Celebrity Priests and Rabbis…..The Kim Kardashian’s of Religion

27 Feb

I’ve got to gripe a little here.

If you are reading my blog for the first time….I was at one time in my life an Orthodox Jew.

I respected my faith very much and I had fear that if I didn’t follow the ritualistic protocol of Judaism, I believed that I was going to be “punished” by the One Above.

I also believed that if I am going to be punished for not being a “good” Jew, then other people that are not “good” Jews will also be punished.

I have gotten older and a little more mature and I realize now that I may have been wrong about this childish view of G-d.

As an adult, I realize that we cannot tell another person what G-d wants from them, because we are not G-d and to dare insist that we are sure that another person is going to “Hell” for their deeds… quite presumptuous.

But……since I have come to this realization……I have a hard time with Rabbis and Priests that claim to know what G-d wants from all of us.

And, apparently they know that G-d wants the same thing from everybody…… G-d wants all of us to fear Him.

Let me tell you why I think this is blasphemous.

Note: Since I can only discuss Judaism, because I am Jewish, I have no choice but to limit my gripes to the Rabbis that do this and what kind of negative impact they have on the Jewish community as a whole.  I cannot discuss other religions, however, that does not mean that this does not occur within other religions.  I want to clearly state that I am not under the impression that Judaism is the one and only religion guilty of what I am about to rant about.

In Judaism, there are many well regarded Rabbis who carry the message of fear to their constituents and with that message of fear comes the obligation of those that follow these Rabbis to pay for many things that will “appeal” to G-d and quell G-d’s anger.

Here is a just a couple of things a that the Rabbis have told us Jews that we must do so that G-d does not get angry with us……

Jews must pay thousands, sometimes up to $15,000 per child in Yeshiva tuition in order for their children to be segregated from the general population and so that they can receive the “proper” Jewish education.  If parents have more than one child….too bad…….The Rabbis will tell you that it is your Jewish obligation to make sure that you send your kids to Yeshiva… does not matter whether you have the money or not…GET IT!

Personal story:  I used to send my kids to Yeshiva because the Rabbis told us to and we did not have enough money every month to pay the tuition.  When I used to tell the school that I did not have enough money that month to pay the full tuition, the secretary of the school  decided that it was her obligation to reprimand me – in public – by telling me that it takes a real low life not to make sure that they work hard enough to at least pay their school tuition…..Keep in mind that the employees of the Yeshiva that is struggling do not get paid on time….or sometimes not at all.

Jews must keep kosher.  This requires Jews to buy only products that are “approved” by a group of Rabbis.  These Rabbis must monitor the production of these products before approving the kosher certification.  I live in Brooklyn, NY and over here, the center of the Jews, an OU certification on a product is not good enough anymore.  The Rabbis have said that because the OU is too big of a corporation, it is not as reliable as smaller acceptable certifications that are given out by private Rabbis.  This has resulted in Jewish supermarkets popping up all over that – compared to large supermarket chains like Shop Rite and Kroger’s –  charge astronomical amounts for food.

Not only that, frozen produce must be checked for bugs because we are not allowed to eat bugs (as if I would want to) and if you want to buy “approved” bug free frozen produce, you must pay about triple the amount for it.  I could go on and on and on about this….but one personal observation:

I know a few people who own kosher restaurants and have to pay $400 monthly to have a Rabbi in the restaurant at all times in order to “approve” all food products served to the customers.  The problem is that the Rabbi that sits in the restaurant generally gets about $10 per hour and is not a real Rabbi and is told, like a robot, what he has to do.  If he does not know something, or his back is turned for one minute….the owner is free to do whatever they want to do….and it probably isn’t exactly what the Rabbi getting $400 a month “approves” of……..

………….But the Rabbi that gets $400 a month for EVERY restaurant that he “supervises”…..obviously cannot be at all the locations all of the time, so he comes once a month to pick up the check anyway.

Rabbis frequently go door to door to collect for Yeshivas that learn all day and all night and they claim that these students are the heart of the religion and what allows us, the non-learners, to earn a living without having the obligation to learn Torah (Bible) all day.

