Friday, October 03, 2008

From the anything for a buck department

Yom Kippur Carpets (any similarity to this is purely coincidental)

And now a quick digression on the whole custom-approaching-a-fetish of covering the floor before bowing on it. The rule, per the Torah, is not to bow directly on a floor made of hewn stone. The Rabbis said that, to be on the safe side, let's not bow on any type of stone. Fine. My shul's floor is carpeted. So why must I put a carpet on the carpet? This may seem elementary, but when it comes to customs Jews are never logical. In my shul, a beaming young boy is sent around with a pile of paper napkins. We're all supposed to take one, and use it to somehow prevent our heads or our knees or our hands from coming in contact with the carpet. This, like Niles Crane wiping any seat before sitting, is the very definition of a fetish, ie an unreasonably excessive attention or reverence.

I always pass on the paper napkin, and allow my body parts to touch carpet. For this, I am annually rewarded with frowns and scowls from certain other members of the congregation, who seem blissfully unaware of both the halacha, and the fact that their own precious napkins are never large enough to keep every inch of their own bodies from touching the carpet, too.

Buy my book. (Price reduced for the holidays!)

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