Sunday, July 27, 2008

Long-winded Israel diatribe: Enjoy!

I hope everyone noticed the new button on the left of the page for the Lubavitch Blog Network. It's all thanks to Chaim Rubin, who has done a great job.
Anyway, Merkos Shlichus continued today, without too much excitement. We met a Jewish employee of Starbucks, who was quite friendly. Unfortunately, all the other people we visited were unavailable for much.
The issue of Israel as a political entity versus Eretz Yisrael the holy land recently came up, and I thought it would serve as a good topic for the rest of today's regularly scheduled blog. The issue was thought to be dead and buried, but a new and strange commenter has arisen who has challenged TRS' assertion that these two aspects of Israel are inseparable. The counter-claim has so far been limited to the assertion that the two are separate; it has unfortunately been devoid of any arguments that would back up this claim.
For the sake of the argument here I'm going to assume that we all believe in creation as espoused in official Lubavitch doctrine. If you don't agree, well, feel free to blast away at each other in the comments section. Anyway, the holy land of Israel is where creation began, and it's where the dove's olive branch (of Noah fame) came from (or maybe that was Eden. Regardless). So I'll accept that the land of Israel was holy before the creation of any political state. The next time we find the land mentioned, it's become the land of Canaan, inhabited by 31 tribes. The land is now not only holy, but also political. When Avraham tried to settle the land he had to deal with the political facts of the time. He made treaties, fought wars, and bought land. He could not treat the land in a merely spiritual manner, because there were facts on the ground. His son Yitzchak had the same experience, as did Yaakov, Avraham's grandson. The land was undoubtedly holy, but it was not exclusively holy. Even then it was intimately connected with the political division of its Canaanite masters.
A short while later, the Israelites came out of Egypt, spent some time wandering around in the desert, and finally kicked the Canaanites out of the land of Canaan. Well, not quite. They actually failed quite miserably in this regard, and they weren't true masters of the land until the time of David, which was 404 years after they first entered it with Yehoshua. Until this point in time, the holy land was constantly beset by both external warfare and internal fighting. It is illogical to suppose that the spiritual quality of the land was unaffected by this ongoing strife. We only need look at the story of Eli the High Priest to recognize that even the service in the Mishkan was not free from interference.
The years of David and his son Shlomo were unique in Jewish history; nevertheless, things were not perfect even then. Since then, of course, the political and religious characters of the land have become enmeshed to the point that they are virtually inseparable.
The real question is perhaps not "Was there ever a time when the political and spiritual characters of the land were separate", but rather, "Is it possible to wonder if they could ever be separate?" The spiritual character of the land is dependent on Jewish ownership of the land; i.e. without Jews, there would be no Israel. I do not argue that the holiness of the land is eternal, but rather with the assertion that it can ever be separate from political realities. Indeed, if the temple were to be rebuilt and all Jews regathered, though the land was still under the dominion of a foreign power, then the Messiah would not have arrived. Only when the land has true political independence, and some would say dominance, could the Messiah truly be said to have arrived.
The argument posited that the land is holy and beautiful, independent of who is in charge. I agree with this. Anything can be viewed independently, out of context. For the land to be truly evaluated, political realities have to be accounted for. The holiest spot to Jews, the temple mount, is currently inaccessible. This is a result of the political reality. One day, when the Messiah comes, this land will be accessible. This too will be a result of the political reality. When Jerusalem can be put on the bargaining table, there can be no doubt that the spiritual Israel, the holy land, is firmly in the grip of the political arbitrators of the land.
As Jews, we have prayed for 2000 years to return to the land. A Zionist would tell you that this has been accomplished. What does he mean? That the Jewish people have political control of the land. Even before 1948, the land was holy. But it was not controlled by Jews. The beauty and spiritually of the land were dependent on the largesse of the ruling empire. After 1948, this status-quo remained. The temple mount is inaccessible. This is not because the land is not holy and beautiful. It is because of the political situation. It would be great if we could say that the spiritual qualities of the land are unaffected by the political realities, but it simply is not true. Even in the times of David and Shlomo, the spiritual life of the country was dependent on their military prowess.
How much more so in our times. There is no pure expression of spirituality in the land, because that very spirituality is dependent on political forces. At the same time, no political decision was ever made that ignored the unique function of the Israel, that bypassed its status as a holy land for all peoples.

