Wednesday, August 20, 2014

For the Price of a Calf: Peace, Peace from Afar and Near: A Dystopic Future Zion

Shoftim

By Rabbi David Mark

Scene: Torah-State of Israel, 2035:

Office of Traditional Rabbinical Calf-Acquisitions
3618 Rechov Lieberman
Bennett Municipality, Jerusalem
Torah-State of Israel

When I opened the office this morning, I was not surprised to find Rabbi Shaye there.
            “You know what I’m here for,” he said. “They found another body this morning. Do you have any to go in the back? I’m in kind of a hurry.”
            He meant a calf; he meant, for an eglah arufah—the “decapitated calf” ceremony from the Torah, from Deuteronomy 21:1-9. I have it by heart:

If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him: 2Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: 3And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; 4And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley: 5And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: 6And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: 7And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. 9So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

Ever since our Modern-Day Traditional Rabbis—the High Israelite Rabbinical Council, I mean—ruled that Torah Law is paramount; ever since we Israelis switched from being a Democratic State to a Fully-Jewish-Torah-Law-State, inviting the Arabs and the half-Jews, quarter-Jews, and intermarried-Jews to our newly-established States of Palestine and IsraPal, next door, things have changed. Greatly. Well, they’ve mostly quieted down, but there are a number of HalfJews and Pro-Peaceniks left here, living Underground, and the RightWings are very good at finding them out—I don’t know how they do it, but it seems as though, every morning, there’s another dead body turns up on one’s doorstep.
            I understand that the RightWings have an offshoot—they call themselves Kana’im, Zealots, and, among those Zealots, there are these Sicarii, “dagger-men,” they call themselves, after a mob of Talmudic-day—what shall I call them—citizen-vigilantes, perhaps?—who went after suspect Jews, and folks whose—political views?—did not, shall we say, match the Norm. These (drops voice to a whisper) maniacs, these assassins, I say, have taken it upon themselves to eliminate all the part-Jews from our midst, and the ones who dared to suggest we call for Peace with our neighbors. I don’t hold with Vigilante Justice, myself, but I’m only one man
            So the rabbis, as I say, came up with this solution. The police, the Mishtara, were flummoxed; couldn’t come up with a clue. The Dagger-men had the ordinary folks so terrorized—is that a good word to use?—anyway, it just got to be so commonplace, and the police unable to enforce the law, and no one really certain what the law had to be, since the Law had become the law—Torah law, that is, halakha, or, at least, the Traditional law—they came up with this calf-thing.
            Which is where I come in. I, Itamar, the cattle-driver. I was living on my place, by the stalls and corrals, out there on Kibbutz Mishmar Nevucha—it was a quiet life. The Kibbutz was lo-dati, secular, as it was, back in the Good Old Days, though most of the folks were packing their bags—when was this, the Great Overturn of 2025? Yes, that was it, when the Army first drove the Spikes into the ground, and the Technion Geek-Engineers were first working on Kipa-Plasteeq, the Plastic Dome—but I’m going off on a tangent, there; spending one’s days with cattle will do that to a man….
            The rabbis decided, you see, that instead of trying to solve the Problem of all those dead bodies, to simply do the Eglah Arufah Ceremony of the Decapitated Calf, as in the bit of Torah I quoted above (though I’m no scholar, not me; far from it; I’ve been known to sneak a cheeseburger, now and again, at that little Greasy Spoon pundak falafel n’ shwarma joint, ‘back of the Jerusalem Bus Station), and thereby, the rabbis could, in effect, wipe their hands of it—odds were that the dead party was not by-the-Torah Jewish, anyway, but simply one of those Intermarried Folks, or, even more likely, someone who was pro-Peace, or a police informant, or a secular type. Can’t be too careful, nowadays. Things have gotten pretty loosey-goosey here, since the Occupation Party occupied the Government, and all the Livni-Lapidaries went abroad—I suspect that most of them settled in Germany, or America—quite a load of them, now, in Dresden and New York City; more than a few in Florida, I understand… well, it’s all for the good.
            Kipa Plasteeq? I must thank the Technion Boys for that one: when US President Rick Perry, under pressure from his own Texas Tea Party folks, doncha’ know, to cut budgetary costs for foreign aid, stopped funding Iron Dome, the Techies came up with this idea—just melt down the plastic parts of our surplus US jets, add some secret sauce (they won’t give out the formula; very hush-hush, y’see), and it resulted in a superstrong, clear plastic alloy which they simply cast into a monstrously-huge dome, and stretched it over the Entire Country. No way any Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or this new outfit, Ormuzd’s Revenge (Iranian, I think they are), can lob a rocket through it, even one of those new Plutonium-tipped jobs.
            Tunnels? Oh, well—Weizmann Institute, this time. One of their agronomists, doing irrigation research in the Negev Desert, happened on a way of building indestructible steel pipes which would never rust out—blended with plastic again, taken from Mitz Tapoozim, old Orange Squash bottles—Lord knows, we have plenty of them. The Army used Merkavah tanks fitted with power drivers to push ‘em into the surface of the earth, ten miles down. So now, we have a plastic wall up top, and a steel-and-plastic barrier below. The folks in the West Bank and Gaza—excuse me, what’s left of the DubyaBee and Gassy (we call ‘em that, ‘cuz all they do is yell at us on the TV and Web), since we carved off substantial chunks for IsraPal and Palestine, our own versions of the Palestinian Paradise, which we include under a Sub-Dome, reachable only via our own, IDF-enforced-and-protected Danzig Corridor, which we call Netanyahugrad—kind of leave us alone; they have no choice.

            And now, Friend, you’ll have to excuse me: Rabbi Shaye needs his calf, and another dead party their Eglah Arufah Ceremony. All’s right in our world. Shalom, Shalom—have a peaceful day!