I Propose a Ban on Bans

If the Jew living in the Dor of Moshe Rabbeinu had a few hundred Issurim to deal with, by the end of Bayit Sheni the number of things forbidden had ballooned to the high thousands and by 1000 CE was several times that and today it’s virtually ad infinitum.

Part of that is the expanded capability created by technology and social organization to control and create new permissible and impermissible zones. The entire Hasgacha industry was created when it became possible to regulate every single thing we eat, right down to the plates and the condiments. When a century ago we went and bought some cheese from a farmer or killed a chicken out back, today we have deal with vortexes of kosher accreditations.

But if there’s anything we should have learned with our bout with the golden calf in the recent parsha is that we suck at keeping even basic things. If the great Dor of the Midbar couldn’t even manage to not sorta worship idols a month after Har Sinai, what are the odds that we can successfully keep a 1000 times the Issurim they ever had to deal with.

And the question of the day is whether we’re actually any better at the big stuff, such as not doing adultery, theft or worshiping idols or oppressing our brother? How about Sinas Chinam? And forget about that Tikkun Olam misnomer.

Let’s put a hold on the strawberries and the tap water and the hemlines and let’s look at the basic stuff. The average Jew today has far more responsibilities than the Dor of the Midbar did with way less to prop up our emunah. The answer is not more bans, the answer is less.

We’ve wrapped everything up in chumras and gederim ad le shamayim but it hasn’t brought us any closer to shamayim. Not when there’s so many things wrong in our communities.