Thursday, August 23, 2007

So if All Comes Down to the Golden Rule!

I made it to the bigtime today when Godol Hador created a post out of a comment (and then proceeded to hammer away at it like an innocent little white harp seal).

But I agree with my comment, wouldn't you know? The amazing thing, is you really don't have to go to yeshiva to be a righteous person after all (or do you, see below)Here's what I said:


Dawkins actually has a few thoughts on this in the end of his Virus of Faith video. In short, we are all so fortunate to be alive. Clearly anyone who is blogging isn't terminally ill, or brain dead or some other horrible circumstance, e.g., dead.

We are alive! Consider how many unsuccessful combinations of genes never made it and never will make it to life. Think how many animals live a life span thousands of times shorter than ours. Think of how lucky we are to experience the feelings of love, beauty, music, poetry (and for those who like it, religious inspiration).

If you won the lottery today, you would feel incredibly happy because you would feel lucky and taken care of for life. Well, I bet most of you have homes and computers and cars, health insurance, ample food and fresh water, families that love you, etc. How lucky you all are!

A tremendous portion of the world suffers on the edge of poverty, famine, sickness. They watch their children die, succumbing to parasites or common illnesses. They are truly unlucky. No matter what god they believe in or pray to, their lives will be "nasty brutish and short".

You don't need religion to be inspired, take it from me, take it from Dawkins. You are not one of the 10,000 people in china put to death each year for unknown "crimes." You are not suffering from cholera or starvation.

You can celebrate your life. And yes, you can follow the G-O-L-D-E-N R-U-L-E.

If you were one of those less fortunate souls, you'd want someone super wealthy (any one of us by comparison) to help you.

Follow the Golden Rule, people. Don't do to anyone what you would not want done to you. It's really that simple.

Toss the Shulchan Aruch in the garbage. Hang up your tefillin for good.

Go for walks with your kids or elderly relatives. Spend quality time because, yes, we only go around this crazy marble just once and when you come to the end of your life, you'll no doubt wish you'd spent more time with your kids, not wishing you could have made it to just one more mussar shiur or minyan.


FOLLOWUP:

Now, XGH had this to say:
All very nice and inspiring. But does it work? No it does not! Sure, if you're a healthy, happy 21st century Western person it sounds fine. But healthy, happy 21st century Westerners are the most privileged group of people ever to live on this earth. What if you are in a concentration camp? Or starving in Africa? Or any one of a gazillion other not so nice situations? Then what?



Someone else pointed out Hillel's statement of the Golden Rule was the essence of the Torah. I agree, in theory, but of course this was perverted by the Rabbis over the years.

I also went a bit further:

Take the most "righteous" mitzvahs in Judaism (or any religion) and you will find they always boil down to the Golden Rule.

It's really that simple.

However, I do have a confession to make. When I used to be religious, a non-religious person whose logic and opinions I respected posed the Golden Rule to me.

My counter to him was that the mitzvas train a person to have the discipline to actually act on the Golden Rule. IOW, it takes a measure of work on oneself to do the right thing in a lot of circumstances.

So, through a dialectic process, I came back to the Golden Rule, acknowledging that there was some "work" involved (being observant for a few years raised my awareness and developed the discipline to do the right thing). However, that "work" can be found in any respectable religion and in my opinion, but for the few true tzaddikim, all of the non-Golden Rule mitzvas in the Torah lead one down a road that is ultimately less moral.

A road of bigotry, mindless anachronistic rituals, emphasis on form over substance and all the other well-trodden arguements against orthodox judaism.

12 Comments:

Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

>mindless anachronistic rituals

I remember a few months ago, I was watching a documentary about Joseph Goebbels. The doc. was about his diary entries. One of the entries (I'm paraphrasing) said: "That we should eliminate the old Christian ways and set up new rituals for the people to follow." I think, obviously, his point is that rituals build a community and keep it heading toward a certain goal. Now, I'm assuming you mean "archaic" instead of anachronistic, no? If anything, it is these old rituals that have tied the Jews together, don't you think?

8/29/2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I'm assuming you mean "archaic" instead of anachronistic, no?"

No, I meant it the way I wrote it.

"If anything, it is these old rituals that have tied the Jews together, don't you think?"

Some yes, many no. I don't think jumping up on your tiptoes during kedusha keeps jews together, but the Pesach seder does.

Also, keeping jews together isn't good enough justification, especially when they get together to do really stupid things.

8/29/2007 10:28 PM  
Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

whats the point of life if not to be together. :)the things that you say are stupid ARE the things that keep them together. So if not for those stupid things, what would keep them together.

>I don't think jumping up on your tiptoes during kedusha keeps jews together.

No, but tfila certainly does. And tfila is built with certain components to it.

>but the Pesach seder does.

Well if anything contains oddball rituals, the pesach seder is the winner.

8/29/2007 11:15 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

>I don't think jumping up on your tiptoes during kedusha keeps jews together.

"No, but tfila certainly does. And tfila is built with certain components to it."

Tefilla keeps Jews together? Not necessarily. If that were true, then most jews would be gay, since no women daven. Seriously, Israel is filled with Jews who stick together and haven't davened a day in their lives.

>but the Pesach seder does.

