Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jewish History Never Ends

Daniel Greenfield
Sultan Knish
27 February '10

We all know the famous Santayana quote, "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." But why is it that we are so forgetful that we cannot remember the past, and thus must keep repeating it, over and over again?

Human self-centeredness convinces us of our own specialness and uniqueness, and all too easily fosters the historically fallacious idea that we are living in a unique time and a special age. That we have left behind history with our progress and our achievements, and with our very existence. That we exist now apart from the great roll of human history. And as soon as we become convinced of this idea, the past comes sneaking up on us, dooming us to repeat it.

That is why it is so very dangerous to forget history, to sacrifice the past to our own egotism, to convince ourselves that it doesn't matter anymore. And that is why so many of the Jewish holidays are historical holidays. To observe the Jewish calendar, is to immerse oneself in Jewish history. Its holidays do not simply link the present to the past, they incorporate the past into the present, making them into one great whole.

In the winter, we rise up against an empire and fight for our freedom. In the early spring we are sentenced to death and fight for our lives in the streets of the Persian Empire. We build pyramids for a Pharaoh, feel the lash on our skin and are led out through the Red Sea by the hand of G-d. In the summer our temples fall and we are led into exile. In the fall, we wait out the desert heat of the Exodus in booths as we prepare for our new life. We cannot let go of history, because we are history. It is the history we have carried with us in our calendar, for our holidays and our history are one.

To observe Purim now and hear the Megillah read, is to bear witness to a planned Holocaust that is aborted at the last minute. Someone who comes to sit and hear the Wannsee Conference take place in Persia, 2500 years ago, understands that the Holocaust was not a new development, but a very old one. That is what too many Jews failed to understand in 1939. It is what too many Jews fail to understand in 2010. Because history has never ended. History never ends until it is done.

Then you watch Haman strut on stage, whispering in the king's ear, crowing to his friends, boasting of his power and burning with hate against anyone who will not bow to him-- you hear the ancient echo of Barack Hussein Obama. The man whose gaudy entrances belie his own desperate inadequacy, highlight the hole in his heart that can never be filled with any amount of praise or wealth or power. Who would destroy the Jews simply because his ego demands it. No one who hears and understands the ancient message of the Megillah, would have voted for Obama.

The story of Purim, like the story of Pesach (Passover) and Chanukah, the three great historical Jewish holidays, is the story of unchecked human power pitted against the visible and invisible hand of G-d. They tell of how easily hubris and arrogance in power translate into brutal tyranny and even genocide. But that history too is all around us, Hitler's Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union, Nasser's Great Arab Socialism, Saddam's Iraq, Kim Jong Il's North Korea, and the EU with its Tower of Babel rising to the heavens. And of course Obama and his followers, throwing up their own banners and symbols, holding their heads high and declaring their unlimited power.

History never ends. To forget that is to repeat it. And the great lesson of history is that when men try to make themselves into gods, they will fail and destroy themselves. The tower leans and then falls. The tyrant aspires to the sky, but winds up in the dirt. And before that day comes, unlimited tyranny quickly extends its grasp into the mind of man, to control his thoughts and beliefs. To transform him into a mindless slave of the regime. To teach him to cheer in a crowd and applaud the Great Leader. To forget that the past is the future.

And so we remember. Purim is more than the story of how the Jewish people were saved from the murderous plotting of one Haman, 2500 years ago. It is the story of the rise and fall of Haman but it is also the story of what happens when we forget, as the exiled Jews brought down by Babylon, stripped off their past and holy books, forgot. Instead they attended the feast. They cheered the empire. They watched the rise of evil, and failed to understand that one way or another they were bound to be among the first on its list.

And now since then, year after year, Purim reminds us. Year after year, we become part of the story again, drinking and feasting, confronting genocide and being saved by G-d and the self-sacrifice of one man who remembered, who never forgot that one does not bow to evil. Because to forget that is very dangerous. It is the first step to slavery.

While the postmodern intelligentsia have abandoned and forgotten history, treated it as a bauble in their philosophies and ideologies, history does not forget them. And so Purim comes again to remind us that we are part of history. That one cannot observe Purim and attend the feasts of Obama. The two are incompatible to anyone who remains a part of Jewish history. And so the groggers spin, the noise drowning Haman's plot in defiance. And we continue to live again the cycle of history, the holidays and Parshas that chronicle the Jewish journey from the fields of Caanan to slavery in Egypt and to free men again. The story is more than a part of us. It is who we are. For to those who choose to be Jews, we are our history and our history is ourselves.


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