The National Non-Sectarian Council of Pro-Family Activists
Rabbi David Eidensohn - Director - Contact - 1-845-352-7267
(Used by Rabbi Eidensohn's permission on CR's Range)
A Commentary by
Rabbi David Eidensohn
Some Iraqis cheered American/coalition forces saving them from the brutal tyranny of Saddam Hussein, and yet tens of thousands of Americans demonstrated, even being arrested, to protest this war. Can people really protest freedom from enslavement by a murderer? If they go to American colleges, and are influenced by American intellectuals, they surely can. In the thirties, if you were not Red, you were not read. No prominent intellectual protested Stalin's mass-murders. How is it that idealistic people who prize reason can hate those who fight Stalin and Hussein? Obviously, Western intellectualism is flawed. Our youth, in order to earn, must first learn perversity at college. It is a miracle that America has survived the poisons of this indoctrination. On the other hand, America has suffered. If family is declining, if marriage is disappearing, if gender issues are what they are, the colleges and intellectuals have a lot to do with it.
No, this is not an article bashing the intellectuals. It is much worse than that. I would never have dared write it, until I read today in the New York Times Magazine a Paul Berman article about Sayyid Qutb, the major philosopher of Islam terror. Berman says that the people who train little children to blow up other children and themselves are not mindless religious fanatics. Their philosopher, one Sayyid Qutb (Kuh-tahb), was a brilliant intellectual, and his fanaticism is informed by legitimate questions about the failures of Western civilization. Mr. Berman concludes his excellent article by warning us that terrorism is created by thinkers. The people involved in the September 11 bombings were well-educated, wealthy and idealistic. Their system is based upon arduous thought, which requires them to kill anyone who does not do as they demand. If we do not answer their complaints, we may not prevail. Mr. Berman issues a clarion call to philosophers to answer Mr. Qutb. The news today is that an American soldier who converted to Islam killed and wounded many American soldiers in Iraq. If we cannot win the war of ideas, will our children destroy us?
In a previous piece I mentioned an article by David Kupelian, the editor of World Net Daily. He described a poll that showed many Protestant clergy, in the ninety and eighty percentile, who did not believe in basic Christian theology. Mr. Kupelian concluded his article that we must accept that Western religion is divided into hundreds and even thousands of conflicting teachings, but somehow, within us, we are required to know the will of G-d. This is the biggest problem of all. If I figure out the mind of G-d, I am either G-d or an idiot. People cannot know what G-d wants unless He tells them. Furthermore, if G-d's Will is what anyone thinks it is, and there is no clear standard, then Sayyid Qutb can invoke the Islam Shariah-Law and stone to death an adulterer, or "for unmarried men and women it is flogging, a hundred lashes, which in cases is fatal." For those who are a threat to society "their punishment is to be put to death, to be crucified, to have their hands and feet cut off, or to be banished from the country." Of course, whoever does not agree with these laws is a "threat to society."
We thus have a Western religion that is splintered and an Eastern religion that is focused and ferocious. None of this is encouraging, but in the West we have another problem: The Western religion is in an unstable state. A few years ago I spoke to a senior Orthodox rabbi about the gay lobby issues, and he reassured me: "Don't worry, the Catholics will take care of it." I explained to him that times have changed. The Bishop of Maine fought for the Gay Rights Law there, and elsewhere, the activists tell me that the Church will make a statement here or there, but does not get involved in a meaningful manner. The change was so fast that few could believe it. There are mighty internal battles in Western religion, pushing the right and left farther apart, which ratchets up the discord and chaos to new levels.
Let us return to Mr. Berman's article on "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror" (NYT 3/22/03). Pan-Arabists and the Islamists want to return to the days of the caliphate when Moslems dominate the world. Some Pan-Arabists feel that Arabs must emulate the Nazi example of racial superiority over those who are not Arabs. The Islamists see the caliphate as a state where the police enforce strict Moslem law. Neither of these groups have any tolerance for those who disagree with their religious and racial ideas. Sayyid Qutb is an Islamist who preaches violence and even suicide.
