“God – It Seems That My Toilet Is Not Kosher!”


A further example of the absurdity of Orthodox religious belief

In previous articles I have cited a few examples of the self imposed strictures that ultra- Orthodox Jews have created in their quest for satisfying the ever expanding demands of their rabbis.

Within their communities they have appointed leaders who have been charged with the task of determining Halachic solutions to problems that they encounter in the modern world.

There is no end to the creativity that is applied in crafting answers, and once a solution has been found and accepted, those responsible are praised for the brilliance of their intellect in solving the apparently insoluble. However, generally, there are disagreements on the fine details, so it’s possible to be selective in choosing  the solution that best suits you.

Which brings me to the subject of “Kosher” toilets!

When you're stuck for a gift that's different!

As a secular Atheist I cannot claim to have a deep knowledge of all the thousands of limitations contained within the Halacha (Jewish religious law). However, like most Jews, I have a broad idea of some of the main features, but I had never encountered the issue of correct toilet procedures until last week.

So I am indebted to my religious son for the following anecdote – yet another true story!

Firstly, I should point out that he lives in a known religious orthodox environment and is, himself, what is termed “Modern Orthodox” (well, perhaps “Modern Unorthodox” might be more accurate, but that’s another story). He, and his family, live a “Kosher”Jewish life in all senses of the word.

Of course, all Orthodox households take the dietary restrictions very seriously, and his is no exception. Those ultra-Orthodox with the means and the space, not only have separate sections of the kitchen for milk and meat, but separate kitchens completely.

However, I had never heard of the desirability for separate toilets for Shabbat! Well, maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but you need to pay attention if you only have one.

So, let me get to the story itself.

It happened that a couple of weeks ago my son hosted a newly religious young couple on Shabbat. The “new” element is important, since these are the people who tend to extremism in following Halacha.

A few days later the young lady of the couple visited them again, and was quite excited that she was bringing them a special gift. They thought, at first, that this was a nice, if unnecessary, gesture.

Then they opened the gift.

They were amazed to discover that the “special gift” was – a scented toilet rim block!

It appears that the lady had been extremely distressed to discover on the Shabbat that their toilet was fitted with a standard toilet block that dispensed a blue dye when the toilet was flushed. This is absolutely forbidden by the Halacha, and so she was very anxious that they not continue to incur God’s wrath for a moment longer than necessary. Hence she purchased a toilet block that does not dye the water.

This is an extract from the relevant rule:

“The blue color gives the water in the bowl a more “hygienic” look, so the coloring of the water is beneficial and hence forbidden on Shabbos. It is important, therefore, that the disinfectant unit be removed from the tank or bowl before the onset of Shabbos or Yom Tov.”

Some athletic training is necessary for peeing on Shabbat!

There are some authorities that take a more practical and pragmatic approach in the circumstance in which the user may not have been aware of the disinfectant hidden in the cistern. In this situation, and in the interests of health and hygiene, it is permitted to flush the toilet in an unusual way:

“and one will be embarrassed to leave the toilet unflushed (kavod ha-beriyos), he may rely on the view of some poskim (experts) who argue that flushing such a toilet is not a violation of Coloring and he should flush the toilet in an unusual way, e.g. by using one’s elbow or foot.”

So now you know. To keep on the right side of God, or rather, his messengers on Earth, check that the toilet is Kosher before you pee.

Otherwise be prepared for some athletic contortions to get rid of the evidence!

 

Andyboy – Telling it as it is

 

Reference

http://www.torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5766/toldos.html

 

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“God – I Have A Problem With My Onion!”


“And I need some divine guidance from you!

Well, in reality, it will not be from you directly as I understand that this is not one of your most pressing problems of the moment. So I will just have to settle with the opinion of one of your professional representatives here on Earth – my local Rabbi. My difficulty is, how can I be certain that his interpretation of your divine will is the correct one?”

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef - "anxious and trembling?"(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This hypothetical question to God is not as absurd as it appears, well, not if you belong to that select group the “Chosen of the Chosen People”, the ultra-Orthodox Jews usually referred to as “Haredim”. It is interesting that the word “Haredi” is variously translated as meaning “anxious and/or trembling”.

If you had to live your life worrying about whether or not you were complying with the hundreds, if not thousands, of rules relating to simply being alive, you would also be “anxious”. Most normal people would be gibbering nervous wrecks, and would be regarded as living in a way totally removed from reality, in a sort of parallel universe.

Well, come to think about it, that is exactly the situation in which the Haredim find themselves. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the situation is one that has been carefully created by their religious leaders over the centuries as a means of exercising control and domination.

