I complained about the rainbow flags last year but didn’t articulate my position. This is the symbol of my religion: Noahides are Gentiles who affirm the truth of Judaism (like Newton). The following is a thumbnail sketch. I apologize for the length and links, but it’s important that the precise nature of this complaint is understood. It has nothing to do with hatred or bigotry.
The Torah is a Revelation from G-d. This is not based on faith: G-d’s existence can be demonstrated, and the historicity of the Sinai Revelation is a function of the Kuzari Principle (the eyewitness testimony of a nation). There is exponetially better evidence for Judaism than any other worldview. It’s helpful not to think of it as a “religion.” It’s the universe we’re inhabiting.
The TaNaKh (“Old Testament”) is divided into three sections. The most important is the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Only the Torah was written by G-d; Moses was His stenographer. It was originally written before Creation, in “letters of black fire on a scroll of white fire.” It’s the DNA of reality.
The Nevi’im (Prophets) were written by human beings under the spirit of Nevu’ah (prophecy). They are not equal to the Torah and do not change it. The Ketuvim (Writings or Hagiographa) is a step below the Prophets. It was written under Ruach HaKodesh (Divine inspiration). The Nevi’im and Ketuvim were canonized by the Men of the Great Assembly and are only in the TaNaKh until Mashiach comes.
The “upshot” is that Jews have 613 Commandments. Gentiles are obligated to observe the Seven Laws of Noah. Conversion is not required. This is the position of Orthodox Judaism. This is the position of the G-d who created and sustains the universe, the Holy One, blessed be He. Views to the contrary, both secular and religious, are mistaken. In the Messianic Era all of mankind will know this. May it come soon.
The pride flag appropriates the symbol of an Everlasting Covenant, a sign of G-d’s mercy, symbol of the Noahide Laws. For thousands of years, to billions of people (mostly Christians), the rainbow represented a Divine promise, not what pride celebrations ascribe to it (since 1978). Upon seeing a rainbow, Orthodox Jews pray,
Whether consciously or not, the Company is committed to the inaccuracy of Judaism and Western monotheism: the rainbow symbolizes a promise from Almighty G-d. It is neither frivolous nor celebratory. The Company has become a hostile working environment for Torah-observant employees, Christians, and Muslims. How many are too intimidated to complain? What an awful thing to do to your co-workers.
Our harassment policy states, “The Company prohibits all forms of harassment based on race, color, religion … All employees are responsible for assuring the workplace is free from intimidation, ridicule, insult and other offensive conduct.”
Consequently, stop using the symbol of my religion like this. It’s harassing, intimidating, insulting, and offensive. I have been a faithful employee for many years. I normally don’t proselytize or criticize other worldviews. I ask the same of my employer. The extent to which business can remain free of theology is hard to overstate.
The purpose of mankind is to transform the world into a chariot of HaShem’s glory. The Company has been a tremendous conduit of chesed (loving kindness). It’s an honor to work here. Please keep it that way.
“We ascribe great cosmological significance to the rainbow. Indeed, the Torah devotes four psukim in Genesis (9:12-16) to the rainbow. These psukim explain that that the rainbow is a promise between HaShem and mankind never again to destroy the world through a flood.” Halachic Analysis: All About Rainbows
“Among the many blessings said on natural phenomenon is a special blessing on the rainbow. This blessing, which acknowledges that HaShem ‘remembers the covenant’, recognizes the rainbow not only as a wonder of nature but also as a sign of G-d’s covenant with Noah – a covenant which is really at the root of human existence!” Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir
“In order to reassure him, HaShem showed Noach the sign of the rainbow, which represents the pathways of repentance and the ability to find HaShem everywhere, even in the darkness of the material world.” Breslov on Parshas Noach
“The rainbow represents Divine enlightenment, a refraction of G-d’s light, as it penetrates into our physical world. Why does the Torah emphasize that the rainbow is ‘in the clouds’? Clouds represent our emotional and physical aspects, just as clouds are heavy and dark (the Hebrew word geshem means both ‘rain’ and ‘physical matter’). The covenant of the ‘rainbow in the clouds’ indicates that the Divine enlightenment (the rainbow) now extended from the realm of the intellect, where it existed before the Flood, to the emotional and physical spheres (the clouds). G-d’s rainbow of light now also penetrated the thick clouds of the material world.
