Rabbi Tells Doctors “Don’t Treat Non-Jews on the Sabbath!”

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef  – if you’re sick on Shabbat – you need to be Jewish!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has excelled himself this time

Just when you thought that it would be impossible for him to come up with sayings more idiotic than those he previously uttered, he surprises you with something new.

According to a report in YNET  the “learned”rabbi came up with this gem:

“the spiritual leader of Shas said that while doctors are expected to do everything in their power – even if it requires violating the Sabbath – in order to save Jews whose lives are in danger, the same does not apply for gentiles.”

Of course, this places religious doctors in a real dilemma. A conflict between their Hippocratic oath and Halacha (Jewish religious law). And then, there is their contract with the state:

” The doctors’ license says they must treat all patients without distinction of faith or race, and if they don’t, the State could revoke their license and also punish them” 

Apart from any other considerations, the mere fact that anyone, especially a rabbi, can think and utter such thoughts, is a Public Relations disaster of the highest magnitude for the State of Israel . That this is his opinion, and his alone, gets lost in the media coverage. Israel’s enemies, of which there are many, seize on anything that can cast the state in a bad light.

It’s difficult to imagine anything much worse than this.

The horror of the vast majority of Israeli society to such thoughts is no different from that in the rest of the civilised world. But it would be an uphill struggle to try to get this fact across.

Man’s inhumanity to man is well documented in history, on both small and large scales. It does not need the added stimulus of religious interpretation and edict to make a bad situation even worse. Religion has been responsible for enough tragedy; and now it seems that the spark of religious intolerance continues to glow brightly in the mind of this nonagenarian.

There is, however, a postscript to this story.

Yosef, in an effort to ameliorate the severity of such a ruling, did propose a solution: “ The rabbi offered a halachic solution that follows a rule by which if a single person is doing the act, he is violating the Sabbath, while if two people are doing it together, they are exempt.”

Image of a surgeon operating on a patient. فار...

Two hands are better than one – but at the SAME time?…. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The doctor who needs to operate will call on another doctor, or nurse, to hold the scalpel together and make the incision,” said Rabbi Yosef, saying that “it is necessary in order for religious physicians to refrain from being put on trial for distinguishing between a Jew and a gentile on Sabbath.”

Maybe he should just stick to religion.

His knowledge of medical procedures leaves a lot to be desired.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!



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“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





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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!


(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

“Till Death Us Do Part” – Literally!

A couple of 14-carat gold wedding rings. Pictu...

Chained for life?

10-year sentence is stretched to ‘indefinite’

In groundbreaking ruling, rabbinical courts decides Meir Gorodetzki will not leave prison until he grants wife a ‘get.’

(Headline from an article by Jeremy Sharon in today’s Jerusalem Post)

So, here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, and a man is sentenced to life imprisonment for the “crime” of not granting his wife a divorce.

A Sefer Torah rolled to the Song of the sea.

This law controls all personal life in Israel - and it is rigidly enforced!

If further evidence were needed of the absurdity of religion, created and controlled by men, then this is surely it. Having developed a framework of rules, over many centuries, for defining every single aspect of daily living, the Rabbis now find themselves in 21st century Israel with the power of enforcement. They are also fortunate to have the political support that prevents the separation of religion and state.The state has placed the control of matters pertaining to birth, marriage, divorce and its consequences and, even, death, in the exclusive hands of the Rabbinate.

In this particular case, the couple were originally married in a civil ceremony. Only some years later, after they emigrated to Israel and became religious, did they have a second formal Jewish wedding. In reality, it would have made no difference to the present situation. In a masterstroke of even further absurdity, the state – while recognising civil marriage OUTSIDE of Israel for the purposes of status – still granted the Rabbinate sole control over divorce, even over civil marriages!

According to Jewish Law the man has to hand to his wife the “Get” or document of divorce in a bizarre ceremony which includes the following:

  • the writing of the get takes place, a process that takes about an hour, and involves the man who is getting divorced and the scribe. The scribe is an expert in writing holy texts, such as Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot. The scribe writes the get with quill and ink on a parchment that is prepared ahead of time in the appropriate size, 

  • the woman places the get under her left armpit, next to her heart, takes 2-3 steps forwards, turns around, and retraces her steps (walking altogether a distance of 4 amot, approximately 2 meters). By holding the get under her arm and walking with it the woman proclaims her acceptance of her divorce

  • The judge then rips the parchment of the get, lengthwise and widthwise, so that it is no longer possible to find any mistakes in it  (1)

Why is a “Get” so important?

