Saturday, November 24, 2007


jon burg

Orthodox Jews (myself included) follow all the laws of the bible everyday! We don't when clothes of linen and wool - but this one is pretty easy. Most casual clothes are linen free unless it states otherwise on the label. All suits, coats and formal attire are brought to "shatnez testers" who typically can tell the nature of the fibers in the materials under a microscope.

Additionally, the commandments of the bible are not all that difficult... if you live in NY. Keeping kosher takes care of all the dietary laws. Tithing your produce only applies in Israel, so that takes off many of the other laws. The biblical commentators address many of the other commandments in explaining how they work - for example, you don't have to pay the babysitter everyday because you will typically continue to use their service the next day. Rather, you must only pay them when they have completed their job. As their job is an ongoing one, you pay them on an ongoing basis based on a co-agreed upon agreement. I pay the babysitter every week. We pay the handyman however, as soon as he finishes the job - it's called a check.

You can be clean shaven and adhere to the biblical laws. The law is that you cannot round off the corners of your head (shave) with a razor. This means using a direct blade. If however, there is a seperation, such as is the case with an electric shaver, this is totally adherent to the laws of the bible.

Yes, this would make for an interesting reality show, but it would also be kind of rediculous as there is already a significant population working and living as part of the broader society that adheres to these laws.

Alex Tolley

jon burg: The rules you live by are those that are defined by consensus of the rabbis. A case in point about kosher rules. The rule states that you may only eat fish with fins and scales. When I was a child, my rabbi insisted that eels were not kosher - no scales. I brought him proof that eels had scales, just very small ones. He refused to believe that he was wrong and it was the first crack that lead me away to a rational life.

In a similar vein, the contortions that are used to justify the actions that are considered "work" or not for the Sabbath are almost laughable. My sense is that the rules are make so that the Sabbath rituals can be maintained.

As regards the idea of Jacobs' travels being an interesting topic of a documentary, maybe. I think what would be more interesting is to use an anthropological approach and show how many of our behaviors and beliefs are rooted in religious practices. Understanding that for different peoples around the world would be quite interesting to me.

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