Meditations on memory and personal mythology, these superb essays startle as they move, all the while offering a unique perspective on contemporary Israel.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
He shows that virtually every major problem faced by contemporary Israel, a half-century after it came into existence, was foreshadowed by the events and circumstances that precipitated and conditioned its emergence. Sicker examines the seemingly irreconcilable differences between the left and right extremes of the political spectrum; between the religious community and the secular; and between the Zionists and the anti-Zionists. Today, a half-century later, these same issues are causing an increasing polarization of Israeli society, with uncertain ramifications for the future.
Rosenbaum begins by demonstrating that Israel's religion was not a clean, divinely inspired break with humanity's past, but derives from the long sweep of events that began when Homo sapiens first acquired language. Strata of earlier religions are still visible beneath the surface of Israelite monotheism.
Early Israel was not "one man's family", however dysfunctional. It was a collection of individuals and groups, mainly outcasts or lower social elements, who coalesced into a nation and developed -- though they did not always follow -- a religion of ethical monotheism and principles of democratic government and social justice that still today move and inspire more than half the world's population.
Like all religions, Israel's was shaped by the language, in this case Hebrew, in which it is expressed. Expressing monotheism in a language that is essentially dualistic conduced to the suppression of the female elements of earlier religions which had nurtured Israel's religion, and consequently, to a lack of appreciation for the part played by women in Israel's religious life. This skewed view of Israel's religion and its history that the Bible contains is a result of its having been collected, edited and in part written by Judeans, southern survivors, and heirs of David's kingdom who were moved to record it in the wake of the destruction ofJerusalem in 586 BCE.