Bentzion Netanyahu, R.I.P.

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(May 6, 2012) …Think of the forerunners of today’s Ancient Palestinians, the Philistines who thought that by capturing the Ark of the Covenant that they had gotten their hands on some material which would give them power. What they did not understand is that Jewishness is not to be found in material objects but inside oneself. The Ark of the Covenant contained just some words etched in stone whose power was not in the stone but in the spirit and intellect behind the words. The Ark was not some object that anyone could get his hands on like a magic wand and manipulate its power.

By the same token, here was Benzion Netanyahu apparently cut off from the Sabbath that he had keep all his life as a duty to his father without ever understanding what it was all about.

Ergo, his oddball thesis which other scholars shake their heads at. His thesis was that religion was not a factor in the relationship between the Roman Catholic Spaniards and the Jews.

He rightly pointed to the material dimension of the inquisition and the motivations of the Church to burn Jews at the stake because the punishment for being a false Christian, being exposed as a Jew in secret, included the sheer, human, ugly greed of the Church; for in addition to being burnt at the stake, all the victim’s property was confiscated by the Church. The Inquisition brought Spaniards great wealth, as the Holocaust in Germany, besides being another mass burning of Jews, was also the theft of the money, the homes, the cars, the businesses, you name it, of the Six Million.

Bentzion Netanyahu was like a color-blind person who cannot see some or even all colors. In his own life religion did not exist, and so it is not surprising this is how he looked upon the Spanish Inquisition.

And this is root of his son’s identical deadness when it comes to Yiddishkeit, to the metaphysical and religious experience of the Jews.

In one of the voluminous commentaries over the weekend someone who knew Bentzion Netanyahu personally said the same thing. There was not a drop of Yiddishkeit in him. Like father like son. Like son, like father…