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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Parshat Mishpatim

From the Desk Of:

Rabbi) Sterling (Shmiel Eliyahu) Tyler (Tanenbaumowitz) III Phd Theology
Senior Vice President, NPOJ Intl. Yeshivas Chipas Emmess)

Parshat Mishpatim

The esteemed Rabbi Schmeckelstein asked me to comment on this week's Torah reading, due to his prior commitments. I told him, "Pinkas, you know I no longer delve in theological content." He insisted however, so what follows are my most sincere thoughts.

In this week's reading Moses (Moisheh) delivers a full array of laws to the Israelites. Rabbi Schmeckelstein would have you believe that Moses stood on Sinai, face to face with the creator who revealed His presence on this earth, and then delivered in painstaking detail rather detailed laws that would be relevant only centuries later once the Israelites had established their own sovreignty in the Promised Land.

I find that hard to accept. Let's face it: how often has the Almighty rang your doorbell, delivered a six course dinner, and asked you to share it with you loved ones. For that matter, two weeks ago we read of the crossing of the Red Sea. How often has a deep rain puddle spontaneously split in two, allowing you to pass through without causing water damage to your $800 Bruno Maglis? Why, just last week I spent $150 repairing my shoes from scratches gained at my nephew's 13th year communion (Bar Mitzvah).

And why exactly are we compelled to dance at those things? When my brother Simon (he prefers Shimin Velvel) pulled me onto the dance floor against my will, I was forced to hold hands (!) with two sweaty Hasidic Jews who believe the world was created in six days, the sea split, and the Diety has nothing better to do than care about whether or not one eats shrimp, turns a light on on Friday night, or commits adultery with an idol worshipping farm animal.

No. You had better face facts. My wife Buffy (Breina Rifkala) and I no longer subscribe to such superstitious hype.

These tales and legends were generated to maintain and preserve a an ancient culture, which is the only reason we perform any sort of traditional religious practice. They were created to subjugate the masses, while at the same time lining the pocket of the King, the Prophet, the High Priest, the Raish Gelusa, the Chief Rabbi, the Prime Minister, or whoever else was in charge at the time

Take for example Exuodus, chapter 21, versus 22-25 (Shmois, Parshas Chuf aleph, possuk chuf bayz):

"(22) If men work together to hurt a woman with child and her offspring departs though there was no harm, he shall be fined according to how the husband will demand, and he shall pay his liability. (23) But if there will be harm, then you will give a life for a life.(24) Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, hand for a hand, foot for a foot."

Rashi quotes the elder rabbis and suggests that this refers to the "value" of what was lost rather than the actual literal punishment. Either way, the authorities make out like bandits: Fines. Footless and one-eyed criminals, dependent upon the dole of public institutions.

Yes, the Practicing Orthodox, with their Fundamentalism, have naively subscribed to such superstitions.

Similarly, the Reform and Conservative have created their own brand of Practice. Who are they to alter the natural order of Jewish heritage? What kind of training do they have? What amount of formal education or practical knowledge? What nature of personal experience?

Indeed, when I first played golf, I was quite poor. But only through constant practice was I able to attain a five handicap. And now I can use a five iron when the situation really calls for a nine iron. What is their background?

Indeed, these naive and lost souls of all streams of Judaism (Yiddishkeit) do not realize that when Moses saw the face of the Lord he was looking in the mirror. I pity those who, in our day, look in the mirror and see only their own blank ignorance gazing back at them. Every morning, as I apply my Clinique skin conditioner, I too, like Moses, see the face of the Lord. And that's how I know that I must be right.


mn said...

What pshat you're having guest lecturers? Noch besser, an apikorus?! Oy vey :-(

Right to Silence said...

Dear R Sterling,

How do you get your Clinique to rub into your beard?