The Western monotheistic religions -- Judaism, Christianity, Islam -- interest me considerably less than Eastern religions, since I've got some fondness for Buddhism and Taoism.
But a passage in a recent TIME magazine story about Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, makes me think that maybe there's some Jewishness in my churchless non-soul.
For Netanyahu, the Jews are not so much God's chosen people as his argumentative ones. They don't take things on faith. Abraham, Moses, and Job, he notes, all argued with God. And sometimes won. Like Bibi, they were ornery and maybe had a chip on their shoulder. You can imagine Bibi arguing with God, and he probably does.
Israeli society hums with contest and grievance. The name Israel derives from Jacob's wrestling with the angel. Islam, Bibi has suggested, is about submission, Judaism about arguing. And if you disagree, he will argue with you. Just because everyone thinks something, he says, doesn't mean it's right.
One day, long ago, G-d appeared to a group of Mongolians. Introducing Himself, He posed a question to the leader of the group: How would you like a Commandment?
The group leader responded: "What kind of Commandment?
G-d: How about "Thou shalt not kill"?
Group leader: "That would never work. We are angry and mean by nature, and everyone else tries to kill us. Such as commandment would mean nothing."
Not much later, G-d encountered a group of Syrians and posed the same question: How would you like a Commandment? The Syrian leader replied: What kind of Commandment?
G-d: How about "Thou shalt not steal"?
The Syrian explained that pilferage was built into their economic system and was actually expected. Such a commandment would mean nothing.
Finally, G-d encountered a group of Jews. Once again, He posed the question to the group leader: How would you like a Commandment?
The Jewish group leader responded: "How much would a Commandment cost"?
G-d: "A Commandment costs nothing. They are free."
Jewish group leader: "Fine. We'll take ten."
Posted by: Willie R | May 24, 2012 at 02:14 PM