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

  1. I read your essay with interest, and broadly agree with your contentions. Ethics and morals have no need to be linked to any form of religious belief.

    Unfortunately, God’s messengers have a very tight grip on these departments, and will not relinquish them without a violent struggle.

    Strange how morals and ethics fly out of the window when the religious are defending or promoting their worldview.

    Murder, torture, subjugation and a wide variety of punishments for not following THEIR God, is the hallmark of religious coercion throughout all history.

    • Well-stated. Morals and ethics exist in the animal kingdom. As far as I know, none of these are religious.

      For that matter, what atheist has killed anyone for not subscribing to their particular version of atheism?

      • As you may know, anti – Atheists frequently cite Stalin and Mao Tse Tung as examples of Atheists who authorised mass murder.

        Of course, they conveniently blur the fact that, whatever these people did, it was not to further the cause of Atheism, but for altogether different ideologies.

        And they always omit to mention that Hitler was a Roman Catholic!

      • All very true. To be fair, most do not know Hitler was a Catholic. Nor will they admit that people like Stalin and Mao were protecting their power. They had nothing against religion per se, they simply perceived it as a threat to their authority, so it had to go.

        Remember, faith is believing what you want to believe; evidence for or against is irrelevant.

  2. One of my favourite sayings in this regard is:

    “Morality is doing what is right, regardless of what you are told – religion is doing what you are told, regardless of what is right!”

  3. Don’t forget who the offenders of things like this are. I don’t even classify the Charedi as real Jews, as Judaism is not supposed to be about totalitarian control. Yes, there are rules, but not following them is not going to make G-d hate you, especially when you have reasons for not following them.

    Also don’t forget that the concepts that you view as right – not murdering, not stealing, not breaking promises, etc. – come from religion, specifically Judaism.

      • Would you care to provide proof of this? Don’t forget that in Rome, basic morality stated that petty thieves were to be fed to lions while the crowds cheered, and babies born with deformities were to be killed.

  4. There is quite a lot of material showing other reasons for morality and ethical behaviour that have no connection to any religious beliefs. This is one such explanation:
    http://www.blazingtruth.com/moral-origins/

    There are a number of others.

    It would seem that the various religions followed the patterns of morality, not the other way around. And moral and ethical norms are not fixed. They change both with time and different societies. For example today in Saudi Arabia, amputation is still legal for thieves. All societies have, and have had in the past, different standards.
    So what is the basis of judgment in determining one set of values over another?
    Muslims still practice “honour killings”, which is perfectly acceptable to them, and repugnant to us.

    And that is in the name of religion…….

    • Interesting read, but it provides no actual conclusions. Further, it is easy to pick apart, if you feel like it.

      “Moreover, you’re telling me that the only reason you behave morally is because you seek to avoid the punishment of a God which may or may not exist?”

      Not necessarily part of the argument I’m trying to make, but a completely and totally incorrect understanding of religious morality. The idea is not that we are to fear G-d’s punishment, but that G-d has decided ‘this is what is good’ and to be good people, that is what we should do. Do not forget that in Judaism, there is no concept of Hell.

      “In his book he posits evidence from his experiments and research as a neuroscientist to reach the conclusion that the purpose of moral behavior is to increase the well-being of human beings. It appears that rational moral values coincide with human nature and human self-preservation, and are actually instilled in our genetic makeup.”

      This is where I really take issue, and what I find is easily refuted. Just look to nations like Somalia, which have fallen into anarchy. If you followed his logic, morality would develop in the name of self-preservation. And yet no such thing occurs. Even though a morality exists which would give many people much greater standards of living, they do not adopt it. Instead, charismatic and/or powerful people become leaders of small gangs that fight each other constantly, never getting beyond a certain point.

      Indeed, if morality were completely dependent upon evolution, what need would there be for a government to stop people from harming each other, or punishing those that do? If this were true, the anarchists/communists would be right and we would have no need for government. Of course, this will never be true.

      Now, this is by no means an intent to make you believe in G-d. Quite the contrary, I don’t give a damn, I’m pointing out a flaw in your logic in one part, and agreeing with you about the Charedi elsewhere. I even sent an email to a Charedi organization challenging their view that unrelated/unwed men and women should not speak to each other, while Moses listened to women sing.

