SOB’s Grins & Grumps

Everything Between Heaven and Earth and Beyond

  • Copyrights, Feeds and Contact

  • July 2007
    S M T W T F S
    « Jun   Aug »
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Visitors Count

    • 64,358 hits
  • Categories

  • Meta

Talking Torah in Lieu of Politics – Daniel Sieradski

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 7, 2007


I grabbed an excellent Blog by Daniel Sieradski this morning, after reading it with increasing joy and dread I decided that I liked it, and that in general I agree with what he has to say, and wish I could have said it just as well.

“I began by saying that you’re never going successfully appeal to the sympathies of the American Jewish community on behalf of Palestinians. Why should we care about people whom, by and large, we believe are trying to kill us? Rather than focusing on the conflict as a Palestinian rights or even human rights issue, when speaking with other Jews, we should focus on the occupation as a Jewish issue. How is the occupation bad for the Jews? How is it bad for Israel? What are the sacrifices we’re making, in terms of lives and resources, in order to hold onto the Territories?”

This is a novel idea to me. For the longest time I have been discussing with Pro-Palestinian Antisemites on-line, always on THEIR terms which naturally leaves much constructive discourse to be wished for, and I realized that much time have been spent explaining WHAT I DO NOT BELIEVE, in response to their violent and hysterical allegations both against me, as a Jew, and the basic ideas THEY believe I stand for. This idea of discussing what is going on in Israel from a Jewish perspective, in terms of what is the cost in resources, but also – I think – in credibility. As one of the more moderate debaters in a Group expressed it, quoting one of my Torah Blogs:

“The fact that others do not live this way, does not free Israel from her Holy Obligation of pursuing Justice nor does it give Israel a mandate to disregard the plight of others, when there is a need or when there is an opportunity to practice Torah. ‘How can Israel be a Light to the Nations if she does not Shine?’

How indeed?!!

This idea too was echoed by Daniel Sieradski, and though I might not agree with him totally on the solution (there are after all other ways of practicing Judaism and Being Jewish, than Orthodoxy) I think it’s achievable if presented solely as a matter of Being Jewish:

“But more importantly: What is it that we’re fighting to preserve by having a Jewish state? What is it that we stand for as a people? And what is the value of having a state if, in the process of establishing and defending it, we sacrifice that which we represent in the world (or otherwise alter that representation to be something no longer consistent with our tradition)? I went on to say that the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is for the Jewish people to do teshuvah: To turn back to G-d and embrace the Torah.”

The question this raises with me, is exactly WHAT is “our Tradition”? If it means that we all have to become haredi and eat glatt kosher, I think it will be both counter-productive in terms of the long tradition of tolerance that Judaism emcompass, and impossible to implement – there simply are too many secular humanist Jews that value their critical thinking and independent understanding of what it is to be Jewish.

“We’re all the children of Adam. Love your brother as yourself. We’re all created in the image of G-d. These are the values we stand for: The unity of being. The oneness of G-d. The fellowship of humanity.”

Do I hear an echo of Dr Ellis Rivkin here? I like this – I loved his book “The Shaping of Jewish History“.

This, I hope, means that Daniel Sieradski realizes the predicament of the Stranger, as out-lined in Written Torah in terms of the right to practice Torah and embrace G-d without the distortion of what some consider to be the only “acceptable Tradition“. After all, the Stranger has always been part of Jewish Life and Tradition.

“…whether we’re committing a chilul Hashem (a desecration of G-d’s name, via the desecration of our legacy as a righteous nation) or a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of the name, via embodying the highest principles and aspirations of our tradition). Thus, it’s a more effective strategy for addressing the issues surrounding Israel and the occupation.”

I have noticed that many Settlers are not aware that they are being sold land that is not Israel’s to sell. Organizations aimed at facilitating aliyah for European and American Jews deliberately lie about the legality of land deeds, and actively encourage Jews to Settle in the Territories. One example is Elkana:

“Elkana or Elqana is a Jewish settlement in the Samaria region of the West Bank. It was founded in 1977 and as of 2002 it had a population of 4,000. It was established as one the earliest settlements after 64 Knesset members signed a bill to allow the use of state land in the area for construction.

Elkana is sited just to the east of the Green Line, and is adjacent to the city of Rosh HaAyin. From Wikipedia

From Tehilla Web-site:

“Where else but Elkana can you have such a variety of davining closeby? We have nine synagogues and umpteen minyanim. We’re heavily into Torah learning — daily adult Kollel (men and women), huge Bnei Akiva, non-stop shiurim, and many Daf Yomi groups. Where else but Elkana can your children attend school close by all the way through college? Elkana has pre-schools, a mamlachti dati elementary school, Yeshiva and Ulpana from 7th-12th grades, and Orot College for girls. Where else but Elkana can you enjoy a wealth of cultural activities? We have an active Community Center with chugim for children and adults, and we’re only 35 minutes from Tel Aviv. Elkana has the warmth of a yishuv, together with the opportunities of a large community. And, as a local council, where many of our leaders are second generation Elkana-ites, we decide everything for ourselves.”

Chilul Hashem, indeed.

And painful to know, because it means that dismantling those Settlements will mean heartbreak and grief for people who worked hard to make a life for themselves.