It would be unfair to criticise the God created by man for the actions of those claiming to act in his/her name. As I have explained at length in a previous article, it was man who also created the necessary infrastructure to market the initial concept. (1)

So, I suppose you are wondering: “What on Earth has all this got to do with onions?”  Well, there is a direct connection; the onion is simply a representative symbol of what brings additional anxiety into the lives of those who are already anxious enough.

I can best illustrate this by relating a true story that describes events that occurred recently inside one of our Haredi communities. Firstly, I need to explain that within Haredi society it is the norm for each individual to have their own personal Rabbi. This Rabbi is more than simply a spiritual adviser. He is a combination of guru, mentor, Halachic interpreter and the absolute epitome of “he who must be obeyed.”

He may also be required (or volunteer) to carry out a close inspection of the woman’s knickers once a month to certify that her period is over and that the process of procreation can begin again. By all accounts it is certainly not “sex” as understood in the secular world. And I’m also not certain if the Rabbi regards this inspection as an obligation or a perk of the job.(2)

But I digress – so back to the mundane world of onions!

Español: Corte de una cebolla con un cuchillo.

This onion brings tears for the wrong reason.......

This story is about two longtime friends, lets call them Sarah and Rivka. One day, Rivka visits her friend and finds her eating some fish. She had brought with her a small salad, within which were some sliced onions. Sarah questioned her friend about the knife she used to cut the onions; she was particularly concerned that the knife had not been in contact with any meat product in the 25 hour period prior to being used.

According to the Halacha (Jewish religious law), onions or lemons are considered examples of items whose juices are so powerful that they absorb the molecules of anything that knife had been in contact with.(3) They decided to consult their respective Rabbis for their opinions. Now this is where the story takes an unexpected turn.

Their Rabbis were known in the community to be engaged in some kind of “power struggle” over which of them gave the most definitive rulings. The problem was that their different character, personality and worldview, inevitably resulted in contrasting opinions. Rabbi “R”, whilst still adhering to the basic tenets of the law, always searched for a reasonable or pragmatic way to resolve a question. Rabbi “G”, on the other hand, was a stickler for the absolute traditional interpretation, without any deviation or consideration for reality. He considered himself the leading authority and reveled in his strictness.

Consequently, when confronted with the conundrum of the status of the onion, his decision moved beyond this one specific onion, and entered a much wider realm. He counselled his supplicant thus: “If your friend is so careless in cutting onions as to not be aware of the dangers involved, you must assume that she is also careless in her general adherence to other religious strictures. I rule that you cannot trust her, and I forbid you to eat in her home ever again.”

And thus ended a beautiful and longstanding friendship. Two families torn apart by the ego of one Rabbi.

Those of you not sitting with your mouths open in disbelieving horror, will be wondering:  “how could this be possible? What was the real strength of their friendship? How could anyone allow a Rabbi’s rant to have such influence on their life?”

It is impossible for a rational individual to comprehend, but Haredim live in a framework of minutia that would drive normal people insane. Some might contend that one would need to be somewhat insane to choose to live in this way, with these degrees of unlimited constraints.

The truth is that this way of life is a perfect example of the power of brainwashing from the earliest possible age. It has very little to to with the love of a God, and everything to do with the desire of the Rabbis to control, dominate and manipulate the lives of gullible people in order to satisfy their own needs, desires and ambitions.

Somehow, this situation has evolved from the historical need of the Jews to maintain a form of lifestyle that ensured that they would not assimilate and become absorbed into the society in which they were living. What was, at one time, a relatively simple following of dietary restrictions on a basic level, together with the observance of religious traditions, has somehow mutated into this plethora of codes and laws.

Many argue that what may have been necessary in the diaspora, ceased to be relevant with the creation of the State of Israel, at least for those who moved here. Jews were no longer a minority seeking to preserve their unique character, but were now an independent and, hopefully, a proud people restored to their homeland. So what is there to prove and to protect against?

The Haredim are the perfect example of the validity of the oft repeated adage: “you can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can’t take the ghetto out of the Jew.”

Some of the more extreme sects are determined not to come to terms with the 21st century. And, so long as there are onions and knives and messianic Rabbis and their adherents, so will they remain locked in the time capsule of their ignorance.

I don’t know what you feel about this blind faith, and I know such blindness is not exclusive to Judaism.

