“I find it necessary to wash my hands after I have come into contact with religious people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

True story:

A Jewish American young man, baby boomer generation, grows up and gets married in the New York area. His wife is a nice Jewish girl. They live on Long Island.  They apparently believed themselves unable to have children, because they adopted a child, sort of through a gray market, but they got a Caucasian child, a daughter, whom they proceeded to raise Jewish.

This might have worked out, except for two things: the daughter was headstrong, articulate, thoughtful, and rebellious, none of which was consonant with the second factor,  the father’s increasing orthodoxy and observance of traditional Judaism. Dad’s increasing rigidity about the Sabbath prohibited his daughter from having a normal teenage life, constantly confining her to quarters at times when kids want to congregate and have fun.

Three miracles, three obedient Jews!

Miraculously, the couple then had three daughters, whom they proceeded to raise — and who agreed to be raised — Jewish to the max. Two of them married rabbis. They teach in yeshivas and live in a closed, pious, Jewish world, in which the toilet paper is pre-torn on Friday night (not making that up), lest one of the 39 varieties of prohibited work be committed on the Sabbath (prescribed Torah penalty: death).

The adopted daughter was forever estranged from her family because of her father’s increasing orthodoxy. His wife, tragically, died a horrible death from cancer at age 58, and he quickly remarried and moved to Israel, leaving his daughters in a state of shock as they undertook the cruel task of disposing of their mother’s possessions and effects.

Trying to get with the program

Meanwhile, the adopted daughter had been having a very rough time of it, even though she got with the parents’ Jewish program to the extent possible, played along for as long as she could, all the while clashing with her (increasingly orthodox) father.

Dad actually left the congregation of which he was president, simply because of the issue of a female rabbi.

Now, in Israel, he lives a Jewish wet dream, immerses himself in Jew stuff day and night, celebrating every single holiday, standing on a rooftop at sunrise with thousands of other Jews to commemorate the day on which the Sun was supposedly created, the whole nine yards, surrounded with people just like himself, indoctrinated daily with the specialness of the Jewish people, the inferiority of everyone else.

Torah ABCs

I say, more power to him. Everybody has the freedom to live out his few days as he likes. I would just like to point out one hypocrisy. This man who immerses himself in Torah and the Torah lore, in midrash and spinning, in Biblical disputations and all manner of nonsense and cockamamie bullshit, this man does not know his Torah ABCs.

This is a man who relentlessly punished his daughter because she was different. Leviticus 19:15 – “judge your kinsman fairly.” That doesn’t apply to Judaism itself, apparently.  The man’s religion allowed no room for question, much less resistance.

This is a man who (I’m not making this up) incarcerated his unmanageable daughter  in a mental institution under false pretenses — told her they were going to a new school — then paid for it when the insurance wouldn’t — with her bat mitzvah money. You shall not steal (Leviticus 19:13).   You shall not bear false witness (Deuteronomy 5:11).

This is a wealthy man (owner of several properties in the New York area and Israel), with a six-figure pension (from his accounting firm employer, because he wasn’t allowed to invest in the stock market) — but he won’t offer any but the most meager and niggardly help to his non-conforming atheist daughter.

This is a man who has lavished houses, educations, and much more on the obedient Jewish siblings but won’t respect the commitment he made to his adopted daughter (Numbers 30:3 — honor your commitments).

Morality is optional

This is a pious Jewish prick. There are pious Christian pricks (child-molesting priests), pious Muslim pricks (hate-preaching imams), pious pricks in every faith, simply because religious observance does not insure, does not consistently motivate ethical behavior.  Oh, sure, they make a big deal out of morality – but if you’re pious, morality is OPTIONAL!

Thus it is possible for a man, a very intelligent professional man, to consider himself thoroughly Jewish, to immerse himself in all things Jewish, but not to heed the primitive morality of the Torah that he is supposed to revere.

If religion were unfailingly to deliver a better class of people, a more moral and humane individual, and if in fact it made for the gradual and palpable improvement in the human race and the human condition, then I might see some justification for all the fantasy and ritual.

But when people cling to that fantasy and ritual and use it as a cover for immoral, inhumane behavior, then there is no excusing religion; there is only wishing for its disappearance and demise.


UPDATE: PJP (Pious Jewish Prick) is in the US so his new wife can have surgery.  For unexplained reasons he has a narrow window in which he can see his daughter and grandkids.  He's having stomach pains, so no one can know until the last moment whether they will both feel ok. 

This suspense is not necessary, but for the fact that the intervening day, during which no information can be relayed, is their damned Sabbath.  Once again his inflexibility inflicts inconvenience on others.  I mentioned above how for years it raised hell with his daughter's social life.

Sundown today is at 5:56, but for some reason he can't call till 8:00.  Gotta say prayers after Sabbath?  I think they have to be sure it's dark.  Gimme a break. 

Even worse, daughter and kids cannot even VISIT him on Sabbath, no work required on his part. They're willing to drive 2 1/2 hours each way.  I have no idea why no visitation.  Because the visitees are condoning driving?  

