Monday, April 11, 2011

I Get Flack for My Blog Carnival

A few weeks ago, when I hosted the Haveil Havalim carnival, I made the decision to not include a significant number of posts. The biggest reason was simply a matter of quality. If someone came across like you had simply thrown something together in about the amount of time it took me to read the piece I turned them down. In a similiar vein, I also turned down posts that sounded like they came from an angry place. Writing should take more time than speaking as it serves as a means to refine the spoken word, allowing reason to temper anger. Finally I turned down posts that openly called for violence outside of a State framework.

One would think these are fairly common sense points that people across the ideological spectrum could agree to. Apparently, though, my standards upset people. The host of the newest edition, Esser Agaroth, was someone whom I turned down because, whether or not he fit clauses one and two, he, writing from a blatently Kahanist perspective, certainly fits three. Esser Agaroth, as was his right as host, took the opportunity to respond to me indirectly, even as he was not willing offer me the good grace of being called out by name. Esser Agaroth lists what "offends" him:

I find it offensive when Jews confuse Western culture and sensibilities for Jewish ones. Whether we are talking about "innocent civilians" during a milhemeth misswah (obligatory war), turning Jews into non-Jewish authorities, or a[Italian] black hat, none of these are Jewish concepts.
I find it offensive when Jews accuse other Jews of suborning mass-murder, when murder is an act which may only take place between Jews (Mekhilta, Ramba"m, Sefer HaHinukh). "Killing" is universal; "murder" is not. Please get your terminology right.
I find it offensive when Jews distort the Torah according to their pre-established beliefs and [galuti/diasporan] feelings, like when a Jew quotes the Talmud Bavli...


...that to save a life, it is as if one has saved a world.


...and neglects to mention that HaZa"L was not talking about just any old life, but rather a Jewish one.


I fail to see how any non-Jew can read this and not feel threatened. Do not get me wrong I am willing to support aggressive responses by Israel, including the mass bombing of Palestinian cities in retaliation to terrorist attacks that target civilians. (See "My Government is Licensed to Kill.") I am even willing, in theory, to condone the torture of terror suspects and suspension of their legal rights. (See "Crimes of De-Citizenship.") Even if, as I suspect that many on the left would gladly place me in the same camp, there are some critical differences in that I value all human life, Jewish and non-Jewish, and place no place no virtue in turning toward violence; violence for me is simply an often pragmatic, if tragic, means to avoid becoming the victim of violence oneself.

As one of those Jews with an "inauthentic" Jewish ideology, I would argue that I have even more to fear. Not that my Jewish ideology is any more inauthentic than any other Jewish ideology; all Jewish ideologies are ultimately the product of several thousand years of Jews interacting with other cultures. I challenge anyone to speak for five minutes about Jewish ideology while only using terms found in biblical and rabbinic literature and using those terms in ways that might plausibly be in keeping with their original usage. (See "The Conservative Playbook.") Forget about putting someone in a blog carnival, by claiming for himself the mantel of "authentic Judaism," Esser Agaroth places all those who disagree with him outside of the Jewish religion. Now what can we expect Esser Agaroth to do to Jewish "traitors" to the "true" spirit of the faith in between interacting with gentiles in such a way as to remove even the concept of "murder?"    

19 comments:

Chris said...

Holy shit. That guy's scary.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Hi, I'm glad you wrote this, because you're showing a willingness (correct me if I'm wrong) to be a part of a dialogue.

If nothing else, you were willing to link to a blog with which you disagree. I do the same all the time, and sometimes, even in a positive manner. ;-)

1. I hope you also saw that there were only three posts I turned down, and why I turned them down.

2. I support your, and any other host's, full discretion over any given edition. I believe this is a very important policy to support.

3. I hate to disappoint you, but I wasn't really referring to you. This has been a developing pattern for some time now. I would like to see if those on the so called right would be able to leave out posts offensive (disagreeable, undesirable, etc.) to them, as those on the so called left (& center, and from wherever) appear to be able to do w/o any readers batting an eye lash.

4. As far as the comment on murder vs. killing, I wasn't making it up. You saw that I stated my sources. The Torah is not politically correct; it is absolutely correct. There are certainly many ways of understanding Torah means. I simply stay away from any definition which is made up from out of the blue. If that makes my the sole judge of what is authentic Judaism. I dunno. That sounds kind of odd to me, because everything I write can be backed up from HaZa"L (our sages z"l) or the Rishonim. IOW, nothing I write in the area of Torah is original, when you think about it. I think that's what (Westernized) Jews are afraid of...that maybe the culture they've grown up with, might not be their authentic culture, but rather borrowed from other people's....leading to some cognitive dissonance.

