Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A pre-Pesach rerun with a current update

See especially The Physicist's comment to this post of mine.

Our son's current question is whether some of the more stringent interpretations of Jewish law were designed for the express purpose of excluding a growing proportion of the Jewish community.  Seriously, separate dishwashers for dairy and meat?  Separate kitchens for Pesach?  As our son commented:

"The argument here though is on the unreasonableness and unnecessary expense involved in some of these rules. This entire topic, in fact, came up because of Passover. AN entire separate set of everything to be used only for 8 days a year? Talking not just about the separate dishes for Passover, but the separate dishes in general: why do we do this? Surely this in unnecessary and unreasonable for most people, who do not have custom kitchens, who do not have the space for multiple dishes, who have one sink and one dishwasher.

Clearly, in biblical times this was never done. It might be months worth of earnings just to purchase a single plate for each person in your family in those times; they certainly did not have different dishes for milk and meat, let alone Passover. They simply did not eat them at the same time and cleaned up for Passover, and that was enough. Certainly we clean our plates far better than they did, so it can't be about residue. We even have better food sourcing, so the chances of a mixup are far lower for us than they were for them. Why was it good enough for them and not for modern Jews?

Part of it certainly is the practice of "building a fence around the law." This is the same logic that says poultry is meat, even though it can't possibly be exposed to mothers' milk since birds don't have any. But I think that some of it is also simple elitism; the desire to show that Jews are different and thus better than the gentiles. We shouldn't need the extra expense, the extra large houses, the custom kitchens that the tradition of so thoroughly separating milk and meat brings. Washing dishes in between meals should be enough. Even a large amount of kosher supervision is unnecessary; how can grain or even more ridiculously sponges be traif? But instead, we have this custom, and woe betide those who don't stick to them, for they shall be cast out and called fake Jews."

Never mind that some in the Orthodox community look down on non-Orthodox Jews; now, certain segments of the Orthodox community look down on other Orthodox Jews.  The conversion crisis is a symptom of this exclusionary attitude, given that the question involved is less "Who is a Jew?" than "Who is a rabbi?"  (Start here and you can click your way all the way back to 2008.)  But even kashrut questions, and even questions of what constitutes appropriate clothing for a Jew, even within the Orthodox community, can separate Jew from Jew.  Is it possible that our son is right, that one of the purposes, conscious and/or unconscious, of increasingly stringent ("chumradik") interpretations of Jewish religious law (halachah), customs (minhagim), and/or tradition (mesorah) is precisely to narrow the parameters/perimeters of the Jewish community?

"They shall be cast out and called fake Jews."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ignorance of this post is outstanding. Do you know what Ethiopians did when Pesach came? Not having access to rabbinic Judaism, they would destroy their pottery and fashion new pottery for Pesach. Think that our approach is more expensive? We can buy inexpensive plates and not have to make new plates and vessels every year.

This isn't new. My grandparents had separate plates for Pesach. They didn't necessarily have separate pots or anything, they would kasher the pots for Pesach.

Both you and your son should consider researching issues before spewing forth your ignorance.

Tue Mar 27, 02:35:00 PM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sorry for the delayed reply--I was busy baking for Pesach.

I know that separate dishes are nothing new (though the separate dishwashers certainly are). That said, re "Not having access to rabbinic Judaism," the rabbis are trying to solve problems that they themselves created--where *in the Torah* does it say anything about separate dishes?

Mon Apr 02, 12:45:00 PM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

For the record, one of my friends from the Syrian Jewish community tells me that, while her community does a thorough cleaning for Pesach, all they do with their dishes is to wash them--they don't change dishes for Pesach at all. So some of what many of us consider standard Pesach procedure is just more Ashkenazi insanity, added to the Askenazi mishugas (m'shugat?) called kitniyot.

Mon Apr 02, 03:09:00 PM 2018  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Oops. Mishugas (Yiddish) = Craziness = Shigayon (Hebrew) שִׁיגָּעוֹן

Sun Apr 15, 02:34:00 PM 2018  

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