Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why parshas haman is nothing like dipping an apple in honey

"Lazer" asks:

DB, do you dip the apple in the honey on Rosh Hashana? Why is [reciting parshas Haman on the Tuesday before Parshas B'shalach is read, according to the cycle of Torah reading created by the sages of Babylon*] any different?

To which "I" replied:

The difference is in the way Jews think about the two different rituals. I don't think anyone believes apple-dipping is a spell, guaranteed to do something. (If anyone thinks that he's an idiot.) Many people, on the other hand, are perfectly convinced that reciting the magic psukim, on the magic day, is a guarantee, and that the rote recitation of words leaves God with no choice but to shower us with undeserved and unearned blessing. This view of how the world works is an absurd and dangerous distortion of Judaism, one that makes a mockery of the promise that we will be recognized as an am navon v'chacham, and instead reduces us to something much like Indians performing a rain dance.

* The sages of Israel used a different cycle of Torah reading. Anyone who recited parshas Haman yesterday, and saw no improvement to his bottom line, is invited to calculate parshas B'shalach according to the other cycle and try again.

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