Sunday, August 21, 2011

How to get rid of Gaddafi

I wrote this up a few months ago, but never hit publish. With recent news (and here) about successes against Kaddaffi in Libya, this has the potential of being outdated. So I'll publish it now.

It turns out that Schlock Rock Country Yossi had it right. Partial lyrics from a song from my childhood, Chulent:
Chulent is its name,
Heartburn is its game.
It looks so innocent,
It's deadly just the same.
If I had my way,
I'd ship it all the way,
And drop it on Gaddafi,
He'd be gone in a day...

So let me give you folks some friendly advice,
Don't eat that chulent 'cause it's not worth the price.
Let me mark my words that this will happen real soon,
Chulent-powered rockets will take men to the moon!
Why should chulent be the key to getting rid of Khadafi? Apparently, it is to counter the magic amulet / potion by Rabbi Shimon Chaim Pinto. To quote Yeranen Yaakov:
Kikar has an article that says that in the period before Reagan attacked Qaddaffi's compound in 1986, Rav Shimon Hayim Pinto, the current Chief Rabbi of Ashdod, gave Qaddaffi a potion for protection and success.  Included in the potion was leftover Matzah from the Afikomen, pieces of Etrog, and oil from Hanukka candles - all stuffed into a tube.

The rav told this over in a Shabbat Hagadol Derasha this year in Kiryat Malachi.  He said that he always carries a piece of Afikomen Matzah around with him as a Segula.  He then explained that 25 years ago, a representative of the Lybian government asked him for an amulet for success to give to Qaddaffi.  The rabbi first refused, saying that he doesn't deal with such things, but when pressed, he gave him this aforementioned vial of potion.  The representative passed it on to the leader's subjects, who inspected it in a laboratory.  

Weeks later, the representative returned to the rabbi, asking what was in the vial.  After the rabbi described the formula to the representative, the information was passed on to Qaddaffi's [all-female] security detail.  

The rabbi's students now say that it is this potion that Rav Pinto sent him which saved Qaddaffi from President Reagan's attack on his compound in 1986.
Chulent, then, would be just the thing to counteract the magic of afikomen matza, esrog pieces, and Chanukkah oil. Oy vey, turning mitzvos into magic charms!

Hashem runs the world. Let us grant the superstitious assumption in the personal, micro-scale case, that this potion / amulet has mystical properties to protect the wearer. But is it really the case that, on the macro-scale, Hashem would decide what happens to an entire country, and on the world-stage, because the leader has an amulet?! Hashem sure is lucky that Yaakov Avinu did not give Pharaoh a magical amulet to protect him from harm, or else who knows if He would have been able to fulfill His promise to the Avos, to redeem klal Yisrael.

It seems rather off that the Lockerbie Bombing, for example, occurred because of this magical amulet from Rabbi Pinto. I don't buy it, and consider this one instance of many in which superstition has infiltrated Jewish theology and Sephardic Judaism.


Zac said...

Actually, the original lyrics were "if we dropped it on the Arabs they'd be gone in a day". I wonder what's worse.

joshwaxman said...

i recall both.

but given their adaptation of secular songs, i suspect the original original lyrics were that of a secular song. something like:

Charlotte is her name,
Heartbreak is her game.
She looks so innocent,
She deadly just the same.
If I had my way,
I'd kiss her it all the way...

or something of that nature. I don't know what the next line would be, but my guess is that it would be
"and something something Charlotte,
She'd be gone in a day."

It is understandable, given the context of Arab wars against Israel.

yaak said...

Of course I agree with the general idea of the second-to-last paragraph of this post. This is why Hashem turned Bilam's curses into blessings. And why balak's kesem was ineffective.

It's funny how you and fellow bloggers seem to call amulets and segulas "magic", "magical", "superstition", etc., which they clearly aren't to those who know what they are. ח"ו to call them by those names.

joshwaxman said...

if you agree with the general idea of the second to last paragraph, do you then disagree with the sentiment expressed in "The rabbi's students now say that it is this potion that Rav Pinto sent him which saved Qaddaffi from President Reagan's attack on his compound in 1986."?

yaak said...

No. Nor do I find it controdictory. Who says it was Hashem's will for Qaddaffi to be killed by Reagan?

joshwaxman said...

If it was not, then the same sequence of actual events on the that saved him from Reagan's forces could have taken place, and WOULD have taken place, without the amulet. It would not be מעלה nor מוריד.

(Yes, I can predict that you will answer something along the lines of that it was Hashem's will that he have the amulet, which in turn led to the practical workings of "luck".)

yaak said...

Hashem conducts the world through natural means, but intervenes when necessary.
Through nature, Qaddaffi should have been killed. The amulet, according to Rav Pinto, protected him. Obviously, Hashem's will was that he not get killed and that the amulet be effective.

joshwaxman said...

right, as i anticipated. the rejoinder is left as an exercise to the reader.



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