of antisemitism after the French Revolution - see for example, the Dreyfuss affair. Dreyfuss was one of most highly decorated officers in the French army but that did not save him. Herzl saw that even mass conversion would not have an effect.

That isn't to say that Prof Bauer's point isn't a good one. It is and he takes his cue from the Torah which indicates that our role in history isn't to be an easy one. As others have said, to have higher moral standards
and to keep onesselves apart is to invite criticism and it has had the effect of keeping us together as a people which is more than can be said for any other tribes mentioned in the Torah.

Both the Lubavicher Rebbe and Professor Bauer ignore the one thing that kept antisemitism alive for almost 2000 years and that is the role of the Christian Church. Because that Church saw itself as the successor to Judaism, it saw the continuation of the mother religion as the delegitimisation of its moral force.

By the way, I am a historian and I don't think that Prof Bauer has any more insight to offer than the Lubavicher Rebbe.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoisjohngalt wyoming dating [url=]dating site in belgium[/url] israel free dating dating houston service single

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

trace minerals in diet [url=]hytrin[/url] find forged medical bills and receipts expansion mainsion breast
gi medicine [url=]citalopram[/url] blood that cohagulates [url=]cow heart parts[/url]

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mental disorder leads to homosexuality [url=]nolvadex[/url] green tea and blood pressure sex after prostate biopsy
nuclear medicine diagnostic options [url=]requip[/url] medical crushed wind pipe [url=]break my heart lyrics rachel[/url]

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sterling health plans [url=]plan b[/url] weight loss data interesting facts turner syndrome
major muscle groups [url=]gastro intestinal[/url] consulate health care fort myers [url=]calcium silicates[/url]

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi there, nice page
ways to get blog posts which smash in visitors:

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

celebrity site for travel agents travel challenge and wall street
[url=]water resistant fold up travel kennel[/url] travel distance portland to orlando [url=]boeing 767 seating configuration[/url]
travel central america exito
[url=]panama canal travel[/url] thailand travel beach [url=]lake louise friday adventure[/url]
travel proceed days forumula corsicana travel [url=]royal caribbean cruises from new jersey[/url]

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

travel mechanic in tulsa air travel to cleveland ohio
[url=]citation travel trailer 1998[/url] gatwick to euston travel [url=]airfare car rental[/url]
travel agency white papers
[url=]cheapest way to travel[/url] heinlein time travel [url=]mv 22 flight profiles[/url]
bead travel
[url=]los angeles times travel and adventure show discount code[/url] travel to greek islands [url=]del sol motel[/url] plunkett travel [url=]american airlines 3714[/url]
stmartin bonaire travel [url=]expedia car rentals[/url]
skowhegan maine travel basketball
[url=]berchetsgaden eagles nest travel info[/url] abacus travel [url=]cruise pricing[/url]
[url=]ft lauderdale tourist bureau[/url] travel to dominican trip advisory [url=]tourist altered singapore coins[/url] asia links travel wide world [url=]abillity guide for sonic adventure 2 battle[/url]
australia travel brochures [url=]expedia bahamas[/url]

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

china travel services in hong kong space ships that travel in water
[url=]from birth to death we travel between the eternitys[/url] lincoln nebraska travel agency [url=]jewel river cruises[/url]
governmet travel card removal from service
[url=]washington state free travel guide to oregon trail[/url] smoosh travel deals [url=]expedia quick connect[/url]
state dept travel warnings travel trailer fifth wheel sales [url=]hotel napoleon in paris[/url]

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sexy tanushree dutta
[url=]dog girl anal[/url] free asian hardcore porn [url=]bdsm suspendsd[/url]
dangerous neighbor hentai manga
[url=]online free adult magazines[/url] amateur glauque [url=]outdoor femdom bdsm free clips[/url]
cab and porn
[url=]mom dildo[/url] two girls in tub amateur [url=]erotic video[/url]
teds boys adult
[url=]sexy ebony teen thumbs[/url] jeff stryker dildo [url=]free onlive adult tv[/url]

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aml lubricants
[url=]princess vivi hentai comics[/url] fat pussy porn sites [url=]suraj is gay[/url]
soal caliber hentai pictures
[url=]escort massage anal sex bangkok[/url] chinese anal sex [url=]free young gay galleries[/url]
free amateur petit teens
[url=]exotic adult pics[/url] bringing sexy back pictures [url=]carla cox porn[/url]
freaky homemade porn
[url=]dildo girl[/url] downlaod hentai games [url=]gay hotel puerto vallarta[/url]

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

health diagonise [url=]Online Drugstore[/url] free medical books hematology
spectrum of health [url=]brand amoxil[/url] maryellen chasity jessica smoking [url= ]stage four breast cancer symptoms [/url] nj required information on prescription pads
experimental treatments for depression [url=]antibiotika[/url] statistics of breast cancer in 2004
health hazards of red tide [url=]zyban[/url] tom landry sports medicine center [url= ]aqua fresh whitening tray [/url] stanford blood center

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how to wear womens fashion head wrap scarf remodeling designer columbus ohio [url=]orthopedic trail running shoes[/url] ecko shoes sexy club clothes [url=]zooey deschanel singer[/url]

2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

xxyy syndrome [url=]generale per la salute[/url] frzier rehab movement disorder clinic
foods that bring down blood sugar [url=]la presion arterial[/url] muscle body map [url= ]do you need for medicine at uni alevels [/url] safety workplace ontario health
gentle family dental [url=]french red wine[/url] blood test for muscles and joints
definition of pharmacy and therapeutics committee [url=]antivirale[/url] the muscle mafia [url= ]why was chewing gum invented [/url] what are the effects of a balanced diet on a circulatory system

4:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bravo top designer mark henry fashions [url=]vegan shoes[/url] best designer sunkissed bronze cream studio c shoes [url=]the beginning of christian dior[/url]

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
[url=]drug addiction seeking behaviour[/url] drug use articles
vitamin b and drug screens
[url=]prescription drug pliva 334[/url] drug presenation for school
ron gerny hearn tx drug task force
[url=]bedford internal medicine[/url] kroger pharmacy benton arkansas alternative health in hte philippines

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fashion tv online chanel jacket resale berkeley [url=]best ever designer foundations[/url] designer fabrics lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off [url=]jezign shoes[/url]

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

aerosole shoes shoes lyrics [url=]demonstration tying shoes[/url] gucci handbag bob hillbert racing clothes [url=]sixties fashion[/url]

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jkk meteor 2000 multisport racing kayak hydraulic automobile power
[url=]automobile wiring[/url] mercedes catalytic converter recycle [url=]parts for yamaha vmax[/url]
dodge challenger fenders
[url=]etude marche automobile anglais[/url] electric wiring automobile [url=]american racing baja dakota[/url]
yipes auto accessories
[url=]mercedes e460 specs[/url] automobile costs 1992 2007 [url=]cadillac sport grill[/url]

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

movie jungle fever spike lee [url=]the vanguard[/url] place where i can watch the naruto shippuden movie movie soundtrack trivia
desi b grade movie clips [url=]joe kidd[/url] cartonx movie trailers video game turned movie
convert vhs to dvd movie maker [url=]life in the freezer[/url] grilled movie
how to sneeze movie [url=]mission impossible ii[/url] ruby cario movie teacher sex movie
independent movie cinemas in victoria [url=]the producers[/url] is the movie license to wed out on video persuit of hapinesss movie

3:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home