“How was this accomplished? The Divine light became ‘clothed’ in a more physical form – concrete mitzvot. G-d gave to Noah the first and most basic moral code: the seven laws of the Noahide code. These commandments served to bridge the divide between intellect and deed, between the metaphysical and the physical.”Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaKohen Kook
Seated on foam padding bursting through blue upholstery, you recoil from a moldering mass grave of soda cans, candy wrappers, and strata upon strata of fast-food containers. Like anguished spirits unable to enter the next realm, fierce vapors linger, the ghosts of these mortal remains. A black tube lies across your lap; another half-pint fills your hand. Accepting a ride from these littering marauders seemed like madness until a free beverage entered the equation. To the relief of your long-suffering ears, the passenger ejects a cassette.
“Kid, I was gonna rewind that. Buddy Rich is a gem.”
“Kid, Buddy Rich is the emperor of ice cream, but we been listenin’ to him all day.”
Toothpicks impale the loaves of flesh protruding between their shoulders. The change from concrete to gravel levitates the three of you along with the moveable burial ground. Beneath a cloud whose tentacles dissolve into membranous nubs, broken glass glitters on the hills and recesses of a serpentine road. Even at five mph it’s clear the wagon’s suspension is in the same state of dilapidation as its upholstery.
Two boys wearing black and gold hockey jerseys throw rocks at beer bottles lined atop a doorless refrigerator. They stop and stare as though frightened on your behalf. One runs a finger across his throat. The side-burned blobs sneer in unison. “What the hell you lookin’ at?” says the driver.
“Go ask your ma where babies come from,” says the passenger. “Tell her to show you. It stinks worse than any stork.” The boys dutifully trudge inside a trailer.
Disassembled cars suggest a village of aspiring mechanics. A black cat peers through reeds of long-neglected grass before darting in front of the wagon. You lean back and smile. Right to left means good luck. Then the cat risks its life to run back, double cursing you. Just as Bobby and Jerry played the same songs differently night after night, Chaos and Entropy are doing a wild jam with the trailer cars. Any individuality stems from unique states of disrepair. Tiny and sparsely allocated windows look like the holes a child pokes on a box before confining a frog in it. Partaking of the knowledge that it’s five o’clock somewhere, men uniformed in flannel pretend to ignore the wagon.
After rounding a sharp turn, the homage to corrosion stops in front of the last trailer on the road. Sprawling vines of poison ivy almost hide a barbwire fence. Which design is crueler? The driver pulls a cassette off the dash. Like a genie trapped in a plugged bottle he writhes his way out of the car. The silver chain connecting his wallet to his jeans could constrain King Kong. The car rises two feet after the passenger emerges. While comparing them you remember a principle regarding the identity of indiscernibles. Or was it the indiscernibility of identicals? Their grace on land suggests the front seat is their natural habitat.
“Kid, where’s the other tape?”
“It was right here, kid. If you lost it again the Kangaroo will go berserk.”
While four mitts turn the car inside out you pretend to sift through layers in the landfill.
“Kid, this igit was sittin’ on it.”
“Thanks a lot, cockbreath. Here, you carry ’em.”
In loose-fitting clothes they would look intimidating, retired power-lifters enjoying la dolce vita. In tight undershirts the show’s over. Meaty inner-tubes jiggle and jangle beneath the flimsy cotton medium. One runs his knuckles across a homemade wind chime made out of five lacquered cans of Olde Frothingslosh ale. They wait. Rotund shadows pool at their feet like pits of tar swallowing prehistoric beasts.
A girl with cinnamon skin and one black eye opens the door and steps out, ferociously beautiful, skinny like a famine survivor medevaced in the nick of time. The breeze lashes long dark hair against her shoulders. Wildly arching eyebrows send a lupine fury cascading down her face to break on pouty lips. She takes a drag off a cigarette, revealing scars like disorganized crop circles on her stringy forearm, and blows smoke at your escorts as they enter. Thimbles threaten to pop through the planar surface of her green tank-top.
