Almost Every Practice You Find In Other Religions, You Can Find In Judaism

In his third lecture on Rabbi Yisrael Moshe Hazan (19th Century rabbi in Rome) for Torah in Motion, Rabbi Marc B. Shapiro says:

When people don’t know the history of Judaism, they will often speak with great pride about how Judaism is against such practices. They’ll see the Shiite Muslims give each other lashes on certain holy days. But pretty much everything you find in other religions, you can find in Judaism.

Take divorce. There is a dispute in the Talmud about it. The House of Hillel says that any man who wants to divorce can get a divorce. The House of Shammai is that you can only have divorce for unchastity on the part of the woman.

It is one thing to say the Jewish position on divorce is more realistic, but sometimes people, particularly in kiruv, go overboard and say that any other position is foolish and they end up degrading Bait Shammai’s position. We don’t accept Bait Shammai but I don’t think we can degrade it.

There is no Torah position. We posken like Bait Hillel.

Many rabbis in Morocco and North Africa said that Bait Hillel’s position only holds for a second marriage.

In the Novardok yeshiva, they used to publicly confess their sins. Any practice that you can find some good justification for, I can almost guarantee you that someone in traditional Judaism has done it and thought it a good idea.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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