Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Religion = stupid traditions

Many years ago, I read about some orthodox Jewish community in New York (or some other city, can't really remember which one) that wanted to put little signs on various lamp posts in the blocks surrounding the community, which would symbolically make the area part of the home. This was because orthodox Jewish women aren't allowed to leave their homes during the weekend, but they wanted to do so. So, by putting these little symbols on the lightposts and so on, they would be able to say that they were legitimately still in their homes despite the fact that they were going down to the market to buy food, etc. etc.

And I thought....my god how stupid is this.

(And after a little research, I find that it has happened as late as 2008. The symbol is called a Eruv. Jews - even guys I guess, aren't supposed to carry things, or cross boundary lines on the Sabbath, but of course since they don't want to be inconvenienced, they put up an Eruv - some stupid little sign that means nothing at all - so they can feel okay about breaking one of their laws.


An Eruv is just a path essentially, through properties in a community. The Eruv or pathway is commonly held by the local orthodox community and permits free travel on the Sabbath. The Laws of Moses which now are enforced in the Talmud prohibit various forms of travel on the Sabbath, including prohibiting carrying any objects, including groceries, children, in thoroughfares or anywhere that crosses property lines. Its a broad prohibition against unorthodox travel on the Hebrew holy day. Unfortunately these laws were written for Jews living on Judean soil during ancient times. Today being widely dispersed in our communities, its hard for them to set these up. Basically Jewish law permit strolling through a courtyard on the Sabbath, thus, the community effectively creates a courtyard that runs through peoples yards and properties to allow kosher travel on the Sabbath.

Now we get another stupidity that has been apparently going on for 2,000 years.

A creative way to deal with Passover food ban

At 9 this morning, New Brunswick resident Jose Mendez, a non-Jew, will become owner of a huge amount of food he'll never eat.

For the entire length of Passover, which starts tonight and ends next Thursday at sundown, Mendez will legally possess thousands of bags and boxes of bread, pasta and other leavened foods, or chametz, stored in the homes of Jewish people from the East Brunswick Jewish Center.

Once Passover ends, ownership will uneventfully revert back to the original owners.

Similar deals are struck -- usually for $1 or no money at all -- between Jews and non-Jews around the world each Passover, and have been for centuries. The switch in legal possession is seen as helping Jews fulfill the biblical commandment against eating or owning leavened foods during the holiday, without having to dispose of large quantities of forbidden foods and suffer substantial financial loss.

So, instead of making an effort to use up all their leavened foods before passover, so they won't own any for that week, they just do this deal where they "symbolically" hand it over to a non-Jewish person, even though the food stays in their house and they really own it.

How ridiculous is that?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not an anti-Semite. I'm an anti-ridiculousite. I'd say the same thing about those Catholics and their little tradition of eating a piece of bread and drinking wine and having some ashes put on their forehead, or the Muslim traditions of women having to wear burkhas on their head, and all the guys praying seven times a day.

All trappings and mummery.

No comments: