Civilization, writ large, has a complicated history when it comes to dealing with neurodiversity, disability, poverty, and any number of other perceived differences.
Ancient cobblestone road: stumbling blocks?
Indiana hasn’t always been at the forefront of advancement in these areas: it was the first U.S. state to enact a eugenics law calling for the forced sterilization of certain persons, on the notion that poverty, criminality, and other perceived defects were a result of genetics. On the other hand, in 1921 the Indiana Supreme Court struck the 1907 law, even as in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court would say such laws were permissible under the federal Constitution, in part on the conclusion that “Three generations of imbeciles is enough.” Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200, 207 (1927).
Jewish culture is no exception to such problems. This week’s Torah portion, parshat Emor, gives us a not-too-subtle reminder of that.
It’s still Jewish Disability Awareness Month, but I read something related to Purim that I found provocative. Though maybe it wasn’t provocative in a good way.
Over at Mosaic, Atar Hadari has an article in the “Observations” section of the site, “What to Do When the Lord Orders Vengeance.” It’s about the Haftarah for this Shabbat, Shabbat Zakhor, the Shabbat before Purim. As Hadari says, the Haftarah is from I Samuel 15:1-34, the story where Saul decides to forego fulfilling Yahweh’s instruction to kill the Amalekite king, Agag; Samuel steps in, slaughters Agag, and informs Saul that his monarchy will soon come to an end.
Hadari says the story is a study in character and leadership styles: Saul vs. Samuel, or outer- versus inner-directed leaders.