Sorry, I know that this piece is a rather haphazard explanation of my view, but I have no doubt that it will be mangled, minced, and possibly maced in the comments, and then it will possibly make sense to someone besides me. Actually, it barely even makes sense to me. Nu nu.

The following is a story that I started writing before I was inspired to blog about whatever it is that I eventually blogged about. It's incomplete, but still possibly enjoyable.

Joshua was a little boy with a precocious talent for making his elders desire his excommunication. The one blemish on his youthful brilliance was that he often said things which weren't necessarily necessary. All children do this, but Joshua's sin was different than other children's misdeeds. You see, Joshua's statements had the unfortunate habit of causing great monetary loss to whomever had the misfortune of being the butt of one of his zingers.
Joshua's parents, who had naturally suffered greatly, were reduced to bankruptcy. Their car was repossessed, they had no money for AC, their Sunday bagels and lox didn't even have cream cheese. Joshua, with the irrepressible spirit renowned in youth and certain varieties of garden cream, was unfazed by the destruction he had wrought, and placidly continued talking and causing great financial loss, which often came simultaneously.

101 comments:

Nemo said...

I'm baffled by the continued assertion that the holiness of the land is increased or diminished by political realities, but you also seem to believe that there is an essential holiness to it.

Leo de Toot said...

Dear Mr. R. Shliach: I very much appreciated your analysis of our relationship to the land or, perhaps, the relationship of the land to us. Unfortunately, political Zionists (conveniently) forget that without the religious meaning, our relationship to Israel is no greater than our relationship to any other country settled by Jews (Spain, Russia, England and, of course the good ol' US of A). One wonders how valuable it is to look for signs of the Messiah (here? about to be here? virtually here?) though. More useful would be to consider the history of our past (and present) time in the land and note the obvious patterns i.e. when we are good, our presence in the land is strong and when we are bad - well you know what eventually happens. Strange how nations, like individuals, have a hard time learning from the past and tend to repeat their mistakes. Great piece from you.

As always, reflecting on history,

L de Toot.

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo: I told you it didn't makes sense; why are you trying to understand it? But seriously, I'm not sure if the holiness decreases or diminishes, but rather does our access, and therefore, for all practical purposes, our relationship to it.
LdT: Correct once again. What else can I add?

Nemo said...

Leo- What are you talking about? The people that insist on Messianic meaning believe in the inherent holiness of the land.

TRS- I think your thesis is a bit muddled. Orthodox Judaism's opinion has always been that Israel is of itself holy, whence the pangs of return. This holds true in every doctrine, including the most "fanatical."

Nemo said...

But don't take my word for it. Here's a word from our corporate sponsors ...

See also over here for more of the basis of our theology vis-a-vis the Holy land. Just a snippet:

What is this anomaly of the Jewish People and its land, this eternal bond that almost 2,000 years of exile has failed to sever? Discover—and uncover—where Israel is in the heart of a Jew, and where the Jewishness is within the heart of Israel. (Implying the centricity of Israel to religion.)

Leo de Toot said...

Nemo:

My point was that arguing about the timing of the Messiah's arrival may provide a great deal of liveliness on a cold evening by the fire (metaphorically speaking) but, I believe, more useful to us, both in our personal and national growth, is the history of Jews and their relationship to the Land of Israel (as so ably described by Mr. TRS above).

Always happy to clarify,
L d T.

Nemo said...

What does that mean?

the sabra said...

Thank G-d for that strange commenter.

Eliezer said...

Which strange commenter are you talking about?

Leo de Toot said...

Nemo: clearly you are not having a good day.

Try this - better we consider lessons of history than debate the vagaries of the when and how of the Messiah's arrival. Can't make it simpler than that. (For your sake I will risk diminishing my insights by having to oversimplify.)

