Monday, December 17, 2012

This week has been a bit hectic. We apologize for the AWOL. Without further ado:
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"Quappi in a Pink Jumper" by Max Beckmann
       America has experienced the clich├ęd “straw that broke the camel’s back” this Friday. The movie theatre shooting that occurred in July carved a deep wound in the nation’s heart, but the Connecticut school tragedy fatally and mercilessly squeezed it. This tragedy is purely unfathomable. The ONLY solace is for G-d to joyously reunite parent with child upon the coming of Moshiach. Any other attempt at consolation is pathetically feeble and terribly inadequate.
      The evil that reared its repulsive face on Friday propelled me to consider the classic Good vs. Evil theme in general. Harry Potter established that “Good” wins as does every other Grimm’s Fairy Tale.

      Do you know who else affirms that kindness and valiance triumph over corruption and cowardice? Jewish women—yes, we're just that cool.
      I know Chanukah is over, but may I mention the tale of Yehudit and Holofernus (which happened during the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian-Greeks)? Personally, I believe that we should all adapt a yearly tradition of cozying around the fireplace, cracking chestnuts, and hearing this tale:
The Tale of Yehudit
This version is from
        The town of Bethulia, in the land of Judea, came under siege by Holofernes, a mighty Syrian-Greek general, at the head of a huge army. Holofernes was notorious for his cruelty in suppressing rebellions. When he captured a rebel stronghold, he showed no mercy to the men, women and children sheltered there.
        Now he was determined to crush the rebellion of the town of Bethulia, whose inhabitants refused to recognize the oppressive rule of the Syrians. The men of the beleaguered town fought bravely and desperately to repulse the repeated assaults by the superior enemy forces. Seeing that he couldn’t take the fortified town by force, Holofernes decided to starve the inhabitants into submission. He cut off the food and water supply, and before long the town was indeed brought to the verge of surrender.
       “We must all continue to pray, and never despair of G‑d’s help,” said Yehudit, a daughter of the Kohen Gadol Yochanon, to the Jewish elders. “But I have also thought of a plan. I ask your permission to leave town together with my maid. I want to go to Holofernes . . .”
        The elders were shocked and dismayed. “Do you know what you are saying, Yehudit? Would you sacrifice your life and honor on the slim chance that you might soften Holofernes’s heart? We cannot allow you to make such a sacrifice for us.”
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 "Lady with Muff" by Gustav Klimt
        But Yehudit persisted. “It has happened before that G‑d sent His salvation through a woman. Yael, the wife of Heber, was her name, as you well know. It was into her hands that G‑d delivered the cruel Sisera . . .”
        Yehudit dressed in beautiful garb and then sweet-talked her way to Holofernes. She claimed that she was rooting for his victory and would serve as a spy between him and the captives. Holofernes was enamored by this Jewish beauty who offered to assist him in war.  What was the sheer ingenuity in Yehudit’s scheme? After she obtained Holofernes’s trust, she would be able to say this to him on during one very momentous evening: “General, my goat cheese is famous in all of Bethulia...I’m sure you’ll like it.”
        He did. And he also liked the strong, undiluted wine she had brought. She fed him the cheese, chunk after chunk, and he washed it down with wine. Before long he was sprawled on the ground, dead drunk.
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        Yehudit propped a pillow under his head and rolled him over on his face. Then she uttered a silent prayer: “Answer me, O L‑rd, as You answered Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, when you delivered the wicked general Sisera into her hands. Strengthen me this once, that I may bring Your deliverance to my people whom this cruel man vowed to destroy, and let the nations know that You have not forsaken us . . .”
        Now Yehudit unsheathed Holofernes’s heavy sword, and taking aim at his neck, she brought the sword down on it with all her might. For a moment she sat down to compose herself. Then she wrapped up the general’s head in rags, concealed it under her shawl, and calmly walked out and into her own tent.
      When the army saw their general’s unattached head rolling around within the palace walls, they grew utterly terrified and ran from the land.
Thus, Yehudit was successful in saving her nation.
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"Jewish Woman from Tangers" by Charles Zacherie Landell
       Long, long ago before Disney’s Mulan or Brave, before Xena and Bond Girls,  there was a Yael and a Yehudit. (Yael, as mentioned briefly in the story above, was a woman in the Prophets who slayed her nation's enemy by driving a tent peg in his forehead).  
        They were Jewish women who were (pardon my French and for lack of a better term) bad a$$. They abandoned paralyzing fear in order to defend their brothers and sisters. They utilized their feminine wiles and allure to bewitch the ruthless, Jew-hating warmongers. What else do they have in common? They accomplished this feat by offering their enemies a dairy delight. Yes, our cherub-like Yael and Yehudit seduced their unwitting foes with a mug of hot milk and a stinky chunk of cheese. Now, how's that for a clever ruse?
       It would be preposterous not to dub these women as "100% AWESOME made from REAL AWESOME with 0% concentrate." And to those who believe that Jewish women are little more than kugel-baking, diaper-carrying, goody-goody-two-shoes? Well, my dear friends, that's obviously not the case.

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