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Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid! - last commented 28 August 2012 01:27 PM

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Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 65 by Rob W.

Regarding Bob Marley: From what I've read about his family, his dad (son of Ellen Broomfield) was Jewish (i.e. according to Halacha), but his mom was not. So according to Halacha, Mr. Marley was Gentile.

Dear BenS, regarding your Comment # 59:

Methinks that thou doth protest just a little bit too much. You are (over-)reacting to things I've written here as though I were some sort of evil dictator, drunk with power, with military & police forces and courts & prisons at my disposal, persecuting & wounding you, and not letting you do what you want with your life. I keep thinking, "No Gentile would react so negatively and emotionally about this." Even though I can't see your facial expressions or body language, and even though I can't hear your tone of voice, I still detect a great deal of emotion coming from your keyboard and through my monitor.

Ben, your ancestory -- maternal or otherwise -- is your business. My love for you as a fellow human being is not changed either way whether Halacha classifies you as Jew or Gentile. If atheism makes you happy, then go with it. Religion can be toxic. I don't think that it has to be, but toxic religion is all some people know.

As for your your Comment # 54 about the Eruv: It's not about fooling anyone / anything, be it a child or the Gh-st. If you have any genuine, non-hostile curiosity as to what it is about, I can share with you my layman's understanding, or you can ask a professional snoggi, er... rabbi. May the Sn-ggle snuggle you, or the F-rce be with you, or good K-rma to you, or have a great day, whichever expression you prefer.

Tue, 28 Aug 2012 08:00:05 UTC | #951174

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 63 by Rob W.

I know of no reason why anyone should feel guilty about menstruating. I don't even know where that question is coming from. Who said anyone should feel guilty about it in the first place?

I already told you that I'm lazy. If I were more disciplined, I might be more consistent. I grew up very secular, so I'm still not used to all this religical stuff. My more pious Jewish neighbors might seem like balloons to you while to me they might seem very disciplined. When I said that I'm not consistent, I'm not just talking about performing one mitzvah and not another; I'm also talking about inconsistency in the performance of a given mitzvah. E.g. some weekends I do a better job of keeping Sabbath than on some other weekends. It could be analogous to going to the gym. If I go to the gym less consistently than some other person, but I still go sometimes, is that an ideological statement? Am I a hypocrite? Maybe I'm just undisciplined.

You are assuming that you can tell if someone is being superstitious just from some superficial glance. Two different people could be performing the same mitzvah, and one might have a more superstitious interpretation of what he / she is doing than does the other one. Ghosts or no ghosts, it's all about values.

I don't know why you keep twisting things around. What's this "real Jew" stuff? The only thing that makes me Jewish is my Jewish mom. I might be a lazy one, but that's not fake as opposed to real. Did I use the "No True Scotsman" fallacy? Did I say "No True Jew" about anything?

I hope that you realize that Mr. Shahak admitted giving false testimony to make an attack on his own religion. See the Telephone Incident in his Wiki bio. Please read the whole passage -- not just the parts which confirm your prejudices. While at it, one might as well read the whole article. He might have been on the side of right somethimes, but how can one establish credibility by lying for the sake of the truth? In fact, bigots like David Duke love to quote Shahak. So I have to wonder, Amos, who is the bigger Kool Aid drinker, you or me?

Just because I'm not Jewish, doesn't mean I can't read the literature and understand it

I never said that a Gentile is any less capable of understanding Torah than a Jew. If I question your understanding or interpretation, it is only because of the content of your writing -- nothing more and nothing less. I'm sure Rabbi Wolpe would be delighted by your brilliant commentaries.

I still don't quite get what you are saying about the Holocaust. Are you saying that European Jewry didn't take proper action to defend themselves because they were waiting around for some divine intervention or something? It's easy to play the Monday morning quarterback in retrospect. Enemies are hard to handle when one (or one's group) is severely outnumbered and allies are few and far between. Whether any of it has to do with too much faith in miracles, it might come down to too much faith in men. People sometimes underestimate the extemes of visciousness of which their neighbors might be capable. From what I've read, it seems that many people just kept trusting in human decency. In the short term, cruelty ruled. Thank G-d, however, that decency isn't dead.

Fri, 24 Aug 2012 08:52:39 UTC | #951164

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 60 by Rob W.