Here to help,
L d T.

The Real Shliach said...

Nice to see everyone in the class behaving nicely.
I'll try to deal with everyone, though it may prove to be difficult.
Nemo: I told you that what I wrote wasn't perfectly clear; when the force is flowing I type, and afterwards I'm too worn out to edit or anything intelligent like that.
Ldt: You seem to be ably fighting the war against ignorance.
Sabra: I echo Eliezer's call. Will you answer it?

Nemo said...

Leo- I had a wonderful care-free day, thank you. My pointed questioning of your idea was an attempt to get a better definition, so that I can build my case against you.

But I'm too tired for that right now.

Nemo said...

TRS- I believe Sabra was referring to the original post:

a new and strange commenter has arisen who has challenged TRS' assertion

The Real Shliach said...

Makes sense. Sabra has an unfortunate tendency of not referencing her comment's sources, so sometimes it's difficult to know what she's talking about.

Nemo said...

"sometimes it's difficult to know what she's talking about"

Tell me about it ;)

chauvinist said...

Between me and you, the women on this site leave such asinine comments.

The Real Shliach said...

Shall TRS leave such an incendiary comment smoldering there for all the world to see? Will he not respond, heading the clarion call of justice, turning to the field of battle, preparing to once again defend the weaker commentators on his blog?
These are questions that need to be answered.

chauvinist said...

I think TRS will face the facts: when God created humans, he did not distribute discretionary faculties equally. Eve is just a jazzed up rip.

chauvinist said...

my bad. jazzed up rib.

chauvinist said...

נשים דעתן קלות

Nemo said...

Honestly - and I'm not agreeing here, necessarily - but Chauvinist (Eliezer?) isn't making a comment that is K'Shmo Kein Hu - chauvinist.

He refers to a specific subset of women - the ones that comment on this site - and not about women-kind in general.

Although caustic and offensive to the individuals commenting, I think it still passes the test of political correctness and should be left posted for the sheer fun of seeing where it takes us.

feminist said...

And men are vindictive.

Nemo said...

Ok, sorry, wrote that before the rest of Mr. Chauvinist's comments appeared.

Eliezer said...

Nemo, from where do you get these strange ideas?

Eliezer said...

Do you think there are no mishegoyim in the world that I need to impersonate all of them?

The Real Shliach said...

I'm going to respond to all of this in tonight's post; don't stop, of course.

The Real Chauvinist said...

I EXIST!! NEmo, you insult me by claiming that I am not!

The Real Shliach said...

Good point Eliezer.

The Real Chauvinist said...

Caustic and offensive... I like that... Nemo, you're not too bad.

feminist said...

OMG! i can't believe what kind of craziness you're spouting! You should be ashamed of yourself! TRS!! RESPOND!!! DELETE THIS NASTY CAUSTIC AND OFFENSIVE TWERPS COMMENTS!!!

the sabra said...

(whistle)
This reminds me of the time I got the whole #18 bus arguing with each other..just by askin a simple question about directions.

The Real Shliach said...

What have you started, my dear lady? You are in no way responsible for the current imbroglio. Of course, you're most welcome to add fuel to the fire.

Nemo said...

Eliezer- If it makes you feel more comfortable fessing up :) , I have nothing against chauvinism ... it's a personal preference.

Chauvinist- I can't say I don't try.

Feminist- 75% of the people here are pretty reasonable. Why not assert yourself (I'm all for powerful women too) with some good argumentantion.

And when we're all good and tired, let's resort to some friendly name-calling.

The Real Chauvinist said...

Listen up Sabra-lady

that is such a girl comment. who give a flying rat's backside about your stupid experience on the bus. Stick to the topic: are girl dumb or are they stupid?

This is the JAP attitude: "Ohmigod! the whole world's fluttering around me!!"

No it's not. live with it. You are insignificant in the schemes of mankind

the sabra said...

a, like last time.
b, my unfortunate tendency apparently got this started. and going. and going. and going. and soon, my fortunate tendency will end it.

Nemo said...

TRS- Basking in the attention I see ...

feminist said...

