Monday, September 29, 2008

My People, My Self

Pity Tzipi Livni who has the hapless task of trying to put together a coalition government in Israel with herself as the new Prime Minister. To achieve her goal Ms. Livni must kiss the tzitzit (fringes worn by observant Jewish men as a reminder of God’s presence) of former Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, spiritual leader of the orthodox Shas Party, and the Jewish equivalent of the reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (alav hashalom, peace be upon him).

Rabbi Yosef believes that the Holocaust was God’s way of punishing the reincarnated souls of Jewish sinners. He, like his coreligionists Robertson and Falwell (no, the rabbi isn’t a Christian, but I suspect he along with Robertson and Falwell are really followers of a fascistic Faith of Fear, a Taliban-like cabal whose members highjack the spiritual high ground for their own globalist ends), holds that hurricane Katrina blasted New Orleans in retribution for its affinity for Sodom, and targeted the United States in general for this country’s support of the Israeli pullout from Gaza.

And do not imagine that I am knocking a minor Jewish extremist. Not at all: Rabbi Yosef was Chief Rabbi of Israel and rules his people with the authority of a Pope—and not even a modern Pope but a good old fashion medieval Pope.

Anyone following American politics knows that our political discourse has devolved into a competition among animal metaphors. We no longer argue about foreign policy or economics, but about lipstick on pigs and pit bulls, and the rank odor of unrefrigerated fish. As a loyal American Jew please allow me to add two more animals to our discussion based on the teachings of my rabbi Obadiah Yosef who once said, “Walking between two women is like walking between two donkeys or between two camels,” (see “Israeli party lays out its demands,” USA TODAY, Sept 19, 2008).

I do not know Rabbi Yosef personally, so it is possible that what he thought were human women were in fact donkeys and camels wearing lipstick, which might make his teaching less troubling. But the fact that he couldn’t make up his mind whether women were donkeys or camels, two very distinct animals, is worrisome nonetheless.

In any case the very fact that to become Israeli’s next Prime Minister the clearly human Ms. Livni has to put up with this misogynist saint is just another reason to bemoan the fate of the Zionist ideal, and to question the knee-jerk raising of funds for a country that is, for all its technological genius and creativity, in danger of becoming a Jewish loony bin. And the fact that the good rabbi is a rabbi, and was in fact Chief Rabbi, makes me wonder if it isn’t time to turn in my Torah and reclaim my foreskin.

I have spent the past ten days teaching Judaism to primarily Gentile audiences in Tennessee and California. The Judaism I shared with them has no room for Chief Rabbis and medieval misogynists. My talks were well received and I managed to fool my students into thinking that Judaism was a faith of reason, argument, moral integrity, and spiritual daring. Thank God no one read USA TODAY. I wish I hadn’t.

1 comment:

Patti said...

It appears Rabbi Yosef does not care enough about half of the population to even be bothered to choose which animal we represent in his world. That is pretty telling of his world view.

Hopefully, there is a living and lively remnant of level headedness remaining; whether bindi-ed, crossed, tasseled, or burqa-ed.