Monday, December 06, 2004

BECAUSE GOD HATES IT WHEN YOU GIVE TO THE POOR

If you're driving through Brooklyn tomorrow night, be on the lookout for gargantuan, silver, Hanukka candelabras.

Indulgent arent they? Is this what the Maccabees had in mind? Actually, yes. As Simcha will be happy to tell you, God likes it better when we perform His commandments using very expensive implements. Hidur mitzvah, the silversmiths call it. There is a whole heirarchy, in fact, listed in the law books. Gold is best (natch) and silver is next, on down to wood and bone. So screw the magic miracle oil, and go for Tiffany-grade silver. You deserve it. And the poor suck. if God wanted them to have nice things, the nice things would fall from the sky.

Anyway, it's not like Christmas is an unpolluted well of selfless giving.

26 comments:

Gil Student said...

You'll be able to tell the Lubavitcher menorahs because they are the diagonal ones. Why? Because, they claim, that is how the menorah in the Temple looked (see here for more on that http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/03/shape-of-menorah.html ). So why does a Chanukah menorah have to be in the same shape as that in the Temple? I'm still waiting for an answer to that.

Jack Steiner said...

So why does a Chanukah menorah have to be in the same shape as that in the Temple? For the same reason that some people still dress like Polish noblemen, minhag.

Gil Student said...

You mean a minhag that Lubavitch started in the 80s?

Skeptic said...
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Skeptic said...
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Skeptic said...

Excellent point Simcha. Now tell us why a minhag invented in 1480 is more important than a minhag invented in 1980. A made up practice is a made up practice, right?

Anonymous said...

What a jerk! I bet your 60" flat screen TV (or whatever) cost a heck of a lot more than my silver Menorah (and it's a real beauty, too).

Or how about this? What does your Cable Internet connection run you per year? If you're so righteous why don't you dump the cable connection, go back to dial-up and give the balance to Tzedaka?

Hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

Easy Tiger,

There is NO Chabad Minhag to use a Menorah that’s in the shape of the one in the temple. The Rebbe himself used a Menorah with a back. (i.e. the candles are on the bottom and there is a back behind them). However the Rebbe did say that when you teach children about the shape of the Menorah in the temple, you should teach them that the menorah’s branches were diagonal as mentioned by Rashi. Rashi is traditionally the interpretation taught to children.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your beef with spending money on religious articles (i.e. Hiddur Mitzvah).

Indeed if you give away more then a 10th of your earnings to charity that to is a Hiddur Mitzvah.

If you are concerned about the poor, I assure you, that your time and writing skills can be put to use helping the poor instead of writing on this blog.

DovBear said...

Dear Anonymous Cretin from 9:11 PM who called me a jerk and a hypocrite.

First, I don't have a flat screen TV - or any TV at all, and I don't have cable either.

Second (and here's the point you missed in your self-rightuous fit of indignation) even if I do have nice things, I don't pretend that owning them is a religious impretive. Even if I had a big TV, I wouldn't look at it and say to myself, "Boy DovBear you sure are a rightuous and pious individual." Which, I expect, is the comforting lie you tell yourself whenever you look at your nice big menorah.

DovBear said...

To the Anonymous Cretin who, at 1:10 AM wrote: If you are concerned about the poor, I assure you, that your time and writing skills can be put to use helping the poor instead of writing on this blog.::

You, sir, have also missed the point. I am not recommending that you spend every last penny on the poor. And I have no objection to people spending money on themselves.

I object to people who spend money on themselves, in the form of a menorah or a seder plate or and esrog, but pretend that they are spending the money on the mitzvah when, in fact, they are just showing off their wealth.

Anonymous said...

Reply

Your original post was regarding the ACTION of spending money on a Mitzvah not on the INTENTION of the individual spending it. Your statements ”Is this what the Maccabees had in mind?” and mockingly “God likes it better when we perform His commandments using very expensive implements” seems to imply that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES can this be correct.

Now it seems that your objection is regarding SOME PEOPLE that “pretend that they are spending the money on the mitzvah when, in fact, they are just showing off their wealth." Regarding these individuals I agree with you 100%. However I’m still not sure of your opinion regarding people that pay 275$ for an Esrog and don’t tell anyone, Please clarify!

