We are now in the festival of Purim, which commemorates the supposed historical event of the Jews in Persia; it is actually more legendary than fact, if you look at most accounts.
Nonetheless, something which is legend can contain truth, no differently than a fact can contain truth. There is, according to the Universal Judaism perspective, a distinction between fact and fiction, but both can bear witness to truths— or— we could not learn anything about Life from a novel, nor, could we take fact and “metaphorize” it into a general lesson about Life.
This capacity to discern meaning from non-meaning, to super-vene (come from beyond) a viewpoint which is not factually (or in the case of scripture, literally, i.e. literature) accurate, is what we would term revelation. (It’s not about Moses at Mt. Sinai.)
It is this capacity for revelation– a human capacity– which permits us to put forth generalized-principles of “law” by which to govern our society, which although never absolute, are nonetheless very valuable, critical-guidelines without which human society would degenerate, is quite real! (The revelation of the Pentateuch to Moses, is not; it is a sentimentality, purposeful for sure at a certain stage of our development, but it is not itself revelation.)
This brings me to a revelation which I am shocked, absolutely shocked, that most people have never noticed. In fact, when I mention it to colleagues, of all so-called Jewish denominations, they blanch from terror.
Why did Esther, a supposedly good Jewish girl, marry a supposed “Gentile”, King
Achasheveroth? Did it ever cross your mind that, while Jews, anathematize those who marry non-Jews, that an icon of Jewish fealty, Esther, marries someone that would pejoratively be called a shagetz— literally meaning an invertebrate, like an eel, a totally un-clean animal.
Is it O.K. to marry a non-Jew if he is a King? That’s certainly better than a doctor of an accountant. Mother would be happy.
Is it O.K. to marry a non-Jew if it preserves your people? Then, destroying your people to save your people is permissible.
The fact is, the holiday tells the entire megillah, and no one has ever noticed that we are dealing with an exalted case of inter-faith marriage.
This of course brings up a major point of Universal Judaism. The definitions of “What is a Jew?”, as they are represented by various religious teachings, whether the religion of the mother, or the father (as is now becoming popular), is wholly inadequate. These may be useful legal guidelines, but they are spiritually silly.
Who is to distinguish between a Jew and a Moabite, fierce enemies, and yet maintain that Ruth, a Moabitess, could not qualify to be the progenitor of King David? And this happened a thousand years and more before the ritual of conversion took place! In the Tanakh, all that takes place is that Ruth pledges herself to belong to Naomi’s people (which by the way, is the essence of conversion.)
If a Jew is restricted, bodily, to the Asiatic sub-phylum to which Hebrews belong, we run the risk of the same error of Hitler who defines the spiritual nature of an Aryan by their race. This kind of attitude has produced an inerrant racial component to Jewish thought, since Ezra disbanded the foreign wives, and has proven more and more incompatible with the Essence of Torah— framed, as it is by the book of Genesis— as a UNIVERSAL document, i.e. for humankind.
This racial component, in a democratic era, has been an embarrassment, but no one knows what to replace it with.
The Jew cannot be considered a “religious” entity, or a mere “legal” entity. The Jew is first and foremost a spiritual entity, which is not definable by any human being but consists of a specific relationship with that Mystery called God— which may take on the color of a religion or a legal-group, such as a real-life nation, such as Israel, but cannot be restricted to this.
To say that “Jew” means such and such, and that definition is absolute is a kind of idolatry.
So— in a strange way— the rabbinic insight that Esther-— whose name was interpreted as coming from li-hastir, or “to hide”— (The Megillah of Esther is the only book of the Bible that does not, explicitly, mention the name of God and therefore teaches that a Hidden God can work unseen through the events and works of human beings)– has more meaning than just the prevention of another possible Jewish extermination.
What is hidden here is the very purpose behind HOW the breeding of Israel takes place? What is hidden is the TRUE relationship between Jews and other nations? What is hidden is the true criterion of what constitutes a correct marriage in so-called “Judaism”?
Indeed, Moses marries a black woman, a Cushite. Joseph marries the daughter of an Egyptian priest. Rachel has household gods, but that doesn’t prevent Jacob from marrying into an idolatrous family. The inconsistency of the extreme view of Jews– as it is determined merely legally– marrying only formally-acknowledged Jews— is in light of Purim, questionably true.
Now, this does not mean, either, that, apropos the name Purim, that what is a correct spiritual marriage for the Universal purpose of breeding a historical people, is merely subject to lots, i.e. up-for-grabs, a gamble.
But, what it takes to actually breed knowledge, in the flesh, to gather dispersed aspects of knowledge and funnel them into a single people to represent a Living Torah that heralds the God of History, is not readily discernable to the scholarly rabbinic mind, no matter how educated.
The issue, strangely, is the same issue as we are dealing with in regard to GMO’s. Who is the authority to breed plants and animals? By what criterion do we decide whether breeding animals or plants either through organisms, or, by rearranging genetic sequencing, is wholesome for the species, the ecology, and the entirety of the earth? Indeed, who has that knowledge?
Either there is a solution to this dilemma or the breeding laws around Jews will continue to be nonsensical. Moreover, the issue about the degree to which human beings take over and interfere in natural breeding, will continue to be hotly contested.
There must be a spiritual solution. There must be a way to discern the correct breeding direction, in a way that is more exacting than “we married for love”, when love, in an era where more than 50% are ending in divorce, can be more contaminated than ideal.
The answer must be in a change of consciousness, an ability to discern, to possess a revelatory consciousness, that can properly gauge correct partners, and correct breeding for our people, and it is not just a simple matter of “they’re Gentile” and “we’re Jew”.
Human beings determine the criterion of breeding? Perhaps that’s why, in the past century, scholarly Jews often had thick eye glasses, no physical-integrity, and were seriously “more mind than body”. Perhaps that’s also why, escaping this Holocaustic cartoon, Israelis now plunge through the Sinai, with tanks, their sweaty muscles exposed in the sun, as a bodily anti-thesis to this previous false mental standard of “what a Jew is”.
What a Jew actually is– in the mysterious, transcendent– Mind of God, so-to-speak– is hidden.
Why Esther married Achasheveroth reveals a mystery of our own ignorance in regard to this hotly-contested issue within the Jewish community. (And the solution is not “breed with everyone”, which is what tends to take place in Christendom-derived cultures. Universal doesn’t mean “everyone”; there are lines and lineages and sacred directionalities.)
Under the costumes people wear is the truth of who we really are.
And that includes serious, intelligent removal of the costume that often clouds the issues around so-called “inter-marriage”.
Are we the breeding of a “religion”? Did God create “religion”?
This, for another blog.