Thursday, March 1, 2007

‪י״א אדר תשס״ז * 1 March 2007: תענית אסתר/National Pig Day/National Surf and Turf Day


Note: My MUSC E-mail account is no longer active. As a side benefit, there goes most of my spam with it.

Today’s news and commentary:Today is the Fast of ’Esther, commemorating the fast ’Esther made in preparation for political maneuvers on her part to save the Jewish people (see The Book of Esther). As such, there will be no weird thing today, but I will rant instead.

1) Very recently we have had on the air a TV show called Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?. The premise of the show is exactly what it sounds like, and adults actually lose on this show—college-educated adults, I may add. It ought to be shocking that society should ever be in such a condition that people are ignorant of basic information, but there were complaints about this sort of thing back when I was a child. One might suggest that the contestants are chosen to be especially ignorant, but if they are not, it would go a long way towards explaining how politicians manage to lie so effectively in this country. It also explains how some (ought to be) obvious doozies manage to exist for me to study in my Divine Misconceptions project. Maybe we ought to rethink whether ignorance is acceptable.

2) I was seriously annoyed by the article “Rabbis aim to renew animal sacrifices”. My irritation, contrary to what many might think, was not with the fact that people want to restart animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount. My irritation is with the notion that the age of animal sacrifices is over and that we have moved beyond them. Please see the entire Book of Leviticus (among many other places in the Hebrew Bible). YHWH has clearly commanded the bringing of animal sacrifices. To try to impute that there is something wrong with sacrifices is tantamount to claiming that YHWH was wrong; since in Judaism what is right and wrong ultimately depends on YHWH’s authority, so this is intrinsically impossible. One cannot claim that YHWH does not want us to do something He/She obviously told us to do. The only reasons for not bringing sacrifices today are technical, e.g., anyone trying to do so would be murdered by Muslims. Working outside of Judaism, no compelling moral argument can be made; since morality is intrinsically relative, all one has to do is reject the assumptions of the person making the argument. And what really is the problem with animal sacrifice anyway that many people today do not like it? Most of us are quite willing to kill animals for food or leather (or let someone else do it for us), even though meat and leather are not essential for life. Why do people think that it is OK to kill an animal for pleasure but that it is wrong to kill an animal as a form of worship? Yes, one can have a moral system in which this is correct, but I have a hard time trying to see it as consistent.

Have an easy fast.

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