If you think that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE should someone spend a lot of money on a Mitzvah, then please explain why the Menorah in the temple was made of gold and not wood? They could have given the savings to the poor.

One more thing.. You say mockingly..
“God likes it better when we perform His commandments using very expensive implements”. I have news for you, the fact that g-d cares if we eat pork is just as foolish.

DovBear said...

God doesn't care if we eat pork, and he doesn't care what our menorahs look like. See the Ramban (Duet 21:6) quoting the Midrash Raba "The precepts were given only in order letzareif bahen et haberiyot - so that man may be refined by them. For what does He care whether man kills an animal by the throat or by the nape of its neck? Hence, the purpose is to refine man."

If the fancy menorah or the $275 esrog is "refining" you, kol hakovod. In 99 percent of the cases, however, I believe the opposite is true.

Anonymous said...

i actually own a rather large silver menorah that i recieved as a wedding gift. i would like to sell it and use a more modest one. any buyers???????????????

Anonymous said...

Boy, for a supposed 'satirist', you are pretty thick. But what can you expect from a Brooklyn Cheder education?

In my post, where I wrote 'flat screen TV', feel free to substitute any of your material possesions (e.g. Lexus, Land Cruiser, Chandelier, P4 1.8Ghz Computer, etc, whatever). It's a metaphor - get it?

Unless you are driving around in a '92 Chevy, and are subsisting on bread and water, my criticism stands. I'm sure you have material possessions which make you feel good. I like my Menorah. I also like my Canondale. My point is that you would never criticize me spending $1000 on a bicycle (thank G-d I can afford it *without* cutting into my Maaser allocation) yet since I (or actually, my fiance at the time) spend the same on my Menorah, somehow that's a target for criticism?

And no, my fancy menorah doesn't make me feel anywhere near as righteous as you evidently feel yourself to be (from reading your posts).

My assessment still stands. You are a jerk, and a hypocrite. I say this without rancor; It's a clinical diagnosis, and I hope you get the help you need.

Other than that, have a Happy Chanukah!

Anonymous said...

DovBear wrote:

If the fancy menorah or the $275 esrog is "refining" you, kol hakovod. In 99 percent of the cases, however, I believe the opposite is true.
-----

Ah, so that's the standard by which you judge all of your own actions. Very nice. And this Blog, for example, is a very refining influence on your life?

Maybe I'm not refined, but at least I'm not a hypocritical jerk.

DovBear said...

To the annoymous Cretins who keep calling me a hypocrite and a jerk:

I didn't go to a Brooklyn Cheder - or was that a metaphor, too?

The point you seem not to grasp is this: My blog is not a religious imperative. My possesions are not a religious imperative. Neither is a "precepts given only in order letzareif bahen et haberiyot." When you suggest that my car or my blog relates somehow to a menorah or an esrog, you are mixing apples and oranges.

Your menorah is a target for critisim because it is a religious imperative, and one you perform only for the sake of yourself - and for the sake of flattering your fat ego - and not for the purpose of refining your soul. In other words you are treating the mitzvah, the same way that I treat my blog.

You'll be happy to know, I hope, that I am not like you. I don't use my mitzvot to prop myself up or to flatter myself. That's what the blog is for. Mizvot, on the other hand, are performed b'tznuah. Because, unlike you, when it comes to mitzvot I am not a show-off, and I am not a loser.



I treat my mitzvot with much more respect than I treat my blog. You might consider doing the same.

Anonymous said...

You're coming off a bit inconsistent here.

The original thrust of your post was that spending massive amounts of money on Mitzvos is inappropriate because it is at the expense of Tzedaka. In fact, this is the title to the post 'BECAUSE GOD HATES IT WHEN YOU GIVE TO THE POOR'.

Now though, you're switching gears. You're telling me that it's simply not appropriate for me to spend X number of dollars on item Y. I don't know how to say this without being blunt. Keep your nose out of my finances, and I'll keep mine out of yours.

You wrote:
I treat my mitzvot with much more respect...

Well if that's not the proverbial Chazer with its split hoofs in the air, I don't know what is. Here are some quotes from your own blog.

A silly little holiday like Chanuka...
We light some candles, and sing some songs. Big Whoops.

