Measured Against Reality

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Update on Religious Accommodation

I read through the comments on my previous post, and went to look at the actual article, and realize that I only saw the first portion. I scanned the rest and it had some important details in it that I didn't know, like that the area had recently had problems with power-struggles in condos, and this may just be a ploy. But the article mentioned that lots of places have them, especially with the number of Orthodox increasing, and I find it hard to believe that people couldn't just move someone else that does have them if the board of this condo didn't want them (even if they're the same price, having one could be annoying to other residents).

However, I think my first post went a bit too far. I still think that the belief is stupid. Below the fold I'll put all the negative comments I recieved and some replies, it's explained in there. But if this elevator only runs in "sabbath mode" for 24-hours and there would be more than one (so that other people could use the alternative one), and having it would raise the value of the property (all of those claims may be false, but they're made in the article), then it does seem odd to deny it. But that doesn't mean it was racism or antisemitism, it's probably just a power play (which is also childish).

But I was a bit more rude than I like to be, I try not to be quite as mean (unless the people are actually contemptible, like Ken Ham or Bill Donahue or someone like that). So next time I get angry about something that seems unreasonable I'll use softer language.

Continue reading...
The Talmud prohibits activities that exercise control over one's environment on the Sabbath. Scholars believe that operating an electrical switch is prohibited under the 39 categories of activity, or melachot, that observant Jews are forbidden from performing. It is not an arbitrary prohibition of "flicking switches", but rather an observance that we are not dominions of our surroundings.

Uhh, Genesis 1:26? “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

So how, exactly, are you not dominions of your surroundings if your God explicitly gave you dominion over your surroundings? And people are shocked I’m calling this stupid?

I agree with the basic argument that the Jewish members cannot expect the rest of the society to be inconvenienced for their benefit. However, calling their religion stupid and idiotic says little of your own maturity. These beliefs are rooted in their history and culture. You may choose to follow or not, but as long as you are not inconvenienced be tolerant.

They cannot operate electrical switches because that act is (has been) related to working (read earning a living). Times have changed, but not the rule. Also, they may be too old to take the stairs.

How is calling something stupid being intolerant? Can someone explain that one to me? I’m not saying that the people are stupid, or that their beliefs are wrong, or that they shouldn’t be tolerated (I did say they shouldn’t be accommodated, but they deserve to believe their stupid beliefs if they really want to). I think this is the attitude that Dawkins et al fight. If this was a political belief (say, pro-choice) that I had called stupid, no one would be calling me intolerant. But when it’s a religious belief? I don’t buy it, and never will.

Yes, I may have damaged my own credibility by sinking down a level in return for some intense rhetoric (whoops, my bad), but I was not intolerant. For the record, I firmly believe in a person’s right to believe whatever they want, and would rather have Orthodox Jews fill the world than force a belief on anyone (provided that the Orthodox Jews don’t force their beliefs on other people).

You should consider investigating religions before you attack them.

Simply because some jews do not follow the specified laws on Saturday does not mean that other jews are dumb for following them.

Your post smells of bigotry and ignorance.

Congratulations for gaining internet fame through these two means.

P.S. I expect you won't display my comment, or any comment attacking your point of view, so this blog is really not meant to discuss anything, but rather for you to rent, way to go.

I know a good bit about Judaism, not too much, but more than the average person. I do know enough to know that Yahweh never said, “Thou shalt not push the buttons on elevators.” I got a few commenters who said something like, “Not being able to flick switches has nothing to do with work. It's because religion does not allow Jews to start fires on Sabbath and switches work with sparks, just like fire (rather far fetched, I know, but that's how it works).” Which, you have to admit, is pretty stupid. I’m not trying to be mean, but come on, that’s a really twisted interpretation, and totally not how electricity works (fire is rapid oxidation, electricity is electrons moving due to potential differences).

And I’m not sure how much fame I’ve gathered, since I’ve had more popular posts (at least so far, maybe this one will get more hits), and traffic from Reddit (or wherever) is usually pretty fleeting. I’m also not sure what he meant by “for you to rent”, is he implying I pay my rent with the traffic? Maybe if I lived somewhere that cost $6 a month, but I most certainly don’t.

Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish.

If you're really "interested in learning as much as [you] can about pretty much everything," you'd learn about Orthodox Jews, and their rationale for not using electrical switches, and why they don't take the stairs more than one or two flights. The crazy old person's idiotic charge of antisemitism gives you an opportunity to be even more reasonable, rather than being just as idiotic on the opposite side.

Firstly, I believe you're taking this way too far, and they also are taking it way too far.

The reality is many people have many different belief's, some people might consider some to be a hindrance, others not since you're more 'familiar' with them. Allow me to explain.

You have your own beliefs and weird traditions just like anyone else does. You probably get a big freaking dead tree in your house come December, and put ridiculous ornaments all over it and put boxes for other people underneath wrapped in paper. You probably also hang brutal looking lights from your house only during December as well.

You probably eat Turkey on Thanksgiving.

You might wear green and go to a pub on March 17th.

You might believe that at one point your descendants were practically slugs or even a bacteria. Or you might believe you sprang fourth out of nothing.

You might go out of your way to send your wife chocolates and dead flowers on February 14th.

You might have at one point (or still do) dress up in a ridiculous outfit meant to scare people, then go door to door in your neighborhood asking for...candy.

When dressing nicely, you might hang a piece of folded fabric that wraps around your neck and descends down to your waistline.

The fact is every culture and religion has its own "things" it does. Your own, which to you don't seem weird, are technically, when you look at them, really weird. However, its in quite bad taste to call what someone does "stupid", which is where I have a problem with your article.

Yes, they have a tradition, but so do you. Would you like people calling you a moron for putting a dead tree in your house? For dressing up like an idiot at the end of October?

Just because a religion might be a minority doesn't give people the right to ignore it or call it "stupid". Every person has the right to believe whatever the hell they want to believe, even if that's nothing. If you live in a culture that allows people to do that, then you have to respect people's decisions when they differ from your own. Otherwise you're basically against the established culture you live within, and you really need to leave the country and find somewhere that doesn't allow freedom of religion.

Now I think their take that this is somehow anti-semitic is way too far. It's simply not. Rather it's simply people not wanting to be understanding towards another religion. They're taking it a bit too far, and yes, they could take the stairs, and as well you could skip Christmas or not wear a tie, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would feel a little disabling.

I think that this is the best point. I know that being Jewish is about as cultural as religious, and I understand why Jews hang on to their culture the way they do. But I’m still going to call circumcision barbaric, and I’m going to call not pushing buttons on an elevator stupid. I think it is, and if that ruins my credibility with you that’s fine with me.

Though I agree with what you say about the "religious accommodation" issue, you crossed the line when you started berating Orthodox Jews. I'm Jewish. I have family members that are Orthodox. Though many of the their traditions make absolutely no sense to me, and their choices should not force me to adjust my life to accommodate, it's their choice, and their life. To insult them and question their choices removes all credibility from your statements.

Ok, the people who say things like this have a point. I didn’t even remember wording it that strongly. In retrospect, I should have been mellower, I usually try to be. But you have to admit that it takes a pretty weird interpretation of the Torah to say that electric switches are a no no, but things that would make living on that day aren’t. I’ll stand by that.

Also in my defense it was early in the morning and I was feeling fervently Dawkins-esque: “No pandering to the religious!”

It’s a Condominium, dude.

Do you even know what a condo is?

People who own the condos get to vote and decide what the need from the condo association.

Maybe if you move out of your parents basement you would learn something.

I liked this one. Because every blogger in the world lives in their parents’ basement! Never mind the fact that it says right on my sidebar that I’m currently at college, 3,000 miles away from my parents’ basement. In fact, I specifically try to spend as little time there as possible. I like my independence. So this one hit hard.

Also, there’s the pesky little fact that the condo association voted down the measure, and that’s when the Jewish residents started whining. Never mind that one too!

