Of Llamas and Lamas
Unpacking Controversy over the Dalai Lama, the Peruvian Llama, and the Horev High School
What’s the connection between the current controversies with the Dalai Lama, the Horev High School, and this week’s Torah reading? Quite a strong one, as it turns out.
For those who don’t know, there was international uproar when a video emerged of the venerable Dalai Lama kissing a small boy on the lips, sticking out his tongue and asking him to suck it. I was among many who were extremely upset to find out that such a remarkable person turns out to be yet another pervert.
Meanwhile, here in Israel, there is uproar over a Purim video from the Horev girls’ school titled “If the school was Mizrachi.” The girls painted their faces and engaged in various skits playing on Mizrachi stereotypes. There was national backlash, with condemnations coming even from the Prime Minister.
And this week’s Torah portion is Shemini, which lists camels and other animals with one kosher sign, but does not mention llamas, even though they also only possess one kosher sign. We are also given a list of non-kosher birds, which includes the bat - but bats are mammals, not birds! And we are told that insects must not be eaten, because they are “sheketz,” disgusting - and yet the Torah then immediately says that locusts can be eaten!
It seems to me that by understanding the latter, we can gain some insight into the former.
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