On Zionism

On Zionism

Arabs killing Zionists with cholent

Yes, there is a legend among the Satmar Hasidim that every cholent bean kills a Zionist. So it goes: each spoonful stew of beans and barley chomped down with kugel and kishke is instant death to a heap-full of men and women in Israel. Well, think what you may, chollent nearly killed me a few times.

Why Chollent? Cholent is a kind of response to the apostate Jews — in this case the Zionists who rebel against the Satmar belief of exile. I believe the legend is an invocation of the Karaits, those Jews largely considered misled from the Orthodox way, who believed that Jewish law prohibited leaving food to cook on Shabbes. Because orthodox Jews differed on this view, to show the Karaites they are wrong and that we are not Kraites, the orthodox intentionally ate a cooked stew on shabbes. This message seems so important that chollent stew has become one of the most popular Jewish foods. Or maybe it’s just that good. In any event, in this spirit, the anti-zionists find in the chollent bean a message against the misled Zionist Jews who organize and support the settlement in Israel. They invoke the Karaite Jew who misinterprets the Jewish law — the Jew who is perhaps religious but still in the same dangerous category of the Sadducees or Karaits because the Zionist too is often religious, perhaps even Hasidic, but deeply erring in misunderstanding God’s decree against taking back Israel before its time.

This, as far as I was able to investigate, is the relationship that explains the wild belief connecting each overcooked Navy Bean and the death of a Zionist. I wasn’t able to verify that this is the very source behind the chollent-bean myth, and I’d be interested to hear from you anything else you know. Maybe it’s a secret recipe I should try on people I’ll keep secret. I do know that when we were young we all loved to indulge in this legend. I have sweet childhood memories of the times we scooped up extra helpings of chollent with sour pickles and in the same shot we killed a few people in Israel. I can taste my mother’s soupy chollent and the feeling of velour shabbes robe on my skin when I recall those innocent moments of mass homicide.

I don’t know that this legend could be classified as really malicious. Satmar Hasidim in America only have a very vague idea of what Zionism is and what Israel is like, and the animosity toward Zionism is often only a very abstract concept. A Satmarer would probably not even recognize his Zionist monster when meeting him in a synagogue or an airplane, even when standing in the face of his human ears and mustache. Zionism is preached and protested, but who Zionists are is often unclear even to the protesters. I know this may be shocking, and this is probably in large part to blame my dyslexia, but I often had a hard time differentiating between zionists and nazis. To me it was all a heap of Jew-destroyers, a curse word you followed by “erased-be-their-names”, yemach shemo. The zionists killed six million Jews, I’d write on my history test.

Zionists are evil because the Satmar rebbe said so. I’m not sure how well acquainted most Satmarers are with the Satmar Rebbe’s philosophy of Zionism altogether. Among women especially, I don’t believe the shlosha shavuos/three oaths, his main philosophy against Zionism, are well known. According to Jewsagainstzionism.com, Jews oppose zionism because :

the Talmud explains That we have been foresworn, by three strong oaths, not to ascend to the Holy Land as a group using force, not to rebel against the governments of countries in which we live, and not by our sins, to prolong the coming of moshiach; as is written in Tractate Kesubos 111a

Yes, this Gemara based on a verse in Song of Songs and it is the very foundation of the Satmar Rabbi’s fierce war against Zionism. But in actuality, Satmarers understand anti-Zionism as the need to wait for the Messiah because the return of Zion should only follow his arrival. The message that is actually taught is simple: we are exiled and we will be relieved from exile only when the Messiah comes. Hastening the end of the exile could cause serious harm to Jews and to the process of redemption, as seen with some early Hasidic rabbis who attempted to force an early redemption through spiritual intercessions. So it is believed by most Satmerers that the Messiah will one day return Jerusalem to its former splendor, and the Zionists only impede this process by rebelling against God’s decree of exile. Only a very old man, white bearded, riding a donkey can gather the Jews and finally return them “home”. Until then, there’s chollent to keep us warm.

I find it interesting that on the other hand Zionism has gotten very out of fashion among Jews at the other end of the spectrum: formerly religious. It seems many who leave orthodoxy also espouse an anti-zionist stance of sorts, mostly because of the overwhelming religious power in the Israeli government and because of atrocities committed against Arabs (not with chollent, rest assured). Zionism, which was the battle cry for many Maskillim and secularists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, is not heard at all in the ideology of this generation of Jews who advocate progress and modernization.

PS: I realized that this post came out much heavier than intended — and chuckled at the pun. Nothing I try to cook up comes out as intended. Sigh.

  • Zalmi
    Posted at 21:47h, 22 November Reply

    Hey, I see you are secretly part of the Aroynem while your family is Zaloynim. You should be ashamed of yourself. Let me tell you I for one truly believe in the Zaloynim for 2 reasons. 1. The zalmis have to stick together. and 2nd I know this moron Ari Teitelbaum who calls himself Nirbater, a total asshole, so I just dislike anyone named Aaron Teitelbaum. Maybe if you switched sides you will have a more pleasant outlook on life and most of all on cholent.