4a. The Ramba"m clearly states that this does mean one should go around and kill non-Jews. It means that we have a separate status. It is my understanding that most assimilated Jews find this concept to be very disturbing. Fine, but to ignore the influence of 1700 years of assimilation (survival) amongst the goyim as at least a possible reason for our current mentality is intellectually dishonest, even more so, when Jews automatically assume that the results of 1700 years of trying to live like non-Jews in non-Jewish lands are 100 percent ok, and in no need of repair/change to a more authentically Jewish way of life (whatever that may be - we can discuss it if you like).

5. As far as being a Kahanist goes, I most certainly hold the murdered Torah scholars Rabbi Meir David and Rabbi Binyamin Kahane HY"D in high regard. However, for the record, I believe that one very significant flaw exists across the board (religious state loyalists, Neturei Karta, Satmar, Reform "social action," AND Kahanists), and that is the allowance of hashqafah (pre-existing points of view of how things should be) to get in the way of the determination of what is the halakha (proper way of believing and behaving).

6. If you've never read anything by Rav M. Kahane, I recommend Listen World, Listen Jew which focuses on the dangers of assimilation.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Izgad said...

Esser

I am willing to engage in a dialogue with anyone not out to do me physical harm. As to anyone else I am too honest and will be too busy trying to do them physical harm to bother speaking to them.
I cannot comment on the posts you received, but I did not receive any posts that struck me as particularly leftist (arguing for the peace process or defending Labor politicians). In general I do not like using the categories left and right as it leaves so much out. (Where does a libertarian like me fit in?) I did not raise the issue so why should you. I would have knocked off any liberal posts that failed the standard I gave. I would not put up supportive link to someone writing about how they hate Republicans and want them put up against a firing squad.
I think you fail to appreciate the full extent of the problem of trying to talk about religion and politics while only using “authentically” Jewish terminology. For one thing you would not be able to use either the words “religion” or “politics.”
Saying that the biblical legal category of murder, found say in the sixth commandment, with the possibility of the death penalty, only applies to Jews is one thing and you would have solid Jewish sources to argue for it. You jump though from this to an ideological world view that does not value non-Jewish life and approaches non-Jews with an aggressive defiant stance instead of a spirit of humility and openness.
You criticize people for trying to build ideologies from their own thought instead of just reading sources. What you suggest is not possible; any reading of a text presupposes certain ideological assumptions. http://izgad.blogspot.com/2009/12/haredi-criminal-in-training.html.
Yes I have read things by R. Meir Kahane and it is not to my taste. I read things by his followers and it absolutely disgusts me. No offense.

no one said...

(((I corrected the spelling on the previous note .))
I thought his writing was pretty good. Today I might change my mind. In those days I was pretty ignorant of stuff he was talking about but at any rate I liked his writings but he attracted a very strange type of crowd.
I once has a conversation with my chavruta about this. He told me about some Khanist that was in Uman in the Sofia Park. To rent a boat there there is a usual price but some chasid was being charged extra because he was a chasid. The Khanist asked, "Why did you not kill him?"
That is scary. I guess people can write good books but if the message is violence I guess that is how it gets taken.(like the koran itself.)

Vox Populi said...

Izgad,

This Esser fellow sounds like someone who thinks you are illegitimate. I take it you will be killing him? ;)

Izgad said...

Vox

I am glad to see you have been paying attention and understand how to apply my models of discourse. At the moment Esser is no immediate threat. He is not in political power and he is physically far away from me. Also I am not yet certain that he believes his own ideology and has taken his beliefs to their logical conclusion. If these factors were to change I would very seriously consider a turn to violence before I allowed him to be in direct control over my life. In the meantime I will focus on the more immediate threats to my personal well-being such as politicians who believe they know what is in my interest better than I do.

Vox Populi said...

>He is not in political power and he is physically far away from me. Also I am not yet certain that he believes his own ideology and has taken his beliefs to their logical conclusion.

Your evaluation of these factors is probably the nub of our disagreement, more than any one principle. With regard to Hamas, I don't believe we're there yet, while you believe we are.

Ben-Yehudah said...

I told Benzion I'd respond to his comment later.

In the meantime, I will say that it is unfortunate the many so called "Kahanists" have never read any of Rav Kahane's books,...like it seems this guy in Uman hadn't.

Those who were closest to Rav Kahane living today are against going to Uman,...and most certainly do not support that kind of violence suggested by that person.

Chris said...

