Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bye bye bidding

For reasons, I don't fully understand, the prophet has not yet arrived to anoint me King of the Jews which is a shame because I've got a great royal agenda. For instance, that auction that clots up the service on holidays? Gone. In my shul, we'll distribute the aliyos in alphabetical order. No longer will we suffer the incongruence of having some fat shlub with a fatter wallet calling attention to himself with a succession of ever-increasing bids immediately after we've confessed the sin of haughtiness and proclaimed all that high-sounding stuff about man being a fleeting shadow, a passing cloud, and a vanishing dream.

The shul is not a shuk - especially not on the days of awe. Honors should go to the men who've dedicated their time and their money to the benefit of the shul over the last 12 months; not to the guy who shows up on Yom Kippur with the largest bank account. And please don't try to excuse this tasteless practice on the grounds that it's a good fundraiser. Renting out the rabbi's wife might also be a good fund-raiser. Money doesn't justify every bad idea.

I can't prove it, but my hunch is this practice originated with gutless gabaim who didn't have the nerve to make difficult choices. What I dont understand is why today it survives -more than anywhere else - in shteebles, which is where experiences tells me you're likely to find the rudest gabaim. Were their ancestors less brazen? Or is it greed and not wimpiness that permits this disgusting practice to survive?