Dear Ignorant Amos, regarding your Comment # 52:

You don't take it seriously, or so you say

Sometimes yes; sometimes no. I am a lazy, undisciplined, hedonistic Jew / person. I have discovered great value in taking on some mitzvoth which I didn't used to do, but I'm not consistent. I would like to think that I am not so superstitious as I might seem, and that's why this discussion got started. Torah & Mitzvoth are about values more than they are about ghosts. Prayer is practical when it's about working on yourself -- when it's about meditating on good values and behaviors. Unfortunately, too many people around the world make the mistake of thinking that prayer is about trying to get work done (e.g. increasing the chance of rain, shrinking a tumor) by talking at the sky. So I often do see eye-to-eye with my Atheist neighbors when it comes to identifying problems with relgion.

Do you not think there is anything wrong with using guilt to achieve an aim regardless of who it is doing it?

That depends on what is the dasterdly deed. In my opinion, a kid-raper should feel guiltiy -- very, very much so. In cases such as that, the perp should be jailed, fined, etc. whether he / she feels guilt or not.

Do you believe that women in menstruation should feel guilty?

I am not a rabbi, and therefore not an expert in this area. Off the top of my head, Halacha might prescribe stricter purification rules for Jewish women than for Gentile women. However, to the best of my knowledge, this has nothing to do with guilt. Menstruation is not a sin; it is a normal part of life. Halacha instructs a Jewish woman to take a ritual bath at the end of the cycle before mating with her husband.

Good point on the "moratorium" bit. Stoning, gassing, oy vey, G-d forbid! As for circumcision, I don't think it's as terrible as you (and Hitch, r.i.p.) make it sound. It became so ubiquitous, at least in places like U.S.A., that it became commonplace amongst the Gentiles as well. The disasterous cases of circumcisions gone wrong are so rare that I don't think they form a very strong case to entirely ban the practice. Before you jump on my case for mixing up apples with oranges, keep in mind that I'm making an analogy to illustrate a principle here. In rare cases, immunizations have gone wrong and done more harm than good, but that doesn't make a strong case for banning vaccines. Anyway, circumcised males are at slightly lower risk of certain types of cancer. What's more, circumcised penises are significantly statistically less likely to transmit some diseases. When considering that and what's going on with the rampant spread of HIV in parts of Africa, it's a good idea for Gentiles to employ it, too. Should it be postponed until the male is older? I don't know. Baby boys seem to bounce back from it so quickly, I wouldn't be surprised if it might be tougher in some ways on an older boy / man. Female genital mutilation is a whole different story. Employing the English word "circumcision" for both practices is like calling the practice of scalping a "haircut."

You have brought up many points, and it's not that I wouldn't want to address more of them, but I fear this comment is getting quite long. I'll just say a little more for now.

For centuries, even after Mosaic Torah got written down, Israel had Oral Torah as well. Details of due process in court cases were already in place long before they got written down in the Mishnah and debated in Gemara. If you want to criticize and ridicule Judaism, fine, but you would do well to get a little more educated on the matter. To be fair and truthful, though, so would I. There's so much more to it than most people realize. I think the only people who have a clue how vast it is are the yeshiva rabbis and their students.

I didn't avoid your question about the Holocaust. Maybe I don't understand what you're asking me or what it is at which you are driving. Feel free to enlighten me.

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 08:35:49 UTC | #951155

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 58 by Rob W.

Dear BenS, regarding your Comment # 51:

Let's just stick within living memory, shall we. 1940s, say? I'm an atheist, happily minding my own business until some dickhead says "Oh, Ben, yeah, his mother was a Jew once so Ben's a Jew according to our law.". Next thing you know, I'm on the way to a gas chamber for something I don't follow and don't believe in all because someone else used laws I don't subscribe to in order to pin a label on me that I don't want and doesn't apply.

G-d forbid anyone should gas anyone for anything, especially innocent individuals who just happen to belong to some "group." Unfortunately, we live in a world where people are sometimes curel and murderous. There are people who want to hurt Atheists, too. I hope that I would have the courage to die with integrity defending you against such people, rather than live as a coward who said, "not my problem." There's a Rabbinic saying, "Whoever saves one life saves an entire world."

