Narrishkeit to the left of me, narrishkeit to the right of me

CandleIt is very cool to be living in Jerusalem this time of year.  Not only is there no annoying Christmas music on the radio, when I say the "al hanissim" prayer that we add during Hanukkah, and I come to the line about how the Maccabees purified the Temple, etc. — as I look out my window at the place where the Temple used to stand — it’s just a very cool feeling.

Somewhat less cool are some of the silly ideas people here have.  I don’t know if it’s something they put in the water, but there are dumb ideas on the left, and there are dumb ideas on the right.

Dumb idea on the left: let’s stop global warming by asking all Jews to light one less Chanukah candle this year.

No, I’m not making this stuff up, I’m not that clever.  The founders of the Green Hanukiah program claim that every candle creates 15 grams of carbon, and that Jews are doing terrible damage to the environment with all those Hanukkah candles.  They are encouraging us to leave off one candle each night.

If I had more time I would do the math, but somehow I suspect that all the Chanukah candles from all the Jews in the world equal about 30 seconds worth of the carbon that comes out of the coal fired power plants in China.  Let’s not waste our time on things that don’t make a difference.

The foolishness on the right on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel as a "Jewish" state (click  here  to read about it).  Does Saudi Arabia go around insisting that we recognize their right to be an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law?  If they did ask, we might tell them, "bad idea!"  Would they care? Not likely.  Do they refuse to sell us their oil unless we recognize them in this way?  No.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said "Israel can define itself however it sees fit; and if it wishes to call itself a Jewish state, so be it," he said in an interview with the satellite station Al-Arabiya. "But the Palestinians will never acknowledge Israel’s Jewish identity."

Why should they?  They have acknowledged the fact that Israel exists, and they need to negotiate with Israel.  But to insist that they acknowledge us as a "Jewish" state? That’s like asking them to say "Zionism is a good idea."  After many of them fled or were kicked out of their homes by Zionists, and as many of them continue to suffer a lot of indignities from Zionists as a result of the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, it’s understandable that they might not want to agree that Zionism is a good idea.

Why rub their noses in it?  What’s the point in insisting on this "recognition?"  It’s simply Olmert playing to the right wing in Israel.  The Palestinians have accepted Israel.  They don’t have to accept everything we stand for in order to negotiate with us.

I’m a Zionist, and proud of it.  But it doesn’t bother me that not everyone in the world is a Zionist.

Chanukah is traditionally considered a season of renewal…may we have a renewal of common sense!

Chag urim sameach,

Rav Baruch

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

3 thoughts on “Narrishkeit to the left of me, narrishkeit to the right of me

  • Judy Trautman

    Happy Hanukkah and thank you for this refreshing common sense. It seems to me that common sense is not so common anywhere these days.

  • What would help more is if people don’t drive on shabbos or use electricity that day.

  • Efraim Carlsen

    Dear Rabbi Leff: I was heartened by your interview on Arutz Sheva and impressed by your credentials, even though I am orthodox. I would mildly disagree with you concerning the balance of naarishkeit: I believe that politically there’s more to the left of me, than to my right. However theologically, there may exist a condition of naarishkeit equilibrium (my Ph.D. is in economics). Examples: On the one hand, I hear of non-orthodox rabbis unable to bear the ol malkhut shamayim, but on the right are the rabbinic censors of Rabbi Slifkin’s excellent books. While I certainly believe in biat hamoshiach and even tchiat hametim after a fashion, I’m not about to stow in my coffin headgear with an augur attached, allowing me to burrow all the way to Jerusalem. Enough said. Welcome to Israel! Even though I’m not there yet, 5 of my grandchildren are, with possibly 5 more to follow within a year. Chazak!


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