      I have just as big of an issue with the Charedi, and even the Modern Orthodox, as you do, if not a bigger one. But don’t take such a negative view of all religion when the issue is rarely religion, but the people who use it for their own purposes.

      • You are saying that, because some warlords have turned Somalia into a hell for the population that there are no ethics there? Your credibility, already low, has dropped to zero.

      • So I take it you didn’t read it. If my credibility is zero, I should be easy to refute. All I’m refuting is an absolutist statement.

      • No, you stated I have no credibility because I used Somalia as an example. Your essay is an entirely different matter, as I wrote this post first.

        If you can’t refute me but disagree, fine. But be man enough to say so. I’m merely defending my religion from absolutists statements/attacks. I don’t care if you believe in G-d or not. I respect atheists for taking a stance of pure rationality and dispensing of faith. That’s a perfectly logical and rational thing to do. It is not rational, logical or tolerant to then turn around and attack those that disagree but have done nothing to you and have nothing against you.

      • You really do read into everything what you want to believe. I’m not surprised, that is the basis of all religion, believing what you want.

        What I said was, your credibility was already low from the other things you posted. The absurd comment about Somalia showed you had no grasp of facts, logic, or rational thinking.

        Of course you won;t read my essay. Like all theists, you avoid facts and rational thinking because it is fatal to your religion.

        I do not ignore evidence. You just haven’t provided any. But you are going to run away so you don;t accidentally read something that might make you think.

      • “But don’t take such a negative view of all religion when the issue is rarely religion, but the people who use it for their own purposes”

        I have made a similar.point in a number of articles. But what is the power of religion if not man made and controlled? Religion does not exist in a vacuum. All the rituals and laws have been created by man for the sole purpose of having a convenient method of control and domination over people without the intellectual or educational tools to withstand them.

        The Haredi sects, or cults as I prefer to refer to them, are simply an extreme manifestation of those who endeavour to manipulate their followers using the power of a “God” as their justification.

        I am strongly inclined to think that, on balance, religion has been responsible for more damage to mankind than any good it may have done.

      • I agree with you. I have often said that religion was created to allow one small group of people to control the thoughts, speech, and actions of a larger group. Often, that larger group includes people who do not even follow that religion. For example, all the “blue laws” and restriction present in the USA even today.

        Yes, some progress has been made in overturning those laws, but the attitudes of the believers still permeates the society. So much so that criticism or questioning of the religious reich is met with much disapproval.

      • Richard Dawkins makes the point repeatedly that religion has constructed some form of wall around itself, rendering it impermeable to criticism.

        Blasphemy is still a punishable offence in some societies, and we have all witnessed what Muslims do to those who have the temerity to question the teachings of the prophet.

        It always strikes me that these reactions are a sign of weakness, not strength.

        Probably something to do with the fear of being found out.

    • Yes, I would. First, there is my own essay at: https://slrman.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/ethics/

      Then, consider this. Animals display ethics about many things. As far as I know, none of them have any religion. Elephants, for example, will help others of their herd ig they are sick, injured or in some trouble such as stuck in mud. Bonobos do not kill each other, cooperate communally, and exhibit other forms of basic ethics. It is likely that primitive humans developed a moral code as a means of ensuring survival of the group. A moral code is only a good personal and group survival tactic. Religions have co-opted these things and claim to have invented them. This is not a surprise. Religions are founded upon lies, why should they stop what has been so successful for them?

      • What you show here can legitimately be connected to an evolutionary drive for self preservation. Helping someone in need that has no connection to you cannot be.

      • And I have no interest in reading your essay or debating with you further, because you decided that you would not debate me based entirely on the examples I used that you then refused to refute. You’ve shown yourself to be a person that ignores evidence that contradicts his worldview, and I don’t debate such people. Good day.

  5. Basically, if you need a system of rewards and punishments as outlined by religion to be “moral”, then you really have no morality.

    Doing the right thing because it is the right things is morality. It also often brings benefits to yourself. Not always immediately, but in terms of peace of mind, self-respect, and the approval of those who know you, the results are indisputable.

  6. Pingback: “Forgive Me Father – For I Have Sinned!” | andyboy

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