The Nazis defined "Jew" differently than does Halacha. If I remember correctly, they went after anyone with at least 2 Jewish grandparents. It didn't matter to them if that person was atheistic, or if the person professed belief in Christianity; once they marked a so-called "Jew" for death, that was it.

you're confusing a legal system that people subscribe to (by being residents of the country that has those laws) to a legal system they didn't. Like I said, you don't get to invent your own legal system and apply it to people without their consent .. It's a 'legal' definition that has absolutely no standing

I didn't invent Halacha; I simply referenced it. It was around long before you or I were, and it may very well survive any one of us for a long time. I could reference Catholic Canon Law, and get a different result. Like it or not, Halacha is the reason there are still Jews today, including the individuals who have labeled themselves both atheistic and Jewish when posting here. Any people that severely dispersed without such a system of law would otherwise have become just a memory in history books (e.g. Hittites).

There are laws which empower, and there are laws which harm. If by "standing" you mean that there's a force in place with police, judges, etc. which can physically and financially punish, does that somehow make it more legitimate than a legal system which doesn't? Do I subscribe to any stupid law passed by the U.S. Congress just because of where I live? Just as you might protest that nobody asked you if you wanted to be categorized as Gentile or Jewish, I might protest that nobody asked me if I consented to be jailed for smoking weed. Thankfully, at this point in history, nobody is fixing to jail me if I put cheese on a chicken sandwich. Sadly, weed is a different story.

You say I haven't answered you. I've told you everything I know. Traditionally speaking, a Jew is someone whose mom is Jewish. That's the short, simple answer. If you want more detail, Amos has cited a Wiki article about it. There's tons of literature out there about it. There are synogogues and yeshivas around the world filled with rabbis and students who would be more than happy to answer your questions and debate with you about it. If you would rather do other things with your life then that, I defend your right as a sovereign individual to make your own choices which don't harm anyone. Peace.

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 06:53:35 UTC | #951153

Go to: Does Religion = Superstition? G-D Forbid!

Rob W.'s Avatar Jump to comment 50 by Rob W.

Re: Comment # 47 by BenS

What I can't do, and what YOU (and any other Jew) CAN'T do is insist that laws you (or your rabbis) invented apply to me.

This isn't the first time you've made this issue reflexive, Ben. I don't know what it's got to do with you; I said it applied to me. Why are you being so defensive? Is there something you're not telling us? -- not that it's any of my business. Even if it does theoretically apply to you, is anyone physically persecuting you with these laws? If you don't like them, go ahead and ignore them. I did so for years.

They can call themselves what they wish and then argue their case for it if required. YOU don't get to decide what they are and then say that's not open for discussion.

I'm not the moderator, and we are having a discussion. If anyone can label themselves anything for any reason, at any time, without reference to any standard criteria, then wouldn't that render the labels pretty much meaningless? Can I call myself Chinese just 'cause I feel like it, just cause I like Chinese food?

What people do when they voluntarily subscribe to a set of rules is largely up to them. If, say, I had a Jewish mother but did not follow any of those archaic customs and rules and someone said to me "Ben, you're a Jew, you shouldn't be using the 'phone on Sabbath!" I would tell them to fuck off and mind their own business.

Amen, Brother! You tell 'em, sovereign individual.

You value the individual, you understand an individual's need to define him/herself but you still don't let them do it?

That's terrible of me, not letting people do what they want to with their lives. You're right. I should stop persecuting people this way. Ben, free people in free societies can do pretty much whatever the heck they want. I was just referencing a legal system. I could tell you just as well that smoking marijuana is for the most part illegal in my country. That doesn't mean that I'm out there jailing people. There are some American laws which I'd like to see changed. For the moment, however, they are what they are.

you're not giving the full story and you wonder why I don't understand or accept it

There isn't enough space here to tell my life story, and I'm trying not to bore everyone to death. I am probably already too wordy as it is.

If you're going to claim that he's a Jew because he's defined as such by Torah and Mitzvoth and therefore Torah and Mitzvoth unite him with other Jews then it's circular reasoning, a tautology and a load of bollocks.

Again, it's just a legal definition, even if only an accademic and theoretical one. The point is that if the word "Jew" has any meaning, then there has to be something common to all the people with that label.

Wed, 22 Aug 2012 06:08:05 UTC | #951131

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