Shofar, so bad

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I think I had somehow been unaware of the appropriation of shofar-blowing by the MAGA movement. I mean, I probably had read about it, since Sarah Posner wrote about it, as did Sarah Imhoff over at Uncivil Religion. And it came up in the Pennsylvania Gubernatorial race, which I have been more or less following. And, I mean—my initial reaction is that it’s gross and anti-semitic. And I sympathize with people who call it disturbing and offensive, because I, personally, am both disturbed and offended.

Having said that… Jews don’t own the shofar. We don’t have exclusive ownership of Exodus 19:16-19. There is no NFT for Leviticus 25:9 and Joshua 6 is in the public domain. More specifically, all of those are Sacred Texts for Christians—including Christian Nationalists. They have as much right to the shofar as I do. They may choose to interpret it as they will, and to include it in such rituals as they find appropriate.

And yet… the use of the shofar as a MAGA symbol is gross and anti-semitic. It is supersessionist, and like most supersessionist crap it projects a weak understanding of Jewishness (vaddevah dat means—the arrogance of even claiming an understanding of it at all!) in order to claim the superiority of whatever they happen to be doing. It has all of the dangers of any eschatological movement, which means it is dangerous to everyone, but it puts a target on Jews.

We are in the three weeks before Tisha B’av, the time Between the Gates, when we mourn the destruction of the Temple and the collapse of the Kingdom of Israel (twice). It’s hard for me, this year, not to view this as another Narrow Time, for the United States. In that context, perhaps the important thing about the adoption of the shofar by the MAGA movement is not that it is gross and anti-semitic, but that it signals of the end of an era, the potential end of the aspirational idea of America—of the wonder of striving for twin goals of liberty and equality, and the hope of creating in every generation (in any generation) a truly democratic people, capable of self-governance, rejecting rule by either Tyrant or Messiah, but accepting the responsibility for ruling ourselves.

And keep in mind: the voice of the Eternal Creator is not in the great shofar, or in the earthquake, or the storm. It is a still, small voice—the silenced voice, the crushed voice. That’s the voice to listen for, even in this narrow time.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

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