Friday, October 17, 2008

Attack of the Torah-Learning Zombies

I came across an interesting Imamother post regarding what to expect when Moshiach comes. The thread is titled "PSA from Eliyahu HaNavi." It was originally posted before Succos.

Gmar tov to all yidden everywhere!

As promised I am letting you know a day before that mashiach is coming this motzai Shabbos (ohr l'yud gimmel Tishrei). Please be aware of the following:

1. Please report to airports straight after havdalla. Planes will be waiting. You can leave your sukkos and freezers full of YT food behind.

2. Please ensure your dress conforms to halacha. Any doubts should be checked with your LOR.

3. Our customs officials in EY will now check your baggage for strict adherence to ratzon Hashem. Please do not embarrass yourselves or them by bringing secular literature, equipment for using media not in accordance with ratzon Hashem, computers etc. Those who had heterim for using certain equipment for parnassa reasons - the heterim are no longer valid, since you will be living directly from Hashem's bounty, with your work done by non-Jews and therefore will have no need for parnassa.

4. Each family will be allotted a small apartment in line with their needs. These are Israeli sized, so please do not bring excess baggage. Please do not bring more than the minimum necessary amount of clothing for each person. No electric/ electronic gadgets (as mentioned you will have non-Jewish help).

5. Each family will be allotted their apartment in their chelek (portion) according to their original shevet (tribe). Please do not embarrass anyone, including yourselves, by requesting a particular location or neighbours. Please be aware that your neighbours will include original family members who may have been living in any country previously - many already lived in Israel, or are from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, South America etc. We are sure that your ahavas Yisroel knows no bounds and you will enjoy their company.

6. All boys will be enrolled in Talmudei Torah teaching only Torah. We are sure that you are aware that those rabbonim who allowed secular studies in the past did so only for parnassa reasons. Now that this no longer applies all boys will learn Torah exclusively.

7. All Jews will spend their time learning Torah and in avodas Hashem.

8. All food will be with the kedusha of EY and its accompanying mitzvos and spiritual benefits. This means no food will be imported from outside EY. Please do not bring any as personal baggage either.

Shavua tov and bruchim habaim!

While the post is certainly cute, original and entertaining, it also (perhaps inadvertently) reveals some interesting ideas that she has.

For starters, I wonder if she thinks there is any room for individual creativity outside the realm of Torah learning in the days of Moshiach. Take me, for example. One of my hobbies is photography. However, it would seem from her post that digital photography is out. After all, without a computer (prohibited by point 3), there is really very little that I can do. Even if you maintain that pictures of flowers, insects, animals, etc. are a waste of time, there are still enough legitimate uses for photography (pictures of gedolim, family pictures, snapshots, etc.) that I would think that it should be permitted -- and without amateurs and hobbyists, you rarely end up with professionals.

Of course, photography is not the only example I can think of. Music (composition, performance, etc.), writing, etc. are also hobbies that use modern equipment which would probably be prohibited in her vision of Moshiach's days.

As bad as that sounds, I think that there is even a deeper level to her idea of when Moshiach comes... the idea that creativity and individuality themselves are a bad thing. In her world, it seems that all men will learn Torah all the time and have time for nothing else. After all, to her, nothing else has intrinsic value. Secular literature -- verbotten. Practical learning -- who needs it? The non-Jews will do all our work for us anyway.* Creativity? Heck, who needs to waste time with things like writing, art, music, poetry, etc.?

In short, it seems that in her vision, we're all to just become drones who have no desire except to learn Torah every day all day, with nary an outside interest. We'll simply become "zombies" with the desire to do anything other than learn Torah simply sucked out of us.

Ultimately, I find it interesting that this is the vision of Moshiach's times that she has. Now, I don't want to say that her opinion is wrong; I don't know for a fact that it is (nor do I think anyone will know until it happens). However, I'd like to think that the same Creator who created us with a diverse set of skills, talents and desires will want us to continue using them in the future. I'd like to think that a photograph of the beauty of nature will lead one to a further appreciation of the wonders of Creation and a greater appreaciation of its Creator. I shudder to think of a world where I wasn't allowed to take a day and go out and shoot some flowers or insects or beautiful landscapes because I simply lost the interest in doing anything else. I can't imagine a world where God grants us the wonderful gift of creativity and being forbidden to use it except in one narrow area. In short, I can't see how it is that God wants us to become Torah learning zombies.