While I agree with the basic premise of your post - these people aren't entitled to a special elevator and shouldn't scream discrimination just because they don't get what they want - your post ends up just degenerating into ignorance and drivel, which is unfortunate, because you probably could have made a much clearer point if you hadn't resorted to basic ad hominem attacks.

Ad hominem means “to the man”, and is usually considered to mean attacking someone’s credentials or character. Since I just called beliefs stupid, not the people (I’m sure they occupy the full range of human intelligence, from unintelligent to intelligent), I did not make an ad hominem. Just wanted to be clear on that.

I think you're somewhat overreacting. A Sabbath elevator is not in fact a big inconvenience.
I live in Israel, and all hotels and many apartment buildings have at least one Sabbath elevator. It is clearly marked so that people who don't want to use it are free to use the other ones.

It's also somewhat presumptous of you to label the beliefs of these people stupid. The fact that you don't understand the logic behind what they're saying doesn't mean there isn't any. You may disagree with their premises, but labeling it stupid just labels you as the same. The only stupid thing in what they say is that the decision is anti-semitic.

What if the place had no handicapped access, and they were all fully able to walk when they moved in. Would it be stupid of them to demand handicapped access?

That’s a false analogy though, because these people were Orthodox Jews when they moved in (in all likelihood). They’re demanding something that they knew full well wasn’t there when they moved in, were ok with it then, and are mad as hell that the other people in the building don’t want it now. It’s not quite the same as becoming handicapped in a building with inadequate handicap accessability.

It’s kind of funny, the commenter before this one said that even in Israel they’re considered weird. Maybe it’s a different part of Israel.

How do you mean? Childish and stupid like calling someone's religion stupid? Or do you mean like a bunny handing out eggs? Or maybe a fat guy in a flying sled lobbing presents down chimneys at 1/3 of the world's households in one night? Like that kind of childish and stupid?

Or do you mean childish and stupid like calling wine blood and wafers a body? Or maybe you mean childish and stupid like putting ashes on your head? Or maybe you mean like making 6 year old children of atheists pray to Jesus or study the bible in public school? Like that -- is that what you mean?

I’m assuming this is supposed to insult me (but could definitely see it going either way because of the second paragraph, kind of confusing), but yeah, it’s stupid like all of those things. I don’t particularly like Christmas (or any other holiday), and if it weren’t for my family wouldn’t do anything special for it. So all the people referencing classic American holidays, yes, this is stupid just like those.

Dude, what high ground you had, you completely threw away in the last few paragraphs.

"Or maybe, and here's a thought, they could TAKE THE STAIRS."
Are you remembering that they're seniors? over 70?

So is my grandfather (or at least nearing it), and he can still take the stairs. It’s fair to assume that they’re not doing any shopping on the Sabbath, so they wouldn’t be carrying anything up. I think that even elderly people should be able to climb some stairs, if they care that much about their religion. And if they’re not fit enough to climb stairs how exactly are they walking to the Synagogue? I suppose if they’re in a wheel-chair… But how hard would it be to ask a neighbor to push the damn button for you? There’s got to be someone else on your floor who’d be willing to do that. Or, as some people mentioned, Orthodox Jews used to hire people to do those things, why not pay someone five bucks to push the button?



  • Oh, man, the idiocy...

    By Blogger Lorenzo, at 2:54 AM, May 10, 2007  

  • People just need to calm down. This is what you get when you mix freedom of religion with freedom of speech. Everyone's allowed to believe whatever they want, but don't by crying discrimination when others call it stupid.

    Jews in USA should count themselves lucky it's just condo's voting down sabbath elevators. Northern Europe has been restricting circumcision. What would American Jews say if the government said "we don't like you cutting on your babies' penises"? Like in Sweden it has to be a doctor at a hospital, Mohels need to go to medical school and practice in a clinic, no home cuttings, and in Finland, no circumcision for minors, period. They have to grow up and choose it for themselves. Over in England, both parents have to consent, so if your Jewish kid marries a non-jew, good luck on getting cut grandkids.

    By Blogger Beanie's Appa, at 7:50 AM, May 10, 2007  

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