"Well if anything contains oddball rituals, the pesach seder is the winner."

Nah, it keeps jews together whether they keep both days, reschedule to Saturdays for convenience as many Reform do, or just skip the last half after dinner, which has the stupider sections.

8/30/2007 3:10 AM  
Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

>Tefilla keeps Jews together? Not necessarily. If that were true, then most jews would be gay, since no women daven. Seriously, Israel is filled with Jews who stick together and haven't davened a day in their lives.

I don't get your whole gay remark, whatever. But obviously the institution of prayer has held the people together. Haaretz just printed a study that says people that go to temple live longer. Not because of the tfila itself, but because of the community bonds and structure it creates. It can be anything actually, even a senior citizen center. But obviously Jews needing to come together to pray keeps them together.

Jews in Israel are together, because, they are in Israel. Jews are everywhere. But I don't beleive you have the sence of community and purpose the same way you would have in a somewhat (any) religious atmoshpere.

>Nah, it keeps jews together whether they keep both days, reschedule to Saturdays for convenience as many Reform do, or just skip the last half after dinner, which has the stupider sections.

But the point is, even reform and recon., do keep the seder and read the haggadah with all the eggs and leaning over and eating matzah and other rituals. They either read from a traditional haggadah or bring new commentary and signifacance to the table.

8/30/2007 11:30 AM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

One problem: if you don't keep the mitzvas you're going to hell.

8/31/2007 8:47 AM  
Blogger truthbtold said...

BTA,
I posted this comment on an older post of yours but i posted it again here because i want to be sure you read it.

I have one thing to tell you, and I'm not here to walk into your trap or puppet show where you finally get to pull the strings and play God.
I'll tell you straight what your problem is, you are a huge asshole! I don't want to sugarcoat this, like a lot of other guys who post here.......you are a huge prick and I will never apologize or feel bad for saying that! The saddest thing about all this is you will never hear that comment, because you are too big of a prick.
How do I know you are a prick, cause I am one too, and I can recognize a prick like a fat kid can recognize a smarty.
It is so painfully obvious that this whole website is just a cry for help.....you are not being noble and revealing the hypocrisy and falsehood of judaism, you are simply screaming and throwing a tantrum like a baby because you were unhappy with your experience. Could it be more obvious?! You have no regard for the people who you are hurting through this site, although that is understandable because you are hurting deeply.
Maybe you should go back to yeshiva, I hear its a good place to deal with difficult emotional problems, maybe the best place in the world to be.
Later Asshole.
Peter

9/07/2007 1:47 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

LOL! Thanks, Peter. That was pure Bukowski.

"How do I know you are a prick, cause I am one too, and I can recognize a prick like a fat kid can recognize a smarty."

Love it! Please come back and post more.

9/07/2007 1:54 AM  
Blogger truthbtold said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/07/2007 2:08 AM  
Blogger satyaman said...

Peter: I'll tell you straight what your problem is, you are a huge asshole!...you are a huge prick and I will never apologize or feel bad for saying that! The saddest thing about all this is you will never hear that comment, because you are too big of a prick……………………………………….How do I know you are a prick, ………………
Later Asshole.
Peter

Where did you pick up such boorish, bad-mannered and crude modes of expression? Was it at Yeshiva? Maybe you attended
Machon Shlomo ?,
Machon Yaakov?,
Aish Hatorah?
Or did you just spend a few weeks learning at places like Sinai Retreats
or Moreshet Learning Retreat?

It is a shame that you are so angry and bitter about one man sharing with others his own experience of the BT world. Your animus toward BTA, as well as your childish emotional outburst is very telling and it should serve as a warning for others about the kinds of behavior that unfortunately are typical from fundamentalist when their assumptions are called into question. Like it or not many people are grateful for his voice.. They appreciate learning from his experience.

I know in the torah world knowledge of disconfirming realities is suppressed and that those who voice them are ruthlessly silenced, usually through ridicule or ad hominem attacks, but really, you are going to have to get used to the idea that many people just don’t see the world the way you do. If you were at peace with your Judaism, if you were so confident that you were in possession of the truth you would have no reason to resort to such name calling. You can begin your genuine search for truth here,
here
, and here, then get back to us with something of more consequence. These links will be of tremendous value for all those considering attending any of the above - - as well as many more - - mentioned yeshivas / torah study programs.

9/10/2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

>very telling and it should serve as a warning for others about the kinds of behavior that unfortunately are typical from fundamentalist.

And its very telling of you that you never say anything when BTA has some of his legendery outbursts at people

9/11/2007 12:48 AM  
Blogger satyaman said...

>And its very telling of you that you never say anything when BTA has some of his legendery outbursts at people

never is a bit extreme. You mean that you have never read a comment of mine that appeared to criticize BTA. I don’t have to agree with everything BTA writes, to have written what I wrote earlier, nor do I necessarily have to admonish BTA every time his comments fall short of a paragon of maturity. Overall, with exceptions of course (that you allude to), BTA’s comments are very insightful and cogent. This makes him a very valuable voice.

Holy Hyrax - - If it makes you feel better:
BTA, please try to refrain from non – substantive emotional outbursts. As we have discussed in private email correspondence, such an approach is unnecessary and counterproductive.

9/11/2007 7:18 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home