Category Archives: mindset

Sukkot, Ushpizin and the duty to protect

We are now in the midst of Sukkot, the ancient Jewish harvest festival.

In English, it would be called the Festival of Booths or Festival of Tabernacles after the huts (Sukkah) observant Jews build for this time. Participants are supposed to dwell in the Sukkah in memory of ancestors who spent 40 years in the desert and in thanks for G-d’s blessings. In modern reality, that means serving meals and observing rituals in the Sukkah though you don’t have to sleep there. This is a happy time when people feast and share hospitality.

One part of Sukkot involves the Ushpizin or holy guests. The holy guests are traditionally the biblical characters of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. The biblical Ushpizin are honored in various ways during Sukkot to get people thinking about their positive attributes and the lessons they can teach, but as portrayed in the wonderful 2004 Israeli movie “Ushpizin,” even some unlikeable living human beings can serve as Ushpizin. Sukkot is definitely a time of guests and socializing.

In Judiasm, hospitality has always been taken very seriously. This is true in all three Abrahamic religions, although some take it more seriously than others. Hosts owe very important duties to their guests, which teachers have often said are more important than any actual religious observances or proscriptions. One of those duties is a duty to protect. It’s not just one duty. Preserving life is the most important duty a Jew can perform.

In the case of hosts and guests, hosts must protect their guests from any danger or threat, even if the guests are complete strangers. Scriptures contain some harsh examples of this, like Lot offering his virgin daughters to a lustful mob rather than turning over to the mob a pair of strangers he was hosting. Ugly as some biblical examples are, they serve to show how important the duty to protect was and still is.

Today there are better ways than offering to throw girls to a mob. Effective arms are available to all who care enough to learn to use them and care enough about the duty to protect life to be prepared to use them. I ask Jewish antigunners, “How can you consider yourself prepared to protect anybody’s life if you are unprepared and unwilling to use best self defense tools available to you?”

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Hello from Vladka

Hello from newest blogger Vladka. My handle is a pseudonym in honor of Feigele “Vladka” Peltel Meed, a name more people should know.

Why a nym? Because today, as too often in history, there are things it’s not safe or at least not wise to say under a real identity.

I’m just introducing myself today and have nothing controversial to add yet to this wonderful new blog. While I’m here, though, I might as well add value. My namesake Vladka was one of the many women of the ghettos who had to make choices every day about who she would be and what she would do, even under circumstances where many people would say that there were no choices, or none but bad ones.

Every day, even in the most extreme oppression and danger, even the weak choose.

We are not weak or oppressed yet. We are still strong. Choose wisely while you’re still free and your choices may be less onerous later.

I’m grateful to have been chosen to blog here. Thank you.

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Defense Distributed and the spirit of resistance

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the Atmosphere. — Thomas Jefferson

The American Revolution had been over just three years when a group of Massachusetts farmers rose up against their state government and even tried to attack the (federal) Springfield Armory. Their reasons should have sounded familiar and noble to anybody who’d just lived through the revolt against England: unjust taxes and an unresponsive, corrupt, crony-filled government.

Instead of support and sympathy, however, Shay’s Rebellion was answered with outrage and hard-line crackdowns.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the few former revolutionaries who took the news of the rebellion with aplomb, even approval. While other former rebels (including the formerly rabble-rousing Samuel Adams) were calling for death for the Shaysites, Jefferson wrote the above words to Abigail Adams.

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I thought about Jefferson and the Shaysites (and for that matter the Whiskey Rebels) today after reading about Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. This morning CW and DD announced a new product that authoritarians everywhere will hate and fear: the Ghost Gunner. As Wired puts it:

Continue reading Defense Distributed and the spirit of resistance

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