The queasy shame of a man denying the allure of Balthus’ nymphs compels you to look away, to peek around the corner where a satellite dish points at the ground. Behind it stands a gaunt man in his third trimester. “You got business here?” he says, clutching the wrong end of a .454 magnum like some deranged judge preparing to declare order for the last time.
You hop back to the cinnamon girl, who shuts the door behind you. Cardboard shades banish all rumors of the sun. The lambent glow from a TV illumes a pyramid of milk crates jammed with walkie-talkies and assorted gadgetry. Handcuffs and a cattle prod are not the most conspicuous. Empty popcorn bags litter a kitchenette counter like conches washed up on shore.
Standing in front of a narrow door one of the twins clears his throat. “What is the difference between an orange?”
“Just go in,” says the cinnamon girl.
“What … is the difference between an orange.”
“This is so lame.”
“If I have to say it again.”
In one long groan she says, “A bicycle because a vest has no sleeves.” She stands beside him and they both put a key in the door.
“Turn it,” he says.
“I am, you fucktard.”
“Try it again. Turn now.”
Nothing. He takes a step back and lands a savage kick, opening it. You join the brothers inside a closet lined with Pabst tall boys. Next to a dangling bulb their faces look like freshly-waxed cars on a drizzly day. One turns around. His flabby arm pushes you into the absorbent mass of his cohort. He selects a beer at eye-level and carefully pulls it to a ninety degree angle.
“It ain’t that one, kid.”
He tries the one next to it, and the next. “This’ll be the death of me.”
“What the hell, kid. Any day now.”
“Kid, it’s one of these.” And for the next ten minutes he pulls cans in the general area until the closet makes a terrible grinding noise like buckshot in a blender and begins to descend. A whiff of burnt oil acts as a desperately needed air freshener.
“Kid, don’t forget which one it is.”
“You ain’t no better at findin’ it, kid.”
After a prelude to eternity the closet jerks to a stop, rises a few feet, and squeals with a pitch and volume that has to be audible to every pooch in the Northern Hemisphere.
The door opens to what looks like an old submarine. You follow them into a dank room and take a seat at a picnic table. Along a wall nourishing barnacles of rust, silver keyholes fail to correspond to lines, recesses, or anything indicating the presence of doors or compartments.
You place the tapes on the table. One of your hosts taps it with both hands, doing a percussion version of “Kilimanjaro Cookout.” His twin joins him for an inspired take on an old favorite before veering off into tribal drumming.
A walking affront to the proportional standards of the ideal masculine physique enters the room. Atop shoulders too narrow for everything beneath them, an oily leather face droops off a cylindrical head tucked into a Packers cap. Mighty gray tumbleweeds cover his cheeks.
“This week on the Home Remodeling Show, the house that Pabst built,” says one of your hosts, pointing to a bulge taxing the seams of the Kangaroo’s bib overalls.
“Shut your pie hole, Remus,” he responds in a quavering voice.
“Yeah, Remus,” says his brother, doing a pitch-perfect impression.
“I’ll bitch slap you, Romulus.”
The Kangaroo pulls a key from his overalls and turns it in one of the shiny holes. A section of the wall ascends like a door sliding open on a concession stand, revealing a red panel where silver knobs descend incrementally in size from a softball to a penny. Above them a yellow grid subdivides a green screen. Four speakers descend from the ceiling. “You fellas get anything on tape?”
“Signed, sealed, and delivered, chief,” says Remus.
“You fellas sure you know how to use the tube?”
“Piece of cake, boss,” says Romulus, handing him one of the tapes.
The Kangaroo inserts it in a slot. Scraggly white lines dance across the screen and static explodes from the speakers. You cover your ears. He adjusts knobs like he’s playing Tetris. The lines on the grid become less jagged, almost parabolic. “That boy is a natural born scrambler.”
“Scramblin’ like a cook at George Webb,” says Remus, drumming his fingers on the table.
“Whose tape is this?” says the Kangaroo.
Like some inquisitive beast discovering a mirror in the ruins of an abandoned town, the twins eye each other amid a pantomime of shrugs and grimaces. Though capable of one basic expression they make the most of it with virtuosic skill. Romulus hunches his shoulders and throws up his hands. “The big fella?”
The Kangaroo strokes a cumulonimbus sideburn. “What’s up with him? He’s been actin’ weird lately. You’d think he’d consider boozin’ to be a dereliction of his sacred duties.”
