Sunday, January 11, 2009

What the Earliest "Bloggers" are Saying about the Situation in Gaza

Blogging is nothing more than a new-age, high-tech method of proliferating our opinions. We can surmise that if cyberspace had existed 2500 years ago, the true prophets may have used it to spread the "Word of G-d". I have no doubt that the false prophets would have used it - they do so today!

So, perhaps, we can check out what some of the earliest "bloggers" had to say about the current political situation.

The prophet Tzefania had a relatively short blog. Only 3 posts. Yet, today, the entire Torah world is linking to what he wrote in his second post (Tzefania 4:2):

כי עזה עזובה תהיה ואשקלון לשממה אשדוד בצהרים יגרשוה ועקרון תעקר

For Gaza will be abandoned, and Ashkelon for desolation, Ashdod will be evacuated at noon, and Ekron will be uprooted.

King David had a more extensive and popular blog. You can actually see a sampling at (Somebody also seems to have reserved but it is just an empty page.) His original blog had 150 posts. One popular way of arranging it is about 5 posts per days for a 30 day month. It came to my attention that there were some extraordinary posts (55-59) that correspond to the 10th of the month and were to be read on 10 of Teves. Here are some excerpts:

Part of Post 55 is:

מקול אויב מפני עקת רשע כי ימיטו עלי און ובאף ישטמוני: ה לבי יחיל בקרבי ואימות מות נפלו עלי: ו יראה ורעד יבא בי ותכסני פלצות: ז ואמר מי-יתן-לי אבר כיונה אעופה ואשכנה: ח הנה ארחיק נדד אלין במדבר סלה: ט אחישה מפלט לי מרוח סעה מסער: י בלע אדני פלג לשונם כי ראיתי חמס וריב בעיר: יא יומם ולילה יסובבה על חומתיה ואון ועמל בקרבה: יב הוות בקרבה ולא ימיש מרחבה תוך ומרמה: יג כי לא אויב יחרפני ואשא לא-משנאי עלי הגדיל ואסתר ממנו:

From the sound of the enemy , from the oppression of the wicked, they heap upon me travails and they harbor (undue) hatred against me. My heart petrifies within me and the fear of death falls over me. Fear and trembling overtake me and I am covered with tremors. And I say, "Who will give me the wings of a dove, so that I fly up and dwell (in refuge). Behold, I will wander away to the distance, I will rest in the wilderness." I rush to save myself from those that pursue me like the gales of a storm. May G-d consume my enemies and split their tongues, because I have seen the pillage (חמס ) and the strife in the city. By day and by night they surround it on its walls and there is coercion and wrongdoing within it. there is destruction inside and they do not remove from it hypocrisy and deceit. for a "non"-enemy (i.e., one who disguises himself as a non-enemy) disgraces me and I tolerate it and a "non"-hater denigrates me - can I hide from them?

Amazing! Look at post 56. It begins like this:

א למנצח על-יונת אלם רחקים לדוד מכתם באחז אותו פלשתים בגת: ב חנני אלהים כי-שאפני אנוש כל-היום לחם ילחצני:

To the victorious... when the Plishtim apprehended him in Gat. Favor me, o G-d, for men wish to devour me; all day long I am oppressed by war.

Note that Gat is one of the 5 Plishti provinces that run up the coast from Gaza, after Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron.
Let's move on to post 58 (3rd line):

ג אף בלב עולת תפעלון בארץ חמס ידיכם תפלסון:

There they are again.
And, now, in post 59, here is what he writes:

ב הצילני מאיבי אלהי ממתקוממי תשגבני: ג הצילני מפעלי און ומאנשי דמים הושיעני: ד כי הנה ארבו לנפשי יגורו עלי עזים לא-פשעי ולא- חטאתי יהוה: ה בלי-עון ירצון ויכוננו עורה לקראתי וראה:

Save me from my enemies, my G-d, from those who rise up against me strengthen me. Save me from those who perpetrate wrongdoings, and from bloodthirsty ones rescue me. For behold they have waited in ambush for my life, bold ones - עזים -have ganged up against me and I have not sinned or erred, Hashem. For no wrongdoing (on my part) they are running and scheming (against me); awaken toward me (my plight) and see this.

Hmmm. Who are these bold ones, these עזים ? Are not עזים also those from עזה (Gazans)?

One more thing about King David. The gemara in Brachos 8a discusses a statement from King David's blog in post 32:

על זאת יתפלל כל חסיד אליך לעת מצא רק לשטף מים רבים אליו לא יגיעו.

For this does each pious one pray to you at the time of finding - מצא - that only for the flood of many waters they shall not reach him.

Evidently, there is some major calamity that resembles a tremendous flood and the pious man prays to G-d to be spared from it.

But what is meant by "the time of finding"?

The gemara offers a number of opinions. One of the opinions in the gemara is that עת מצא - the "time of finding" - refers to the study of Torah. To qualify this, the gemara refers to a statement written by King Solomon, who had a few blogs of his own. In (does not really exist - yours for the taking) in post 8, line 35 he wrote:

כי מצאי מצא חיים ויפק רצון מה

We understand from the context that this pasuk is talking about Torah. The gemara intimates that when the pious one studies Torah he can then pray for salvation from this great clamity. And, according to this opinion, what exactly is the great calamity of "a flood of many waters"?

Perhaps, it is being alluded to in the very next pasuk in Mishlei (8:36):

וחטאי חמס נפשו כל משנאי אהבו מות

But one who sins against Me is robbing - *חמס - his own life; all those who hate Me love death.

Yep, these early bloggers sure knew what was going on.

*In this pasuk, the word חמס is actually pronounced "chomais" as a verb and not "Chamas" as a noun.


josh waxman said...

כי עזה עזובה תהיה ואשקלון לשממה אשדוד בצהרים יגרשוה ועקרון תעקר

though you didn't innovate this, i thought i'd mention it to you...

read Rashi on that pasuk though, where the meaning is punishment of the Plishtim. it is fairly easy to to kvetch *any* pasuk out of context to any situation. just take the situation, and you have all of Tanach before you, and then pull a pasuk out of context and claim it is a prediction.

such is, IMHO, unfair to the prophets. they prophesied about something real that will come to pass when it does. they were not necessarily talking about the "current political situation."


Yechezkel said...

Yasher kochacha that it is not the plain context. Granted. And עזים ,in context, does not mean Gazans, either. However, when we move past "Pshat" into the realms of "drush" and "remez", context is not binding. The Talmud throughout makes hundreds (thousands?) of exegeses from pasukim which clearly do not match the context of "pshat". Just check the gemara in Brachos 8a that I quoted that brings about 5 opinions on the meaning of עת מצא . How many of these opinions (if any) fit the context of the kapitel?

Of course, I heartily concede that "remez" itself is an "inexact science" and that it must be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, especially when it eminates from Am-Haaratzdiga pretenders like me. I put a disclaimer in front of my book that readers are to evaluate my "drush" at their discretion. This applies in my blog, no less.



Baruch said...

it is fairly easy to to kvetch *any* pasuk out of context to any situation
I've actually put up a challenge on facebook and at various Shabbos tables: I can take any pasuk and turn it into a drasha about how you need to be a better person and learn more Torah. Just give me the verse and I'll make it into a mussar shmooze. [Preferably give the verse in English.]

A parody of this type of thinking:

Noga said...

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