Against the Apocalypse: Responses to Catastrophe in Modern by David Roskies

By David Roskies

This article records a nearly unknown bankruptcy within the historical past of the refusal of Jews through the a long time to give up. the writer employs wide-ranging scholarship to the Holocaust and the thoughts linked to it, in confirmation of either continuities and violent endings.

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2009 10:24:10] page_37 < previous page page_37 next page > Page 37 Sanhedrin 104b). The destruction of the two Temples, sandwiched into a list of five calamities, was but the punishment for the crime committed back in mythic times. Just as the seventeenth of Tammuz was forever the day of broken tablets, so the ninth of Av was the day of eternal exile, when the proudest cities of Israel were laid waste once, and yet again. Members of future generations learned from this systematic congregation of calamities to append their own tribulations to the mythic time scheme; among them was a modern rabbi, who added to the list of disasters that fell on the ninth of Av the expulsion order from England in 1290, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, and the outbreak of World War I.

Theirs is an anger deflected through the hallowed texts, a highly mediated and ritualized form of anger. By making the text seem for a while crazy and corrupt, the individual sufferer expands its meaning, allowing subsequent sufferers to enter the breach. And once the shepherd's psalm is put through the fire of catastrophe, the lyric ode can be used as a song of defiant affirmation. This technique of imitating the breach of God's promise in the parody of Scripture has been variously called "symbolic inversion"6 and "countercommentary"7 by those who recognize its use only in the modern age.

The apoealyptists purported to disclose, at least to a select group of believers, things that Scripture did not explicitly say or declared to be beyond the reach of the human intellect things such as the secrets of nature, history, and divine retribution. "14 The rabbis could not have disagreed more. In the struggle for hegemony in the real world, there was no room for initiates who claimed that only a few would be saved, regardless of the deeds of the many those few who had prepared for the Coming of the Messiah.

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