  • Shoshanna
    Posted at 23:44h, 22 November Reply

    I usually enjoy your humor but I’m sorry, this week is a very bad time to be making jokes about dead Zionists.

  • Shragi Getzel
    Posted at 01:20h, 23 November Reply

    Yeah it did come out kinda heavy, but then cholent always does.

  • Free Thinker
    Posted at 13:46h, 23 November Reply

    Heavy shmeavy….. You write what’s on your mind without any sugar coating and that’s what I like about your blog and doodling. The intended point is pretty clear, people will come up with the most ridiculous ideas to force feed their agendas to the youths. This phenomenon is found in every dominion. The good news is that once they become more intelligent this helps them see right through the BS.

  • Warren
    Posted at 13:54h, 24 November Reply

    When I lived in Tel Aviv, there was a restaurant on Rechov Ben Yehuda that was open on Shabbat that had a sign that they had chulent on the menu.

  • Yoelish
    Posted at 01:18h, 29 November Reply

    Hey, does your mother put in in the chulent מזרחי’סטן too, or just אגודה’יסטן?

  • Avraham
    Posted at 20:44h, 29 November Reply

    I see you can’t get Rumania out of your veins. You write:
    “atrocities committed against Arabs (not with chollent, rest assured). ”
    Can you name some of those “atrocities?” Or is responding to 200 – 300 missiles a day an “atrocity?”

  • Avraham
    Posted at 22:54h, 29 November Reply

    I would also like to correct a misnomer that you wrote:
    “Zionism, which was the battle cry for many Maskillim and secularists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries,”
    The word “Zion” was actually coined by the Netziv, a Litvisher Tzaddik and Posek. The early “Zionists” were actually very frum Jews and they formed a group called “Chovevei Zion” founded by the great tzaddik Rabbi Samuel Mohilever, which advocated and raised funds for frum young Jews to settle Eretz Yisroel. Reb Yisroel Salanter also contributed to this movement.
    Maskillim and the secularists from that era were actually Anti-Zionists. In fact the Reform Movement took the word “Zion” out of their prayer books…. the Reform Movements view of Israel is very close to the view of present day Satmar.
    Maskilim were advocates of their own native countries …. and supported the idea that Germany is Jerusalem, similar to Satmar that Williamsburg and Monroe is Jerusalem.
    Please don’t confuse the “Zionists” even the secular Zionists with the anti-Israel Maskilim..
    Yes there were Zionists that were Maskilim as well, but by in large the early Zionists were G-D fearing Jews, Maskilim, I repeat, refuted the idea that Jews should return to Israel… their ideas, strange as it seems, parrallels the view of R’ Yoel Teitelbaum in his Sefer All Hagilah V’all V’Hatmirah! Though R’ Yoilish hung his hat on the “Sholosh Shevuois” the result of his thinking is the same as the Reform and Maskilim’s view of Israel.

  • S.
    Posted at 23:46h, 29 November Reply

    Gimme a break. Chovevei Tzion was an alliance between the moderate frum and the maskilim. Lilienblum wasn’t Chovevei Tzion? The kannoim gave the Netziv grief over his associations. Ben Yehuda wasn’t a maskil? The German Orthodox weren’t anti?
    There were Nationalist and anti-Nationalist Jews in nearly every strata of Jewish society all over Europe.

  • Avraham
    Posted at 09:27h, 30 November Reply

    to S.
    You are actually wrong, there were two distinct periods in Lillenblum’s life, the earlier as a Maskil, the later years he actually broke away from the Maskillim’s view on settlement of Israel and then was appointed as secretary of Chovevei Tzion
    Read Leo Pinsker’s view on Lillinblum:
    “Lilienblum’s activity covers two distinct periods in his thinking. In the first period, he followed the example of the Maskilim and the Haskalah and demanded the reform of Judaism; he differed however from the Maskilim in his view of Israel …..”

  • Avraham
    Posted at 09:39h, 30 November Reply

    To S
    What do you mean by saying :”moderate frum?” Does frum by you mean that you have to have yellow tzizzis and breakfast still on your beard? Is that what frum has become…
    Most gedolim backed Choveivei tzion, including the founder of the Mussar movement, Reb yisroel Salanter, Yes they were also run by non-frum, but whose fault is that?
    today we have a country and yet you have thousands of chassidim on the same page of Reform Jews who believe NYC is Yerushalyim….
    There is more Torah being learned now in Zionist Israel then the time of Matan Torah, yet you still have Jews, frum jews cursing the “Medina” ….
    Eretz Yisroel was always run by secular Jews, only a handfull were frum, you never read in the Talmud that one should curse Israel because the King was a Rasha, or even a goy like Herod….
    In fact Ezra Hasofer was not concerned with the Shalosh shevuois and begged the Jews from Bavel to make aliya ……

  • S.
    Posted at 09:42h, 30 November Reply

    Avraham, Lilienblum wasn’t frum during the Choveveit Tzion period either, so the point remains. Furthermore, the maskilim were all over the map about “the reform of Judaism.” Like most groups, there was a radical and conservative wing, and he was in the radical camp of the maskilim during his “reform” period. Even if you are right about Lilienblum, that wasn’t the complete point.

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