I'll respond all right. MEN CAUSED WARS. WOMEN NURSE SOLDIERS BACK TO HEALTH. HUH? men screw things up, and woemn fix it.

Nemo said...

Men fight over women.

The Real Chauvinist said...

Hey Sabs, I read your blog and couldn't understand a word of it. Can your little feminine brain string together a coherent thought? Or are you limited to encrypted nonsense?

feminist said...

Nemo said...

Men fight over women.

Precisely why they're stupid. Men kill for women. women subtly manipulate men to do the dirty work (i.e. getting rid of rivals) for them. Who's wise and who's a bunch of bulvans? (Sorry, can't tranlsate bulvan for you.)

Nemo said...

Ok, Chauvinist, I'm officially lodging my protest against you now.

the campaign for real-time TRS said...

TRS, the discussion would proceed much more lively if one didn't need to enter the silly code. While one erstwhile argue-er is proving he's not a spambot, another his erstwhile opponent hits him over the head with seven comments!!

Nemo said...

BULVA- Billar Ultra Lite Virtual Augmentat???

Feminist - The word "whores" comes to mind.

(Sorry, all in good taste)

The Real Shliach said...

Who's in charge of these protests, me? Do I get to dress up in judge clothing and bang a gavel?

Eliezer said...

TRS- you're nobody. get it?

NEMO- the word is bullvan-with an "n". I'm sure it's defined in "The Joys of Yiddish" by leo Rosten.

The Real Shliach said...

Shall I remove the last impediment to freedom on TRS? While I'm still getting nasty comments from people (Eliezer?), I think that I'll keep this safeguard up at least.

feminist said...

not whore; grande dame. Think Rosie from Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley.

the campaign for real-time TRS said...

information wants to be free!!!!

Nemo said...

Eliezer- My corner searchbox is equipped with Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia and Ask.com search options. I don't think Firefox has developed the utility to search Mr. Rosten's book yet.

the campaign for real-time TRS said...

your silly restrictions cannot silence our voices!

The Real Shliach said...

Wow, Feminist, we've risen to a new high with that one; actually, maybe we've sunk to a new low? Who knows?

If information wants to be free, then let it be nice information.

The Real Shliach said...

Go on, keep on talking.

Eliezer said...

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hs=6E2&q=bulvan+yiddish&btnG=Search

Leo Rosten it ain't, but it will do.

sarcastic bloke said...

Oh TRS, we needed that encouragement.

the sabra said...

you're learning, trs. good for you. (translate that for the males in my now ex-club.)

The Real Chauvinist said...

TRS, I think I'll accept your invitation. So my young lady friends, where are you? Crying in Mamma's apron?

Two can play at that game said...

Yes, it's TRS. The message to sarcastic bloke? I noticed.

Nemo said...

Here's a list of famous clever women in the history of the world. There are political activists, members of Parliament, writers and empresses.

The Real Chauvinist said...

I think I need a translation. What the hell was that last comment meant to mean, Ms. Sabra? Can you write coherently if you try?

The Real Shliach said...

Learning? I'm just trying to postpone Maariv, Kerias Shema Al Hamita, Chitas, Rambam, flossing, teeth brushing, diary writing, and sleeping!

Eliezer said...

TRS, using multiple identities confuses things needlessly and ruins the camaraderie among the commenters.

The Real Shliach said...

You should talk.

the sabra said...

trs, the 'nice information' threat/suggestion.

The Real Chauvinist said...

SABRA: YOU DON'T MAKE SENSE. PERIOD. WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?

The Real Chauvinist said...

saBRA, in english we make sure that every sentence has a subject and a predicate. OK?

feminist said...

My point precisely. They accomplished with charm what men accomplish with the sword.

feminist said...

that last comment was addressed to nemo

The Real Shliach said...

Thanks for clarifying.

the campaign for real-time TRS said...

We're still waiting.

the campaign for real-time TRS said...

WE LOVE TRS!! TRS FOR PREZ!!

The Real Shliach said...

Wait no longer. Comment away!

Nemo said...

