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Saturday, August 19, 2006

7 Rabbinic Commandments not found in Torah

Seven Rabbinic Commandments ordained by the Rabbis and not Torah:

1. Benediction, or thanksgiving for each enjoyment (Ber. 35a)

2. The ablution of the hands before eating (Ed. V, 6).

3. Lighting of the Sabbath lamp (Shab. 20b).

4. The Erub, i.e. an expedient for permitting a wider interpertation of the Sabbath laws concerned with limitations of movement of persons and transfer of objectss (Er. 21b)

5. Hallel servics (Ps. CXIII-CXVIII) on festival days (Ber. 14a; Pes. 117a);

6. Kindling of the Chanukah lights (Shab. 23a);

7. Reading of the Scroll of Esther on the Feast of Purim (Meg. 7a).

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Church and the Holocaust Note 3

Paraphrased from the conclusion of Susan Zucotti's "Under his very Window".

It is true that, following the liberation f Rom, Jews began to acknowledge the compassion and help provided by Pope Pius XII during the Shoah. And this continued after the war ended. And while Golden Meir praised the Pope after his death for having "raised his voice in favor of the Jews", she must have been referring to the claims of papal intervention on the Jew's behalf. Because there had been no meaningful protest.

Whenever there's a discussion on the Church's responsibility for the Holocaust, all these and more are rightly mentioned by its defenders. However, expressions of gratitude are not proof of the truth of the Church's claims. Just proof that jews believed those claims. The gratitude, I am sorry to say, was largely misplaced. While individual men and women of the Church deserve thanks, the pope had very little to do with they actions.

Jews who took shelter in Church institutions could not know why they were allowed to enter. They naturally assumed it was due to the pope's intercession. It was not. Many would assume that no individual monastary, hospital or school would act without prior papal approval, etc., who, perhaps embarassed by the popes silence during the holocaust, were eager to share their credit with the Vatican.

The pope did not speak out against Italy's anti-jewish laws.
The Vatican did almost nothing to provide extra food or medicene to the refugees of Ferramonti. Thank God for Father Lopiniot, not Pope Pius. Lopiniot did what he had to do to get private donations to help. Lopiniot did it all but gave credit to the pope when the truth was the pope had done nothing.

Just one example.

Also, it was good politics to thank the pope after WWII -- to foster good will between jews and non-jews. After all, non-jews had almost succeeded in completely destroying us.

Gratitude from Jews after WWII proves nothing.

Friday, August 04, 2006

More notes on the Church, Jews and the Shoah

I understand how difficult it is for Catholics to deal with the Holocaust, the role played in it by Catholics and their Church, and how the Catholic history of antisemitism contributed to it all.

As James Carroll states in his book "Constantine's Sword", Church failures in the Holocaust are only the most recent and violent part of the story - the death camps are a culmination of two thousand years of entrenched anti-Judaism.

The problem originally was anti-Judaism - not a racial or political anti-semitism. Rather, a strong opposition to the religion of Judaism.

You can follow the trail... The anti-Jewish statements in the Gospels to Constantine’s transformation of the cross into the primary Christian symbol, and then transforming it further into a sword. The blood libels, scapegoating the jews. The ghettos.

Much of Christian history was based on a belief that Jesus was in conflict with the Jews, which easily fueled persecuation against Jews. However, Jesus and his disciples were themselves Jews, making any conflict not a struggle between “you” and “us,” but an internal disagreement among us (Jews). Moreover, the Christians failed to realize that there was no single religious entity known as “the Jews.” We have always been a wide variety of groups, with may different perspectives. Yet the Church insisted on perpetuating the myth that the jews, as a people, killed Christ. You can argue now that it was "only a few,' etc., but that is not what the party line was for the 1900 years leading up to the holocaust. We were never a single force for any one group to oppose.

So, Christians turned what was a sectarian conflict among Jews, into something describedin the gospels as "the Jews” -- a single group, wholly blameworthy, in an apparent attempt to gain favor among the Romans, the most likely group to have had any great interest in getting rid of Jesus. ONce this particular perspective was in place, later Christians were able to scapegoat “the Jews” over and over:

In addtion to being made into a historical enemy, the Church made "the Jews" into the enemy of God. The negative against which every positive aspect of Christianity is defined. This demonization of Jews by the first-century followers of Jesus - themselves mostly Jews - and the sanctioning of that demonization in the canonizing of the Scriptures are what made this story murderous down the centuries.

Notes on the Church and the Holocaust.

Just some notes I don't want to lose regarding this subject. Comments are always welcome:

In July 1943, Mussolini was removed from power. In September, Germany occupied Italy and began deporting Jews to Auschwitz. THere were 45 days between Italy's announcement of armistice and Germany's occupation of Italy. During that time, many thought the repressive anti-Jewish laws that Mussolini had instituted would be revoked. During this time Father Tacchi Venturi met with the new Italian minister of the interior to propopse changes in the laws to benefit Jewish converts to Catholicism.

In his report of the meeting to Cardinal Magilone, Venturi explained that he had not "alluded in any way to the total abrogation of laws which, according to the principles and tradition of the Catholic Church, have some dispositions that should be abrogated but contain others worthy of confirmation."

This statement was made after millions of Jews had already been murdered in Poland and in the Soviet Union, a fact that the Vatican was aware of. Yet somehow, they still approved the denial of full civil rights to Jews and their legal seperation from Christians. See ADSS, IX, doc. 317, Tacchi Venturi to Maglione, 8/29/43, 458-59.