Thursday, September 21, 2023

You Other Jews Don't Punch Your Chests Hard Enough During Confession. Allow Me. by Peter Beinart (PreOccupied Territory)

Our weekly column from the humor site PreOccupied Territory.

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You Other Jews Don't Punch Your Chests Hard Enough During Confession. Allow Me.  
by Peter Beinart

New York, September 21 - Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is upon us. Many of the religiously devoted have been reciting penitentiary prayers for weeks already, passages that include a repeated litany of sinful attitudes and behaviors that we regret, an alphabetical acrostic that features a gesture of striking the chest over the heart at the mention of each term. I must say, observing my coreligionists recently, and through the years: you hit yourselves far too lightly. I insist on doing it for you.

This has become a worrisome trend. You other Jews feel insufficient guilt about existing, let alone sympathizing with - or, God forbid, actively supporting - Jewish assertions of sovereignty and removal of outside oppression. A good punch or twenty-four, times three, per weekday, ought to help remedy that. It'd be my pleasure.

I know, I know, there's no way I can do it all on my own. Jews who neglect, or refuse, to guilt-punch themselves hard enough far outnumber me. I could never hope to reach all of you without exhausting myself, and even then, I'd fall short. But fear not: I can call upon hundreds, even thousands, of like-minded colleagues, many of whom aren't even Jewish, to assist me in my punch-every-Jew-for-their-own-atonement initiative. Finding enough non-Jews interested in helping uphold that value has never posed a problem.

As the Talmud famously teaches, we encourage people to maintain positive practices even if they undertake those practices for the wrong reasons, because eventually they may begin to do them for the right reasons. Indeed, many, perhaps most, of the volunteers I aim to recruit will not share my specific motivations for this enterprise, but no one can deny the enthusiasm and robust participation they will bring to the job. We can all admire that, and one day, they will engage in the punching for its own sake.

One can even dream that we Jews will (re?)acquire the capacity to punch ourselves hard enough in recognition of our collective guilt for whatever the cultural hegemony deems the greatest sin of the age. All along, I plan to continue my current trajectory of speaking engagements, panel discussions, article royalties, and other income streams born of encouraging my people to surrender any control for their own communal security and safety, not to mention self-determination.

Goodness, those are such triggering, disturbing terms. They fill me with shame and make me want to punch someone!

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