Esser,

I hope you realize how similar your discourse is to the discourse of the jihadis. Honestly, if comments like yours got any press here in the States, I think a lot of people here might re-evaluate their support for Israel. At the very least, the anti-Semites would have a heyday. I find Ben's "carpet bombing" comments scary enough, but at least he is appealing to a realist political philosophy rather than to a religious principle. He and I can have a reasonable discussion about that. But when you start appealing to religious principles, people begin to wonder-- as Ben wonders about the Palestinians-- whether it's even possible to dialogue with you. And they certainly aren't going to be inclined to provide you political, financial, or military support.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know how your rhetoric sounds to Gentile ears. Peace,

-Chris

Ben-Yehudah said...

OK, Everyone, I will respond to everyone's comments as soon as I can,...probably not until a week from Thursday, when Yom Tov has clearly finished in the U. S.

In the meantime, write what you will about me, but let's get the names right. (P. T. Barnum said something similar.)

Esser Agaroth means 10 agaroth. 100 ag' = 1 sheqqel, the currency in Israel (taken from the sheqqel in the Tana"kh [Bible] for those interested in Biblical stuff.)

Esser just means 10.

...and just in case Ben in Ben-Yehudah is Hebrew for "son of," not short for Binyamin (Benjamin).

And to all Jews, Happy Passover. To all non-Jews, Happy Spring.

Clarissa said...

" tortue of terror suspects"

- torture

Ben-Yehudah said...

I am willing to engage in a dialogue with anyone not out to do me physical harm. As to anyone else I am too honest and will be too busy trying to do them physical harm to bother speaking to them.

Did I threaten physical toward you? If so, please remind when that was, because I do not recall.

I cannot comment on the posts you received, but I did not receive any posts that struck me as particularly leftist (arguing for the peace process or defending Labor politicians). In general I do not like using the categories left and right as it leaves so much out. (Where does a libertarian like me fit in?) I did not raise the issue so why should you. I would have knocked off any liberal posts that failed the standard I gave. I would not put up supportive link to someone writing about how they hate Republicans and want them put up against a firing squad.

I agree with you about the terms right and left, particularly in Israel. I sometimes fall back into old patterns of using them, but I try not to. Libertarian? Dunno. I do know that allowing everyone to do what they want when they want to is not a Torah option.

I think you fail to appreciate the full extent of the problem of trying to talk about religion and politics while only using “authentically” Jewish terminology. For one thing you would not be able to use either the words “religion” or “politics.”

No, I think I do. There are no politics, unless you're talking about strategies of implementation of religious practices. Some would call that politics. I don't think I would. There are religions, though, two of which are kasher, Dath Yisrael for Am Yisrael and 7 misswoth B'nei No'ah for non-Jews. I doubt I have to remind you that the word for religion, or system, or whatever English translation you choose, is דת.

Saying that the biblical legal category of murder, found say in the sixth commandment, with the possibility of the death penalty, only applies to Jews is one thing and you would have solid Jewish sources to argue for it. You jump though from this to an ideological world view that does not value non-Jewish life and approaches non-Jews with an aggressive defiant stance instead of a spirit of humility and openness.

I am not led by ideology; I am led by halakha. Halakha is not aggressive or defiant. It simply is.

You criticize people for trying to build ideologies from their own thought instead of just reading sources.

Yes.

What you suggest is not possible; any reading of a text presupposes certain ideological assumptions. http://izgad.blogspot.com/2009/12/haredi-criminal-in-training.html.

It's not supposed to. For the most part I look to the Ramba"m for halakhic guidance, yet there are two issues (it does not matter which issues they are). Most all Rishonim disagree with the Ramba"m on these issues, and even go so far to say that he erred. I cannot let me feelings and respect for the Ramba"m get in the way of a pursuit of the truth. These Rishonim make very concise and compelling arguments based on analyses of the gemara; whereas I do not believe that the Ramba"m does. It would be closed minded of me to ignore these Rishonim and their arguments.

Calling what Reform Jews believe and do "not Jewish" would no doubt be considered to be closed minded, etc. from a Western standpoint, but not from a halakhic standpoint. Jews need to make up our minds. If Judaism is not attractive because of Jews like me, then so be it. Please read When Passover Became A Holiday Again, and you may be surprised to see that you agree in principle with some of my points. Maybe you will; maybe you won't. Not sure. If you do, then it would demonstrate that even you and I have something interesting to talk about.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Actually, it's not the 6th commandment. As you know, there are more than just 10. Arguing semantics? I think not. This is an excellent a good example of how non-Jewish sensibilities and, in this case, vocabulary, have become so ingrained in assimilated Jewish culture. This is really my main point: Western cultural sensibilities and world views do not equal Jewish ones (neither do Eastern ones), and are also not necessarily compatible with Jewish ones. We definitely want to accept the non-Jewish hachma, though.

