Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Texts and Subtexts

For the record, tonight is the Fifth Night of Chanukah. My prior post, which was done the Third Night of Chanukah, did not even mention Chanukah. This is not in any way a derogation of the holiday, nor an indication that my family and I are sitting out the holiday. But this Blog was not established as a "me, too" vehicle. Like most of the Jewish community, we have found the holiday quite enjoyable this year, as usual. I have nothing to add to Debbie Schlussel's take on it, other than to say that my menorah (or, more properly, Chanukiyah) collection pales in comparison to Debbie's.

And, of course, to wish all a Happy Chanukah!!

Anent to this post, there are arrangements in Israel called Hesder Yeshiva arrangements, whereby yeshiva students alternate between learning for a few months and serving in the Israeli army for a few months. Yes, there are more than a few of the so-called "Charedi" Jews who actually serve in the military; moreover, they tend, like our Maccabee forebears, to be very effective and valiant as soldiers.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who heads the Har Bracha Yeshiva, stepped across the line. Rabbi Melamed advocated that his students refuse to carry out such Israeli Army orders as would expel Jews from the areas where, for political reasons, a housing freeze has been decreed. Melamed's yeshiva has been terminated from the hesder program, and now, the Rabbi is a hero amongst the more religiously observant communities.

To dispense with some collateral issues:

(A) The notion of civil disobedience by Israel's soldiers is certainly disturbing, for it imperils the chain of command discipline so vital to the success of the military forces that defend the land against vicious and sworn enemies. On the other hand, I believe, along with Rabbi Melamed, that NO portion of the Land of Israel, G-d's gift to the Jewish people, should, under any circumstances, be made Judenrein. There is a trade-off to be made here, the valuation and calculation of which I shall do, if at all, in some future endeavor.

(B) Many of the Hesder Yeshiva students are Americans. For various individual reasons, the Israeli Army is more appropriate for some people than the U.S. Army. No nation has ever been entirely comfortable with its citizens or subjects serving in other nations' armed forces (unless such service also happens to serve the sovereign interest, such as when Landgraf Frederick of Hesse-Cassel rented out his Hessian soldiers to England during the Revolutionary War). But those who defend Israel also defend America, and indeed, Israel takes much of the flak that otherwise would hit American land and people.


But I digress. The intended observation of this posting is that, notwithstanding the enmity and antipathy in many rabbinical circles towards modern communications technology in general and towards text messaging in particular (see here, here and here), text messaging technologies were used more than sparsely to announce, and draw the welcoming crowd for, Rabbi Melamed's recent visit to Bat Yam.

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