Monday, October 22, 2012

Sarah Silverman, Jr.

"Rabbi Writes Patronizing Letter To Sarah Silverman, Has His Ass Handed To Him By Her Dad"

What journalistic giant chose the title for this piece?

Well, her father has clearly read Gen.14, in Lech Lecha, next week's parsha, where Avraham pursues an army with a battalion, attacks by night, and refuses to take literally so much as a shoe lace in recompense, clearly making the point that his family is not to be trifled with.  To be honest, I've used the four letter term Mr. Silverman used in this connection, but I would not use it in public or in "print". I shouldn't like my vulgarity preserved for posterity.

I fail to comprehend why Reform beginning to call HUC-JIR graduates "Rabbi" after WW2 obligates the Orthodox to accept that claim any more than Reform is obligated, in its own secular humanist terms, to accept the traditional tenets of Orthodoxy. The graduates deserve academic respect for their MAHL, but a different title would be more appropriate.  

There is a new field called History of Science.  A PhD in that does not make one a scientist. A Reform MAHL may make one a scholar. One guy reverse engineered, e.g., five of Bialik's longest poems, tracking down the biblical and talmudic source of every phrase. It is an outstanding and valuable piece of work, at least for those of us who can read Bialik in the original Hebrew. It made a great master's thesis.  It no more makes him a rabbi than a few scales on my feet make me a lizard.

Her various relatives' interactions with the Jewish, or Israeli (not necessarily the same thing), world: why exactly does Mr. Silverman think they are relevant? How do their actions impact the value of hers? Why does he think this note is an attack on him, and his whole family? Is he defensive about his daughter's choices, perhaps as a reflection on his parenting?

There are plenty of ignorant, hostile people in (most unfortunately) all of the "movements" within Judaism. Anyone who knows ANYTHING about the culture, however, knows something of Avot.  I grew up Reform (KI, Elkins Park, PA). Even before I started studying seriously (I hate to tell you, but the difference between "Hebrew School" and serious study is the difference between university science courses and watching Itchy and Scratchy cartoons on the Simpsons to learn anatomy.) I knew about that time capsule of tannaitic advice. Shaming someone in public is considered akin to shedding blood.

Wishing a woman a decent, normal relationship and family, whether she wants to pursue it or not, is a blessing.  Why so much defensive hostility in response? Threatened? To the extent that every Jewish woman who chooses to refrain from reproducing is definitely a smaller next generation, and between external threats and the propensity of the modern movements to produce large proportions of apostates, our world wide population is shrinking, yes.  

Threatened by her foul mouthed "celebrity"?  Really?  You think, because he's an orthodox rabbi, he's never heard a woman curse?  You think women in orthodox Judaism have no power?  Go to a Chabad shul once and ask the rabbi for anything but halachic advice. Watch him turn to the rebbetzin.  Anything to do with interacting with the real world, you watch who is the boss.

She is clearly a very bright youngish woman.  Frankly, I think the chances of her choosing to redirect her life into more traditional paths is minimal. I cannot see why wishing her the traditional blessing we say over any child, that s/he may grow to learning (Torah), marriage (Chupah), and good deeds (Ma'asim Tovim) should offend anyone, especially a Jew. Whether she chooses to form a family of her own is, of course, up to her. I wish her the same as the rabbi did. Go ahead.  Hand me my posterior.

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