In other words, the “learners” are what is keeping our religion alive and without them we would suffer.  So, of course, Jews must give enormous amounts of charity because G-d will be very angry if we don’t.

Not only that…..don’t think for a minute that we don’t love that little plaque that goes up in the Yeshiva or the Synagogue telling everyone that passes by how much we have donated to that Yeshiva or Synagogue.

Personal story: I know many young boys that “learn” all day…….but only do it because their parents support them and their wives and children and they don’t have to find a job and do it themselves.

Personal story #2:  I once wrote a letter to a wealthy synagogue that had plaques all over the place announcing that various members of that synagogue had donated in the tens of thousands of dollars for what is called a Mezuza.  A Mezuza is scroll affixed to the doorpost of every door in a premises that has specified Hebrew verses written on it.  I bought mine for $25 each.  I figured if these “good” Jews were soooooooo good that they would pay $10,000 and up for a mezuzah, certainly they would be able to help me out with Yeshiva tuition for my two daughters that I just couldn’t afford as a single, divorced woman.

I wrote a very polite and humble letter to the Rabbi of that Synagogue and asked him for his help or help from anyone that could find it in their hearts to donate a few dollars towards my kids tuition.  I gave them the name of the Yeshiva and the name of the person to speak to and asked them to just let me know if they could help out so I could thank them.  I got no response.  I called and left a message.  I got no response.

And that was when the secretary of the school thought she had a right to embarrass me in front of other parents in the school office and degrade me by telling me I was less than a human being for not paying my Yeshiva tuition on time.

I could go on and on with this post (and I probably will have many more posts like this one) but, let me get to the bottom line already.

All religious leaders should be guiding their constituents to a place of happiness…..not to a place of fear.   Religious leaders should, at a minimum, understand human nature, as well as the Bible (and all other ancient text) enough to know that fear does not allow a person to have true faith in the way that the Bible says that we should.

And especially those “celebrity” religious leaders….we all know who they are…..should stop lining their own pockets by encouraging their followers to donate to “charitable causes” that they have deemed to be “acceptable” by feeding fear to them and telling them that that is what G-d wants.

Kim Kardashian sells us the illusion that makeup and plastic is true beauty.   Celebrity Priests and Rabbis sell us the illusion that if we give them and their “approved charitable causes” money, G-d will love us.

PS #1…… When are these celebrity religious leaders going to use their favorite tool of fear to discuss the importance of  honesty in business……a very huge topic in the Bible with many “commandments” attached to it……

PS #2……if there is an Orthodox Jew out there reading this…..I would love to hear from you.  I am personally bothered by this behavior and I would love to hear a G-d fearing explanation for why this happens so often to Jews in the Orthodox community.

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8 responses to “Celebrity Priests and Rabbis…..The Kim Kardashian’s of Religion

  1. Cheryl Baumgartner

    February 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    This is one of the reasons that I am not religious. Where is God in religion? For most the goal is not to help people grow closer to God but to grow the church membership. God is an afterthought.

    although I must say that your story about the Mezuza reminds me of the infamous Baptist ‘Building Fund’ The collection plate has been going around every Sunday for years (in addition to the standard collection plate rounds), and as Steve Harvey once said they haven’t bought so much as a doorknob!

    • Peaceful Controversy

      February 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      I identified with Orthodox Judaism for many years. I went through so much guilt before being able to finally separate myself and realize that there was just something not right. It bothers me so much, I sometimes feel antisemitic.
      when I see religious Jews walking around NYC as if they own the city…….I get really upset inside and I want to scream in their face that the concept of G-d most likely is a little more complicated than a man in the sky that blesses people with money.
      And…yeah…..building funds…..Synagogues in the wealthier areas all have “building funds”. Don’t you know that G-d only likes it when he receives prayers from buildings that have marble floors and stained glass windows?

      • Cheryl Baumgartner

        February 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

        Unfortunately in the churches I have attended over the years, God has to settle for the same old broke down building because you rarely see a single improvement that building fund has paid for!

      • Peaceful Controversy

        February 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm

        We have that too, which is even worse…..but don’t think that the clergy of the wealthy Church and Synagogue aren’t pocketing plenty of the “building funds” as well – despite the fact that the building has a few fancy nuances. I don’t know about other religions, but Jews are well connected and I am sure they got their “improvements” for cheap…..not nearly for what was donated to them by their congregants who think they are doing a “good deed” by giving charity to a building.

