Groundhogs, King David, and the Midrash

The hibernation of the groundhog holds an important place in American folklore; much less well-known is its possible appearance in rabbinic folklore. According to one major midrashic work, “There are three types of slumber: that of sleep, that of prophecy, and that of marmita.” The Midrash goes on to cite a story in Samuel I in which David sneaks into the camp of his rival, King Saul, while Saul and his men are asleep. David then steals the king’s spear and water jug and sneaks out. According to the Midrash, Saul and his comrades were lost in the “slumber of the marmita.” Natan Slifkin explains:

The slumber of the mysterious marmita is the deepest type of sleep—but what is a marmita?

Opinions vary. But several opinions . . . argue that it is the animal known in Europe as the marmot, which is known to North Americans as the groundhog. Marmots enter a deep hibernation during the cold winter; their heartbeat slows to around five beats a minute, while they take only one to three breaths a minute. The Midrash says that such a deep sleep was placed upon Saul’s camp by God, so that David was able to steal in and out undetected. Nobody in Saul’s camp woke up; it was as though time itself was frozen.

Read more at Rationalist Judaism

More about: Bible, King David, King Saul, Midrash, Religion & Holidays

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship