Monday, October 03, 2005

Happy Rosh Hashanah

I wish all my readers a happy Jewish New Year.

However, I must say that of all the things I can do now that I couldn't do when I was frum, not attending High Holiday services is my favorite.

The worst is of course Yom Kippur, in which they bring out every trick in the book to make you as uncomfortable as possible. You have to:

1) Fast. This includes not drinking water for some reason.
2) Wear a suit. This is usually combined with an overcrowded room in order to maximize sweating and therefore dehydration. The truly devout wear a white coat over their suit. Hats, too, of course.
3) Wake up early. To maximize fatigue.
4) Do a lot of standing. Get up and sit down like a puppet. The ark is open, the ark is shut, the ark is open, the ark is shut.
5) Wear uncomfortable shoes. Back in the day, forbidding you to wear leather was sufficient, however since comfortable non-leather shoes were invented, most Orthodox shuls have created the tradition of wearing bright white, uncomfortable Pay-less shoes despite the utter lack of real leather in many normal sneakers.
6) Keep you in shul all freaking day.
7) Intersperse prayer with the most boring speeches ever delivered.
8) SPEND THE LAST THREE HOURS OF YOUR FAST ON YOUR FEET.
9) Keep you late so that your fast is longer than it has to be.

I'm sure that some people find Yom Kippur meaningful. I was never one of them. Every year, sometime when it's still summer, it occurs to me that I don't have to attend this year and it hasn't yet failed to bring a smile to my face.

12 comments:

Faith is genetic said...

That’s all very interesting. Catholics also have similar torture methods, physical suffering keeps people from thinking and most religions find that very useful.

I don’t understand what exactly forced you to attend, couldn’t you just stay home and read a book? Personally I never felt compelled to attend church, but then my entire society and family did not revolve around church, and I doubt that anyone would have made a comment to my face if instead of Easter mass I went to a bar for a beer. I have orthodox friends who attend church on Easter every year, and aside from funerals and baptisms this is the only time they attend. They are not devout, they are just afraid of what the neighbors will say. What-will-the-neighbors-say is more widely worshiped these days than the god of Abraham!

I’m happy for you that you are free.

Jewish Atheist said...

Hey, welcome, faith is genetic, great nick. However, if faith is solely enetic, why is that some people gain it and some lose it? (And some both.)

High holiday services are pretty much mandatory for able-bodied Orthodox Jews, especially men. My father would not have allowed me to stay home.

JC Masterpiece said...

Happy Rosh Hashanah JA. I'm sorry you missed the festivities. Maybe next year in Jerusalem... oh wait, that's Passover isn't it.

Sadie Lou said...

I never will understand the reason for these ritualistic practices in any religion that follows the Bible. Jesus died on the cross so that we didn't have to pay our way into heaven--the price has been paid.
What more can we do?
The example we have of not "earning" your way into heaven is the thief on the cross next to Jesus.
What did he do to earn his way and yet Jesus promised him a place in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Hey, JA--One horror you missed in your otherwise comprehensive list is prolonged exposure to the horrendous breath of those who have fasted all day.

Laura said...

Too many rules... Too much guilt. I'll never forget my dad's stories about the stations of the cross. His mother made his family travel miles out of their way because their regular church "did it wrong"... Happy Rosh Hashana.

JC Masterpiece said...

the stations of the cross

I'm not familiar with that term/concept. Is it a Catholic thing?

Mirty said...

The most amazing thing may be that people actually PAY MONEY for this experience. (High Holy Day tickets are not cheap.) Which must give one pause, because as they say, "Money talks, Bullshit walks." There's still something to the High Holidays, even with the overblown services and overkill.

I don't understand why it is two days long though.

Laura said...

JC: Yes, it's a series of images from the crucifixion. I don't know too much about it either as my dad wouldn't allow us to be raised Catholic (he'd had too much hypocrisy as a child I guess). You go around to each 'station' and say a series of prayers. I think it's done on Good Friday.

JC Masterpiece said...

You go around to each 'station' and say a series of prayers. I think it's done on Good Friday.

Boy am i glad i'm not Catholic. All of these rites for the sake of rites don't make any sense and they go against the principles of the Bible.

Isa 29:13-14 And Jehovah said, Because this people draw near Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me, but have removed their heart far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the command of men; therefore, behold, I will go on doing among this people, a wonder, even a wonder. For the wisdom of their wise ones shall perish, and the understanding of their intelligent ones shall be hidden.

Mar 7:6-8 But He answered and said to them, Well has Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
However, they worship Me in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the dippings of pots and cups. And many other such things you do.

ADDeRabbi said...

Hey, JA -

Here's a challenge: how many of the 5 special prohibitions on YK can you violate SIMULTANEOUSLY?

A g'mar chasima tovah to you.

respondingtojblogs said...

Here's a challenge: how many of the 5 special prohibitions on YK can you violate SIMULTANEOUSLY?

The Seinfeld trifecta sounds like a logical starting place.