It would have been much better to see them on Saturday, so that the 7-year-old would not have been subjected to a tough travel day before school the next day.  But the fucking Sabbath is more imporant that a young kid's comfort, rest, and stamina.  Couldn't you, just once, bend the f'ing rules?   Who's gonna know? And more importantly...


Don't get me started on the the Jews' anal attchment to their Sabbath.  All manner of devices (e.g., non-dialing telephone; elevator that automatically stops at every floor), have been invented to fool God, who is supposed to have to put all the loopholes there so we can find them.  Oy, vey. If there's any other religion so tailored to the obsessive and compulsive, I'd like to know about it.

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Comment by James Yount on July 17, 2012 at 5:09pm

Well I can't do that. Over 70% of people believe in a deity. If I limit myself to only gleaming wisdom from those who are atheists then I feel I've boxed myself in too much.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 17, 2012 at 2:21pm

@ James - But Praeger believes in God, which, for me, puts him on the on the other side of the Great Divide.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 17, 2012 at 10:46am

Cat, I didn't know you were a Jewish Humanist.  It's a noble attempt to salvage a primitive tradition in a way that modern people can relate to.  The original concept of a simple "day of rest" is more relevant to our modern world than are the dozens of anti-work rules that later Jews put in place.

Comment by Grinning Cat on July 15, 2012 at 1:10am

One of the long-running ads on the right is for a Humanistic Jewish congregation -- people who value ritual (selected, adapted, and newly created) and culture, without theistic fantasy.

In particular, a day of rest and renewal can have tremendous value without "God said so": taking a rest from trying to control and shape the world, to take time to appreciate the world, our communities, our fellow human beings; to affirm that we are more than our jobs and paychecks.


Judaism did not fall from heaven. It was not invented by a divine spokesman.  It was created by the Jewish people. [...]  A secular, a humanistic Jew affirms the power of people.  He or she affirms the power of common sense and human reason. But above all, he or she strives for human dignity.

Comment by James Yount on July 14, 2012 at 6:35pm

Ah but Prager is very different from the individual you described above. He tends to put goodness and happiness above religious minutia.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 14, 2012 at 11:14am

But what's the difference?  That Conservative Jews obey all 600-odd commandments but don't dress up in black hats and side-curls and cloister themselves with similarly-inclined wing-nuts?  They're still swallowing the same BS.  Prager is aggressive about it - being Jewish is very important and special for him.   

Comment by James Yount on July 13, 2012 at 7:00pm

One of the last straws for me was that I noticed that as I became increasingly religious I was building walls between myself and others.  That being said I always respected the conservative Judaism as expressed by those like Dennis Prager. I think he left the Orthodoxy for similar reasons.

Comment by Alan Perlman on July 12, 2012 at 3:58pm

Thanks to all for thoughtful comments.

@ Tammy - When they say "I'll pray for you," I invariably come back with, "OK, and I'll think for you.

@ Loren - I agree, it's insane. I have no idea why they go overboard with this, when the intent of the commendment to refrain from work is (if you just read the text) simply "take a day off from your farming and shepherding (or whatever it is you do for a living)."  Simple enough.  If you're a professor, don't grade papers. It takes demented Jews to invent the 36 kinds of work.  You know about Sabbath elevators which automatically stop at every floor.  There are even Sabbath toothbrushes whose bristles don't absorb water, because (I think) causing absorption is one of the 36. 

Bill Maher asked the guy in the ingenious Shabbos wheelchair why he'd go to so much trouble to please the god that put him in the wheelchair.  No answer.

@ GrinningCat - Your last statement is a good generalization, which applies to the proliferation of religious belief, which causes harm to all it touches, but won't go away.  I learned a new word - memeplex. 

@ Richard Gosckiki - See above re new word.  N. said "god is dead" and they're still denying it.  Talk about ahead of his time!

@ StephS - Thanks for kind words. I appreciate your reading my stuff.

@ Pat - I was sort of giving religious people the benefit of the doubt.  Surely, somewhere, there must be clerics and believers who are both pious and good.

Comment by Tammy S on July 12, 2012 at 11:10am

@ Grinning Cat in regard to the one true religion, no kidding! Great point! I made a point similar to the neighbor, also a relative btw, when she smarmily took a shot at me rejecting her very public invitation for me to attend her husband's preaching saying, "Well I'll still pray for you no matter!" I shot back, "Veronica if prayer really worked, you'd all be dead by now!" She hasn't bothered me since, she must really be worried! Heh!

Comment by Loren Miller on July 12, 2012 at 10:46am

The one thing that floors me about orthodox Jewry is the obsession about not working on the Sabbath, and the ridiculous workarounds they do to NOT work.

From a physicist's point of view, it's insane.  Work is defined as force times distance.  If you MOVE, you're doing work, even if all you're moving is yourself.  So stay in bed?  No help there either.  Your heart is still working, moving blood around.  If you WEREN'T working, you'd be DEAD.

Yeah, I'm sure there are Jewish scholars who have dealt with all of this.  Doesn't change how stupid it is.



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