This week’s Torah portion (parasha) is Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)

I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and on YouTube.

Greg Leake emails: Hi Luke,

I think Alexandra Wallace should be punished. Why?

Because she’s been a very, very bad little girl.

As a consequence, I would feel it was my duty to implement long, lingering punishment except that I am a happily married man. Therefore, I’m afraid I will have to rely on you to implement whatever discipline is needed to restore ethical balance with this very naughty little girl.

On one of your posts earlier as you warmed up to Torah Talks, a couple of statement were made that I find questionable.

One that Judaism is practical, even prosaic, and two, that Christianity is a romantic approach to religion.

I have no doubt that Judaism is practical when seen from the point of view of hermeneutics. I imagine that the entire corpus of Judaism has great internal integrity relative to its own parts.

However, I will have to say that Judaism can be enormously impractical relative to the culture it finds itself in.

There is nothing practical about having to bypass cheaper, more pleasant digs because you are forced to move into a neighborhood near a synagogue.

There is nothing practical about having to dress in a fashion that automatically excludes employment in some areas.

It is not practical to find it necessary to bypass every possibility of eating if it’s not kosher. (Which even means excluding meals in health food stores where the entire selling point of the product is its purity, naturalness, and health.)

It is not practical to have to walk to shul. (What if you’re too old? What if it’s raining? no wonder Dennis Prager was content to drive.)

One could continue. Now I do not challenge that some of these precepts may be virtuous in their own way, particularly seen as part of the integrity of their own system. But frankly, I just could not list Judaism as being practical when seen in the context of the wider culture.

Also a word about the idea that Christianity is romanticism. You know, this claim might be borne out in a few places, but it starts from an assumption that Jesus bin Joseph was not divine. And naturally, as Christians believe that he was divine, an entirely different calibration would have to be made in order to accommodate the notion that Christianity was romantic. i would also say that you can’t look at theologians like Dietrich Bonhoffer and suggest there was anything romantic about his approach to G-d. As you know, he was the Protestant theologian who was captured for conspiring against the Nazis and then held briefly before he was executed. His last writings were down in his prison cell before the Nazis murdered him. Additionally, you can’t find romanticism in Paul Tillich, the first Protestant theologian to be kicked out of Germany by the Nazis for preaching against mistreatment of Jews up and down Germany. As a religious existentialist, his philosophy of religion was formed after having had a nervous breakdown when he was chaplain in World War I, watching the savagery of trench warfare.

Now if you wanted to count as romantic the funny YouTube you posted of the Catholic girl believing that G-d was destroying Japan because they were atheists, I might give you some slack. (Some Japanese are atheists; many are Buddhists, and others practice Shintoism.)

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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