But it sure frightens the hell out of me, however it manifests itself.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

References

(1) http://andyboy1.com/2012/03/03/and-on-the-seventh-day-god-rested/

(2) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2106881/Orthodox-community-lashes-wife-Deborah-Feldman-explosive-memoir.html

(3) http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-kosher-cons-handbk.htm

“God Will Avenge Your Deaths”


So cried Israel’s chief rabbi at the funeral of Toulouse victims

(Actually one of our 2 chief rabbis since the two major divisions of Judaism decided that they need to approach God from two different directions)

Anyway, if God acts true to character, anything is possible. As Richard Dawkins so eloquently describes him (or her):

 

Professor . Español: Profesor Richard Dawkins.

Richard Dawkins. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (1)

And we should bear in mind that in this case of the Toulouse massacres, both the perpetrator and the victims prayed to the same God.

This image shows Nicolas Sarkozy who is presid...

Nicolas Sarkozy
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course the killer did not confine himself only to Jews. The fact that he also murdered  three French soldiers, two of whom were Muslim, has been somewhat overshadowed by three of his Jewish victims being children. More horrific = juicier headlines = more viewers or readers. We must also not forget the political dimension. France is in the throes of a presidential election campaign, so it’s important for all candidates to make sure that their reaction to this tragedy can be structured towards securing the greatest number of votes.

Here in Israel, politicians from the Prime Minister down, also have to ensure that their responses match the public mood, and, at the same time, further their personal ambitions as far as possible.

I am not saying that politicians are without compassion for the suffering of the families of the victims. Even most politicians are not that inhumane. But politics is politics, and so I, mustering all the cynicism at my disposal, do not condemn them for doing what politicians do.

But Rabbis, Priests and Imams is another thing altogether. Their combined historical beseeching of their common God to destroy, mutilate, torture or simply make life miserable for great chunks of mankind is not in the same league as politics.

At least secular politicians don’t claim to have the ear of God. On the other hand, those representing religious parties, invoke God’s name at every possible opportunity.

Every tragedy is just another excuse to ask God to punish those responsible. Of course, they always ignore “the elephant in the room.” The overriding, self evident truth that is too inconvenient to utter.

Where was God when these events took place?

Are we supposed to accept that he allowed these things to happen in order to be able to demonstrate his powers of retribution?

The sad reality is that bad things happen to good, or innocent, people. Life is not fair. But it must be lived as it is. Blaming God, cursing God or calling upon God for vengeance is simply pointless.

But then, how would religious leaders justify themselves, and the validity of their existence, unless they could demonstrate their power to invoke the wrath of the almighty.

The entrance to the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As

A gateway to Muslim heaven? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Perhaps they will point to the fact that God has, indeed spoken. Mohammed Mehra is dead. I suppose they will claim that God guided the hand of the policeman who fired the bullet that ended up in the head of this miserable example of humanity. Mehra reportedly cried “Allahu Akbar” as he met his death.

Are we supposed to believe that this final exclamation will enable God to welcome one of his children into Islamic paradise?

Or should we ponder on whatever happened to:

 

“Vengeance is mine…. saith the Lord”? (2)

No doubt the Chief Rabbi will claim that he demanded – and God listened!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is

References:

(1)”The God Delusion” page 31

(2) Romans 12:19

Excuse Me God – But WTF Are You Allowing Rockets To Fall On Your Chosen People?


Flickr - Israel Defense Forces - Home Front Co...

You see what I mean!

An open letter from Andyboy

Dear God,

Sorry to trouble you; I’m sure you’ve got your hands full with all that’s happening in the world you created in less than a week. Maybe you should have taken a bit longer – at least worked the Saturday; rushing things can lead to unintended consequence.

Anyway, my problem is trying to understand why you continue to allow bad things to happen to your Chosen People. I am right in assuming that you did choose the Jews, am I not? As far as I can understand, they’ve had a pretty shitty existence ever since you decided they were “special.”

Two priests demand a heretic to repent as he i...

Didn't the Inquisitors also pray to you?

I mean, we’ve just finished with Purim and remembering what fate was planned for the Jews by the Persians the first time round. And soon we’ll be dredging up the memories of what happened to us in Egypt under a not very sympathetic Pharoah. A couple of weeks after that we’ll commemorate the Holocaust, and we recall also, from time to time, the Romans, the Inquisition, the pogroms and a whole host of bad things inflicted upon us over thousands of years.

And, as if all that is not enough, look where you chose to locate the Promised Land! In the only part of the region without oil!

Yellow badge Star of David called "Judens...

Not easy being a Jew!

What were you thinking? Is this some sort of test – sort of character building stuff? Make life as difficult as possible and they’ll be all the stronger for it, type of philosophy?

