web analytics
December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘bubble’

Redeeming Relevance: The Desert Bubble: Parshat Shelach

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The affair of the spies is a watershed, not only in the Torah but for Jewish history altogether. It marks a major turning point in the Jews’ relationship with God, severely altering their miraculous march to a utopian communion with Him.

Yet there are many sins that occur in the book of Bemidbar, and were we just to look at the story of the spies without reading the drastic Divine response we might think that it isn’t any worse than many of the other sins in the desert — and certainly not more than that of the golden calf that occurred earlier on.

In order to better understand the sin of the spies, it is helpful to remember that the Jews did not engage in the purely upward ascent that we might expect to find in a journey to the Promised Land. Whatever conditions might have awaited the Jews in the Land of Israel had they not sinned, it was still not likely to be more spiritual and elevated than the direct and daily Divine support and contact that the Jews felt in the desert. Thus the journey “up” to the Holy Land was also a journey down from the very special space that was the wilderness.

On some level, the desert was akin to an ascetic religious order: ‘kulo kodesh,’ entirely sacred. And that was precisely why it was meant to be only a temporary situation. The Jewish calling is to bring sanctity to the real world (See Redeeming Relevance in Genesis, Chapter 5). Mission though it may be, however, it is certainly a more complicated and often less pleasant task than basking in God’s radiant proximity. Hence one can certainly understand the ambivalence of the desert Jews’ having to give up their spiritual cocoon in order to take on the mission God wanted them to embark upon. In light of this, we can understand the latent unpopularity the spies’ mission engendered.

And with the above in mind, we can differentiate between the sin of the spies and the Jewish people’s many earlier sins. Their previous transgressions had mostly been those of ambivalence toward the novel and rarified wilderness experience. They were unaccustomed to and clearly intimidated by the conditions of their Divine journey. The Jews didn’t know where to find water in the desert, so they complained. Instead of manna they wanted “real food,” so they complained.

Even the golden calf can be seen as a protest against the rigors of worshiping an overly elevated God, One too far removed from the tangible and corporeal idols that many had worshiped in Egypt. Although they did not expect to go back to idol worship in the Promised Land, still the Jews had good reason to expect a more physical worship of God, something that would align more with the agricultural existence soon to become central to their lives. In the Land of Israel, the Jewish people’s livelihood would depend on the normal functioning of the seasons as well as on the people’s gifts of thanks to God for a successful harvest via sacrifices and tithes.

Hence all of the nation’s early sins could be forgiven. Mortal, corporeal men and women can be expected to err, and within limits it can be tolerated. The incident of the spies, however, engendered a completely new and apparently more problematic ambivalence — not toward the rarified wilderness, but rather toward the earthly existence which would once again become their lot when they reached the Land of Israel.

The challenge of Judaism is not about soaring to the Heavens; it is about bringing the Heavens down the Earth. Once having experienced the Heavens – as the Jews did at Sinai – it is tremendously tempting to just stay there. And since staying in the Heavens may well be with the spy incident represented, the Torah had to be quite clear how problematic it really was.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

The Advantages of Being in the ‘Israeli Bubble’

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

The Forward has an article claiming that our “Israeli Bubble” is dangerous and shields us from reality.

Ironic, but also predictable. The effectiveness of the barrier is twofold: It has stopped terrorist attacks, and it also has made it possible to live in (West) Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv and pretend that the Occupation doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, this is a delusion — a bubble — with severe consequences. South Jerusalem, after all, is home not just to the German Colony’s liberals, but also to the neocons at the Shalem Center, now Shalem College, who for decades have peddled the idea that there is no hope for peace with the Palestinians, and (in the words of Daniel Gordis, one of Shalem’s most articulate spokesmen) we should settle in for 100 years of occupation. Regrettable, Rabbi Gordis says, but inevitable.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course. Claim that there’s no Palestinian partner, undermine those Palestinians who are, and lo and behold, soon there will be no Palestinian partner. If you will it, the 100-year war will be no dream.

But the real delusion is deeper still: that somehow, the rest of the world will sit idly by and allow this situation to worsen, year after year, decade after decade, without finally turning on Israel. In the bubble of southern Jerusalem, Israel is a complex but miraculous place where kids can play in the street, the Jews have a home and bus drivers read Shakespeare. The matzav, the “situation” with the Palestinians, is an unfortunate side-note to an otherwise complicated, fascinating, problematic, multi-faceted, beautiful, tragic enterprise in Jewish self-determination.

Outside the bubble, however, the Palestinian “situation” is not a side-note but the primary tune. It’s everything else about Israel that is merely secondary. To most of the world, Israel is defining itself by the Occupation, and all the rest is commentary.

I disagree.  I think we see things much more clearly from here.  There are no distortions.  When you look into a “bubble” from the outside you won’t get an accurate view.

Over twenty years ago, when one of my daughters was looking for a place to do Sherut Le’umi, National Service, she and a few friends went to a city they considered far from the then intifada and politics of the yishuvim (Jewish communities in YESHA, Judea, Samaria and Gaza) they lived in.  They just wanted what they imagined to be a “normal” place.  Imagine their surprise when the greatest topic of conversation at the Shabbat table was  happening in YESHA.  At home they didn’t hear as much.

Here in Shiloh we go on with our lives.  The parents of young children are worrying about who will be teaching their kids next year and rushing around to buy books, clothes and school supplies, just like everyone else.

In Yafiz, (and Rami Levy,) Sha’ar Binyamin, where I work, Jews and Arabs are jostling around together shopping.  We’re living proof that people like Jay Michaelson who wrote the Forward article haven’t a clue.  They’re letting their ideology distort their vision.

The calm here isn’t a lie.  The Left and all those who claim that the Arabs will explode in violence aren’t objectively predicting.  They are instigating and encouraging Arab violence by making excuses and rationales for the Arabs.

I’m on the inside.  I work with Arabs.  And if the world, including Israeli Leftists, media, politicians, academics and community workers would just leave things alone we would eventually achieve a true peace.  It will take a long, long time, but it can happen.

True peace can’t be negotiated.  True peace comes from the inside and works its way out.  Faux peace, implemented by “treaties” is external and wears off, like the “democracy” of the “Arab Spring,” which has been proven a deadly farce.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/the-advantages-of-being-in-the-israeli-bubble/2013/08/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: