Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Covenant and Anti-Semitism

I found a clipping of the below article stuck in an old Jewish history book my grandfather gave me. Because the article is so old, I had to hand type the article to make it available on the World Wide Web. The article isn’t perfect, but I like it enough to re-print it. ================= Article Title: Label Origins Misinterpreted Publication Date: Unknown Author: Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) ================= Stepping off the plane in Chicago, we were assailed by a high, cold wind blowing off the lake. “I see now,” said a fellow passenger, “why Chicago is called the windy city.” But he didn’t see at all. Chicago began being called the windy city for a political, not a meteorological, reason. It is only about the 35th in wind velocity among U.S. cities--but the name alone convinces visitors of its windiness, and thus the myth perpetuates itself indefinitely. Much the same happens to other misnomers that get stuck in the public mind—the most long-term and tragic, perhaps, being the epithet “the chosen people,” as applied to the Jews throughout history. The ignorant and the prejudiced (who are often the same) imagine that this is a name taken by the Jews themselves to signify their superiority and their favoritism in the eyes of G-d. But this is a blatant misreading of the Bible. In the [Tanakh], the Jews were “chosen” as an example by G-d, not as a specimen of superiority. They were…judged more harshly than other peoples, because they had been given His word and were expected to live up to it. This was a dreadful burden, more than an unalloyed honor. It was like a school principal picking one pupil out of a class and saying: “You understand the rules here. If you follow them, and behave yourself, and act as a good example for the others, I will see that you get high grades and are taken care of. If not, then I’ll punish you as an example to the others of what will happen to them.” Unlike most historical books, which show the nation in the best possible light, the [Tanakh] includes all the diatribes of the Hebrew prophets, who castigate the Israelites for failing to live up to G-d’s expectations. “I will visit all your iniquities upon you,” G-d is quoted as saying, by Amos—and it is this sense of being responsible to G-d that has shaped the Jewish character, even among those no longer consciously believe it. Being chosen can be a scarring and even deforming experience—just contemplate the reaction of the other children in school toward the one who is arbitrarily selected to be the model! The day the covenant was drawn up was the first day of anti-Semitism


Blogger Stevin said...

That's a terrific article. I love being Jewish, despite the world's hatred. I may fail, but HaShem is merciful.

12/12/2005 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report said...

yeah i liked it too, so i thought, what the heck, i'll type the thing out.

12/12/2005 03:00:00 PM  

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