“He no longer demonstrates a proficient sense of pride in the organization.”
“Long as he gets the job done a little hootch ain’t gonna hurt. Good thing we’re trainin’ another, just in case.”
“I don’t think Zelda’s got the right stuff, chief.”
“She got a mouth on her, boss. Her cussin’ could take the paint off a wall.”
“Her cussin’ could knock flies off a turd. She uses swear words I never heard of. It ain’t right for a girl to talk like that. She’s violent too. Kneed me in the balls just for lookin’ at her. Romulus was thinkin’ this guy here might have what it takes.”
“It was Remus’ idea.”
The Kangaroo looks in your general direction and shudders. “Quit bringin’ rummies down here. Does this look like a flophouse? Stop fartin’ around. This location is secret and your jobs are serious. We ain’t workin’ for the CIA or FBI no more. Give Zelda a chance.” He ejects the tape and sits beside you. Suppressing your gag reflex you watch him roll a wad of syrupy chaw juice over his bulging lip while adjusting a huge black mound of snuff. “You boys sure these fellas are full-time third shift?”
“These guys are hardcore third. Drunk or not, you gotta trust the Mantis. He’s like a dividin’ rod for findin’ guards.”
“These fellas ain’t rent-a-cops, are they?”
“No way. Lodestar’s a classy joint. These guys are in-house.”
“Keepin’ tabs on rent-a-cops is like tryin’ to keep track of migratin’ deer,” says the Kangaroo.
“It’s like trackin’ meth sluts.”
“Kid, you could implant a chip in their ear while they’re knobbin’ you.”
“I got us a hee-uge contract lined up,” says the Kangaroo. “We take good care of this client and we’ll be eau de bologna.”
“Are these two gonna be the containers?”
“They’ll make top notch containers. They both got some serious aptitude for scramblin’, specially the first fella. Now it’s a matter of matchin’ the initiation process to each one’s specific profile.” The Kangaroo spits a dark stream over your head. Some of it lands in a puddle on the floor where many have preceded it. Most of it does not. He pounds his fist and points between the stout twins. “A few of our other clients is less than satisfied with the services provided. You fellas can’t be blabbin’ about the secret key.”
“I never said nothin’,” says Remus.
“Am I supposed to believe the containers heard it on the news?”
“It wasn’t me,” says Romulus.”
“Well it’s gotta stop. Word of mouth is our only means of advertisin’. I don’t think the brochure was one of Duane Callahan’s finer ideas.”
The Kangaroo cracks his knuckles and stares at the table. “I regret to inform you that due to the new technology we have acquired and successfully utilized we will no longer be needin’ the doses of William Werzinski.”
The brothers bellow like tenors in some ungodly opera. “He’s practically family,” pleads Romulus. “Nobody gets better acid than William.”
“You can’t replace William with a tube,” says Remus. “He’ll take it hard. He ain’t exactly stable.”
“He’s a sensitive genius, chief. You know how they are.”
“The LSD method wasn’t workin’ for shit and you fellas know it,” says the Kangaroo. “He ain’t gonna starve. If I ain’t mistaken, him and his wiener dog still live at home.”
“I sure as hell wouldn’t mess with him. You see the way he watches you, like he knows what you’re thinkin’ and he ain’t impressed.”
“Let’s make sure things go smoothly,” says the Kangaroo. “Good containers is hard to come by. I’ll need all the usual details about both loads. I mean guards. Then, I swear, if their uploads don’t go right there’ll be hell to pay. We never had a Jawa for a client before.”
“Ain’t they those grubby little critters from Star Wars?”
“Even worse. Now give this dirty rummy some free drink chips and get him the hell out of here.”
On your back in the alley behind Straight Flush tavern you stare at the speckled canopy above, no more lost than anything else up there. Visions of Zelda dance through your mind: reflections on the contradictory conjunction of her frailty and fierce demeanor; 1,001 inferences based on several seconds of observation, the notorious first impression to which everything else is an appendix; longings that feel awkward even here, as though some prohibitions are not the excrescence of bureaucratic fiat but etched in the tablet of existence. Maybe you’re tasting the bitter fruit harvested by recluses and misfits throughout the ages, the discovery that we remain attached to the fabric of humanity simply by being alive. An invisible strand keeps us connected to this web, which has no statute of spatial limitations.