Oh yes, we can all see that you've got massive amounts of respect for your Mitzvot.

I do agree though, that you probably do treat your Mitvot with more respect than this blog. But that's a very low benchmark seeing as how your little blog is worthy of just about the same amount of respect which is due a warm bucket of spit.

But if it makes you feel like the big man, hey - enjoy it.

DovBear said...

Ok, now that I see that you are humor impaired as well as stupid I wll spell things out for you in short, easy to understand words.

I think large menorot are disgusting. (And by large, I mean the really, realy huge ones.) I think anything done to flaunt wealth is disgusting, be it a huge house or a hummer. It's a mark of insecurity, too.

However, if you spend a lot of money on a menorah or an esrog you are a bit worse than the ordinary show-off. Because not only are you flaunting your wealth, you're also, in a sense, saying, "look how holy I am! And pious! I have a big menorah and a big esrog!"

The bit about the poor, in the original post, was present not because I am especially worried about the poor (though I am) but because I wanted the fat, self-sentered egoists to see that if they really were holy and pious they would use their money to help other people, and not to announce their wealth.

You're welcome to continue to poke holes in the way I expressed myself in the original post, if you're bored. But now that I've made things perfectly clear, I hope you'll go away and find a new game.

Anonymous said...

DB: I think large menorot are disgusting. (And by large, I mean the really, realy huge ones.)

Can you define for us what you mean by 'really, really huge'? It's important for us to know, because we all feel the need to live our lives in lockstep with your sense of propriety.

DB: Because not only are you flaunting your wealth, you're also, in a sense, saying, "look how holy I am! And pious!

Here's my take on your tiny little psyche. Your jealousy puts you in direct transgression of Commandment #10 - Thou shall not covet. You realize this and inwardly you are uncomfortable with your position. Your Yetzer Hara comes to your defense, assuring you that your feelings in this arena are pure and that you are solely motivated by a zealous desire to defend the Mitvos from being co-opted by evil materialists. How am I doing?

DB: I wanted the fat, self-sentered egoists to see that if they really were holy and pious...

More of the same, yada, yada, yada. By the way, has anyone ever mentioned to you that you sound like a fat, self centered, egoist? Although I've got to give you high marks for not presenting a facade of false piety. Can't give you a perfect score, you did mention that bit of having respect for the Mitvot, which is patently false, but high marks nonetheless. No one would mistake you for a pious individual.

DB: I hope you'll go away and find a new game.

Please, please leave me alone? Listen pal, when I grew up on the mean streets of, well never mind, let's just say the mean streets, it was well understood that if you hung out in certain areas and made a nuisance of yourself you might be placing yourself in jeopardy. Sooner or later, someone bigger and meaner was going to come along and give you a whupping. It's kind of like that on the blogsphere as well. If you hang out long enough, and make a nuisance of yourself to enough of a degree, sooner or later someone smarter, and with a nastier attitude than you is going to come along and give you the whupping you deserve. Keep on posting your obnoxious opinions. I'll be here to criticize. On the other hand, if you'd like to moderate your tone of discourse just a tad, then you'll have the opportunity to see what a nice guy I really am. :-)

Happy Chanuka!

DovBear said...

Oh goodie. I have a new friend. I'm sure we'll have oodles of fun together. Can't wait.

But choose a name for yourself so that I don't confuse you with all the other anonymous cretins who come here every day to tell me how much they hate me and my blog.

PS - Its sexy how you willfully misunderstand everything I say.

Anonymous said...

DB: ...who come here every day to tell me how much they hate me and my blog.

Mmm, I wonder why...

DB: But choose a name for yourself so that I don't confuse you with all the other anonymous...

No need for that. When I post - you'll know it.

Skeptic said...

Oy, what an asshole this character is. Look, Einstein, we know Dov's a jerk. You aren't telling us anything new. That's part of his charm. You however, are a jerk with no charm, as are the people who masturbate all over their menorahs. They are also jerks.

Get your thumb out of your asshole, you self-righteous freak of nature, and stop killing the messenger. Dov is a jerk but part of the solution.

Anonymous said...

----------
we know Dov's a jerk. ... That's part of his charm.
----------

Isn't this sweet. Mutual fascination of one jerk for another. Hey, enjoy!

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