Monday, April 29, 2013

Why do you keep picking on Lag Ba'omer?

The question has been asked (on FB):
Last week, FB seemed to be full of people ripping into Lag Ba'omer, its history and observances. I question that value of doing this and wonder where it leads.
Last week? Our Rabbis have been "ripping into" things like bonfires for hundreds of years. And while I can't explain why they did it, I can tell you why I do it. There are three reasons:

(1) Though the truth isn't the only value, or even, in every case, the most important value its still important. I don't see any harm in telling the truth about how things happened and would argue that telling and spreading truth has a value in of itself.

 (2) Using the example of Lag Ba'omer to demonstrate that Judaism develops contingently blunts fundamentalism and other stupid things, like the mistaken and damaging idea that there is only one right kind of Judaism. 

(3) Demonstrating that the Lag Ba'omer celebrations are a creative, human invention lends support to other creative expressions of Judaism. If its okay to scratch some spiritual itch by inventing a bonfire day, other spiritual itches can be scratched with other inventions.

Does anyone disagree with the reasons I've given? 

The responses I've gotten so far, from different people,  have been completely off point. Here they are with my rebuttals.

#1: You get your jollies out of destroying your heritage!
Rebuttal: Lag Ba'omer is not part of my heritage. That's the point, see? 

#2: You have some hidden unstated agenda, or you don't use the right tone, or you sound smug:
Rebuttal: None of that voids an argument. 2+2=4 no matter what tone of voice I'm using and no matter what my intent or agenda might be. So too, Lag Ba'omer is a contingent invention no matter how the point is stated.

#3: You're causing "damage". 
Appeal to consequences don't void an argument either. Anyway, I don't see any damage. I know how the bonfire ritual originated and I still go to bonfires and enjoy myself there. 


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