3/18/07

Total Gibberish from Cross-Currents

Lord knows! I have tried to understand the columns that are run in the uber-frum blog Cross-currents.

I cannot decode the utterly private discourse that takes place there. Example from inside yesterday's entry, "All criticism is not the same" by Jonathan Rosenblum -
CHAREIDI MISGIVINGS ABOUT MODERN DAY ISRAEL are an altogether different matter. Truth be told, the chareidi world has long since made its peace with Israel, in one way or another – and for a reason that highlights the differences between the chareidi critique and that of the progressives.

Israel is today home to almost half the world’s Jews and over half the world’s Jewish children. For that simple reason alone, chareidi Jews worldwide are deeply concerned about Israel’s security however dismayed they may be about the internal direction of the country. Precisely because they do not doubt for a minute that the entire world depends on the existence of the Jewish people are they ardent defenders of Israel’s security.

In this respect, I have found little difference between the 16th Ave. Telshe minyan in Boro Park and the average Modern Orthodox shul in Teaneck. The latter may have a few more members convinced that they have security expertise worth sharing with Israel’s prime ministers and generals and the former may worry a bit more about kiruv in the Holy Land, but, in general, the sense of involvement in Israel’s fate does not differ greatly between the two.
I have to admit for the life of me I have not the slightest clue as to what the author of these paragraphs is trying to say. I do know that he mentions Teaneck. But that's about where I stop understanding what is the point of the editorializing.

For the edification of the masses, Cross-Currents is the blog of Agudah types who have successfully made the transition from Yiddish to English.

That could be a good thing except for the sad fact that now that we can read the rhetoric in English, we discover that it comprises compete gibberish.

Added Sunday: To be fair to the writer I will elaborate.

When you start off saying that: I am going to prove to you that although they are both fruits, apples are not oranges, that's a vain oath, and a waste of our time. And when you conclude saying that apples are not oranges and will never become oranges, that is fair for us to ridicule.

So to start with RJR says that although both are anti-Zionists, Haredis are not Progressives. And to conclude he announces, "In short, chareidi and progressive critiques of Israel start at diametrically opposite points and will never meet." Aside from the fact that he has nothing to prove and has spent 23 paragraphs and 1800 words doing this, his speculation is pointless. We've just witnessed Haredim parading around with our Iranian enemies. Who is RJR to say that Haredim won't start showing up at Tony Judt's lectures?

Okay, so much for the main vain thrust of the gibber-essay. Let's look at the other non-arguments, insults and snide remarks that cross our way through these currents.

To begin with I find it objectionable that RJR puts sneering quotation marks around the label Progressives. How do I know it is sneering? Well he does not offer us the same punctuation for chareidim. Then he announces to us that these ensneered Progressives "Will have no answer to the question" - "Why is the continued existence of the Jewish people necessary in the 20th century?" We are seven years into the 21st century now. Oops, just sloppy. How does one make such a sloppy mistake? We suppose RJR was in a hurry to hurl out the invective, the insinuation that Progressives would like to see the destruction of the Jewish people - not just the State of Israel - the Jewish people!

Backtrack with me one paragraph. RJR quotes a Rabbinic tome that teaches the rabbi's views on whether it is allowable to deal with the Zionists: "Participation in the government is forbidden" and RJR tells us that it is a "transgression" which is okay as long as you are ill-mannered, to wit, participation, "Must be done without giving more respect to [anti-Torah leaders] than necessary. "

Now I'm glad to allow for all sorts of opinions from all sorts of rabbis. But RJR tells me that this one, "Remains the classic exposition of the halachic parameters of participation in the Israeli government." No sir. That is not a fact. To state it as if it were undisputed is to seek to mislead. Participation in the State of Israel in all ways is sanctioned and encouraged in my opinion and based on the views of great halakhic authorities. RJR is simply stating a narrow and bigoted view as if it were a universal halakhic truth.

