Every Time I Enter A Rabbi’s Office, I Leave It With Less Freedom To Pursue Truth

I’m not complaining.

I think it’s cool.

It means I have to make fewer decisions. I have fewer options.

I’m a drop in the rain, just a number not a name.

And you don’t see it.

You don’t believe it.

At the end of the day, I’m just a needle in the hay.

I signed and sealed it.

Now I gotta deal with it.

Humanity, goodbye!

I’m just a simple Jew. I always do what my rabbis tell me and I always believe everything they say.

Truth has just an instrumental value to me as it does to Judaism (in theory and practice) and to the God of Judaism.

I tell people the truth when it advances my interests and I fudge the truth when it advances my interests.

I’m a lot like God. He’s not particularly interested in the truth either. He tells King David not to do a census. A rational government needs a census but God doesn’t want Israel to be rational or truthful.

Let them live in the fog of war.

To be religious means to value many things higher than truth, particularly fundraising.

As my secular Jewish friend Fred says, "Whoever hears of anyone coming to religion as the result of rational inquiry?"

As I’ve grown in my Torah, I’ve learned that there are a whole slew of subjects I can’t write about.

My world is steadily shrinking. The walls are closing in. That’s the meaning of Torah.

When you become a Christian, your world expands and you reach out to those unlike you. When you become a religious Jew, you abandon meaningful communication with almost everybody outside the fold (except to make money off them).

At one point, truth in public affairs was everything to me. Now I just want to go along to get along. Who needs truth when I can have a warm cozy community?

When you belong to a close-knit community, everything you do reflects on the group. You are all in a boat together on the ocean of life. I can’t drill a hole in my section and tell others to leave me alone.

My ongoing problem is that when I write something that upsets a handful of people in my community, they have an incentive to complain while the hundreds of people who benefit from what I write have no incentive to go to bat for me. They can free-ride on my painful (to me) inquiries.

Here’s a nifty sentence from Wikipedia: "In response to those who stated that Judaism could change or evolve, Rabbi Sofer applied the motto Hadash asur min ha-Torah (??? ???? ?? ?????), "Anything new is forbidden by the Torah," (homelitically based on the Biblical law, in Leviticus 23:14, that new grains are forbidden to be used before Passover, see Yoshon)."

If the holy rabbi had said "Anything true is forbidden by the Torah," he would’ve been just as true to Judaism.

The foundational belief of Judaism is that every word of the Torah is divine. Yet almost everyone who has studied the evidence (those with PhDs in Bible) will tell you the Pentateuch is a post-Mosaic composite source riddled with human errors.

The other foundational belief of Judaism is that God rescued the Israelites from Egypt through the Exodus, yet virtually all who have studied the evidence (PhD in ancient Near East History) say there is no evidence the Israelites were ever in Egypt, that there’s no way that two million of them could have survived in the desert for 40 years, and that all the facts argue that the redemption from Egypt did not occur as the Bible describes it.

Now let me be clear. I do not agree with these scoffers. I have been given the gift of faith and I don’t care about truth. I just want my comfy beliefs and my comfy community.

I think it’s cool that important information in a shul is kept to an elite. The common people can’t handle it.

I endorse this approach.

Sure, you may have trouble getting a quorum every year at the congregational meeting, but if you bribe them with a nice dinner and hector them long enough about their responsibilities, everything will work out.

Now let’s say you throw a meeting where congregants can talk back to the rabbi about his sermons, then you’ll have a hard time finding a room large enough to accommodate the crowd.

Most people find shul boring because they’re outsiders. Only the elite have the hot gossip. If the communication flow at a shul was more robust, more people would participate in shul.

I don’t want that. Best to leave things to the elite. It’s safer.

Best to keep community newspapers focused on safe topics like bake sales and Israeli politics. Don’t cover shuls like other organizations their size. That would tear them apart!

When you write about your shul, please keep things respectable. Write about how the shul helps the goyim and how we keep giving and giving. Only admit to respectable emotions. It’s fine to get fatigued after giving a lot.

Just don’t write anything that could cause waves in the community. Don’t describe disreputable emotions. Keep your prose sanitized. Don’t describe how Judaism is actually practiced.

I want a warm fuzzy hug right now.

XOXOX

Thank you.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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