  2. lostkosmonaut

    March 11, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Your post is right on. I think of organized religion as a parasite that exploits our human need for meaning and purpose—it exchanges moral tranquilizer for cash.

    It’s interesting how different your experience with Orthodox Judaism was in comparison to my own experiences with Reform Judaism. Although I’m not Jewish myself, I have a lot of experience in the Reform Jewish community. I’ve been to many services, including the High Holy Days, and many of my friends are Jewish. From what I’ve observed, Judaism is less about delivering a hard-line moral message, and more about community and observance; personal opinions and interpretations of scripture are better tolerated in Judaism than in most major world religions. Again, my experience is with rather modernized Reform Judaism.

    I think this flexibility and tolerance with personal interpretations of Torah—or even outright disbelief—are huge strengths for modernized Judaism. It is sticking together and being there for each other that is really important to them, not standardizing everyone’s beliefs.

    As for religion in general, Thomas Paine would have agreed with you:

    “[The Bible] is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty?”
    —The Age of Reason

    • Peaceful Controversy

      March 11, 2012 at 3:57 am

      “….sticking together and being there for each other that is really important to them….”….if only this were a universal thought between all religions and there was no division….what a world it would be!!
      ..and how ironic that I am considered blasphemous by many of my fellow Orthodox Jews…when the a dead on definition of blasphemy is as you have quoted.

  3. Stephen John

    July 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    First, one must know what RELIGION truly means, it is not understood and there is too much false teaching. From Aramaic, a good Jew should know, it is the study of order and balance that results from the operation of divine laws. Spiritual laws of the soul keep society working together. When society loses its soul as a whole, we have chaos. Religion teaches us to keep a just, balanced relationship within ourselves, with one another, and our environment. Love the Father with all your heart and soul, as He loves us unconditionally (no matter what someone might tell us)..and to forgive others for their short-comings as He forgives us for ours. To take it a step further Love who we think in our head is an enemy, for we are all Children of God. That is why I moved on from Judaism thinking and turned to Eashoa ‘Msheekhah (Jesus Messiah), the Life Giver. Unfortunately, there too lies doctrines and tenets in churches. The guy was too advanced for people to comprehend, but the time was right as God knows his people. Sick of the victim as a former “Jew” in theory, I got the message, and found all that is written to be absolutely TRUE. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting. Would a pygmy in the amazon believe or even know what a vanilla sundae with hot fudge and sprinkles tastes like, never having gotten out of ‘the jungle’ of the Old School? He might believe in a sundae, but never know what it tastes like. One will NEVER know until being born in Spirit, it is very real, although many many out there only think they are because they said so, without any renewal of the mind. Therein lies a big misunderstanding. I did not find the Father in church , but on my porch at 3AM. It all works backwards, from the inside out..not the outside in (Book knowledge, laws, and rules). That is an endless loop. Thanks, peace, good will , Shalom. 🙂 Less is more in the Spirit, less of me, more of Him. Anyone who thinks this is poppycock walks in the darkness of ignorance and will hold fast to that line of ‘ reasoning’ for their life. He that loves his life shall lose it, and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal . In other words, loving the material world which to its final conclusion is “me!” will die to dust. He who loves the Spirit will live Eternal Life for the Spirit cannot die.

    • Peaceful Controversy

      August 5, 2012 at 1:43 am

      I hope you have explored my blog enough to know that I am with you. Good luck in spreading this truth to others. That is our test in life. We want so badly for everyone to understand the big picture – not because we are smarter or better than others – but because we are not smarter and better than anyone else…..we are one and the same. If we could all come together with this understanding – our world would be a different place. May we all live to see this place soon……..

      Material is finite and our attachment to it connects us with the finite instead of the infinite…..The Law of Attraction. It is the newest trend to explore the idea of the Law of Attraction yet no one mentions the concept of material/physical vs formless/spiritual or, finite vs infinite. Could the Law of Attraction have any influence on this concepts????

      Thanks for your comment and G-d bless!!!


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