To continue RJR does not like George Soros whom he quotes as follows, 'Soros, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, once famously told Connie Bruck in The New Yorker, “I don’t deny the Jews their right to a national existence – but I don’t want to be part of it.”' Somehow RJR manages to twist this clear quote with his interpretation - a rather crafty exegesis - "To declare that one has no wish to be part of Jewish national existence is tantamount to declaring that one sees no particular value in the continuation of that national existence."

By that logic I could say the following. Many Orthodox Jews say a weekly prayer for G-d to protect the State of Israel. The Chareidim do not say it. That is "tantamount to declaring" that they do not want G-d to protect the State of Israel, i.e., they seek the destruction of the State of Israel.

Well, let's turn with RJR to the next way of "denying any value to Jewish national existence," namely intermarriage. I don't know how he jumps to this. I'll call it stream of gibberish.

Next we get to the belittling of Progressives for telling us they are Jewish and for claiming to be brave for speaking out and for complaining about attempts to stifle their criticisms. That is rhetoric and believe me - the Chareidim have their counterpart rhetoric - it is as empty as any mere rhetoric can be. So we actually have two points to this article now. Apples are not oranges and sour rhetoric is sour.

What troubles me the most is RJR's householder's theology that he drops on us from the sky. As he sees it, "The continued existence of the Jewish people... [is] necessary to the fate of the world."

Let's call this CE Theology, apparently the main theology of the Chareidim, as RJR puts it, "Precisely because they do not doubt for a minute that the entire world depends on the [continued] existence of the Jewish people are they ardent defenders of Israel’s security."

In the world of CE Theology the whole point of our being here is to continue being here. "If the Jewish people is to fulfill its world mission, it must first survive. And because Torah Jews believe in that world mission they urge Israel to follow the principle of “the one who comes to kill you, rise up and kill him [first],” towards those who remain committed to expelling all the Jews of Israel from their homes. And it does not matter, at this point, that those who come to kill us may have real grievances so long as they cannot reconcile themselves with Jewish existence in any part of Eretz Yisrael."

The essay just trails off into streams of rants about not allowing "Degel HaTorah to join a Rabin government with Shulamit Aloni as Minister of Education" and then winds up at El Al's Shabbos flights. I cannot follow this winding train of thought.

But I am troubled by one last RJR nonsequiteur: "Israel may not be in our eyes 'the Jewish state,' and certainly not 'the first flowering of the Redemption.' But it is perceived as 'the Jewish state' by many Jews around the world."

Dear readers. I can assure you of a fact. Israel is the Jewish State and has been for 58 years. It is so sad to me to see a fellow religious Jew deny that historical fact - as RJR does - and deny to Medinat Yisrael any religious significance other than admitting it is a place for Jews to "continue to exist".

So this essay is utter gibberish, sad gibberish.

5 comments:

Shmendrik said...

"I have to admit for the life of me I have not the slightest clue as to what the author of these paragraphs is trying to say. I do know that he mentions Teaneck. But that's about where I stop understanding what is the point of the editorializing."

You're being deliberately obtuse, right? He's simply saying that as far as he can tell, Chareidim (Telshe/Boro Park) and modern Orthodox Jews care equally about Israel.

Tzvee said...

Not what I see there. This is not an essay. It is a cholent.

Bryce said...

"For the edification of the masses, Cross-Currents is the blog of Agudah types who have successfully made the transition from Yiddish to English."

That's supposed to be a joke, right? Most of the writers grew up in English speaking households.

Bryce said...

Tzvee, you wrote:

"In the world of CE Theology the whole point of our being here is to continue being here."

Meanwhile, RJR wrote:
"If the Jewish people is to fulfill its world mission, it must first survive."

Did your jaundiced view of RJR blind you to the word "first," leading you to set up a ridiculous strawman?

Tzvee said...

His whole article is a tilt at straw men. We all presume to exist. The quality of Jewish life is the real issue and these guys deny the reality and meaning of the State of Israel after 58 years of its being.