Virtual Talmud

If there is one thing we have learned from the Iraq war it’s that the day after revolution is much harder to deal with than the revolution itself. What America is in the process of realizing is that teaching people how to live in freedom is a far greater undertaking than giving them that freedom in the first place. We are now faced with the question: how much responsibility do we have to take for the Iraqis? Is it our job to play God in the Middle East controlling the day-to-day lives of each citizen?

Most scholars explain the reason Sukkot was celebrated after the High Holidays was due to agricultural reasons (it was a harvest holiday). Others however, have suggested a deeper conection between the festivals of Sukkot and Passover. According to Rabbi Irving Greenberg, “On Passover, Jews restage the great event of liberation. Sukkot celebrates the way of liberation–the march across a barren desert to freedom and the Promised land.” On Sukkot we learned how to be a liberated people, how to live in outdoor open huts realizing that freedom entails a certain degree of vulnerability.
Iraqis long ago woke up from their Passover moment and are now living in a culture of Sukkot: vulnerable to all the dangers of freedom. The only difference between them and the Israelites was that Israel had God to protect them and the Iraqis hmmm well…the Iraqis got George Bush. The democracy that has been put up in Iraq is no stronger than a makeshift hut exposed to the winds of the fall season. It remains to be seen whether or not Iraqis will be able to build an infrastructure of trust secure enough to weather the extremist threat that lies around them.

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