Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interesting Lyrical Choice

"Happiness stumbled upon a chapel last night
And I can't help but back up when I think of what happens inside

I've got friends locked in boxes......that's no way to live
What you calling a sin, isn't up to them
Afterall, afterall I thought we were all your children

But I will die for my own sins, thanks a lot
We'll rise up ourselves, thanks for nothing at all
So up off the ground, our forefathers are nothing but dust now"

(Fun - One Foot)

Just an interesting realization I made post-last post.  The cool chorus of the song I quoted in my last post, about putting one foot in front of the other, is actually the chorus to a song that is extremely anti religion.  Specifically Christianity, but religion in general.

Oops, my bad.

I generally avoid discussing religion (and politics) with people because I've long ago realized that you cannot convince people of your views on subjects like this.  They believe in God or they don't.  They like Republicans or they don't.  There's no middle ground to come to.

I always try to see the other side of all arguments and debates.  A) Because you cannot really "win" an argument if you don't understand the other side and B) maybe I can learn something about someone if I understand their reasoning.

So in reading the lyrics above I can understand why someone, perhaps, say, a homosexual who has been shunned by his church, might feel this way.  Does that mean I don't believe in God?  No.  But it means I can understand why he doesn't.

But it also got me thinking.  That and a conversation I had recently with another blogger.  About rules.  And expectations. 

I have my beliefs and my limitations.  Yes, I believe in God.  Yes I believe in the God of the Jews.  How active is this God in our daily lives?  I don't know.  I honestly no longer know.  I used to believe in the guy who wrote the stuff above so I guess I've come a long way.

But what I know I believe, is that somewhere, somehow, Judaism has gone off the rails about certain things.  At some point, it's becoming more about external values than internal ones.  And that seems to be some seriously messed up shit.

I remember a few years ago some big Jewish concert was banned.  I remember there was public outcry.  But in the end, a concert which was going to be the highlight of the year for many Jewish teens was suddenly not happening.  For fear of......socializing, having fun, being happy.  Pick your poison. 

I remember my thought process at the time - the tighter you make your grip, the more sand slips through your fingers. 

The individual.  Sand.  Each small grain a separate miracle

Except some leaders would rather throw water on it, make it stick together.

Make it mud.

Snuff out the individual.

The latest trend in yeshivish world is for boys to wear outlandishly colored socks.  Why?  Because the shirt is white, the pants are black - as are the shoes.  So the only place to be yourself is the sock (which, ironically, is mostly covered anyway). 

Why is a certain portion of Jewish leadership so opposed to individuality?  Is it really because they are afraid the individuals are so bad?  Didn't Moshe go against the grain?  Didn't King David?  Wasn't Ezekiel an outlier?  Didn't that "weirdo" Noah spend many  years building a boat?  That's normal?

Is it really about individuals being bad?  Or is it a power grab?  Isn't it easier to make a power grab when everyone conforms?  Aren't excessive rules really just about tightening their grip?  Do we truly believe that the rabbis of today know more than the rabbis of 50 years ago?  My dad always says that in the 50's and 60's and 70's all weddings were mixed seating, the sleeves were shorter even gasp sleeveless.  Do we really think we know better than they did?  That they didn't know tznious?  Only we do?

Or is it really just about creating mud?

In retrospect, I'm glad I took that song.  It made me look at the lyrics.  It made me think. 

Which we should all do, now.

Before we are told we can't to that anymore either.


  1. I agree with most of what you said, however the thing about how 50 years ago things were different, much of it WAS because the people didn't know better. Oh, the Rabbis knew, but not most of the congregation, and the Rabbis were worried about alienating them. In "All For the Boss" the author writes how all her friends were able to go to the beach, but her father, a very religious man, wouldn't let her, not until he got her a bathing suit that covered everything. Course it was so ugly she refused to go to the beach, but anyways, I think most folks did stuff that were against halacha bc they didn't know any better. My other grandmother grew up in a world where mixed dancing was ok, while my other grandmother grew up at the same time knowing it wasn't. It depended on the community, and the rabbi's fear that they'd do it anyways, or just leave the fold, as many in America did. The seating thing I think is silly though. What's wrong with sitting with your wife? And if you're not married, hey, mixed seating could help with the shidduch crisis.

    However your ultimate point, that Judaism has gond off the rails somewhat, focusing on the external as opposed to the internal, is entirely correct, imo.

  2. Revisionist history - you are saying we are all wiser than they were - you are insulting the rabbis who were around at the time. This wasn't immediade immigrants.

    Also, it was even prominent orthodox familes - thats why theres a cottage industry that people have old wedding photos fixed so that elbows collarbones and knees are covered. Are you saying they werent prominent jewish families back then??

    1. Wiser? No. But we have a better education.

  3. Cym,
    Do you know much about Jewish history going back about two thousand years?

    1. Just wanted to point out that the power grab started about 2000 years ago when a sect of Jews announced that there was an unwritten Oral law which was handed down by God to Moses at Sinai and which has been handed down to them. Furthermore, once the law had been handed down to them, they had the authority to have the final say, even overruling God who essentially ceded over the authority to enforce halakha to the rabbis. (This is the "lo bashamayim hee" of the story of the Oven of Akhnai).