Despite my vow to ignore the theatrics in Cleveland and Philadelphia, I caved.
My husband begged. “Turn off the TV. Turn on some Beethoven. Turn in and go to bed,” but, no.
I watched both the Republican and Democrat National Conventions from gavel to gavel. For eight days I let myself be pummeled by politicians and pundits, suffered self-inflicted information overload and then (to compound the injury), even after the last shred of confetti was swept from the Quicken Loans Arena and the Wells Fargo Center,
I stayed awake until dawn Google-ing:
* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s height (7’2”)
* how to walk in those killer Trumpian-stilettos (tape together the third and fourth toes of each foot, counting from the big toe outward.)
* the Israeli industry brought to Virginia by VP candidate Tim Kaine (Sabra Hummus)
* cost of kosher food served inside the Dem. Convention (pastrami dog, $10.50; corned beef sandwich, $14.75, dished up before Chabad-sponsored Mincha which begins at 2:15 p.m.)
* the most non-partisan entrepreneur during both conventions (Marc Daniels selling Trump, Hillary and Bernie yarmulkes at ten bucks a pop.)
* the name of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s hairdresser. (N/A)
Call it dumb, this trivia search. Still, as the French novelist Colette wrote, “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” So I Googled on.
Could a search connect Hillary Clinton’s place in history to Jewish text? Enthusiastically,
I typed ‘Ballsy Women in the Bible’ but came up empty. However, my Google search for Pinchas (the Torah portion read this past Shabbat) unearthed 21,700 results for (stay with me, here) Zelophehad's five daughters - Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah - the wise, chutzpahdik women who (though this could be a stretch) might have inspired Hillary’s 1995 quote, “Human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights.” Zelophehad's daughters, examples of women who stood their ground (literally), raised their voices, changed laws and made the future better for generations to come. Connection made.
Now, let’s give Donald Trump equal time.
Let’s Google the Torah portion we read a few weeks back that speaks of Korach - a man the midrash describes as a privileged, exceedingly wealthy Israelite - who instigated a rebellion against Moses and the ‘establishment’ in the Wilderness. By many accounts, Korach's rhetoric and populist appeals were totally self-serving. Called the father of all quarrelers, the embodiment of demagoguery, Korach inflamed his followers’ grievances (You promised us a land of milk and honey, but now you say we’re gonna die in the wilderness?) and distorted or ignored the truth in order to scare the wits out of people and win them to his side. Korach's very name is synonymous with disharmony and conflict. The Talmud proclaims, Anyone who engages in divisiveness transgresses a divine prohibition, as it is written: And he shall not be as Korach and his company. Exactly the kind of leader one should not follow. A second connection made.
But be of good cheer. Though sources quibble over the details, Korach and his cohorts did get their cummupance.
And the earth opened her mouth wide, and swallowed them up with their households, their tents, all of Korach's people and all the property that was at their feet.
As of this writing, there are 99 days until the 2016 Presidential election. The same frustrations, inequities, have plagued us for centuries. Between now and November 8,
do you think we’ll finally get it right?
Despite abundance, want lodges in our midst;
and, despite peace,
the voice of discontent is not yet hushed in our land.
Enable the people's representatives, wherever assembled,
to wrestle with this harassing foe, and to conquer him.
Rabbi Joseph Krauskopf, Philadelphia, 1892
The unabridged story of Zelophehad's daughters
is available at Numbers 27:1 through 27:11.
No bible near your bedside?
Ozzie Nogg copyright 2016