Tuesday, June 12, 2012


A guest rant by G.A

I received the following in an e-mail today. It is from a “Halacha of the Day” subscription service.

When the shaliah sibur reaches "Modim," everyone is required to bow at the beginning and stand throughout the duration of reciting the "modim derabanan." It is said about someone who does not bow when hearing "Modim" that after his death his spine will turn into a snake.

These are the things that make me nuts.

As I see it, if you want to talk about how Judaism views the body as an instrument of the soul and as a vehicle for carrying out God’s will, be my guest. If you want to develop that point further and say that true immortality can only be achieved by living as God wishes, no problem. If you want to drive home these messages (which otherwise do have an abstract, dry ring to them) by adding specificity (i.e. each body part only achieves its immortality by carrying out its unique role) and heightening the drama (i.e. spines and serpents), I’m cool with that too, as long as its properly situated in the right context.

By context, I mean a discussion of how Judaism crafts and presents messages, how this has changed over time, how to decode these messages, and so on. This gives us insight into how we have developed as a species and as a people, and many of the messages are useful and applicable—even the ones couched in jarring language. Thinking about what we leave behind when we’re gone and the impact that our deeds have can be a very good thing.

But, in my opinion, when someone just puts this out there as some kind of apropos-of-nothing fun fact about prayer and herpetology somehow vouchsafed to the writer, not only are they not offering anything useful, but they are bringing the Rabbis into disrepute and potentially committing child abuse of the worst order.

Fortunately for them, it is Assur to report them to the authorities.


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