Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yom Kippur 2013

Bank of Life for Israel, Life Branch, 896, Tel Aviv, 99 Happiness St, 03-9963889
Date: 1 Tishrey 5774
Pay to: My family, friends and well-wishers
The sum of: Three hundred and sixty five days of happiness and prosperity /365/ 


I dispel the Yom Kippur doldrums by perusing this blog. Nothing like an invigorating shot of anti-Zionist adrenalin rush in the morning. Heady stuff.

Not that I suffer from the doldrums on this day. Quite the contrary. Since we are told that the heavens are open on this day and are particularly receptive to our pleas, I consider it my chance to speak directly to God and demand some reckoning and self-examination from Him (or Her). What can He/She be thinking of, creating humankind that is so riven by hatreds and petty squabbles? And how come He/She  chose the Jews, promising eternal peace and prosperity, only to unleash upon them  every type of known and unknown punishment and violence? I understand; this was acceptable in antiquity when men were not that far from their primitive forebears:

"“Our Tribal Past” is the most speculative chapter in The Uses of Pessimism. Here Scruton traces the fallacies underlying modern-day follies all the way back to our ancestors in the Pleistocene age. For instance, in the life-and-death struggle of a tribe of hunter-gatherers existence really was a zero-sum game, and a frantic, unthinking aggregation of “goods” would have been inevitable. Similarly, top-down planning, so beloved by Leftists, from Reds to Greens and every hue in-between, would have gone unchallenged in the Pleistocene age, except for the occasional dissenter and sceptic who might have tried “to moderate the one-dimensional thinking of the leader”, having recognised “the fleetingness of the tribe’s emergency-fuelled goals”. Because “enforced optimism” represented the only serious modus operandi for hunter-gatherers, our prehistoric sceptic or pessimist would have likely ended up a scapegoat whose ritualised death assuaged “the accumulated doubts” of the tribe."

But today, when humanity has advanced (yea, right) so much and the ethos is democratic, this is insupportable. So we, the Jews  (or the "Joos" as some would have it) demand some accountability from Him/Her.. 

Never mind, God.  I'm not so sure You are capable of the kind of self-introspection I'm talking about. So don't fret. Just do the right thing, for God's sake. You must know what it is because humanity, your own creation, sure hasn't a clue.

Here is the late great Israeli actor explaining the situation far better than I can. The translation is rather rushed and does not rightly convey the smart-alecky mixture of affection and irony in the song, but then, God, You know Hebrew (I hope) and those who will read it don't really care much about the artistic nuance anyway.

Sfirat Mlai (Taking stock) (Yossi Banai)

One state, two seas, one lake and malaria* too.
One perfect circle of sun
One wise nation of people full of specialness
One big headache and three Tylenols
Six days and seven nights
One God our own God who presides over the heavens and the earth
One large immigration wave
and two thousand years of exile
two annual vacations and one free weekend
One day of victory
one day of defeat
one day of security
and thirty days of sick leave
Trumpeldor in the Galilee
and one concerto for flute
and half a dozen retired generals
One ancient people
two ministers without portfolio
the first is sad, the second - funny
One difficult childhood
years of attrition
and anyone who wants independence, be my guest
Five wars
one division
and one soldier playing backgammon
Five tired soldiers sleeping in a bunker
and seventy kids are laughing in the bomb shelter
three Zion prisoners are freed
and one convict for life in his sixth month
Children's day, flowers' day and just a simple day
and Hill 24 is still not responding
One state, two seas, one lake, one tear and ... malaria, too.
*("malaria" is an awkward translation for the word "kadachat" in Hebrew that actually means high fever but in slang is supposed to convey a dismal condition, as at the time of the first pioneers to Israel who optimistically worked in draining the swamps and died like flies from malaria.)


At 5:12 PM EDT, Anonymous Brian Goldfarb said... doldrums really the apropos word? Spend enough time in shul on Yom Kippur and, even if one doesn't believe - being an agnostic is the real cop-out: not enough evidence either way, instead of making a stand, but there you have it, one Jew, two opinions, at least - and the language and ritual start to get to one. If only to make the day pass.

More pertinently, I hope, is the item that follows the article linked to, the one about the Israeli court handing down that judgement re African refugees in the week of Yom Kippur, yet!

Even more pertinent is the inaccuracy of the photo and the claim that goes with it. I won't go into the detail, but, via Algemeiner, is this, in which Anthony Bourdain (he of "Kitchen Confidential", great book) reveals not only his Jewish (part)origins, but also, revealingly, visiting Jerusalem, the West bank and Gaza not only says "How beautiful this place is. How come I could be surprised by that" (or words to that effect.

And he's in Gaza as he says it!

Caught the programme on CNN while in NYC visiting with the family for Yom Kippur.


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