Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tear it!

Imagine a person who observes Sabbath, but it has no meaning to him — no taste. The only thing that keeps him doing it is guilt, or respect for the tradition, or simply habit. Without his understanding the meaning behind the observance, it will eventually stop sooner or later, in this generation or the next.

An experience I had working with a Jewish youth group describes how this translates down the line to the grandchildren. I was hired to try to rejuvenate interest for Judaism among the participants, and I thought a "Sabbath Experience" would be a great idea. So I presented my plan to one of the chapter presidents, a girl of about 16 or 17. She looked at me in total shock. "Sabbath!" she exclaimed incredulously. "Do you mean no tearing toilet paper?" This was the first thing that came to her mind. I said "Sabbath" and she thought "toilet paper." So in jest I said, "Yes! Haven't you ever tried that? For thousands of years Jews get together, put a roll of toilet paper on a table, sit around the table and chant, 'Don't tear it, don't tear it!'" She looked at me with an expression that said "Is this guy for real?" And then she said, "You know, I always wanted to ask a rabbi, 'are you allowed to flush on Sabbath?'" Imagine this is the question she always wanted to ask a rabbi.

Seriously though, there needs to be more to religious observance than "tradition", as this article points out. Once people loose respect for God, it won't be long before they don't really see the point in doing what He says. Always a bit of a sore point between me and the "secular Jewish" types, in that I don't really see the point in being proud of being Jewish if it's not God's setup, so to speak. I mean, I don't really care if in a thousand years, there are no more Italians, or Egyptians, or whatever. There are certainly no more Greeks, in what that word meant in the classical period, nor are there any eastern Celts, as far as I know, and if a people is just an accident of history, no reason to get worked up, no?

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