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Considering “the proper study of mankind”

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — I am reminded also of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s great and simple book, The Sabbath ]
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Two very different styles of thinking came to my attention today. The first style (upper panel, below) is that now commonly found within the effective altruism movement:

SPEC two ways of thinking

The second (lower panel, above) comes from Oliver Sacks, physician.

Between them lies the difference between quantitative and qualitative modes of thinking — which is to say between quantity and quality as the two great vectors aloing which we align our lives and futures.

**

Sources:

  • Dylan Matthews, I spent a weekend at Google talking with nerds about charity..
  • Oliver Sacks, Sabbath
  • **

    Rabbi Heschel‘s book, The Sabbath, opens with the words:

    He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil.

    Get up early to kill him first

    Thursday, August 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — from Tractate Sanhedrin and Grotius to Gershon Scholem and the power of names ]
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    I ran across Yonatan Mendel‘s post, Kill Him First, in the Jewish Quarterly today while searching for the Habrew of the phrase get up early to kill him first, which I wanted to pair with the quote from Hugo Grotius which is pretty obviously derived from it:

    SPEC DQ rise up early

    **

    I arrived at that page, in other words, looking for the phrase Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo, and was glad to find it there, along with a fascinating narrative of some of the times it has been quoted in recent Israeli political circles:

    Following the Second Lebanon War, Ehud Yatom, a Likud MK, explained the asymmetrical death toll of 44 Israeli civilians and 1,191 Lebanese civilians with the same trump card: ‘and if someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.’ It has been used by Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon when addressing university students about their military reserve service and by Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter when lecturing about IDF strategy. It was also the explanation provided by Minister of Minorities Avishai Braverman for the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai. Even Ayoub Kara, a Druze MK from Likud, has used it. When asked about the Iranian nuclear plan Kara showed little originality: ‘I think an attack on Iran will be justifi ed’, he said, ‘since if someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.’

    **

    But, but.

    That’s not the real treasure. For me, the real treasure is in the quote that heads Mendel’s article, from the great schoilar of Kabbalah Gershom Scholem in his 1926 letter to Franz Rosenzweig, On Our Language: A Confession. Here’s Mendel’s quote:

    The people here are not aware of the significance of their acts. They only think they have turned Hebrew into a secular language. That they have released the apocalyptic sting out of it… but God will not remain silent in the language in which he was invoked again and again, thousands of times, to return into our lives.

    Scholem’s whole letter is a powerful poetic testament:

    Language is name. The power of language is enclosed in the name; the abyss of language is sealed within it..

    Temple Mount / Noble Sanctuary: an explosive situation

    Thursday, August 6th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — “the most contested piece of real-estate on earth” ]
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    On the one hand:

    On the other..

    End-Time Battle for the Temple Mount

    As Jews fasted on Tisha B’Av (Av 9) mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, hundreds of Jewish visitors made pilgrimage to the Temple site.

    In preparation for Jews visiting the Mount on the annual fast, armed Muslim youth barricaded themselves in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Several dozen Arab masked rioters attacked Israeli police, hurling rocks and setting off fireworks into the crowd of responders, wounding several officers.

    After defusing the situation and arresting three to six participants, Israeli police found a trove of makeshift weapons in the Al-Aqsa Mosque — Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, concrete blocks, stones, and planks, with which they planned to attack Jewish mourners. [ .. ]

    One of those mourners was Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who has in the past emphasized that there is a “need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”

    scripturally..

    Isaiah 2:2–3:

    In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s Temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob.”

    and / or..

    Qur’an 17.1:

    Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

    and in not unrelated news:

    Israel Detains Meir Kahane’s Grandson, a Scion of Jewish Militancy

    He has the pedigree: Meir Ettinger is a grandson and the namesake of Meir Kahane, the slain American-Israeli rabbi considered the father of far-right Jewish militancy. [ .. ]

    He also has the ideology: In a series of Bible-quoting blog posts that amount to a manifesto, Mr. Ettinger calls for the “dispossession of gentiles” who inhabit the Holy Land and the replacement of the modern Israeli state with a new “kingdom of Israel” ruled by the laws of the Torah.

    “The key is not to seek to delay the explosion,” he wrote on July 22, “but to try to bring it on as soon as possible and on our own initiative.”

    Released, recidivist

    Friday, July 31st, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — Jerusalem and San Francisco, religious and not ]
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    Two recent cases of recidivism:

    Today:

    and just a short while ago:

    **

    In making the comparison, it is worth considering that in one case there were multiple wounded victims, in the other one victim killed; that in one case there’s a very close correspondence between the earlier and later crimes, in the other not so much; that in once case the concept of sanctuary cities is involved, in the other not; that in one case there was a clear religious motive, while in the other, not; that one plays into a narrative on the right, the other on the left..

    My personal interest will be to see whether the Jerusalem Pride stabber claims he acted, as did Phineas in Numbers 25, without consulting a religious authority — because he knew he was carrying out the will of G*d. Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzak Rabin, made that claim according to the late Israeli analyst, Ehud Sprinzak.

