Thursday, August 29, 2013

800 Words: Assimilation - Part 1 - Jews Among Jews

I never feel like a Jew unless I’m around goyim. Jewish values have done me little but ill in my life. They are the values of a scared old man who is convinced that all things new will lead him to the grave. Jewish values are the ultimate values of conservatism, conservation, and conventionality. It is a binding set of laws so profuse, so extraordinarily constricting, that there is almost no chance for a Jew who grows up Jewish to live a life undefined by his view of it. Ultimately, a Jew either accepts Jewish law, or he rebels, and Judaism’s greatest revenge upon Jews who rebel against their upbringing is that there is no freedom from such a choice. “Recovering Christians” can’t help living a life with a gnawing fear that their rebellion will lead them to eternal fire - but, of course, there is probably no such fire waiting for them, so they can ultimately absolve themselves of regret. But “recovering Jews” live life merely with the gnawing fear that they’ve lived their life completely wrongly, but since there’s well-nigh indisputable proof that life as we perceive it exists, ‘recovering Jews’ can never absolve themselves of regret, and only fear that their lives have been wasted. In this way as so many others, Judaism makes more modest claims to its adherents than other religions, and those modest claims bind the religion to those born into it so much more effectively than any adherent is bound to more popular religions.

If you’re naturally a rule-bender living within such a hidebound community, you’re shit out of luck. So long as you live within a community of Jews, you are destined to be nothing more than a Jew among Jews - watching from a dungeon shut as firmly as Joseph’s while the well-behaved among your sect are anointed to ascend like the angels of Jacob’s Ladder to levels of glory beyond anything to which you could ever aspire. But should you ‘leave the nest’, are the circumstances any better? You are a speck in a wider world, adrift among a people you don’t understand, with uncommon frames of reference, values, culture, and worldview. So many times, one looks at this world of ‘them’, full of debased corruption on one hand and deranged fanaticism on the other, and one sees precisely why Judaism was so adamant about doing everything to shield its practitioners from the wider world. Is the wider world any better?

Judaism is the religion of displacement. It is a religion designed to build a home for people in countries where home does not exist. 65 years after Israel’s founding and 46 years Jerusalem’s reunification, Israel and Jerusalem are still immaterial concepts - perfect places of the mind and spirit, whose physical reality cannot help but pale next to the perfect kingdom of our imaginings. Unlike Christianity and Islam, home is an imagined concept for Jews. All homes are temporary ones until the coming of the Moshiach (Messiah), who has tarried for more than two thousand years. Home for Christianity and Islam is firstly the next world, and secondly in any place where a person’s particular brand of Christendom or Islam rules unchallenged. But home for Jews is the Torah, we have and shall always be a people of The Book, and therefore, home can only exist in our state of mind - a state of mind which is trained more acutely more often than in any other religion because we are the only religion to which a book is more important than any physical space.

Perhaps the ‘secret’ to ‘Jewish success’ is found within that state of mind. Because the ‘Torah’ is our chiefest ‘joy’ and ‘consolation’ and ‘glory’, we are a ‘defeated’ people. Between Vespasian and Ben-Gurion, we inhabited no physical space to call our own. And therefore, we had to settle for a temporary home whose circumstances inevitably disappointed us. Because whenever we ‘settle’ for a home to which we do not aspire, it is no longer our home. And whenever Jews settle for a home we don’t want, they escaped into the ‘glorious’ world of teaching, doctrine, instruction, custom, theory, guidance, and system which Judaism entails. So long as the home of Judaism only exists within the mind, it can never be corrupted or blemished - and this spiritual home without physical form has lasted virtually unchanged for two-thousand years as material civilizations Islamic and Christian, Pagan and Secular, died their material deaths. The home of Judaism is immortal, and is therefore that much more disappointing a home for millions and millions of Jews throughout the eons.

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