Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sometimes Jews Are Stupid

So a friend of mine recently reported a story that sent me into something of a moral outrage. The story is thusly: said friend's mother was walking to shul with a group of friends from shul. On their way, the group passed a house which had a statue of the Virgin Mary out front. People in the group started making fun of the statue and the person who lived in that house for having the statue, and my friend's mother said "I think it's nice that they're proud and commited enough to their religion to be able to display it so openly." (Or something more or less to that effect.)
Someone in the group took my friend's mother aside and said "You should know, you're really not supposed to say good things about avodah zorah. It's probably because you say things like that that your child married a non-Jew."

My friend's mother took it as mussar and tried to accept it gracefully. Because she's an incredibly sweet, gentle, and overall good person, who tries to take instances like this and better herself with them. I however, am not that good a person, so I am completely horrified and intensely angry.

First of all - why is it ok to be making fun of another person's religion? The fact that we don't believe in something does not give us the right to disrespect another person's beliefs. I think it's downright embarassing that a group of religous adults would be caught saying such things out loud, in public, and proudly. That in and of itself disgusts me. The fact that this woman was trying to defend this person is, to me, evidence of her sweet, tolerant, and respectful nature, which is not something I think should be drummed out of a person. Looking for the good in all other people always struck me as the kind of thing we should be pro.

Second, WHAT THE FUCKING HELLL????????? Where does anyone get the nerve to be judging anyone's sins or anyone's family? The fact that there is any person in a community even vaguely connected to my own who has the arrogance and the idiocy to feel they have a right to say such things is painfully embarrassing. A grown person! One adult to another! Where in the world do they get off? By this one story alone I can say that the person who received the "mussar" is a vastly superior person and Jew to the one who gave it.

The fact that the person giving the 'mussar' was convinced that they were doing a sweet, helpful thing- enlightening this ba'alat teshuva in the ways of halacha and opening her eyes to something she should be repenting for- sort of makes the whole thing ten times more repulsive. Even if in their mind, there was a shadow of a justification for warning her away from future sins- how dare they take advantage of this woman's guilt and pain by pinning her children's choices on her past 'sins'? Do they think that she doesn't feel horrible and guilty already about her child? Do you think that's not a spot of personal agony for her already? What do they want her to do, exactly? Take it all back? Tear her clothes? Commit ritual suicide over the agony of her own failures? The thought that they went home that night patting themselves on the back makes me want to scream.

This is not the only example I have of the Jewish community drumming out the things in people I know and care about that are GOOD things, things that are important pieces of who they are, bc of some fake, ridiculous idea of what our religion wants from us. You know what our religion doesn't want from us? It doesn't want us picking at the most vulnerable part of a person's soul and making them feel worse about it. It doesn't want us to drum out every spark of individuality or intellectual creativity in everyone we know. I'd like to say this to all American Jews: Anyone who condones this kind of behavior is the reason why people hate religous Jews. My patience with all of you is wearing extremely thin. It's almost enough to drive a person to secularism. Who would want to belong to a community where such things happen? Where such people think they are right? Where do they get off thinking this sort of thing is ok? Who do they think they are? What gives them the moral authority to be able to pass this sort of judgement? My friend's mother, although she tried to make something good out of it, was extremely hurt that anyone would say something like that to her. My friend was hurt much more on her behalf than she allowed herself to be, and I too am extremely offended by the story. What makes anyone think that they're qualified to give another person mussar? Especially someone who would never say anything to hurt anyone? I cannot understand it. This sense of false moral superiority makes me sick. I'm not that great a person, but at least I know enough to say so. These people who act like they're holier than G-d are destroying our communities and they're destroying Orthodoxy.


Blogger Baal Habos said...

jingle bells, santa smells a million miles away.



have'nt you heard all of these? It's nothing new. We're raised to make fun of other religions. There's a whole Masechta (maseches) about this.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

Yes but those things are things that children say. Adults are supposed to have a little more respectful of, you know, people.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Baal Habos said...

Of people, perhaps. But not of religion. You'd flip if you'd learn Maseches Avodah Zarah. And that's for adults. And could you get rid of the word verification? It's a real pain. What good does it do?

6:06 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

I have word verification? How come it doesn't show up when I post a comment?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Rogue Unicorn said...

with you all the way, babe.
And in defense of the virgin- during the reign of the inquisition in Spain annusim used to hide mezuzoth in the Madonna's foot so that when they entered the house they could kiss the mezuzah with being conspicuous.So I guess we should be thanking her, aye?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Shtreimel said...

You can't really blame those people for making fun of the
"virgin" (come on, it is funny). It is a religious requirement. In fact, chaza"l prohibit comicality unless it's about avodah zoroh! (אמר רב נחמן: כל ליצנותא אסירא חוץ מליצנותא דעבודת כוכבים, דשריא)

As to your word verification (which I too have) go to settings> comments almost to the end you'll have an option to shut it off.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

hey! how've you been? I hardly think a single opinion in the gemorrah constitutes halacha. In fact halacha almost never works that way, and I can't agree with that point of view at all. I think that humor is a divine gift, and one of the attributes in G-d which causes us to come closer to Him by imitating. This is clear enough from simply learning gemorrah, which in bits is extremely funny itself. It is only laitzanus when it is making fun of or being disrespectful about anyone - which is exactly what making fun of a foreign religion would be. And to be honest? We believe that a guy went up on a mountain and spoke to G-d and didn't eat or drink for forty days and nights. Why exactly is virgin birth so much more amusing?

3:59 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

a good point, although I can't really
thank her for something she wasn't really responsible for...but then I can't blame for the same reason, can I?

4:15 AM  
Blogger Rogue Unicorn said...

i wasn't really adding to the argument- just pointing out a quick tidbit, or maybe what I was really trying to say, is that, when you think about it, what's the difference between having a mezuzah on your door, or a statue of mother mary on your front lawn? The minutia of religious devotion is useful and meaningful in every religion including ours

12:05 PM  
Blogger Shtreimel said...

Come on Miri, I think the mountain stuff, and much more, is just as amusing as the virgin bit, and I do laugh about it whenever I can.

You might be right about not using Talmud as a halacha sefer, but people sure use it as a guide for what's acceptable.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Look, there is certainly room for a serious and interesting halachic discussion of whether it is advisable, permissible, and/or mandatory to mock statues of the Virgin Mary.

But that's hardly the point of this story, is it?

12:21 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

good point.

I think Talmud is probably about as dangerous a reference guide for what's acceptable as it is an inaccurate halachik source.there's really an awful lot of stuff in there you know.....

no. it isn't.

5:47 PM  

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