Sunday, July 05, 2009

What Would Hashem Do?


For the past couple of weeks, Jerusalem residents have been bombarded with news about a certain parking lot that was opened in the Old City on Shabbat (or Saturday, aka. the Jewish Sabbath).

Secular residents in town have hailed the parking lot as a sign that the mayor is serving the interests of the progressive folks who prefer to drive on the day of rest, because driving is more restful than schlepping, perhaps? Hmmm...

Regardless, these are the same folks who see themselves as holding very tightly to a secular way of living in the "Jewish" State of Israel, in a town that has been otherwise subsumed by an anti-secular ideology and radically orthodox way of being.

Obviously, an anti-secular ideology and conservative way of life embraces a few things. Among them is the 4th commandment by G-d, or "Hashem" to "Remember the Sabbath and Keep it Holy". So, where the parking lot in the Old City is concerned, the super-duper Orthodox folks (also sometimes pejoratively known as the "ultra-Orthodox") of the city see the parking lot itself as a symbol of moral decay. Driving a car in or out on the Sabbath violates the 4th Commandment. But more than this, is somehow totally crimps their Orthodox style. In response to the opening of said parking lot, the ultra Orthodox have been violently rioting to get the point across that Hashem wants peace (not parking lots) on the Sabbath.

Call me crazy, but I am really not sure what Hashem would say to those "true believers" who, in the midst of actually rioting on Shabbat cause physical harm to other "less than true believers" in the name of observing "true belief"? I mean, really? Would the Big Guy Upstairs even say anything at all about the parking lot in question? If anything, it all raises some interesting things about the issue of Jewish righteousness and belief in this Land of Milk and Honey. I, for one, cannot help but consider, "Who are we Jews? And how can we even begin to talk about co-existence when we can't even co-exist with ourselves?". But perhaps I digress way too much here.

In case anyone out there needs to review, here are the 39 categories of forbidden acts that one may not perform from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. They are:
  1. Sowing
  2. Plowing
  3. Reaping
  4. Binding sheaves
  5. Threshing
  6. Winnowing
  7. Selecting
  8. Grinding
  9. Sifting
  10. Kneading
  11. Baking
  12. Shearing wool
  13. Washing wool
  14. Beating wool
  15. Dyeing wool
  16. Spinning
  17. Weaving
  18. Making two loops
  19. Weaving two threads
  20. Separating two threads
  21. Tying
  22. Untying
  23. Sewing two stitches
  24. Tearing
  25. Trapping
  26. Slaughtering
  27. Flaying
  28. Salting meat
  29. Curing hide
  30. Scraping hide
  31. Cutting hide up
  32. Writing two letters
  33. Erasing two letters
  34. Building
  35. Tearing a building down
  36. Extinguishing a fire
  37. Kindling a fire
  38. Hitting with a hammer
  39. Taking an object from the private domain to the public, or transporting an object in the public domain.
Since this hearty list of 39 "don'ts" fails to say anything about beating other people up or sending death threats to the mayor, I guess if it is good enough for the Haredim, then it is good enough for me. Perhaps hitting other Jews in the face and trampling them enough to cause so much injury that they must go to the hospital (by way of an ambulance) is completely kosher for our boys in the black suits and woolen hats, just as long as they don't have to tie back their peyots (see #18 and #21) before they roll up their sleeves. At the very least, it comes as a relief to know that if I marry one of these guys some day, I will certainly have to pre-shred my toilet paper into neat little piles for proper ass-wiping before Shabbat (see #24), but it is totally cool for my future husband and son to take to the streets on the very same day. In the name of keeping the Sabbath holy, I truly want to have children who will light trashcans on fire (see #37) and throw things at non-Orthodox others on Shabbat (#39?).

Lights on or lights off? Does it really matter? If I were Hashem, I would be truly dismayed.


ps: Oh, and by the way, the ultra-Orthodox folks in question are the same folks who don't pay taxes in the "Jewish" State of Israel. Supposedly, this is because they are way too busy bringing the Messiah. Who knew?

1 comment:

VJ said...

Yep. Dangerously ridiculous, and getting more so by the hour. Never understood it & Really bewildering by now. Would highly recommend one of the 'lessers' to befriend & possibly mate with. Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'