CHUSHIM BEN DAN
RESPONDING TO COMMENTS
In a comment on a previous post, Graham writes:
"Why the obsession with Dovbear? I do not snuffle behind the hill to ascertain what Dovbear is doing or thinking. Eff all these links to Dovbear!!!
I do not care what Dovbear says or suggests. Who's he in this Goy's army? F*ck all truly!
Tho I cannot claim affinity 2much with the baccy ridden gourmet behind the hill - his is what I chose to read. Forget Dovbear. Boo boo the dovy!!
Are US Jewish blogs only to be measured agin Dovbear?
Let's Roll Blogmeester! Put yer clogs on & givit welly!"
Well shoot. It's eloquent. He's kinda put his finger on my opportunistic habit of mining other people's blogs for my own posts, especially when I'm a little dry. As well as my habit of using my own blog to sound off on what other people have said elsewhere, thus hoping to sneakily lure those readers onto the back of the hill. Exploiting the Dovvosphere for that purpose is as good a starting point as any.
I could also use other blogs, like the XGH (who seems to have spiraled into orthoangst), or the Goblin King (too busy with his studies to be over-enthusiastic about blogging, but when he does post it is often stimulating and chiddushy - go ahead and visit him), or even Jameel at the Muqata (whom you probably read already on a daily basis). How about Treppenwitz, who despite his non-smoking penchant is intelligent, likeable, and witty?
Or I could go ahead and comment-mine from my own blog. Why not?
I have interesting readers, if not necessarily interesting posts.
CHUSHIM BEN DAN
Chaim G. writes:
"Mein Tayere Shaigatz.
Thank you. You are one stand up guy. Did you see where I called you "Khushim ben Dan"? Did you khop the reference?"
Yes, Chaim, I did see that. Chushim ben Dan was not directly involved in the disputation and was able to be objective. I'm taking it to mean that as someone positioned somewhat off to the side, I may have a clearer perspective sometimes, and can cut directly to the chase, cut the Gordian know, cut the shaigetz's kop. Rather than a knowing reference to my slight hearing defect. And of course I will deliberately obliquify the connotation of a spiritual lack or lacuna.
[I am nothing if not self-flattering. Heh heh heh. ]
But taking that as a jump-off point, Chushim the son of Dan was indirectly responsible for the rise of Amalek, a descendant of Eisav. We can see this from two angles. The most straightforward to the modern mind is that impulsive action will have unfortunate repercussions, violence may beget more violence, a straightforward solution to a problem can be a double edged sword.
The other angle, which is actually more in keeping with your thinking, Chaim, is that blending in, not being apart from the nations, can have unfortunate consequences. After all, Amalek represents a blood-line that became one with the surrounding non-Abrahamic population, a line that did not go down to Egypt, a descent-group that did not remain separate. It is those Jews who veer too much into Gentile society who eventually become less Jewish, even non-Jewish, and even dangerous and destructive to Jewishness. The list of anti-Jews of Jewish descent is nearly endless. And a corollary to them are the ideologies of Jewish derivation that have gone in different directions, and have also proven dangerous and destructive to Jewishness.
[Marxism is as good an example as any, both because it is an extreme example, and because I doubt I will be offending anyone by that comparison. Whereas there may be a few Christians who read this blog..... Marxism is as much an offshoot from a Judaic root as Christianity, and also as little. A defective branch, a mutated growth.]
Shishim panim le Torah. There is great scope for disagreement and differing interpretations. But there should be a degree of unity. One need not even veer into criticism of the offshoots at the beginning of the common era to see an ongoing pattern of dangerous manifestations. Just mentioning Neturei Karta on the one hand, Jewish Voice for Peace on the other, is enough. The desire to disagree has trumped the desire for unity. The sitra achra is also within.
No man is an island. It is by measuring ourselves against our companions, and by using them as sounding boards, that we maintain our own sanity. A havdala sensitivity must necessarily understand that differentiation cannot be towards the extremes. Individuation is not a matter of disagreement.
A HORNED SNAKE?
Another factor has to be mentioned pursuant Chushim ben Dan - argumentativeness and a concern with justice. As it says in psook 49:16 "Dan yadin amo keachad shivtei Yisrael" (Dan shall judge his people, (as) one the tribes of Israel).
Dan shall judge - precisely what the name of the shevet indicates. But what Yakov says next illustrates how disturbing justice can be.
Psook 49:17 "Yehi-Dan nachash alei-derech shefifon alei-orach hanoshech ikvei-sus vayipol rochvo achor" (Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse's heels, so that his rider falls backward).
Fair judgment is not necessarily a kind process. Impartiality is brutal, and often impedimental.
How oddly appropriate, from a symbolic point of view, that Dan's one son, Chushim (from whom the tribe of Dan will descend), is deaf, in the same vein as Justice being blind.
[Though in midrash it says blind, instead of deaf, and elsewhere muteness is also mentioned, as well as youth.]
How likewise significant that later we read that the tribe of Dan, though at this point the smallest, becomes one of the largest (see parshas Pinchas in Bamidbar).
A concern with justice evidently thrived.