A Talmudic Precedent for Murdoch, Friends, and Tucker - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Talmudic Precedent for Murdoch, Friends, and Tucker
Fox News building in New York City (Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock)

The Babylonian Talmud (so named because it evolved in the land to which the Jews were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar with the fall of the First Holy Temple) is a repository of great wisdom and practical common sense. That is, beyond its tomes of text on Judaic theology, law, ethics, morals, and religious practice, it also includes a world of practical life guidance.

Since the Fox firing of Tucker Carlson and the fallout therefrom, I have been thinking a great deal about the passages in Tractate Yoma that discuss how the rabbinic sages of yore acted to break two insufferable monopolies. In one case, a highly skilled Jewish baking enterprise, the House of Garmu, developed a monopoly on baking the Holy Temple administration’s weekly order for a fresh supply of the “shewbread” described in Exodus 25:30. In the second situation, a highly skilled Jewish perfume-compounding enterprise, the House of Avtinas, developed a monopoly on preparing the regular Holy Temple order of the Holy Incense of Spices required for the daily morning and afternoon Temple service. That Incense was composed of a prescribed mix of certain ingredients specified in the Torah and mandated for the daily Temple ritual (Exodus 30:34–37).

The Murdochs may be wisest to learn from the Talmudic rabbis who went back to the Houses of Garmu and Avtinas.

In the first case, the Garmu family would not disclose to the rabbis their secret method of baking the shewbread. Those 12 breads had to be baked not only from certain ingredients but also in a very specific and unusual shape. Here is a depiction. As a result, to break the Garmu monopoly, the rabbis hired a famous bakery enterprise in neighboring Alexandria, Egypt, to start baking the shewbread instead. All was solved, and they lived happily ever after.

Only it wasn’t. And they didn’t.

It turned out that the Alexandrians could not figure out how to get the breads out of the oven unbroken. The unique shape of the loaves caused them to break upon removal. And their version started becoming moldy during the week. The Rabbis sighed and realized they had been wrong. They went back to the Garmu family and asked them to resume baking the shewbread. They could keep their monopoly and not disclose their secrets.

The Garmus were incredibly good-natured about it — no passive-aggressive stuff — and warmly accepted their resumed engagement.

And they doubled their price. Booyakasha!

Same story with the House of Avtinas. They would not disclose how they compounded the Holy Incense, so the Rabbis decided to bust their monopoly by hiring a world-famous perfume-compounding concern in Alexandria to start making the Incense. That company did a great job, and all was solved.

Only it wasn’t.

It turned out that, when the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) placed on the fiery coals the Holy Incense compounded by the House of Avtinas, not only did their product fill the Holy Temple with the fragrance intended, but the steam incredibly rose in a straight line, like a palm tree, all the way toward the ceiling of the room, at which point the steam branched out like a palm into a cloud of Incense that enveloped the entire chamber. By contrast, the version compounded by the Alexandrians merely steamed all over the place. They couldn’t get it to rise like a palm tree. So, again, the rabbis had to return to the House of Avtinas and ask them please to resume making the Holy Incense for the Temple.

The Avtinases were incredibly good-natured about it — not incensed at all — and warmly accepted their resumed engagement.

And they doubled their price. Ta-da!

The Talmud adds, as a postscript, that the Garmus and Avtinases refused to disclose their professional secrets because they feared that, if their methods became known, idolaters would start making those items for forbidden purposes. To demonstrate their ethics, no one from the House of Garmu ever ate refined bread from refined flour so that no one ever would accuse them of using their secrets to bake bread for their own use too. Rather, all family members ate only coarse bread composed of coarse flour mixed with bran. And the Talmud tells similarly of the House of Avtinas: They also feared that, if the Temple someday were destroyed, their secret would be used by evildoers to create Holy Incense for pagan worship. And, to demonstrate their ethics, no one from their household donned perfume, not even a bride on her wedding day, and they required brides marrying into their family also never to wear perfume so that no one ever would accuse them of using their secret knowledge of perfume spices for their own benefits.

So, I was thinking about the House of Garmu, the House of Avtinas, and the rabbis … and that got me to thinking about the House of Murdoch and the House of Fox.