Sayyid Qutb claims that the West has failed to find happiness; indeed, the wealthiest countries were the most dissatisfied. Mr. Berman mentions that other philosophers have asked the same question, and concluded that the problem lies in ancient Greece, when the philosophers extolled reason and technology to a point that it conflicted with natural life, thereby producing anxiety and conflict. Mr. Qutb disagrees. He says that G-d gave a Law to the Jews. However, under the Jews, the Law withered into "a system of rigid and lifeless ritual." Christianity made a serious error and rejected the Law of Israel and embraced the philosophy of the Greeks, "the belief in a spiritual existence completely separate from physical life, a zone of pure spirit." Qutb says that when Constantine joined the Roman Empire to Christianity, the royal pomp and immorality conflicted with the need of natural religious living, and pushed the Christians into the other extreme, the monastery. This produced schizophrenia in Western civilization it never solved, ultimately separating one's daily life from spiritual regulation. The proper world order will be when the caliphate controls the daily doings of people in their mundane activities, and has complete control over all aspects of life. Anytime a part of life is not controlled by the caliphate and religion, this produces conflict. A person utterly unified in one force is free to find happiness.
Mr. Qutb says that happiness is being enslaved to a police state that regulates every private matter. Who is happy at that point? Only the people who believe, without the police, that this is the right way to live. The other ones are miserable. So how does the pursuit of happiness lead to forcing people to be happy? Secondly, Mr. Qutb claims that G-d gave the Law to the Jews, but that it became in their hand a "rigid and lifeless ritual." If that is the whole problem, let Mr. Qutb become a Jew, and infuse elasticity and life into ritual. That is a lot more humane than blowing up school buses. Also, why is G-d not as brilliant as Mr. Qutb? G-d made a mistake to give the Law to the Jews and Mr. Qutb will rectify it? What deity does Mr. Qutb believe in, someone he invented and can criticize? G-d "is not a man to change His mind," as the Scriptures say. Even if Mr. Qutb's complaint about Jews is valid, and we have to be suspicious hearing this from a ferocious anti-Semite, still, even if Israel failed in their rituals, does this mean that every time Israel fails someone may come along and re-invent G-d's Will, make a new religion and then kill everyone who won't accept it?
Mr. Qutb says that Judaism received G-d's Law but it withered into "a system of rigid and lifeless ritual." Is it wrong for people to obey G-d's rituals "rigidly"? I don my tephilin, two boxes with leather straps, on my head and arm because G-d told me to do it. How am I to do this without rigidity"? Mr. Qutb says that when I put on my tephilin I am engaging in "lifeless ritual." If G-d commanded us to wear tephilin, as it says in the bible, and G-d is pleased with this ritual, how can it be "lifeless"? The rituals, far from being lifeless, are the source of life. We invoke, by these rituals, very spiritual Life forces that connect us with infinity, and raise us to ethereal dimensions of holiness. Without these additional incentives, the ritual has a revealed purpose. We constantly remind ourselves of our obligation to G-d by putting on tephilin and other such practices. Thinking of G-d, a process produced by the rituals, is itself a deeply rewarding experience. It is hard to put on tephilin and then go yell at someone or get drunk. Those who don tephilin every day would never consider the rituals to be without life and meaning. Furthermore, G-d rewards those who obey His rituals with His Presence, as our lives become suffused with the Shechina-holiness.
Note that those who broke with Judaism railed against "rituals." A religion of rituals is one with clearly defined rules, and all people are equal. Judaism received from G-d a Law where all people are equivalent, and all do the same rituals. Jews don't need humans to rule them and raise them, although all pious Jews seek out, on their own, without the police reminding them, the presence of the pious and their guidance. In this, Judaism clashed head-on with Plato, who believed that only a few "philosopher-kings" could reveal the light to the masses of people who lived "in the cave." Judaism clashed with Plato because he believed that material things are unimportant, and we must raise the reality of materialism to a mystical level of "forms." Plato's apple is not worthy of the philosopher and so he created a fictitious "form of the apple" to sanitize it from material reality. The democratic councils of Israel, where scholars and saints sat all day in the study hall studying the Torah and performing acts of kindness was not what Plato had in mind. He wanted a powerful elite to control a mob of the masses, and each person would be a cog in the machine of Plato's society. This is the complete antithesis of Judaism where each individual is "in the image of G-d." A major debate in the Talmud was decided by the remarks of two launderers. Jews are and have always been a people who have no use for strong dictators, as King David said, "It is easier to control the entire world than two Jewish thinkers." The Jewish glory was "each under his grapevine and fig-tree," minding his own business, raising a family, participating in society and performing the rituals. The Greeks would never consider this the proper way. The Greek hero had a sword. Alexander the Great had plenty to eat in his own country, but he had to massacre thousands of people to show his "greatness" in India and Persia. The religions that broke with Judaism didn't do so because of a flaw in Judaism, but because they wanted to dominate the world with the sword. The quiet Jewish Temple, "My House a place of prayer for all of the nations," was not for them.
We know almost nothing about what the earliest Christians were like, because the first recorded teachings of the Church were in Greek and written decades after the events they describe. We do know, however, that a favorite Christian pastime was going into the Temple to throw over the tables where people changed money and sold pigeons. What could be so terrible about people changing money for all of the pilgrims who traveled from all over the world to offer sacrifices in the Temple? What is so terrible about selling pigeons for the Temple ritual? Nobody knows. Perhaps, in line with our discussion, we can understand. Those who broke with Judaism did so because of its rituals. The Temple was the "great ritual." Therefore, it was the target. The new religions wanted a religion without ritual, so that the powerful personality of the "philosopher-king" could control things and be the sole spiritual source, and the "masses" would be in the "cave." Christianity has gone through many stages, and has defined and redefined the deity, unfazed. The idea was never to have a clear understanding. That is for "rigid ritual" religions. The Greek idea that influenced Christianity was for a religion to empower the leader as the intermediary between the "cave-dwellers" and heaven. As long as people knew who the leader was, the head of the Church, nobody cared what the religion was, how it defined its deity, or anything else.
When we see people like Sayyid Qutb telling us how terrible ritual religions are, we know how important they are. When we hear Sayyid Qutb tell us about "lifeless ritual" we know what kind of life he has in mind.
When we read about Sayyid Qutb we understand a lot about the crisis in the West in religion and lifestyle. At one time the Church agreed with Sayyid Qutb. The Church turned the police against anyone who didn't practice Christianity. A nineteenth century Pope sent his police to steal a Jewish child. If Christianity is a world religion, it got there with the sword, and this is true of Islam as well. People were simply forced to convert. Then these religions preach "love" and "peace" and are not embarrassed. This lasted until the Second World War. Afterwards, people realized that the slaughters in Europe had a lot to do with the Church. The Church began to do damage control. This led to a war between conservatives and liberals. We cannot understand what is going on in America, Europe and the West regarding family and religion until we know this.
I am reading a book "Constantine's Sword: the Church and the Jews: A History" by James Carroll, a Catholic priest. It shows that the Church from the beginning taught hate of Jews. It mentions that Martin Luther cursed the Jews even on his deathbed. I didn't need to read the book, actually. In my childhood we used to play together, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, until one day Billy Wilson went to parochial school. Then he came back, not to play with us, but to curse us Jews. Jewish boys couldn't play against a baseball team, because Jerry, the son of a preacher, would throw at a Jew's head. This was after the Holocaust. Imagine what it was like before the Holocaust.
This is the crisis of the West. Its religion is unstable and revealed for teaching hate. Today, teaching hate is just not acceptable. Thus, religion bends over backwards not to be seen as bigoted, and thus refuses to get involved too much with the gay issue, to fight Gay Rights. In the West we have the following situation: Consumption is so high that the mother cannot stay home and take care of children. Once women have to be in the marketplace she cannot be in the family. The tension in this kind of lifestyle and the confusion about gender role deeply damages family so that genders are unsure and are at war. Heterosexuality is so threatened by the misery of people even sexually that some feel the solution is homosexuality. The future of the West is therefore one without the solace and peace of family. Without family, what is there? Therefore, when some mass-murderer like Sayyid Qutb comes to an American and talks about the glory of family and community, people convert. The major successful religions are not the ones that are the most rational, but those that offer inducements such as a warm community. The beliefs, almost by definition, can be mystical and irrational, and religion is accepted by some as such. Once spirituality is defined by a sad world as Sayyid Qutb defines it, murder becomes a virtue, and kindness an evil.
The West has not failed by elevating reason. The West has failed by promoting mysticism over reason and calling that, wrongly, "reason." Plato was not interested in truth. He wanted mystery. Truth can be understood by all people. Mystery is known only to those who invent it. If professors in college teach people insane ideas, they are merely following Plato who said in effect, "Keep it weird, or the masses will participate."
The Greeks had two great philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Plato, as we mentioned before, despised the material world and dealt with mystery and the power of the philosopher-king to invent "truth" and control others with his monopoly on mysticism. Aristotle, on the other hand, founded Western science. What did Aristotle say about Plato's social ideas? Aristotle had a problem. He was not a mystic, and so could not follow Plato's philosopher-king and masses-in-the-cave program. But could an empiricist accept the ridiculous notion that only the elite could think? How did Aristotle justify free males enslaving everyone else? Aristotle explained in his Politics: "The slave does not possess the faculty of deliberation at all; the female possesses it but in an indecisive form; and the child possesses it but in an imperfect form." Thus, free males dominate slaves and women. If Einstein were enslaved, would he still think logically? The Greek talked about reason, but ultimately, his "reason" was more about empowering the advantaged.
Plato wrote in The Republic that society has three levels of people, those best fitted for reason, those best suited to fighting, and those who seek pleasure. This last group he despised and wrote of them that they, "delight in fine voices and colors and shapes and everything that art fashions from that sort of things, but their minds are incapable of seeing and delighting in the nature of the beautiful itself." They may not take part in ruling or defending the state. What is so terrible about people who love the beautiful voice or the beautiful object? This makes them sub-human? Plato wanted beauty to be invented, just as he wanted his apple to be invented as the "form of the apple" because he despised the real apple. The person of "reason" rejects the pleasure of beauty and finds pleasure only in what he invents with his mind and what is not real. This is the ultimate corruption of the mind. It replaces reality with fiction, and to add insult to injury, calls it truth. The scions of Plato promoted wonderful phrases like "reason" or "love" or "peace" and this always meant the opposite.
The Greeks taught us to lie for power and call it reason. Those who follow Plato run the colleges and teach that Stalin was good. Those who follow Plato shriek that America is evil and support Saddam Hussein. The Gay Lobby passed the HIV Confidentiality Laws that are the ultimate Plato Big Lie. New York State, California, Florida and other Gay Lobby states declared that AIDS and HIV are not infectious diseases. Of course, you don't believe this. So I suggest a scientific experiment. Go to the website of New York State and check the list of Infectious Diseases, those diseases that the state considers a threat. AIDS and HIV are not on the list. Why? Because the Gay Lobby doesn't want public health doctors to quarantine people who have HIV and infect. For this, hundreds and thousands of people are infected, because the Gay Lobby pushes death and the politicians sign on to it.
We must confront the Big Lie. We must not allow the fanatics to rationalize with intellectual tricks enslaving and harming of others. We must be free of the elite who proclaim their inventions as "light" to the human "masses-in-the-cave." There is only one cave, and that is where true reason is corrupted.
T O P
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