Monday, December 24, 2007

A good sermon

What I would not give to hear a good sermon on Shabbos. Alas, it is not my destiny.

The latest gem:

Jacob's burial is interrupted by Esau who comes out of nowhere to dispute Jacob's ownership of his burial plot. Naphtali, who seems to have almost supernatural speed runs back to Egypt to retrieve the deed to the plot which would prove ownership, when Hushim ben Dan, Jacob's grandson, a deaf man, asks what's going on. When the situation is explained to him, he acts by decapitating Esau to defend his grandfather's honor(Gemorah in Sota 13).

Now I must admit, I was intrigued at this point about where this was going to lead. I mean, what moral can you learn from such a story? Esau, being Jacob's twin, is no spring chicken at his 130 years of age. Basically, an old man shows up and starts arguing a stupid point about something that happened decades ago. Instead of waiting to peacefully resolve the situation, someone bashes his brains in, and then they go on with their business.

OK, so you can take a Kahanist angle, I suppose, and argue for national pride, for taking crap from nobody, even from your uncle. But here is where our rabbi took us all by surprise. At this point, he switched gears and proclaimed that the biggest concern that Jacob had was for his sons to all get along with one another, and it really pained him that the brothers threw Joseph into the pit. All you need is love, tum tada tada...



Blogger Miri said...

I've heard those before. It's really hard to take people seriously when they lack cohesive thought processes deliberately in a public forum.

December 25, 2007 1:29 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

The midrash in and of itself is quite interesting. I wonder if you could tie in the halachic principle that deaf people were considered legally incompetant, like minors or the insane. In which case, the midrash could be critiquing Chushim's behavior, contrasting it to the more legally responsible path of Naftali...

Or not. It just goes to show that you can really do just about anything you want with midrashim.

December 25, 2007 5:58 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Miri, you are so right. It's painful.

Tobie, I thought of the halachic status of deaf-mutes as well when I first heard this. Of course, I couldn't get the image of Darth Vader's head rolling into the cave out of my mind, which spoiled the mood the rabbi was trying to get us into.

December 25, 2007 8:11 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

Darth Vader's head? Oh that second Star Wars film...

Uh... yeah.

I'm just still feeling sad for the whole Esau thing and all the theological gyrations to make it into a good thing. I like Rabbi Rosen's bravery in posting (made small to avoid the Blogger wrap issue).

Though the Darth Vader thing is now going to be stuck in my head.

December 26, 2007 3:46 PM  

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