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Roger Cohen, again naturally
by TheEtruscan at 18:17 September 29, 2014
In a famous passage from “Survival in Auschwitz,” Primo Levi relates an incident upon arrival in the Nazi death camp that captures the intersection of the human with the inhuman. He and other Italian prisoners have been held in a shed as they await their fate. Levi looks around in search of some means to quench his thirst:Maybe the Turinese Primo Levi should have looked closer at home for inexplicable acts of barbarism: in the Torah, the fairy tale his ancestors wrote for self-aggrandizement.
“I eyed a fine icicle outside the window, within hand’s reach. I opened the window and broke off the icicle but at once a large, heavy guard prowling outside brutally snatched it away from me. ‘Warum?’ I asked him in my poor German. ‘Hier ist kein warum,’ (there is no why here), he replied, pushing me inside with a shove.”
Here there is no why.
25. Saul said, "Tell David, 'The king desires no dowry except one hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies.'" Now Saul thought he would make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.Let alone the barbarism of going out to kill for revenge but desecrate the dead too? And why boast of two hundred body parts collected when one hundred would have sufficed? And what is the fascination the tribal god YHWH has for private body parts? Foreskins and circumcisions are all over the Torah narrative.
26. When his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son-in-law. Before the deadline,
27. David arose and went, he and his men, and killed two hundred men of the Philistines. Then David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full number to the king, that he might be the king's son-in-law. Then Saul gave him Michal his daughter as wife.