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Talking Torah in Lieu of Politics – Daniel Sieradski”

  1. Mobius said

    Hey Dov Aryeh —

    I was raised Orthodox til I was 10; and spent the last three years studying in an Orthodox yeshiva and davening at an Orthodox minyan. However, I do not define myself as Orthodox nor would I dare suggest that Orthodoxy is the only legitimate form of Jewish practice. My website has only ever been called Orthodox Anarchist for effect.

    Of Orthodoxy, I have written:

    “Orthodoxy in itself is inherently problematic and I see little hope or possibility in Orthodoxy […] It’s best if we don’t speak in terms of Orthodoxy here, but rather in terms of observance. To be an observant Jew is to be a religious person, engaged with Jewish custom, ritual and law, who is bringing Jewish practice and thought into every facet of his/her life. To be an Orthodox Jew, on the other hand, is to subscribe to the heavily codified set of laws which narrow the scope of Jewish possibility by excluding valid Jewish thought and practice that it finds challenging or uncomfortable. It is a stringency, and more so an obtuseness, which excludes all critical thought and progress. Further, the Orthodox represent the absolute minority of Jewish people. Generally observant Jews comprise a much higher portion of the Jewish population. Sometimes we misbrand observant Jews as Orthodox because we don’t know which denominational category to stick them into. It’s, again, problematic to say the least.”

    Also, I believed in “the unity principle” long before I ever encountered Rivkin’s book on the subject. However, he makes the case much more eloquently and factually than I could. Kudos for picking up on that…

    Like

  2. Silly Old Bear said

    Thank you, Mobius for your comment!

    My apologies for not being clear enough and thus misrepresenting you. A piece of bad writing which I did not catch while reviewing/proof-reading – I started out misunderstanding you, and didn’t go back to correct – again my apologies.

    “This idea too was echoed by Daniel Sieradski, and though I might not agree with him totally on the solution (there are after all other ways of practicing Judaism and Being Jewish, than Orthodoxy) I think it’s achievable if presented solely as a matter of Being Jewish:”

    This paragraph should have been edited to read: “This idea too was echoed by Daniel Sieradski, and though I agree with him totally on the solution, there are after all others who can only think of one way of practicing Judaism and Being Jewish, – Orthodoxy – they will be a “problem” in the natter of the Land, since they are most often also those who lay claim to everything from the River to the Sea. As Daniel said it’s a matter of Being Jewish:

    I am one of those who “misbrand” because of “long” habit debating online with literalists who deny other Jews their Jewishness because of what Rabbi they converted under, obsevance or not. The idea of Observant Jews, whatever brand they might be in terms of religio-politics sounds like a wonderful thing to me.

    Thank you again for coming here, commenting and correcting my misconceptions 🙂

    Dov

    Like

  3. Mobius said

    This quote…

    “The fact that others do not live this way, does not free Israel from her Holy Obligation of pursuing Justice nor does it give Israel a mandate to disregard the plight of others, when there is a need or when there is an opportunity to practice Torah. ‘How can Israel be a Light to the Nations if she does not Shine?’ How indeed?!!”

    …reminds me of this quote:

    After all that has been said about the “religious” and pseudo-religious and even halakhic reasons for maintaining Jewish rule over the territories and their Arab inhabitants, and for the annexation of the territories to the state of Israel, I have nothing to add to what already appeared in the Scriptures, the same Scriptures to which national religious fools appeal for support of their lust for conquest. Two thousand six hundred years ago, the prophet Ezekiel foresaw Gush Emunim and the arguments of its rabbis and leaders. His words read as though he knew in advance the words and terms they would use, and he already gave them a reply which penetrates to the heart of the matter.

    Then the word of God came to me saying, Son of man, They that inhabit these waste places of the land of Israel speak, saying, Abraham was one man and yet he inherited the land, but we are many; the land is given us for inheritance. Therefore say to them, thus says the Lord God: You eat with the blood and lift up your eyes towards your idols, and shed blood; and shall you possess the land? You stand upon your sword, you carry out disgusting deeds, and you defile every man his neighbor’s wife; and shall you possess the land?

    These words were not meant for Ezekiel’s own generation only. He said them to all generations, and especially to the generation of the “liberators of the Holy Land” in our time. The Jewish people has legitimate claims to this country. But these claims have no “religious cover.” To speak of the divine promise to Abraham and his issue as a gratuitous gift, to ignore the conditions of the promise, and to disregard the obligations it confers on the receivers is a degradation and desecration of religious faith.

    The author?

    Yeshayahu Leibowitz, of course.

    Like

  4. Silly Old Bear said

    To speak of the divine promise to Abraham and his issue as a gratuitous gift, to ignore the conditions of the promise, and to disregard the obligations it confers on the receivers is a degradation and desecration of religious faith.

    Wow. Thank you! Where can I get more of this?

    Yes – the conditions of the promise and the obligation that goes with that – it cannot be, should not be ignored. How true.

    Thank you!

    Dov

    Like

  5. Mobius said

    pure gold:
    http://www.amazon.com/Judaism-Human-Values-Jewish-State/dp/0674487761

    also see:
    http://www.zeek.net/politics_0511.shtml

    and:
    http://www.amazon.com/Threat-Within-History-Opposition-Zionism/dp/1842776991

    Like

  6. Silly Old Bear said

    Thank you so very much! I will call my local book store tomorrow and ask them to get those for me 🙂

    Dov

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: