Thursday, May 25, 2006

Food for Thought

1) Tomorrow is Jerusalem Day, though the celebrations are today in order to avoid Hillul Shabbat. Thirty-nine years ago, in what still looks like a miracle, the city was liberated by the Israeli army and came under Jewish rule for the first time since Hyrcanus invited the Romans in, in 63 BCE. I still get overcome when I recall the electric thrill that went through me, when we received the news. I was just a kid at the time and I wasn’t too clear as to why this was so momentous. Nevertheless, I sensed intuitively that an event of cosmic proportions had occurred.

That’s why I will דווקא teach my Hiloni students today about Jerusalem and what it means for those who can see it, as it is. Many of them haven’t a clue why we should care about Jerusalem. Happily, though, my experience has taught that the majority of the non-religious kids I’ve taught are receptive to learning about and understanding things Jewish. I often think that that’s where Bar Ilan will earn its עולם הבא.

2) On November 18, 1308 Pope Boniface VIII issued a Papal Bull, known as Unam Sanctam (‘One Sanctity’), as part of his ongoing fight with King Phillip IV (le Bel) of France. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, a central feature of the statement of faith was the definition of the subordination of secular power to spiritual power. In other words, all authority on earth, was derived from and subordinate to the Vatican. It was the most far-reaching assertion of papal power and primacy ever issued.

It was also passé.

By the time Boniface issued his statement, papal power had already started a serious decline in power and prestige that would continue right up to the Reformation (and beyond). Boniface, himself, was defeated and briefly arrested by Phillip, who placed a Frenchman on the papal throne and moved the curia to Avignon (where he could better control it). In other words, Unam Sanctam was too much, too late.

Sound familiar?

3) It's now clear that, as Lisa pointed out, the Iranian yellow sash story is a hoax. Unfortunately, that in no way affects my comment that even were it to be true, it should not come as a surprise as it is a principled enforcement of Muslim Law.

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