    Two new collections from Tim Furnish, plus two

    Friday, July 31st, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a chance to have Tim Furnish’s recent writings in book form, plus a couple of recent apocalyptic issues bcoz apocalypse hasn’t gone away, oh no ]
    .

    Friend, blog friend and colleague Dr Tim Furnish recently tweeted:

    I hope to review these two volumes of Tim’s essays here on Zenpundit.

    **

    Plus Two:

    While we’re on the topic of apocalypse..

    Sara A. Carter of the American Media Institute posted on the 28th on USA Today:

    Islamic State recruitment document seeks to provoke ‘end of the world’

    An apparent Islamic State recruitment document found in Pakistan’s lawless tribal lands reveals that the extremist group has grand ambitions of building a new terrorist army in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and triggering a war in India to provoke an Armageddon-like “end of the world.”

    The 32-page Urdu-language document obtained by American Media Institute (AMI) and reviewed by USA TODAY details a plot to attack U.S. soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan and target American diplomats and Pakistani officials.

    AMI obtained the document from a Pakistani citizen with connections inside the Pakistani Taliban and had it independently translated from Urdu by Harvard researcher and translator Mustafa Samdani. The Pakistani’s identity was shared with USA TODAY, which has agreed not to identify him publicly because of concerns for his safety.
    The document was reviewed by three U.S. intelligence officials, who said they believe the document is authentic based on its unique markings and the fact that language used to describe leaders, the writing style and religious wording match other documents from the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS. They asked to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    The undated document, titled “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” seeks to unite dozens of factions of the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban into a single army of terror. It includes a never-before-seen history of the Islamic State, details chilling future battle plans, urges al-Qaeda to join the group and says the Islamic State’s leader should be recognized as the sole ruler of the world’s 1 billion Muslims under a religious empire called a “caliphate.”

    “Accept the fact that this caliphate will survive and prosper until it takes over the entire world and beheads every last person that rebels against Allah,” it proclaims. “This is the bitter truth, swallow it.”

    Retired Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who also reviewed the document, said it “represents the Islamic State’s campaign plan and is something, as an intelligence officer, I would not only want to capture, but fully exploit. It lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

    That. friends, is the Ghazwa e-Hind, which we’ve been discussing on occasion here on Zenpundit for several years:

  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=4462
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12683
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=12756
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=20592
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=31402
  • http://zenpundit.com/?p=44267
  • Look for Tim Furnish to have more to say about this document and its implications

    **

    And…

    from a Jewish source quoted and discussed in the Times of israel on March 11 this year — yes, I’m playing catch up here — comes an apocalyptic call for two nuclear attacks — with a specific reference to the coming of the Messiah in the final paragraph:

    Op-ed calls on Israel to nuke Germany, Iran<

    Right-wing media outlet Israel National News published an opinion piece Tuesday calling on Israel to launch nuclear bombs at Iran and Germany, only days after the outlet came under fire for publishing a piece accusing a war widow of killing her husband over her pro-peace views.

    In the opinion article published Tuesday, the author claims that only through nuclear annihilation of Iran and Germany, with 20 or 30 nuclear bombs each, can Israelis prevent the state’s destruction.

    “If Israel does not walk in the ways of God’s Bible,” author Chen Ben-Eliyahu wrote in Hebrew, “it will receive a heavy punishment of near complete destruction and doom and only a few will be saved.”

    One of Israel’s missions is to remember the crimes of Amalek, a tribe representative of pure evil in the Bible, whom Jews are commanded to obliterate. Among those descended from the band, the author writes, are Iranian leaders Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and current President Hassan Rouhani.

    “They don’t miss an opportunity to discuss the need for the annihilation of Israel,” he wrote.

    To combat this Israel must respond in kind, Ben-Eliyahu declared. “To an existential threat we must respond with an existential threat,” he wrote, “not with speeches in Congress. We must make it clear to the Iranians that Israel will wipe out their nuclear program and Tehran and Isfahan as well.”

    “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him: twenty, thirty nuclear bombs will do to assure the job gets done,” he continued.

    He also called on the Jewish people to remember its near destruction at the hands of the Nazis and exact revenge on Germany, now a staunch ally of Israel.

    When the Messiah comes, Ben-Eliyahu wrote, Israel will reverse the Final Solution. “Twenty, thirty atomic bombs on Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dresden, Dortmund and so on to assure the job gets done. And the land will be quiet for a thousand years,” he wrote.

    Of note here: The phrase rendered here “If [an enemy] rises up to destroy you, rise earlier to destroy him” is not a remark of Ben-Eliyahu — he is quoting the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72a:

    Im ba l’hargekha, hashkem l’hargo

    variously translated “If he come to slay thee, forestall by slaying him<" in the Soncino edition and more colloquially "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him (first)" on the AJC site.


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