I have been wondering who could step into Tucker Carlson’s spot, given that someone ultimately must, regardless of whether the audience follows. Clearly, Fox has had similar conundra in the past. It was pretty easy to replace Megyn Kelly because lots of Fox loyalists were disgusted with her anyway, especially after the infamously vicious interview she conducted with Newt Gingrich, whom she ambushed as an enemy when he expected a friendly Fox reception. Laura Ingraham is a world of improvement over her. Likewise, no one would miss Greta Van Susteren. Not for a moment. When Brit Hume semi-retired from anchoring the early evening news, Bret Baier was a wonderful successor.

I miss Glenn Beck. He was great, and he single-handedly leveraged his show to expose Anita Dunn, ACORN, and so many other nefarious Obama actors. “The Five” is an OK use of that Beck time, occasionally even an entertaining diversion, and it opened the door for more viewers to meet Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters. But Glenn Beck’s role never has been replaced, his shoes never filled.

As for Bill O’Reilly, I was always lukewarm on him. He was a groundbreaking conservative TV presence, to be sure, but I always felt he held back too much. He did bring Bernie Goldberg to us, and maybe the best 10 minutes on TV, the Dennis Miller segments. But O’Reilly could have been stronger, and that was clear by the way that Rush Limbaugh crushed him regularly every day on radio audience numbers. When the bad stuff then emerged about the behind-the-scenes sex-harassment settlements, it was time for him to go, and many conservatives made quick peace with that. And that brought in Tucker.

Tucker needed time to find his rhythm, but once he did he filled that slot magnificently. He called it like it is. He told truths others not only feared to speak but even denied and slandered as lies. The truth is that the Democrats are bringing in millions of illegal immigrants on purpose, to alter the electoral balance. California is one evidentiary exhibit. That simply is the truth. It is not the “Grand Replacement Conspiracy Hoax.” Rather, it is the Democrats’ Grand Replacement Strategy. Tucker called it. He similarly called it on the centrality of the American traditional family unit. The poison of diversity-equity-inclusion. The toxic venom of Black Lives Matter. All the woke counterculture garbage destroying America from within, as our external enemies never could have hoped to achieve.

Who can replace him? Most others in the Fox orbit are too meek, even if conservatively solid. Jesse Watters lacks the gravitas. The fabulous Greg Gutfeld has the ideology down perfectly but is too much the kibbitzer, especially with his annoying trademark sexual side comments that are never funny and always distracting to social conservatives. Candace Owens has extraordinary potential for some future day, but she needs maturing and to get aspects of her act together. Harris Faulkner is a dignified, elegant conservative voice, but not the fighter needed at that slot. Dan Bongino might have been the very best Tucker successor but — in one of the worst cases ever of bad timing — left Fox only days before the slot opened. Judge Jeanine is just not for that daily influential role on a long-term basis. Mark Steyn is really wonderful, but the Tucker spot needs someone tougher, angrier.

So who?

I am thinking the best shot is Mark Levin. He is tough, no nonsense, calls ‘em as they are without holding back. He has years of talk radio behind him, a spot in the Radio Hall of Fame, and a long-running television show of his own on the internet, and he is part of the regular Fox lineup. I think he is their best shot from within the Fox family.

From outside? Victor Davis Hanson is great. We all love him. But he is not a guy to carry an hour show five days a week. Newt Gingrich? That could work, but he has so many outside interests and projects and would be stymied by needing to host an hour five days weekly for years hence. Ben Shapiro would be a heck of a long shot. He is sharp, fiery, witty, holds back nothing. He has discipline and has built a successful radio following too. But I don’t see Fox giving him a show without first giving him a weekend gig for a few years. So where does that leave us?

Mark Levin, I think, is the best replacement.

But then the Murdochs may be wisest to learn from the Talmudic rabbis who went back to the Houses of Garmu and Avtinas. Admit the mistake, pay double the prior salary, and ask Tucker to come back.

Like the Garmus and Avtinases, he will. It worked well in the Talmud. It would work for Fox.


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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., is Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values (comprising over 2,000 Orthodox rabbis), was adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools for nearly 20 years, and is Rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before practicing complex civil litigation for a decade at three of America’s most prominent law firms: Jones Day, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. He likewise has held leadership roles in several national Jewish organizations, including Zionist Organization of America, Rabbinical Council of America, and regional boards of the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. His writings have appeared in Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Federalist, National Review, the Jerusalem Post, and Israel Hayom. A winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics, Rabbi Fischer also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com.
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