I’ve got to gripe a little here.
If you are reading my blog for the first time….I was at one time in my life an Orthodox Jew.
I respected my faith very much and I had fear that if I didn’t follow the ritualistic protocol of Judaism, I believed that I was going to be “punished” by the One Above.
I also believed that if I am going to be punished for not being a “good” Jew, then other people that are not “good” Jews will also be punished.
I have gotten older and a little more mature and I realize now that I may have been wrong about this childish view of G-d.
As an adult, I realize that we cannot tell another person what G-d wants from them, because we are not G-d and to dare insist that we are sure that another person is going to “Hell” for their deeds…..is quite presumptuous.
But……since I have come to this realization……I have a hard time with Rabbis and Priests that claim to know what G-d wants from all of us.
And, apparently they know that G-d wants the same thing from everybody…… G-d wants all of us to fear Him.
Let me tell you why I think this is blasphemous.
Note: Since I can only discuss Judaism, because I am Jewish, I have no choice but to limit my gripes to the Rabbis that do this and what kind of negative impact they have on the Jewish community as a whole. I cannot discuss other religions, however, that does not mean that this does not occur within other religions. I want to clearly state that I am not under the impression that Judaism is the one and only religion guilty of what I am about to rant about.
In Judaism, there are many well regarded Rabbis who carry the message of fear to their constituents and with that message of fear comes the obligation of those that follow these Rabbis to pay for many things that will “appeal” to G-d and quell G-d’s anger.
Here is a just a couple of things a that the Rabbis have told us Jews that we must do so that G-d does not get angry with us……
Jews must pay thousands, sometimes up to $15,000 per child in Yeshiva tuition in order for their children to be segregated from the general population and so that they can receive the “proper” Jewish education. If parents have more than one child….too bad…….The Rabbis will tell you that it is your Jewish obligation to make sure that you send your kids to Yeshiva…..it does not matter whether you have the money or not…GET IT!
Personal story: I used to send my kids to Yeshiva because the Rabbis told us to and we did not have enough money every month to pay the tuition. When I used to tell the school that I did not have enough money that month to pay the full tuition, the secretary of the school decided that it was her obligation to reprimand me – in public – by telling me that it takes a real low life not to make sure that they work hard enough to at least pay their school tuition…..Keep in mind that the employees of the Yeshiva that is struggling do not get paid on time….or sometimes not at all.
Jews must keep kosher. This requires Jews to buy only products that are “approved” by a group of Rabbis. These Rabbis must monitor the production of these products before approving the kosher certification. I live in Brooklyn, NY and over here, the center of the Jews, an OU certification on a product is not good enough anymore. The Rabbis have said that because the OU is too big of a corporation, it is not as reliable as smaller acceptable certifications that are given out by private Rabbis. This has resulted in Jewish supermarkets popping up all over that – compared to large supermarket chains like Shop Rite and Kroger’s – charge astronomical amounts for food.
Not only that, frozen produce must be checked for bugs because we are not allowed to eat bugs (as if I would want to) and if you want to buy “approved” bug free frozen produce, you must pay about triple the amount for it. I could go on and on and on about this….but one personal observation:
I know a few people who own kosher restaurants and have to pay $400 monthly to have a Rabbi in the restaurant at all times in order to “approve” all food products served to the customers. The problem is that the Rabbi that sits in the restaurant generally gets about $10 per hour and is not a real Rabbi and is told, like a robot, what he has to do. If he does not know something, or his back is turned for one minute….the owner is free to do whatever they want to do….and it probably isn’t exactly what the Rabbi getting $400 a month “approves” of……..
………….But the Rabbi that gets $400 a month for EVERY restaurant that he “supervises”…..obviously cannot be at all the locations all of the time, so he comes once a month to pick up the check anyway.
Rabbis frequently go door to door to collect for Yeshivas that learn all day and all night and they claim that these students are the heart of the religion and what allows us, the non-learners, to earn a living without having the obligation to learn Torah (Bible) all day.
In other words, the “learners” are what is keeping our religion alive and without them we would suffer. So, of course, Jews must give enormous amounts of charity because G-d will be very angry if we don’t.
Not only that…..don’t think for a minute that we don’t love that little plaque that goes up in the Yeshiva or the Synagogue telling everyone that passes by how much we have donated to that Yeshiva or Synagogue.
Personal story: I know many young boys that “learn” all day…….but only do it because their parents support them and their wives and children and they don’t have to find a job and do it themselves.
Personal story #2: I once wrote a letter to a wealthy synagogue that had plaques all over the place announcing that various members of that synagogue had donated in the tens of thousands of dollars for what is called a Mezuza. A Mezuza is scroll affixed to the doorpost of every door in a premises that has specified Hebrew verses written on it. I bought mine for $25 each. I figured if these “good” Jews were soooooooo good that they would pay $10,000 and up for a mezuzah, certainly they would be able to help me out with Yeshiva tuition for my two daughters that I just couldn’t afford as a single, divorced woman.
I wrote a very polite and humble letter to the Rabbi of that Synagogue and asked him for his help or help from anyone that could find it in their hearts to donate a few dollars towards my kids tuition. I gave them the name of the Yeshiva and the name of the person to speak to and asked them to just let me know if they could help out so I could thank them. I got no response. I called and left a message. I got no response.
And that was when the secretary of the school thought she had a right to embarrass me in front of other parents in the school office and degrade me by telling me I was less than a human being for not paying my Yeshiva tuition on time.
I could go on and on with this post (and I probably will have many more posts like this one) but, let me get to the bottom line already.
All religious leaders should be guiding their constituents to a place of happiness…..not to a place of fear. Religious leaders should, at a minimum, understand human nature, as well as the Bible (and all other ancient text) enough to know that fear does not allow a person to have true faith in the way that the Bible says that we should.
And especially those “celebrity” religious leaders….we all know who they are…..should stop lining their own pockets by encouraging their followers to donate to “charitable causes” that they have deemed to be “acceptable” by feeding fear to them and telling them that that is what G-d wants.
Kim Kardashian sells us the illusion that makeup and plastic is true beauty. Celebrity Priests and Rabbis sell us the illusion that if we give them and their “approved charitable causes” money, G-d will love us.
PS #1…… When are these celebrity religious leaders going to use their favorite tool of fear to discuss the importance of honesty in business……a very huge topic in the Bible with many “commandments” attached to it……
PS #2……if there is an Orthodox Jew out there reading this…..I would love to hear from you. I am personally bothered by this behavior and I would love to hear a G-d fearing explanation for why this happens so often to Jews in the Orthodox community.
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