It is important to talk to people softly, because if you yell at them, you might lose your voice and then you couldn’t tell a stripper to get off your lap.
Greg Leake emails: Hi Luke,
I just finished watching the inimitable comedy teams of Ford & Rabbs, and I have a few responses in no particular order.
Rabbi Rabbs, I’m concerned about my mental health, because I’m starting to appreciate you. I couldn’t disagree more with your religious views, but I’m starting to admire the tenacity with which you hold to your own standards. You’re a stand-up guy. A mensch. And I hope other followers of your wacked-out religion at least have the decency to appreciate your integrity.
Item: Goys do not wear uniforms. We simply dress for comfort and fashion. I wore a uniform when I was in the military, and I know the difference. This us/them relationship with which you guys characterize Jews and Gentiles is dysfunctional even if you are correct in your own terms. A pair of jeans or a bathing suit is not a uniform…
Item: Luke, when I see Orthodox Jews walking down the street, what I see are a bunch of people concealing their true nature through elaborate, medieval costuming. Today we have a huge problem in the melting pot because we have so many affection groups wanting to come to the US and retain their own tribal and cultural identities. For example, I’m sure we would all agree that we have far too many Hispanics in both our states who live in their own conclaves, do not learn English, continue their own cultural predispositions in the face of American demands for immigrants to integrate into our broader culture. Now we also have Islamic conclaves. We have Russian conclaves, Chinese conclaves, Vietnamese conclaves..
I will admit that Jews have a much more substantial reason for wanting to retain their Jewish neighborhoods and modes of dress, but still, the American experience is being squeezed by far too much multi-culturalism. What was once an enjoyable excursion into a Jewish neighborhood for the color and cuisine has now become a polyglot of competing power groups all insulated and restricting themselves from being good neighbors with the rest of our American culture.
So I’m afraid I have to say that goys do not see Orthodox Jews as some kind of representation of a moral, transcendental force. For that we all listen with great appreciation to Dennis Prager. He brings us up, and you guys bring us down.
Item: I don’t know why you guys are so emphatic about rejecting your own beautiful, mystical system. In reference to Rabbi Rabbs’s point about reincarnation — if my inadequate understanding is correct, the RE suggested that, for example, the Ruach of Elijah could incarnate into a physical person, or the Nephesh of Moses could incarnate into a physical person. This is not the same as the Hindu idea of the entire psycho-spiritual complex reincarnating into different bodies over various periods of history.
Item: The views of Judaism that I hear being expounded are so prosaic and so temporal that they could almost be characterized by “Hey guys, no love; more rules!” So far I have yet to hear you discuss anything of a transcendental nature or metaphysical or ontological nature. Your epistemology seems to be limited to “Read the Torah.” This leaves a lot of unanswered philosophical questions on the table. And when you add to this the insistence that the world is only 6,000 years old and that there were never any dinosaurs, it certainly leaves the observer scratching his head over what the big deal is. A lot of us out here do not need intractable fundamentalist, authoritarian rules to conduct ourselves with honor, integrity, generosity and strength. I guess you realize that codes of honor in our military academies are not breached very often. Moral conduct is not exclusive to Jews.
Item: Luke, your ideas about prosperity in Judaism are sounding like Robert Tilton’s prosperity gospel, and it was clearly making Rabbi Rabbs uncomfortable. I have a high opinion of you both. At the same time, Luke, I see some evangelical zeal left over from Seventh Day Adventism coming through your Judaism.
One of the things I have learned from Rabbi Rabbs is that ultimately my criticisms are meaningless simply because I am not a Jew. So I realize that you are directing yourself to other Jews for whom your interpretation of the Torah is important and relevant. The fact that it remains of historical and comparative religious interest for me in no way discounts its value to other Jews. (Believe me, you would be surprised; Jews are some of my favorite people.)
I like both you guys, and Luke, I admire what you have done to turn your life around and find a place where you can thrive with a lifestyle that brings out the best in you. I appreciate that it has been a real struggle. And you have not backed away from your commitment. You have had to traverse a lot of hurdles. I think that speaks very well of you and makes you a more substantial person. And Rabbi Rabbs,. if you were well trained and committed I would be happy to have you watch my back in a foxhole. For someone like me, that means something.
Oh yes, look, about this marriage business. For God’s sake, if they have to be Orthodox, then you have ruled out most of the single Jewish women in the world. Oy vey! Let me just lay it down for you. You guys are both notorious. You both have the reputations of being mad, bad, and dangerous to know. (It takes one to know one.) So here’s the deal. You have to do something to rise above the reputations you have created for yourselves. What that means is dinero. Increase your prosperity and financial success, and it will elevate you above the reputations that you have created. It’s just that simple. There are a lot of frummie women out that who might consider either of you a prospect if you can create a more prosperous and financially successful life for yourself.
I guess I’ve done enough damage, so I’ll say so long before they cart me off to the institution to have my brain electronically simplified.
JEFF emails: You may reassure Greg that many of his points are shared by other Jews. Rabbs really represents only his own view of Judaism, and given his animosity to most other groups, including mystics, hasidim, Israel, Modern Orthodox, etc, it is fair to say that all of Judaism should not be judged by what Rabbs believes it to be. This issue about dogma (ie belief in a certain perception about science) is very new to Judaism, for the record.
I think Greg’s observation about clothes and uniforms are very astute and correct.