Without this, the woman becomes an “agunah” – literally “chained to her husband” and cannot remarry. Should she do so, any children of such a union would be regarded as “mamzerim”, a specific form of “bastards”, and they, themselves, could never marry under Jewish Law. (2)

LOL Just divorced. And no, that's not my car.

Not so easy in Israel - no wonder the celebration!

It is known that there are hundreds of women in Israel in this unfortunate situation – but not always because the husband will not divorce them. They are in this position even if the husband simply disappears, or suffers from a mental condition preventing rational action. The worst situation of all affects women whose husband died in battle, but the body was never found. Without absolute proof of death she can remain “chained” for life.

Since the divorce agreement must be mutual, there are cases where women have refused to accept the “Get”  thus, effectively, preventing the men from remarrying. These situations are much rarer, but they do exist. The grotesque reality of Jewish Law affects everyone.

It is true that during the wedding ceremony, the man declares that he understands that the marriage takes place “according to the Laws of Moses and Israel.”

The words “Till death us do part” are not included in Jewish weddings.

They might as well be!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is


Update article



(1) For a full description of the ceremony you may refer to:


(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agunah


Fatal Attraction

Question: What are Jewish women permitted to have a maximum of 3 times only, according to Halacha?

Answer: ( No, it’s not what you were thinking!) – the answer is: husbands (deceased)

Preparing for the next victim? (photo from life123.com)

Just when you thought that there could be no more requirements of Jewish Religious Laws, restricting the rights of women, of which you were not aware – a new one emerges. Well, the law itself is not new, but it’s existence remained known to very few, I would say the very unfortunate few, to whom it applied.

I learned of it through a recent article in Ha’aretz, written by Irit Rosenblum.  She revealed that a woman, whose second husband had recently died in a motorcycle accident, could expect the Rabbinate to add to her anguish at some time in the future. As Rosenblum points out, the young lady was married “according to the laws of Moses and Israel” and could be denied the right to re-marry under those very same laws. The restriction is apparently defined both  in the Babylonian Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch, and is part of the law of Israel to this day.

English: A complete set of the Babylonian

The Babylonian Talmud - so many laws..............

Not having been an avid reader of these publications in the past I felt an obligation to check on this bizarre piece of information  for myself. After finding the relevant Tractate ( Yebamoth 64B) I glanced through a few other pages. I decided that it is just as well that I had not looked before, since the wealth of material for a non-believer, such as myself, could saturate the blogosphere for years to come.

Mind you, it isn’t all negative. The warning not to marry someone known to be a leper, or to suffer from fits and seizures, is not without practical merit. There is also a limitation placed on sisters of a bereaved mother whose son died following the ritual circumcision. Should this happen to the son of another sister, then all other sisters are forbidden to allow their sons to be circumcised. I doubt that the Rabbis knew of the existence of the condition of haemophilia, in which the blood does not clot, or that it could be inherited. Nevertheless, the advice was fortuitous.

As far as the particular issue of re-marriage is concerned, the law is fairly clear: “If a woman was married to one husband who died, and to a second one who also died, she must not be married to a third.” Of course, the Rabbis could not agree absolutely, so there is another interpretation from Rabbi Gamaliel, who was obviously more liberal in his outlook than the others. He opined that: “She may be married to a third, but she may not be married to a fourth.” So, there being no advance on three, that was set as the maximum. But the disagreement on numbers exists to this day and the current prevailing view, attributed to Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, is that a woman is deemed to be “fatal”after the loss of just two husbands.

First Edition

Alive and well - and practiced in Israel? Ask the Rabbinate!

To marry such a “fatal wife” is considered a life threatening situation for the husband. The assumption being that she might have killed the first two (or three) either actively, or passively, by placing a curse on them. And you thought witchcraft was outdated?

Naturally, the situation does not apply in reverse. A man is entitled to any number of dead wives, without limitations on marrying again (other than the trepidation of prospective brides).

Whatever the outcome of this case may be, note that the Rabbinate has total control over the implementation of this law, as it does over so many laws controlling the rights and freedoms of the individual, especially women. And it matters not whether those individuals are Jewish, non-Jewish or even Atheists.

In the area of fundamentalist religious interpretation no-one can teach us anything.

Not even Iran!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!



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