Purity, a Jewish Ideal, and Max Blumenthal
By Ariadna Theokopoulos
A fundamentalist meme first plays out as tragedy and then is re-enacted as a farce. Both tend to have tragic consequences though. Racial purity as pursued by Nazi Germany referred to the Aryan race. Germanic peoples do indeed belong to the white race.
Israel’s obsession with racial purity is a farçe insofar as Jews are not a race, yet “Jewish blood” is a reality in their minds:
“A number of people from the former Soviet Union wishing to immigrate to Israel could be subjected to DNA testing to prove their Jewishness. The policy was reported in Maariv on Monday, one day after the Israeli paper revealed that a19-year-old woman from the former Soviet Union was required to take the test to qualify for a Birthright Israel trip.”
Ritual purity in Judaism is one of the oldest and most fundamental concepts. A kohen, or priest, cannot enter the Tabernacle unless he is ritualistically pure. Perhaps the most serious form of ritualistic impurity is acquired through contact with a corpse. It is believed that only the ashes of a sacrificed red heifer can remove such uncleanness.
The misnamed Israeli army, IDF, boasts of its code of “purity of arms”:
“The code of purity of arms (Hebrew: טוהר הנשק, Tohar HaNeshek) is one of the values stated in the Israel Defense Forces’ official doctrine of ethics, The Spirit of the IDF.
According to Norman Solomon, the concepts of Havlaga and purity of arms arise out of the ethical and moral values stemming from the tradition of Israel, extrapolation from the Jewish Halakha, and the desire for moral approval and hence political support from the world community. Despite doubts when confronted by indiscriminate terrorism, purity of arms remains the guiding rule for the Israeli forces. These foundations have elicited a fair degree of consensus among Jews, both religious and secular.’
Yet the Judaic concept of “purity” is clearly defined, not something to haggle about: “Ritual purity in Judaism is one of the oldest and most fundamental concepts. A kohen, or priest, cannot enter the Tabernacle unless he is ritualistically pure. Perhaps the most serious form of ritualistic impurity is acquired through contact with a corpse. It is believed that only the ashes of a sacrificed red heifer can remove such uncleanness.”
How then can the IDF’s “purity of arms” be reconciled with this:
The Israeli army has been caught posing for photographs with corpses of children and other civilians whom they have killed.
A military police investigation was ordered yesterday by the Israeli Chief of Staff into allegations that soldiers had tampered with the bodies of dead Palestinians and posed for photographs with the corpses.
How many red heifers are needed to cleanse the IDF?
The Hebrew terms tumah and taharah refer to ritual “impurity and purity” under Jewish law.
The Hebrew noun tum’ah (טָמְאָה) “impurity” describes a state of ritual impurity. A person or object which contracts tumah is said to be tamei (Hebrew adjective, “ritually impure”), and thereby unsuited for certain kedusha (holy activities) or use until undergoing predefined purification actions that usually include the elapse of a specified time-period.
A most common method of achieving taharah is by the person or object being immersed in a mikveh (ritual bath).
So far so good. Purity is all good. Or is it?
Max Blumenthal has recently made a major contribution to a more profound understanding of the concept of Jewish purity. History is replete with accidental discoveries. Did not Columbus think he had reached India when he landed in the New World? Blumenthal was attacking Gilad Atzmon, and called him a “pure anti-semite”) in this interview:
Those who do not take Blumenthal seriously, and they are many, will object that there is no trace of anti-semitism in Atzmon’s writings and will ask Blumenthal to substantiate his accusations, an unfair request since Blumenthal is not familiar with Atzmon’s writings. He was … “just sayin’.” They miss the point anyway. Even by making a false accusation, even based on a defective understanding of the definition of “anti-semite,” Blumenthal made a significant contribution merely by using the term “pure anti-semite.” He has opened up new conceptual vistas of a dichotomy never analyzed before in the Jewish purity ideal.
“Pure evil” is a Christian concept, not a Judaic one. There is no “pure evil” in Judaism, yet there is no greater evil than “anti-semitism.” So, does the term “pure anti-semitism” imply there are alloys of anti-semitism that are less evil? It cannot be. It can only mean that purity itself exists as twin monad: pure-impure.
Jewish purity then calls for a perpetual mikveh. Is that awareness, deeply embedded in the Jewish subconscious, the root of the Jewish hydrophobia — the fear of being “pushed into the sea”? Is the hatred of Christianity connected to the primal fear of baptism? Like all new perspectives, Blumenthal’s creates more questions.
Nevertheless, I sense, in an imperfect, inchoate Goyish way, that Blumenthal’s philosophical contribution will be appreciated someday, perhaps by future generations, and the embarrassing circumstances in which he stumbled upon it will only be chuckled over.