Personal rebellion is an attempt of the ego to destabilize current balance between “Judge” and “King”, or to restore a former balance that has been violated. The two basic concepts, “Judge” and “King”, essential for explaining and understanding personal rebellion, have been discussed earlier (“Judge and King”). We succinctly summarize them here:
- An “Ego-Judge” submits to “Law” and ensures that all that the ego desires conforms to that law. The source of the law may differ: It might be an authority to which the ego submits ¾ internal (like the super-ego, a Freudian concept); internalized authorities (like parents) or close external ones (like teachers); Or the “Law” might emanate from external sources altogether, distant external, like an adopted ideology (Communism, Fascism), a cherished conception embodied by a public movement (Feminism, Liberalism) or religion;
- An “Ego-King” does whatever the heart desires, free from any restrictive “Law”.
The struggle between “Ego-Judge” and “Ego-King” is an ongoing struggle that is waged within each of us from cradle to deathbed. At times, this struggle finds expression in an open personal rebellion (like addiction or suicide); At other times, it assumes the form of a public movement that its sole purpose, whether publicly confessed or otherwise, is the breakdown of an existing social order. Typical examples from the past are the Russian revolution of 1917, various youth movements of the sixties and the seventies of the previous century (like the bitniks, the hippies) up to current ongoing popular trends striving for breakdown of the traditional social order in modern-day freedom-saturated Western democracies. Some of these movements for breakdown of current social order were fully justified (judged from human-rights perspective), and they aimed at restoring freedom and equality where these were in scarce supply (like the Russian Revolution). But not all fall under this category. Some of current day social movements have been initiated in the name of noble and socially desirable ideals, like “Freedom” and “Equality”, while masquerading the real struggle, namely, the desire of “Ego-King” to get loose of the suffocating grip of “Ego-Judge”, grip embodied by time-honored human-nature compatible social norms.
The Bible is not ignorant to this constant struggle of human life, waged between Judge and King. And it delivers multiple stories of personal rebellion that ultimately resulted in a public rebellion, having as its sole objective indeed rebellion against the ultimate source of morality, the ultimate Judge (“Would not the Judge of all the earth do justice?”, Gen. 18:25).
The first personal rebellion in the Bible is obviously the story of Adam and Eve and eating of the forbidden fruit. The Bible does not spare words to convince the reader that the “forbidden fruit” (“The apple”) is a highly desirable object for “Ego-King” to satisfy its senses and its desires:
“And the woman saw that the tree was good for eating, and that it was a desire for the eye and the tree was desirable to wise up…” (Genesis 3:6).
So why is the “forbidden fruit” forbidden by the Creator?
The Torah teaches us two powerful lessons:
- First, that not all that is desired is allowed ¾ Some physically desirable may harm you spiritually, and ultimately also physically;
- Secondly, as consuming gas is not the purpose of driving a car, fulfilling desires (of “Ego-King”) is not the purpose of driving your life. There is a more sublime purpose to why we have “descended” unto Earth and why we live. And each of us needs to work out that purpose and fulfill it throughout our own individual life.
The second personal rebellion is the story of the corrupt people living in “the land of Shinar” (Genesis 11:2), ruled by king Nimrod (in Hebrew, literally, “Let us rebel”): “And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven” (Genesis 11:4). In other words, let us build the Tower of Babel so that we may wage war against the Creator at his own place (“heaven”).
A third example of personal rebellion, perhaps the most bizarre that has wide-range implications to our times, is the unfolding story of a bizarre idolatry, where instead of honoring and respecting the object of worship (the idol), the most despicable and derogatory acts (to the subject of worship) are being committed. This is breaking social order at the extreme, where not adhering to traditional widely acceptable social norms becomes the norm. And that norm becomes cornerstone to a new type of worship: The worshipper commits insulting derogatory offenses against the subject of worship (the idol).
That story, not so well known as the former two, is the story of Baal-Peor. The latter was one of the Idols of Moab and historic sources about this idol can easily be traced by a simple Internet search. The story of the encounter of the ancient Israelites with Baal-Peor, on their way to the Promised Land, and how they were “punished” for their serious aberration from worshiping Jehovah God, is unfolding in Numbers (25).
We concentrate here on the special extraordinary attributes of the worship of this idol and how they are relevant to today’s “modern” idols. The biblical Hebrew root of Peor is P.A.R, meaning to open (the mouth; for example, Isaiah 5:14, Job 29:23). This implies that Baal-Peor may be translated “The Lord of the Opening”. Talmudic sources extend “opening” to any opening in the body, namely, also exposure and excrement. Jewish tradition has it that the worship of Baal-Peor consisted mainly in getting near to the idol and then exposing the behind and excreting bodily faeces (feces in US spelling). Those extremely devout made the point clearer by spreading the waste matter over the idol’s body. One wonders:
- What kind of worship is this (even for idol worshiping), when you do your utmost to so extremely offend the object of worship?
- What kind of worship is this when you do your utmost to break down the most basic widely acceptable social norms, those that enabled the very existence of civilized societies for generations?
Obviously, there is some fundamental psychological need to revoke another, different, balance between “Judge” and “King”. If “Ego-Judge”, imprinted on us during upbringing, mandates that exposing your behind (or worse) in public is socially non-permissible, then me, “Ego-King”, would do the opposite, thereby tearing apart the irritating and suffocating shackles society puts on my hands, me, “Ego-King”. Worshiping Baal-Peor thus become worshiping of “Ego-King”, worshiping rebellion against society and its time-proven norms.
An extreme attempt to revoke a different balance between “Judge” and “King” has never been clearer!
Alas, this is not merely a biblical story. In front of our very eyes, we witness today the same cultural process of worshiping Baal-Peor, the tearing down of social norms that allowed society its very existence, acceptable to society since eternity, all in the name of a single modern “Ego-King Idol” — “Equality”, originally a noble ideal, now distorted beyond recognition.
Me, born and brought up in this country that I love (Israel), look with horror and great sorrow at what transpires in this country; At how the Jewish State slowly descends into a universalist state, devoid of Jewish norms, deprived of Jewish tradition, all with the incredible push of minority “elites”, who supposedly are speaking in the name of “modernity” and “progress” and “human rights”, but really advancing imported ideas and ideals alien to Judaism since its very roots were seeded, over three thousand years ago; Minority “elites” who live in the Jewish State but, in their heart of hearts, wished they were born elsewhere and lived elsewhere.