Continuing in the footsteps of the first extremist
David WilderDavid Wilder was born in New Jersey in 1954, and graduated from Case Western...
OK. This time of the year, leading up to Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, and then climaxing with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it’s customary to repent, to come clean. So the time has come. Of course, the requirement to confess deals not only with personal sin but also with public transgressions. I’ve decided that I cannot continue to leave a false impression among the many I come in contact with. The time has arrived to come out of the closet.
I admit….I am….I am…..
I am an………..
Ah, there, I’ve said it, gotten it off my chest, out in the open, once and for all. Thank G-d.
I know I’ve always denied it, said it wasn’t true, I mean, after all, I’ve never shot anyone, never threatened anyone, never condoned physical violence against innocents, even as a deterrent. I’ve always defined extremists as the likes of Badar Meinhof, the Red Brigade, Hamas, Hizballah, Fatah, the Islamic Jihad, and others, who favor blowing up busses and drive-by massacres. And things like that.
However, I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes no difference if I’m like them or not. In no uncertain terms, I am an extremist.
But I’m not to blame. I didn’t do it to myself. No one had to teach me extremism, because I inherited it. It’s in my genes. Because my great-great-great grandfather also was also a fanatic. Perhaps that why I came to live in Hebron, to be closer to him.
He also flowed against the current, rejecting what ‘everyone else said,’ standing on his own, by himself, basically against the entire world. Some tried to convince him, others to cajole, and yet others attempted to kill him. Yet none of them succeeded. He even went so far as to reject his parents’ beliefs and eventually left home, taking with him his wife and a few other family members, for an unknown destination. After all, that’s the way radicals act: doing whatever they want without taking others into consideration. Quite selfish.
My great great great grand-daddy’s name was Abraham. He had this truly revolutionary idea, but no one else agreed with him, expecting a few who he was able to persuade. Who knows what techniques he used? Torture, threats, we can only use our imaginations.
In any case, his world-shattering idea was that there is only one G-d. That people shouldn’t bow down to the sun and the moon, to wooden or stone statues. These gods were phony, without any divine powers. The only authentic Deity is G-d, the One and Only. An entity so sublime, so metaphysical, that nothing we say can really describe Him, because He is totally spiritual, and alas, we are a mixed breed – physical and spiritual. The created cannot describe the Creator as He is much too far above us.
This was Abraham’s idea, his teaching, and he really was an extremist. No one, but no one agreed with him, but he didn’t care. And he had the gall to home-teach his kids and grandkids, instilling them with the same fanaticism, asking them to continue on, in his footsteps. And they did. They too, Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons, they were all true fundamentalists, rejected by normal folk, regarded as endangering world culture, tradition, and, in reality, world peace.
Yet, they didn’t care, continued as they believed, despite centuries and centuries, of slavery, torture, expulsions, massacres and even a Holocaust. Leading all the way to me. I too, as they were, am an extremist.
There are those today who continue to reject their primary teaching. That is, many amongst us still practice idol worship. No, you won’t find too many people prostrating themselves to the sun or moon, or any other stars. Idols are old fashioned. But there are, almost 4,000 years after Abraham’s extremism, new-fangled versions of the old product. New divinities. Like, for example, peace.
Don’t misunderstand. Peace certainly has a value. Not even a man-made value, rather a G-dly value, as we repeat the verse: “He will make peace in the heavens, peace on all of us and on Israel, Amen.” But, it must be read carefully: Who will make the peace? Obama, Hillary, Bibi, Ehud, Husni? No, that’s not the way I read it. It says, ‘He will make peace,’ He, being the L-rd, G-d.
Perhaps there are those would like to believe that they are the divinity, and therefore, have the ability to ‘make peace upon all of us.’ But that’s also idol worship, an idol with a super ego.
Peace really is a Divine goal. But only when it’s Divine, when it’s real. Not when it’s man-made, not out of wood and stone, rather from paper and ink and the breath expelled from people’s mouths. Not when it’s a peace that’s wonderful for one side, but is horrific for the other. This has no Divine value whatsoever.
When people get down on their hands and knees, falling on their faces before this ‘peace’ they are no better than Terach, Abraham’s father or Nimrod, Saddam Husseins’ ancient predecessor. This is idol worship, which is today, admittedly, a world-wide epidemic.
But what can I do? I go back to the genuine product, the roots of all extremism, who taught his kids, and them their kids, right up to me and my own children, that idol worship is forbidden, and it’s better to be an extremist, all by yourself, than to worship false gods, even though everyone else does.
That is why, even though I’m labeled as a bad-guy, and there are those who compare me to Hamas mass murderers, and all the world will tell me, ‘you have to leave Hebron and Jerusalem for the sake of world peace,’ I will continue in the footsteps of my great- great-great-grandfather, refusing to transgress the most elementary law of creation. I prefer to be an extremist in Hebron than an idol worshiper in Tel Aviv or New York.