Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2011 / 10 Elul, 5771
What Have We Learned From This?
By Paul Greenberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It was the question his handful of young students had learned to expect from him. He asked it of us every time we'd finished translating that day's Scripture or a commentary on it.
He taught without an ounce of flash, Rabbi
Only later, looking back, would we come to cherish the way he would pause before answering any question about the text. We got the message: This is Important. Not something to be entered upon lightly.
He never delivered any explicit sermon against the gods of the outside world -- success, power, status -- but we came to understand that they were of a lesser order. The message was implicit in everything he did. He moved with intention, the way he walked to and from the synagogue every Sabbath and holiday. Briskly, every step definite. With a purpose. So was his inevitable question: "What have we learned from this?"
History is a kind of scripture, too. And it, too, is to be examined carefully. It, too, changes with every reading. For history is not to be the confused with the past; it is what we make of the past. Each rereading, each rewriting, of that past casts a new light on it. Or a new darkness, depending on what the present chooses to remember, or chooses to forget.
History turns out to be the most contemporary of arts, reflecting the time in which it is written more faithfully than the time it describes.
Ten years after
A host of new lessons still wait to be absorbed. Among them:
--War is no longer a matter just between states. It can be waged against us by a shadowy enemy with no state, and no respect for the laws of war that states were once bound by. They must be pursued to the ends of the earth -- and will be. See the fate of one
--Things should be called by their right names. Terror, terror and crimes crimes. We are not engaged in "overseas contingency operations" but a war against terrorism and terrorists. What happened
--Despite the euphoria unleashed by the end of the Cold War, we have not moved into some idyllic "world warmed by the sunshine of freedom" (
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