Too Much Constitution?

Critics of the reading of the Constitution in the House of Representatives overlook the incredible power of ritualized readings.

One of the most amazing aspects of Judaism is the never-ending reading of the Torah.  The lengthy scroll is read from beginning to end, and then Jews begin anew.  This has been ongoing for over three thousand years.  To some, this exercise seems like a redundancy; to those who understand the genius of the action, it indicates how important it is to read, digest, argue with, and remember the profound ideas found in the text.  As one delves into the ideas, it becomes clear that there is a different interpretation depending upon the age and maturity of the reader -- a ten-year-old studying Torah will certainly have a different understanding of it from a 35-year-old's.  Yet that is its inherent beauty and brilliance.  For each person, there is a vital message, and one that evolves with time.  Notwithstanding, the sages also understood that tampering with the Torah is tantamount to the destruction of its classic thoughts.  This tension of protecting the Torah while making it a viable document has helped ensure the ideals of freedom.  It is no wonder that the Founding Fathers were quite well-versed in the timeless Judaic ideas.

So when Speaker John Boehner read the Constitution on the House floor this week, it was shocking and disturbing to hear that some thought this action "was a gimmick" and "confusing because [the Constitution] was written more than 100 years ago."  The mastermind of this timeline error was no less than Ezra Klein, founder of JournoList.  But he was not alone in his mockery.

Joy Behar joins the ranks of well-paid television talking heads such as Rosie O'Donnell in a mélange of vapid, crude, and ignorant comments.  Behar, a comedian and one of the hosts on "The View," also has her own cable program.  Recently on the show, she asked her guest, "Do you think this Constitution-loving is getting out of hand?" -- referring to the recent reading of the Constitution.

So I wonder, Ms. Behar -- which one of the parts of the Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787, is so darned troublesome to you?  The document is about the enumerated rights of the government in order to avoid the tyranny that the colonists had just fought against.

Is it the Preamble, which asks for justice, tranquility, and liberty, that bothers you?

We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Is it the Bill of Rights, where the people attempted to avoid the horrors of state-imposed religion so common in the Old World?        

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps it is Amendment VI, where "the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him" -- unlike the Spanish Inquisition, where people were thrown into jail not even knowing what their crime was or who their accusers were.

Possibly it is Amendment VIII, where "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."  Recall the days of debtors' prison or the current unending "cruel and usual punishment" meted out in sharia-compliant Muslim countries.

And although we will always be ashamed over how long it took to include black slaves and women into the entire framework of America, we can also be proud that those far-sighted founding fathers created a document which allowed for an amendment process that could embrace subsequent generations.  The message of freedom was a clarion call.  When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott penned their call for women's rights, their Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Conference-1848 echoed the original Declaration of Independence.  Over a century later, Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded the nation that those who stood up to the evils of segregation "were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence."  It was through the amendment process that segments of the population who had previously been denied their rights were fully integrated into American society, but it all started with the timeless ideas begun by the Founding Fathers.

Did America get it right all the time?  Did America harm many as she grew and evolved?  Only a fool would attest to perfection in this ongoing experiment called America.

But only a fool would also show such contempt and outright ingratitude by not appreciating the eternal message of the 4,543 words of the Constitution.  What could possibly prompt someone to ridicule the desire to glean an understanding of the Constitution in order to fashion that more perfect union established over two hundred years ago?

Eileen can be reached at
middlemarch18@gmail.com.
Critics of the reading of the Constitution in the House of Representatives overlook the incredible power of ritualized readings.

One of the most amazing aspects of Judaism is the never-ending reading of the Torah.  The lengthy scroll is read from beginning to end, and then Jews begin anew.  This has been ongoing for over three thousand years.  To some, this exercise seems like a redundancy; to those who understand the genius of the action, it indicates how important it is to read, digest, argue with, and remember the profound ideas found in the text.  As one delves into the ideas, it becomes clear that there is a different interpretation depending upon the age and maturity of the reader -- a ten-year-old studying Torah will certainly have a different understanding of it from a 35-year-old's.  Yet that is its inherent beauty and brilliance.  For each person, there is a vital message, and one that evolves with time.  Notwithstanding, the sages also understood that tampering with the Torah is tantamount to the destruction of its classic thoughts.  This tension of protecting the Torah while making it a viable document has helped ensure the ideals of freedom.  It is no wonder that the Founding Fathers were quite well-versed in the timeless Judaic ideas.

So when Speaker John Boehner read the Constitution on the House floor this week, it was shocking and disturbing to hear that some thought this action "was a gimmick" and "confusing because [the Constitution] was written more than 100 years ago."  The mastermind of this timeline error was no less than Ezra Klein, founder of JournoList.  But he was not alone in his mockery.

Joy Behar joins the ranks of well-paid television talking heads such as Rosie O'Donnell in a mélange of vapid, crude, and ignorant comments.  Behar, a comedian and one of the hosts on "The View," also has her own cable program.  Recently on the show, she asked her guest, "Do you think this Constitution-loving is getting out of hand?" -- referring to the recent reading of the Constitution.

So I wonder, Ms. Behar -- which one of the parts of the Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787, is so darned troublesome to you?  The document is about the enumerated rights of the government in order to avoid the tyranny that the colonists had just fought against.

Is it the Preamble, which asks for justice, tranquility, and liberty, that bothers you?

We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Is it the Bill of Rights, where the people attempted to avoid the horrors of state-imposed religion so common in the Old World?        

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Perhaps it is Amendment VI, where "the accused shall be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him" -- unlike the Spanish Inquisition, where people were thrown into jail not even knowing what their crime was or who their accusers were.

Possibly it is Amendment VIII, where "excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."  Recall the days of debtors' prison or the current unending "cruel and usual punishment" meted out in sharia-compliant Muslim countries.

And although we will always be ashamed over how long it took to include black slaves and women into the entire framework of America, we can also be proud that those far-sighted founding fathers created a document which allowed for an amendment process that could embrace subsequent generations.  The message of freedom was a clarion call.  When Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott penned their call for women's rights, their Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Conference-1848 echoed the original Declaration of Independence.  Over a century later, Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded the nation that those who stood up to the evils of segregation "were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence."  It was through the amendment process that segments of the population who had previously been denied their rights were fully integrated into American society, but it all started with the timeless ideas begun by the Founding Fathers.

Did America get it right all the time?  Did America harm many as she grew and evolved?  Only a fool would attest to perfection in this ongoing experiment called America.

But only a fool would also show such contempt and outright ingratitude by not appreciating the eternal message of the 4,543 words of the Constitution.  What could possibly prompt someone to ridicule the desire to glean an understanding of the Constitution in order to fashion that more perfect union established over two hundred years ago?

Eileen can be reached at
middlemarch18@gmail.com.