Wings, prayers and the cosmic comic conspiracy
Lately at home we’ve been invaded by wings. Chicken wings, that is. It’s my fault. They’ve been on sale and I can’t resist a bargain. But beyond that, I just find them to be a good, easy-to-make food you can cook a million ways.
My wife is less enthralled with what we’ve come to call ‘wing season’ around here, and almost seemed relieved by our recent nine-day halachic hiatus.
There may well be a way to tell which wings in a given package are ‘right’ wings and which are ‘lefts’, but I have yet to discover it. Far easier is it to discern what qualifies as politically left or right wing—or so I thought until recently.
Certainly here in Israel it seems to revolve mostly around issues of security vis-à-vis the Arabs. Although once they get into power, the so-called ‘right wing’ politician and his ‘left wing’ counterpart, tend to behave essentially the same, the only difference being that which one does with a smile on his face, the other does with a frown.
In America, where there exists (at least the illusion of) more existential breathing room, the two ‘wings’ tend to spread out more and take on a broader ideological spectrum.
Simply put, if I had to pigeonhole (pun somewhat intended) I’d say that the right wing emphasizes values—or, what ‘should’ be, while the left wing stresses vision—or, what ‘could’ be.
Now we Jews are smart enough to know that a bird needs two healthy wings to fly, and the Torah is, in my opinion, unique in that it presents a way of life with both vision and values in abundance. The two not competing, but complementary, avoiding the inevitable imbalance of a secular approach, be it right leaning, or left.
But even this cursory distinction between the two wings shrinks when we step back and focus on how the non-Jewish socio-political left and right wings actually conspire to mislead people and prevent them from approaching and appreciating the truth of the Torah.
To illustrate, think of the classical comedy teams (Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, etc). Generally these consist of a ‘straight man’ and a ‘fool’.
The straight man’s job is to serve as a set-up for the fool to bounce off of. This is often accomplished by the straight man portraying a caricature of accepted mores and values, emphasizing their weak points and hypocrisies, which the ‘fool’ wryly pounces upon, spoofs, or otherwise picks apart, rendering the previously respectable straight man foolish, and himself winkingly wise. (Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont, being a textbook example).
On the surface, the straight man and the fool seem to be at odds, antagonistic toward each other, but in fact, the two are in cahoots, reading out of the same script. They are both in fact letzim (mockers), simply pulling off their letzonus in different ways.
So how did we get from food, to politics, to comedy—you might well be asking? Let me explain.
The Torah presents a pure, clear, God given morality (or values, as we like to call it today). The political left (beginning from the so-called ‘enlightenment’) has been at war against these values and the curtailment of unrestrained selfish desire fulfillment they mandate.
But to mock and attack the truth directly would yield them little, so they teamed up with a ‘straight man’—the non-Jewish religious right. These latter present (or misrepresent) Torah-originated values and outlooks, distorting them based on their ancestors’ millennia-old distortions.
These simplistic distortions, coupled with the blatant hypocrisy of many of their high-profile practitioners, serve to create a perfect ‘foil’ for the left-wing ‘fools’ to mock. “See, there is your traditional values and religion!…How ridiculous!…(and it is, as the right-wing straight man/letz presents it)…So chuck it all and be free!”
This ‘Cosmic Comic Conspiracy’ really is a very slick and professional comedy team. Only its results are a far from laughing matter, as it poisons and prejudices people’s minds and has practically closed the door to any of our attempts to fulfill our mission of relating the message that a life of true God given values, far from being silly, is sublime.
Is there any way out of this cynical cycle?
You tell me.