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Yiddish Proverb #3 for The Third Night of Chanukah
Every year I mention how uncomfortable the military themes of Chanukah make me. A bunch of religious zealots, enraged at secularism and assimilation of the Seleucid empire (think Greek) retreat to the hills and form a militia, enact a bloody coup and rededicate their community to religious rule.
What a miracle! Let's eat!

I know, I know, culture and context and different times, but each year the story of the Maccabees and the bloody Hasmonean revolt makes me increasingly uncomfortable.

I try to avoid exposing my son to games and stories that glorify war and violence. I don't want him to think of war as a noble inevitability. Soon enoug,h there will be video games and violent narratives, and these we will parse together. But for now, I want relish our peace.

Which brings me to the Yiddish proverb of the day:

Better a bad peace than a good war.
A shlekhter sholem iz beser vi a guter krig.

Last month for Remembrance Day, he came home from preschool in a solemn mood with a paper poppy on his shirt. I asked him what it meant and he recited "A long, long time ago, warriors fought far away. They died in sand, in mud, and in water."

And then came the questions:
"Why did they die?'
"How did they die?"
"Why were they killing them?"
"Where were their mommies and daddies?"
and then
"What is a gun? - Oh, I know!" and he opens his mouth and points to his gums. (He now calls his gums his guns).

The story from school stuck with him. The other day, as he was about to climb into the bath where a Fisher Price boat bobbed innocently, its chubby Little People captain at the helm, he perched on his bare toes and gestured grandly to the bathwater, "A long, long time ago, warriors died in this water."

I have changed my mind about the proverb. Perhaps this one is better, if a bit more cumbersome expression for the military theme (and I apologize to the reader who objects to my old fashioned transliteration. I'm using an old book from 1970, undoubtedly written by Yekkes!).

 If one soldier knew what the other thinks, there would be no war.
Ven ain zelner volt gevust vos der anderer tracht, volt kain krig nisht geven.

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12.3.2010
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post #1512
bio: adina
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12/3/2010
23:31

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