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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

lineage pt 4: listen to the wind

So the Rabbi huffs and puffs, declares his desire to hit me, and how much he can't believe the uninhibited gall I have in telling him these things. I calmly insist that i'm still struggling with it all, and have to be honest about what questions and truths reveal themselves to me.

And then I ask: "What did I say or ask that was so objectionable?" I thought I was on potentially secure theological ground! The talmud disparages getting benifit from Torah, paying people to learn or teach it. Only a certain kind of gaonic loophole (Is it really only as old as the gaonim? anyone is welcome to correct me on this one.) allows a community to do something as strange and ridiculous as "hire" a "rabbi"! Which is probably alot of what the Rabbi was reacting to, the implication that the way he makes his money inhibits Torah education instead of encourages it.

Which might be the crucial unspoken issue. No one wants to hear that the way they're living is bad, unless they're looking for a way out of it themselves, which any of us living as religious people in this liberated epoch must not. Right?

"What am I saying that's making you so angry?"

You're saying that Charedim, religious people are wicked, that they don't do any good for anyone but themselves... Do you have any idea how much Chesed (kindness0 is being done secretly by frum people throughout the world?

(It was odd to me that that was what he heard from everything I was saying, leading me to imagine that his defences put a familiar, non-threatening criticism of the religious world in the place of a shtarker, stronger one.)

"Rabbi, that's not what i'm saying at all! Of course Yidden do so much chesed...
How else would the way we live be justified?"

"But tell me, do you remember what rashi says, for why a Chasida isn't kosher?"

To my surprise, he said, What are you talking about. I thought everybody knew this one? But I guess we only remember so much at a time.

"In the chumash, they're listing the kosher birds and the treyfe ones, right? R Yehoshua ben levi says, what's the pattern, what makes a bird kosher?

good birds are kosher
mean ones are treyfe.

Then what about the chasida? Her name means kindness! Why isn't she kosher?

And R Yehoshua ben Levi answers:

Why isn't the chasida kosher?

Because it only does good for it's own."

Which really pissed the Rabbi off. But it's a central problem, you know, we don't really have a universalist religion exactly. It's kept us from prostyltizing, but also from humanising the enemy sometimes, something I suppose event he most enlightened tribal cultures don't do.

It's great that all the shuls are so supportive of Darfur, and it's also a little convenient for us... Not too much internal changes involved in the censuring of a foriegn, Islamic government. Not too much looking at ourselves and where our wealth is coming from and such.

I heard Josh Lauffer quote Shlomo one time, why did the holocaust happen? Oh

Why
did
the holocaust
happen?

Because the yidden didn't know how to listen to the wind.

If they had listened
they would have known exactly what our goyish brothers are asking for.

Because there is a counter tradition to the sacred lie, and has been the whole time.

It's not Torah from the people in charge of Torah, the "Gedolim" in the official sense. It's Torah from the rumblings of poor scholars, working in fields and streets, desperate for her majesty to show her face and wash the lies away.

More on that soon.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if im a bit slow, but what exactly were our goyish brothers asking for then?
And whats the sacred lie?

8:13 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You lost me with that one too.

8:24 PM

 
Blogger Yoseph Leib said...

right, yeah. What were our goyish brothers asking for?

Anyone who wants to kill, deep down is so sad, so angry, so frustrated, so scared, otherwise, they wouldn't want to kill anyone. Let's say they were asking for a reason not to be sad. That is, very often, enough money to survive, a way to feel safe with their children's future, and their place in the world. It's kind of alot, right? But if everyone has to work really hard to surive, and sees someone else apparantly succeeding at their expense, thrive in a new economy where their skills and powers are devalued, well... they might want to kill you for succeeding at their expense.

And the sacred lie? It's kind of an obscure concept, try searching this site with the keyword "lie" and see if that clarifies the concept a bit. The short definition is, the untruth that we accept in order to keep things the good way they are, that the Holy should be able to be holy. more on that later.

1:59 AM

 
Anonymous J said...

Thank you Yoseph! Its been killing me for a while, understanding WHY must i know so much about the holocaust!? What am i learning from it?

It didnt make sense to me. All that would come out of it was usually hate, fear, and the whole because they died "for us" (which they didnt necessarily) we have to continue Judaism.

I visited about 4 holocaust survivors in a nursing home recently, my school wanted me to interview them. One women refused to talk, "why do these children want to know?", "what good will it bring?", i couldnt answer her.

But i think you may just have answered half of my question.

Not just that, but we've been taught to look at the nazi's as pure evil, like another breed. But they were made up of the same flesh n blood as the rest of us. I.e Could we do it?

12:26 AM

 

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