Charm? Is that what you call a lack of chastity, virtue, dignity, self-respect and good honest hard work?

I don't know if feminism allows you to recognize male accomplishment beyond a few wars here and there, but men happened to, by and large, also be responsible for literacy, science, philosophy, industry etc.

the veteran blogger said...

Trs, you're trying to involve yourself in the discussion, but your comments are wholly irrelevant. "Thanks for clarifying"? "Go on, keep on talking"? You're not "in." Really. If you want to be a part of it, you need to say something off the wall or get pissed when others say things of the wall. Merely nodding in a fatherly fashion get you nowhere.

The Real Shliach said...

That's right Nemo! End discrimination! Male power!

feminist said...

Women would have done literacy, science, philosophy, industry etc if the bloody pigs would have let them instead of making them stay home to churn butter.

The Real Shliach said...

Was that good, veteran?

Nemo said...

Feminist- Just for the record, before I get some nasty reputation along with our creep friend, this discussion is all just for fun, ok?

The Real Chauvinist said...

I dare say sabra's inability to write is a relic of those dark women-suppressing ages.

The Real Shliach said...

Nemo, it's way too late for that.

Nemo said...

Feminist- "if the bloody pigs would have let them instead"

Irrelevant to discussion at hand:

I was replying to your suggestion that the chief accomplishment of men is war.

the veteran blogger said...

TRS, it wasn't. You're still nodding in a fatherly manner as the children scuffle back and forth over your turf. There are two things you need to do. You did neither.

reread what I wrote.

The Real Chauvinist said...

Listen here feminist,

Nemo's right. Men no longer rely exclusively on war, but women have not gotten past using their... umm.. let's say their "baby cat" to get men's attention.

The Real Shliach said...

Live and let live, that's my creed. What can I do about it?

feminist said...

How dare you say that! I never use that to get my way. I use my brains!

The Real Shliach said...

That was sick, TRC! Please, a little respect!

The Real Shliach said...

Was that good, veteran?

the veteran blogger said...

f*ck your creed. If I'm killing an old lady on the street, do I need every anarchist in Brooklyn to walk by and say, "Live and let live"? I wouldn't really mind it, but it's just IRRELEVANT!

the veteran blogger said...

The next step is not to let the readers know that you're faking

Nemo said...

Once again - because I know how these blog discussion take on a little permanence in people's memories and in Google searches - I'm going to protest commenter 'The Real Chauvinist.'

As much as I appreciate his buttressing my arguments, his comments, whether serious or said in mirth, do not represent my own opinions about women.

The Real Shliach said...

Oh Nemo, so wise and understanding.
GET IN THERE AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!

The Real Chauvinist said...

Nemo, I confess, I'm an immature guy who doesn't know the first thing about women or history or anything. I grew up in a chassidisheh home and stopped speaking to women (except my mom every few weeks) at least nine years ago. Their brains are to me a mystery.

the veteran blogger said...

You did not get the point. at all.

The men on this blog know who I am. The women may not. said...

I'm going to sleep. Good night.

The Real Shliach said...

Veteran: Nu nu.
Men: Sleep tight.

Ht' Michoel Rose (Michael) said...

i have heard before that the land was inherited to the children of shem and then it was conqured by cham (cnaan) so avrohom took it back by right.

The Real Shliach said...

Regardless, we still see the politicking that was taking place.
Also, this is 96-can we get to 100? Please?

Nemo said...

Oy, meh haya lanu? I was hoping it would stay at 94 forever!

(Ok, so what is that, 97 now? And you once called me shameless ... )

The Real Shliach said...

Listen Nemo, I guess you just can't stop progress. Bichlal, what's so great about 94?
_____
I called you shameless? I'm sure it was kindly meant.

Anonymous said...

this is dumb

The Real Shliach said...

Thank you anonymous for your wonderfully kind comment, and for giving me the opportunity to record the 100th comment, a new TRS record. Cheers!

YochananG Aust said...

in Torah everything has to go above and beyond so that is why if you learn something 100 times we get the person to do one more to hit 101