So. Think about this. Once this foreigner is brought into the House of Israel ((albeit a foreigner who emerged from the House of Israel)) and then comes to rule it, the House of Israel itself ended up becoming, in fact, a collective apostate alienated from its burning living center. In the following I acknowledge the paradox involved in what I am saying given what is said in the Gemaric commentaries about “Akher.” But again, think it through. What would it mean to be an apostate from an institution which itself has apostatized? In this sense Elisha ben Abbuyah becomes the model for a grand teshuvah whose contours, as we shall see, are radically paradoxical:
RETURN! O BACKSLIDING CHILDREN
Today -- to pick up one of those figures used in Hagigah’s attempt to give cautious approval of such rehabilitation for Elisha ben Abbuyah -- Judaism is a shell whose kernel has virtually disappeared. If nothing changes nothing changes. Judaism will implode in upon itself and disappear. If you are able to see the mortal danger into which Judaism has strayed you will be able to garner the imagination to read -- as though for the very first time -- the forthcoming thrice-articulated verse-and-commentary. It was first stated by Hashem to Akher. It was then twice repeated by Akher to Meir. You need to turn the telescope around to understand its true import. Think again of the logic entailed by the apostate who apostatizes from an apostatizing Institution. Just how long will it take for you to get it? Till it’s too late?
RETURN! O BACKSLIDING CHILDREN!
[whispering for proper effect]:
except for Akher
It is not “Akher” who needs to return.