Monday, October 01, 2007

Reruns: Cross-Currents: The Yom Kippur Monopoly

Over at Cross-loving Currents, Rabbi Feldman has reprinted [*] a post from two years ago, [1 and 2] so perhaps I should restate my critisim from 2005, too.

Writing angrily about Jews who fast on Yom Kippur while playing Monopoly Rabbi Feldman said (the first time**): My first reaction was one of shock and insult. If they don’t want to observe Yom Kippur, that is their problem. But why observe and desecrate at the same time? Does God really desire their fasting under such circumstances? Isaiah’s angry words (I:12) came to mind: “Mi bikesh zot miyedchem remot chatzerai” “Who asks this of you, to trample on my precincts?” It would be better if you ate all day to your heart’s content rather than to refrain from food without a thought of the larger issues that Yom Kippur represents.

To which I replied with some indignation of my own: The TORAH tells us to fast. This is a chiyuv d’oyraysa, and you should be celebrating that fact that this obligation is still honored in klal yisroel. Perhaps they aren’t fasting as you might want them to; still they are honoring the letter of the law. Reflecting on the “larger issues that Yom Kippur represents” are not chiyuvay d’oyraysa, and I’d wager that more than a few people fasting in shul have their minds on other things. Is fasting while playing Monopoly, really so much worse than fasting while day-dreaming through musaf?
Yom Kippur Monopoly indeed. Do it my way or don't do it at all.


[*] All bloggers re-post when they are low on ideas. Me included. Big deal
[**] The second time REF ran this post, the key phrase was altered. After two years of reflection he now says [key improvements emphasized]: My initial reaction was one of deep mortification. If they don’t want to observe Yom Kippur, that is their choice. But why refrain from food and yet desecrate the day at the same time? Does God really desire this kind of fasting? Isaiah’s angry words (1:12) came to mind: “Who asks this of you, to trample My courtyards?” Would it not be better if they gorged themselves on food rather than go through the motions of fasting without thinking of the larger issues of Yom Kippur?

A little gentler this time, no? Dare I imagine that my complaint two years ago had some influence?

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