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Newsletter 58: The Bible as Jewish Culture


Shalom everyone,

Its ages since I wrote no news. So much no news has accumulated that I don't know where to start. September was a great month for no news and October is going to beat it.

At long last I received my three stooges' movies that I ordered on the internet. Now all I need for a good laugh is to put a movie on the DVD.

Ettie went off to Australia with Ittamar to join in the wedding festivities of my niece Lisa and they returned with lots of presents for me; a pair of hug boots and a saying in Japanese that I can hang on the wall;

"No matter what happens I'll continue my calm life."

I attended an evening of Operetta at the Tel Aviv Opera house. There were excerpts from the "Merry Widow", the "Blue Danube" and other Strauss waltzes performed by the Budapest Opera company.

As an extra treat I allowed myself to have a splurge dinner at Orca, the great gourmet restaurant in Tel Aviv where Avishai works. Everybody should have a meal there sometime. It's so good it nourishes the soul and the body. Yuval, the restaurant manager joined us and everyone around the bar spoke about food. Orca is great because they encourage their chefs to be inventive. I can't describe the dishes they served but I'll try to get Avishai to do that in one of my next no news letters.

Emanuel and Sigalit with little Tamar Gork were in Vienna for a few days and brought me a present of three of my favorite cigars.

Basically I'm dead against smoking but I'm in favor of one cigar a week. I am very strict with myself and only smoke a cigar on Wednesdays. I'm against doing this in public only in private. I even wait until there's no one at home and sit outside on the balcony with a cigar and a glass of wine and a good book.

At the moment I'm reading a very good book on Bible commentary by Eliezer Schweid, a professor of Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University and in my opinion a great modern Jewish thinker.

In this book he writes about the Bible as the basis for modern Israeli culture.

Surprisingly many people aren't aware how much Israeli culture is based on the Bible. The most outstanding example of this is the use of the Hebrew language (the language of the Bible) as the national language. Previously Hebrew was used only in the Synagogue and the Torah school.

There are many other examples like this but the one that interests me the most is the fact that secular Jews, not only religious Jews as in the past, study the Bible and even justify Israel's existence by the Biblical promise to father Abraham that his seed will inherit this land (Gen 12:7, 13:17, 15:7, 18, 17:8).

One can understand religious Jews thinking this way because they see the Bible as the word of God and it’s a religious concept that God has the right to distribute His land according to His principles of Justice. But how do we understand secular Israelis thinking this way? They aren't religious and don't even acknowledge God's right to distribute the land.

This can only mean that secular Jews view the Bible as the true history of the Jewish People and so the justification of our possession of the Land of Israel. For them this isn't the holy land of the Bible but the Land of the ancestors of our people; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, David, Solomon and all the kings of Israel and they bequeathed this land to us.

I vividly remember being scoffed at 50 years ago when, as a child I used Biblical promises to justify the establishment of Israel. Today this is accepted thinking in Israel.

Wishing you a great No News Day

Yours truly.


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