Friday, June 05, 2009

"The Speech"

Everyone -T.V., newspapers, blogs - is commenting on Obama'a big speech "to the Muslim world" in Cairo. There is not too much I can add. If you are interested, tze-ulmad (go forth and learn). You can read the full text of the speech here, or watch it on video here, or just google Obama Cairo.

I will say that while the speech made all the right noises, I am still skeptical of Obama's ability (or desire) to follow up his lofty words with appropriate actions. (I will be happy to be wrong on this.)

In that spirit I will quote the cleverest comment I read on "the speech": by Arthur Waskow.

What is greater, speech or deeds?
Speech, for it leads to deeds?
(Of course this echoes the famous Talmudic story: "R. Tarfon and the Elders were once reclining in the upper story of Nithza's house, in Lydda, when this question was raised before them: Is study greater, or practice? R. Tarfon answered, saying: Practice is greater. R. Akiba answered, saying: Study is greater. Then they all answered and said: Study is greater, for it leads to action.")

But I would caution that this is not always so. Just as too many yeshiva buchers study all day but do little to fix the world, and fail miserably to follow many of the less outwardly pious mitzvot, so too a politicians speeches are not always followed up with matching deeds.

Only time will tell if "the speech" will be a turning point in U.S. policy in the Middle East, or just more empty words. But maybe there is reason to hope.


Anonymous Eric said...

Winston Churchill said and it rhymes in his voice--
Jaw,jaw is better than war war.
He was good at and experienced in both

9:37 am  

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