Yes I have read things by R. Meir Kahane and it is not to my taste.

Not to your taste? I would imagine there are many Torah-based writings which are not to your taste.

I read things by his followers and it absolutely disgusts me. No offense.

None taken. I most certainly do not agree with many things his followers have written as well, and would be happy to elaborate off-comments section.

As I mentioned above, I am not led by my taste nor by hashqafah (Pre-existing points of view of the world), nor by feelings. I do my best to be led by halakha, whether I "feel" an affinity to it, not. Being led by feelings, and what's culturally acceptable is Western, not Jewish. Jews are supposed to be guided by Torah, that includes the Oral Torah, which has been so often distorted and played with by anti-Torah forces as well as those who claim to fly the flag of Torah.

So, who do I decide to listen to? I listen to those rabbanim who can back up their positions of what they believe the halakha to be with sources which can hold up to scrutiny and debate. Rabbanim who say "da'as Torah," which IMO means because I said so, and is not a halakhic source by any means, I have no time for.

With rabbanim refusing to answer reason questions from the public (Can I go onto Har HaBayith? Does Judea and Samaria belong to Jews or to Arabs? Can I eat bendable matzah and qitniyoth during Pesah?) with reasonable explanations, it's no wonder that Jews are turned off by Judaism. If you can read my Passover post.

Ben-Yehudah said...

I am glad to see you have been paying attention and understand how to apply my models of discourse. At the moment Esser is no immediate threat. He is not in political power and he is physically far away from me. Also I am not yet certain that he believes his own ideology and has taken his beliefs to their logical conclusion. If these factors were to change I would very seriously consider a turn to violence before I allowed him to be in direct control over my life. In the meantime I will focus on the more immediate threats to my personal well-being such as politicians who believe they know what is in my interest better than I do.

Violence? Interesting. In 10 years, more than half of 18 year olds in Israel will be religious. (Some say in 2030). What will happen if you decide to move here, and the K'nesseth starts passing laws that you don't like, even though the precious, Democratic concept of "majority rules" has spoken? Will you consider violence? Would you consider violence against an Arab who wants to kill you, and wipe your country off the face of the Earth? What about toward a Christian missionary who has successfully convinced a family member of yours to believe in their nonsense? Or just toward Jews who believe differently than you?

And, I thought that "Kahanists" were supposed to crazy and violent. So much for stereotypes! ;-)

Incidentally, I heard it said in R' Binyamin Kahane's hy"d name that settlers should not be concerned with public image. Let the Leftists and non-Jews think that we're nuts. Then maybe they'll leave us alone.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Chris, I have considered what you have said, mainly because I am forbid to teach non-Jews Torah sheb'al Peh (Oral Law). Fortunately, a fellow blogger pointed out to me that this should not deter me from pointing out aspects of Torah sheb'al Peh to ignorant Jews. So, you can read what I write, or not.

Izgad said...

Sorry for the delay in responding to you.
No you have not directly threatened me, though, as I see it, I would have reason to fear that if people like you ever gained a position of political authority over me they would declare me to be an inauthentic Jew and target me with violence.
Where does the Torah place an obligation on private individuals to establish a coercive State to interfere in the private lives of individuals, particularly considering that such an action means putting one’s life in danger? I must assume that anyone I target with government coercion will retaliate with violence. The Torah does not command me to sacrifice my life in order to establish a theocracy and kill other people who commit idolatry and adultery.
I see politics as a pragmatic means of negotiating differences. There is nothing particularly Jewish about this just as there is nothing particularly Jewish in how I put out my garbage. You deny that there are things that exist in the realm of reshut. You cannot justify that in terms of Jewish sources so your very act of trying is, itself, not Jewish.

Izgad said...

I like to think of myself as a religious person so even if the majority of Israeli youth are religious this should not automatically mean that they will try to create a theocracy. To make sure that does not happen I support the passing of a Bill of Rights to protect life, liberty and property. Like the Founding Fathers I have a healthy fear of democracy and wish to keep it in check.

Ben-Yehudah said...

Um,...I don't think there a delay at all. I took quite some time to get back to you, too, remember?

I will reply privately next week.

I would be interested in continuing this conversation, but privately.

Would that be ok?

Anyone, since all of my views are already out there for scrutiny, it wouldn't be like I was hiding anything but discussing this with you privately.

;-)

Izgad said...

As you wish. :)