Sacred Cows and Clown College

There are many unanswered and unanswerable questions.

Why is the sky blue?

Why is it sometimes pink?

Why does it sometimes turn black?

Why is there a Mormon blogger at the LA Jewish Journal and why does he offer hopelessly ignorant opinions about Judaism?

Do you see me offering my views on what Mormons need to do about their religion based on my knowledge of the religion based on a South Park episode and stuff I heard from Mormon critics?

But that doesn’t stop Mark Paredes from doing it. The topic is Women at the Wall, a group that I might almost sympathize with except for the fact that they really don’t care about praying, but do care about publicity stunts.

Everyone gave kudos to Rabbi Eliezrie for volunteering to be the Orthodox lightning rod for the evening, but I found his arguments less than compelling. His main justification for the denial of certain religious rights to women at the Western Wall was that “Jews have been praying this way for 3300 years, since the days of King Solomon.” Needless to say, his Reform and Conservative colleagues took exception to this statement. The night’s best line went to Rabbi Judith HaLevy, who noted that Jews don’t slaughter animals at the Western Wall today “even though they did it at the time of King Solomon.”

This has so much stupid in it that it’s over its accepted stupid weight.

I’m assuming that Rabbi Judy is a Reform Rabbi and has no clue about Judaism, but whatever Clown College turns out Reform Rabbis should still explain at some point between the two years of ecology, the one year of diversity and the one year with the Peace Corps that Jews (actual Jews from then until 1842) believe that sacrifices are held in abeyance until the rebuilding of the Temple.

Stupid laugh lines like these come from Stewart and Colbert politics. They’re an ignorant show of ignorance.

I can see why many Orthodox Jews are not impressed by liberal Jews’ willingness to change their traditions simply because they think that it’s a good idea to do so. However, invoking King Solomon to defend your practice of exclusion isn’t terribly convincing, either.


1. Fuck you

2. It doesn’t have to be “convincing”. It’s what the religion is.

When people do something for 3300 years this is their way of doing it. That may sound circular to people who follow a religion made up by a guy in the 19th Century but even Mormons have their traditions. I may not like that tradition. Mark and Judy may not like our tradition, but that counts for fuckall because they are outside that tradition.

I am not going to walk into the big Saints cathedral and demand that they change things and if a Mormon critic tries that same stunt, I doubt very much that Mark will be on her side. Trying to hijack someone else’s sacred space and then demanding that they account to you for their traditions is typical liberal bullshit.

No one is obligated to account to anyone else for their traditions. Reform Judaism wrote out Jerusalem and the Temple from their religion. They can no longer demand any rights to them.

If they want to pray their way at a wall, they can build their own damn wall. They gave up this one when they gave up on the tradition.

However, on a night when only one prominent rabbi in the Los Angeles Orthodox world was willing to engage in a public dialogue on religious pluralism, I do feel comfortable offering an outsider’s opinion on which argument I found most compelling.

This is why. But no, not really. There’s no dialogue to be had on religious pluralism.

If you believe that the word of G-d is unchanging, then what is there to have a dialogue about with people who believe that it comes and goes any way you please? How can you even talk about pluralism if you reject the concept of plural approaches, some of which reject the word of G-d?

After all, while the Torah does state that priests in ancient Israel were male descendants of Aaron, modern Rabbinic Judaism doesn’t have priests, priesthood, or temples. Rabbis are teachers and decisors of Jewish law, not priests.

Mark’s thought process here was that he didn’t have to actually learn anything about Orthodox Judaism before writing about it. And that’s fine. Knowing what the hell you’re talking about is exclusionary.

Sure my synagogue has priests and they are called up first to the Torah and they bless the congregation. There are even regularly blessings by the priestly descendants of Aaron at the Western Wall… but Mark is probably right.

As a Mormon I believe that the Israelite priesthood has always been conferred exclusively on men, and I understand that men were almost exclusively the teachers and judges in ancient Israel, but in a modern world with many female teachers and judges, what is the theological objection to authorizing female rabbis if they don’t hold the priesthood?

How can a human being write up a sentence, a paragraph, a post, that is this contradictory without being aware that he’s doing it? Honestly it’s a mystery to me.

Mark Paredes believes that the priesthood, his Mormon priesthood, is conferred only on men. And then he asks what our objection is, in this modern world, to female Rabbis, because we couldn’t possibly have anything in our religion with as much standing as the Mormon belief that etc…

How can one man be this blithely stupid?

Our religion is our theology. Our theology is our religion. No religion or idea stands up to sufficient examination. You can deconstruct everything into piffle and that doesn’t make you smart, it makes you destructive.

Religion is faith and tradition. You are either part of it or you’re not. We can spend 4 days explaining it and it will end up right there after all the words are spilled out. Our religion is what we do. You don’t have to like it. You don’t even have to respect it. But you have to deal with it.

This is who we’ve been for 3300 years. These are the people whose traditions and scriptures you used as the basis for your own religion. And if you think that your religion has value, then maybe the original source of it has some value that you should respect as well without walking in like a tourist and gawking at all the funny Jews who still think like they did 3300 years ago.

We can argue theology and the place of X, Y and Z in Judaism, the logical paths that we took to get here, but really this is who we are. Deal with it.

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