The stars, are they not confetti? There is a direct relation between the number of them and the triviality of you. Squint your eyes. The constellation of a long slender hound appears, marking the heavens more objectively than dippers or crabs or bowmen. Trace it with your finger. The dog glares as if perturbed by your discovery.
Perhaps the ancients didn’t name him for a reason, or only spoke the name during ceremonies where his guidance was sought, his wrath placated. They looked to the stars and the stars looked back. What became of them? Survival was not among the blessings from this deity.
Close your eyes and seize the earth. So solid. So flat and stationary. Your senses are liars and fools. The hound in the sky continues to scowl, as he did before you were born, before all men were born.
When the next great historian writes of the decline and fall of our Empire, I will have no difficulty in pinpointing its zenith.
Few mourn their passage. Few know what has been lost. Perhaps the Truth swims too deep and fast to be caught in the flimsy nets of most men. What ennobled this period in history was neither our knowledge nor the opulence some enjoyed.
What merits striving? What should be sought? Fame, a function of herd contingencies, is obviously worth less than nothing. A mate can bring joy, but they are plentiful like stars and as different from each other as Tuesdays from Wednesdays. The best that can be said for the pursuit of riches is that it distracts from the grievous uncertainties of Existence, assuming, as you should, that most would crumble if confronted with the ultimate puzzle.
Posthumous glory, dependent on the beliefs of those yet to be born, is the most senseless of all. If the imbecilic estimations of the mob currently wandering the earth are to be ignored, how much more so the ravings of the brutes who will follow? Indeed, a wise man will shun renown like death itself. In this world of flux and woe, does anything warrant pursuit? Is anything intrinsically good?
Quietude, of course: a state of mind tranquil and serene, yet confident and affirmative of life despite its precarious nature. The courtship of Truth is long and austere, but it spares one from countless delusional allurements. Despite a paucity of honorable men, the pursuit of honor may seem a fool’s errand, but aren’t ideals unattainable by definition? Are they not the stairway from the swamp of our beastly nature? Dignity and heroism certainly merit striving, but intertwined with them, inseparable from them, is a man’s car. But not any car will suffice.
If a wise man were called upon to demarcate the epoch when the automobiles were most magnificent, he would, without hesitation, name the Golden Age between the decession of Johnson and the inauguration of Carter. The cars were colossal and solid, forged from the purest sheet metal. Powered by the blast furnaces of the gods — the grandest V-8 engines — they had no peers in strength. In homage to Euclid, all the great four-doored ones exemplified rectangularity: the Cadillac Fleetwood and Sedan DeVille, the Lincoln Continental Town Car, the Pontiac Bonneville and Catalina, the Buick Electra and Chrysler New Yorker. And, of course, the Caddillac Talisman. These glorious bricks blessed the concrete seas with their majestic bearing. And by 1980, darkness fell. The Great Ones were desecrated (“downsized” was the coarse euphemism) with puny bodies and feeble engines. What is there for a man to do but cover his eyes and weep as he beholds the degradation of what was once mighty and proud?
The elegant lane shifts, the Renaissance curls of their turns, even the smooth course down a straightaway, are these not calligraphy flowing across the pages of the road. Or syllogisms necessitating every coordinate on this perfect line. Though hurling through space at 120 miles-per-hour, one experiences it not as motion but the exaltation of surfing a tsunami in a luxury liner. Brush your toe across the landmine gas-pedal. The ravenous hood devours the road and the distinction between you blurs. “You” become the rational faculty of a mythic being: half car, half man.
As if mocking the distinction between transcendence and immanence, the soul of this latter-day satyr neither exists apart from you nor is it pantheistic. Though the product of a synergy, it cannot not be equated with any sum. When the dichotomy between you and your car collapses, when you attain oneness, the coalescence becomes irreducible — not like an elementary particle in the dusty attic of Physics, but a Necessary Unity in the basement of Ontology. Something infinitely greater than man’s powers of reckoning absorbs you. More cannot be said. Some experiences cannot be contained in the cheap Tupperware of language. You cannot take a shining star from the heavens and place it in a meatloaf dish.