So, you give all the oil to our neighbours and what do they do with it? They use it to control the world! And at $125 a barrel (and rising) they’re screwing everyone and laughing all the way to the bank.Didn’t you see this coming? I was taught that you were all powerful, but I’m having serious doubts now.

To be honest, I’m having serious doubts as to whether you actually exist. I mean, no God, in his or her right mind, would permit all the crap that’s going on the world right now.

And, as if the above is not enough, we’ve had over 200 rockets fall on our heads in the past 3 days, compliments of a people who pray to you under another name. And we live under the threat of thousands more where they came from.

Great! This is the best you can do for the Chosen Ones?

You know something, God; Maybe, next time, chose someone else!

Sorry to be so blunt, but I didn’t get my gas mask from Home Front Command yet, and I’m feeling a bit vulnerable right now.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is – even to God!

P.S. On second thoughts, I’m certain you don’t exist. Want to send me a sign?

P.P.S. Do you actually look anything like Morgan Freeman?

Well - he couldn't do a worse job.....

Photo credits

Freeman- a-eskinsley – time.com

Others: Public domain or GNU free

So – Where WAS God During The First Holocaust?


And where will He/She be during the next one?

Some people object to the Jews claiming exclusivity to the description”Holocaust”, preferring to classify what happened as just another genocide in a human history replete with genocides. According to Wikipedia, at least 40 major examples, and countless minor ones have been reported.(1)

So – where WAS God?

Yad Vashem Hall of Names

All God's children?
Memorial at Yad Vashem

Man’s inhumanity to man does not only apply to mass murder but, also, to a wide range of other atrocities. And God’s absence, or inability, or lack of desire, to interfere is always explained away with those magic words; ” God gave man free will” – the excuse all excuses.

In truth, man was in a great dilemma. He had created a religion with a faceless God, and now had to explain away all the evil inherent in mankind. Man’s brain, ever fertile and ingenious, came up with the magic formula. Remove all responsibility from God for the bad things in life, retain God’s hand in all the good things, and invent an alter ego for God, who would have a face – “The Devil”, and ascribe to him all the responsibility for things evil

Extraordinarily, the ruse worked. They had calculated, correctly, that mankind’s gullibility was infinite. What is now viewed as a problem, in terms of justification, was not that things happened beyond God’s control, but that some of the worst atrocities were carried out whilst invoking His name, and occurred only because of his claimed existence.

The following quotation of the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, expresses my feelings very eloquently:

Actually, the Holocaust was not, ostensibly, a genocide carried out in the name of God, although a considerable number of people were happy with the knowledge that the “Christ Killers” were at last getting what was coming to them. It was simply an example of man’s capability to rationalise the irrational.

One of the enduring mysteries, following the Holocaust, is how did any of those who experienced it, either first hand, or from afar, still retain their belief? Whilst many ceased to believe, many others did not. I have never understood it, I will never understand it. Walking into the gas chambers whilst reciting the “Shema”  (the most sacred Jewish prayer exalting God’s name) has always baffled me.(2)

And there is a never ending list of mass murders committed in God’s name continuing to this day. Christians, Muslims. Hindus and others, all murdered those who they perceived as “worshipers of the wrong God”- meaning either a different God, or the same God, but approached from a different direction.

And the story doesn’t end there. The internecine strife within the multitude of religions, as the various sects struggle for supremacy, is an open secret. In Judaism it is, at least, an argument over interpretation and customs between the Ashkenazim and Sephardim, which is not currently a bloody conflict. This action they reserve – jointly – towards the secular community.

But with Islam, it’s a different story as Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims seek to excel each other in their hatred and mutual loathing, and blow each other up with amazing regularity. And now, once again,  a part of Islam is shaping up to solve the Jewish problem once and for all – the final “Final solution”.

English: Rows of bodies fill the yard of Lager...

a result of the first "Final Solution" And the next one will not take as long to expedite

The world is viewing the development of the nuclear bomb by Iran with mixed feelings.Some openly support the right of Iran to have such devices, even though the Iranian leadership has not hidden the fact that it would like to use the power this will give it to eliminate Israel. And, of course, at the same time, denying that it’s endeavouring to build such an atomic bomb.

Irrespective of whether it succeeds, there is bound to be conflict involving Iran and it’s proxies, which will result in numerous deaths. And all this is with, or without, God’s approval?

Self evidently, this article is not a deep theological argument about the unprovable existence of a God. It is simply the struggle of a non-believer to  make sense out of nonsense.

A struggle already lost, as I ponder on where will God be during the next Holocaust? 

Andyboy – Telling it as it is

References

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocides_in_history 

(2) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/shema.html