Does that mean that I think that Torah learning won't increase or be a major factor in life in the days of Moshiach? No, not at all. In fact, you can argue that the incredible growth in Torah learning in the last twenty years or so is a step in the right direction toward the coming of Moshiach. But I just don't see it as being the only thing in life -- even in Moshiach's days.

The Wolf

Hat tip: OnionSoupMix

* Just as an aside, the idea of having a group of people who do all the work and another group that simply benefits from it eeriely brings to my mind the words "Morlocks" and "Eloi."


Anonymous said...

The weird and offensive thing about the ImaMother posting is that it is written in the imperative. Had the lady posted it as prose and prefaced it with "this is what I think will happen when Mashiach arrives", it would inspire much less vitriol.

-suitepotato- said...

I rather think G-d would impose upon no person anything that would bring them sadness.

Also, that stuff read like a born again Christian bit on the rapture.

Anonymous said...

See sanhedrin 99a - "damar shmuel, ein bein haolam hazeh lymot hamshiach ela shibud malchiyot lvad"

Gmar Tov
Joel Rich

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

when reading it, i was sure it must a parody!

Anonymous said...


The Hedyot said...

This is exactly the kind of perspective I was taught to have when it comes to Moshiach. Essentially, it was supposed to be just like yeshiva, but instead of it being just my rabbeim and the yeshiva faculty imposing on me all the stuff I couldn't stand, it would now be obligatorily mandated on a national level.

Ugh. I don't even believe in this stuff anymore, but it still makes me shudder to think of the life I was supposed to submit myself to.

Anonymous said...

the idea of having a group of people who do all the work and another group that simply benefits from it eeriely brings to my mind the words "Morlocks" and "Eloi.

I quite agree. What makes it more offensive is that she directs the reader to leave behind any "electric/ electronic gadgets". Why? Because the reader will have non-Jewish help. Surely even in her mindset the non-Jews only assist the Jews in order to let their Jewish beneficiaries sit and learn all day. Their time is not worthless; nor is it desirable that they be occupied with minutiae that could be easily done with a "gadget".

I think her outburst was a sort of pious exclamation and that it shouldn't be taken to reflect her intellectual views. If she reflected on it she would find that the Tanach describes the Messianic era as one in which Jews are farming, Jews are making music, Jews are building houses and so forth. I guess she might imagine that all this is being done by other people under Jewish direction, but that would be to kvetch the pesukim in order to fit a particular mindset.

ProfK said...

Posts like the one you showed here seem to give me blog-induced feminism, and on a Sunday yet. Just what are the women going to be doing while all males are immersed, yomom v'layla, in Torah study? Since this woman has all tasks being taken care of for us by others, just what are we women going to be doing? There is a limit as to how many children you can bear and nurse, so we're going to just be sitting around looking decorative? Oops, scratch that--wouldn't be tsniusdik. So we're going to just vegetate in our houses and wait for our menfolk to come home when they are in the mood for something they can't get from a gemorah? Sorry, I don't buy that yomai hamoshiach are going to place women firmly in the role of sex objects.

Orthoprax said...


I'm not remotely exaggerating my response to her statements when I say that it reminds me directly of an Orwellian nightmare. Each person getting a 'chelek' according to their needs, no freedom of where you'd live, little freedom of association, uniformity of interests and activities with severe curtail of high technology and external sources of information. She's describing a communist police state.

"Just as an aside, the idea of having a group of people who do all the work and another group that simply benefits from it eeriely brings to my mind the words "Morlocks" and "Eloi.""

How do you figure? All the benefits the Eloi were given were well cancelled out by the fact that they were culled to feed the Morlocks. If anything, it's plainly a civilization based on the concept of a Jewish nobility and non-Jewish peasantry. A sociological construct that's hard to justify ethically given modern standards of liberal democracy.

G said...

the idea of having a group of people who do all the work and another group that simply benefits from it eeriely brings to my mind the words "Morlocks" and "Eloi."

..or, y'know...tip of my tongue, tip of my tongue...

Anonymous said...

a wise person once told me that the difference between religion and delusion is the number who believe. This stuff is delusional.