Shavuot 2011: obscenities as words of Torah
This isn't the Torah we received. Since that time, Israel has been swallowed up by the Land of Israel and disappeared inside its maw.
Go to your computer right now and watch the frightening video clip posted on YouTube as a memento of Jerusalem Day (it's called "Yom Yeru 2011" ). Not a handful, but hundreds of young people high on hard-core nationalism wave blue-and-white flags; may their eyes grow dim.
"Death to the Arabs, death to the leftists," they chanted. "The Temple will be rebuilt, the mosque will be destroyed." "Kahane lives, Mohammed is dead." "Itbach al-Arab" ("Death to the Arabs" in Arabic ). Thus they elevate Jerusalem as their chief sin: May their tongues cleave to their palates.
While I was roaming Jerusalem's streets, another mob was gathering at the city's Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, with rabbis Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed and Dov Lior of Hebron among the guests. The former demands Israel be purged of Arabs, while the latter endorses a book that justifies killing gentiles, urges soldiers to disobey orders and refuses to show up for questioning by the police.
Nowadays, every obscenity is treated as 'words of Torah.' A bill was even submitted for discussion to the cabinet that would permit incitement by rabbis, and rabbis only. And MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union ) was also among the guests.
The guest of honor was the prime minister; lift up your heads, O ye gates. "I see you as an elite Torah combat unit," the king of glory - and of shame - said fawningly. Now the Torah, too, has its own elite combat unit.
Jerusalem Day ends, and Shavuot arrives - the holiday I once loved above all others for its graciousness and compassion. This is the time of the giving of our Torah, "a Torah of life I gave to you." But this isn't the Torah we received. Since that time, Israel has been swallowed up by the Land of Israel and disappeared inside its maw.
Our education minister, Gideon Sa'ar, is also living in the Book of Joshua, as if the Torah had no other books - as if we had no children here, but only our distant forefathers. Of all the possible nationwide school trips, he chose to join the first visit by students to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to support his new program, "Visits to the Land of Our Fathers." A few months ago, he threatened a principal with dismissal because he proposed teachers take a tour of army checkpoints. But what is permissible for an emperor is forbidden to the flea in his ear.
As a part-time civics teachers when he deems the occasion right, Sa'ar surely explained to the visiting students how the Jewish settlement was established in "Kiryat Arba, which is Hebron" as a plot against the government; how the settlers there beat up soldiers and policemen and spat on their neighbors; how the people who dwell by the Cave of the Patriarchs make pilgrimages to the grave of the Jewish murderer Baruch Goldstein, and sanctify his name in public; how the Torah handed down at Sinai authorized us to dispossess, deport and seal houses; and why a Hebron market street stands empty.
Shavuot is blessed with a beautiful megillah, the Book of Ruth. I sometimes wonder how Ruth managed to worm her way into the Book of Books; perhaps the Song of Songs paved the way for her. It could never happen today. The Education Ministry and Mercaz Harav would never consent, and the Culture and Sports Ministry would disqualify its candidacy for the Zionist Artwork Award.
That's all we need: For a complete goy - a Moabite, on top of all her other problems - to marry Mahlon, who, even though he has fallen low, is still a Jew. By what right did she cleave to Naomi - a healthy woman, after all, who doesn't need a Filipina in constant attendance - so that she could later seduce another wealthy Jewish man, thus enabling her to remain without a permit from the rabbis and without even a pro forma conversion? And how did it happen that "all the people" were happy and supportive, without a single opponent?
After all, even back then, they could have deported her as a foreign agricultural worker who had infiltrated into Israel by means of dubious paperwork.
And they would have left her great-grandson, David, without a chance of even being born, much less later being anointed as Israel's king.
As the holiday approached, I telephoned the Bialik-Rogozin School and asked to speak with Ruthie. She's an 11-year-old girl, a sixth-grader, with Ghanaian parents who work as cleaners. But don't think they - her mother and father - are innocents. For it's not by chance that they named their daughter Ruthie - Ruth, of all things - in order to remind us of, and make us mourn, what we have lost.