Friday, March 14, 2014

“Why? ….because it’s a tradition!” – Fiddler on the Roof

The area I’m going to touch on might get me burned at the stake in some circles.  The idea of following a “tradition” because it makes you feel good to do so is fine.  Keeping the tradition “with a vengeance” I have to question.

My first example is one I feel pretty comfortable with since I was raised Jewish, it is the act of keeping Kosher.  There is a long list of requirements for maintaining this tradition, but I’m going to begin with the bold headers that most people know.

1. Mixing meat and dairy:  This made a lot of sense once…when your bowls and plates were made of wood.  Wood is a very porous material and it absorbs some of the enzymes from food.  Putting a piece of meat down where you had milk yesterday could make you pretty sick.  So it was a very intelligent idea to keep sets of dishes separate for meat and dairy. 

Many Jewish families will still keep extra sets of dishes for meat and dairy.  Some extremists will go as far as to have separate shelves in their refrigerator, or if they have the money two different refrigerators (I wonder where the commandment for that is in the Torah).  I have met people who will get violently mad at you if you transgress this tradition (i.e. Use the wrong bowl for something).

Today’s cookware is ceramic, china, glass or similar (not porous).  We have anti-bacterial soap, and running hot water. 

2. Shellfish and Pork– Once upon a time there was a good chance you could get violently ill or die from eating these foods.  With modern methods of cooking and preparation, these are not a concern anymore. 

Following these rules simply “because it’s a tradition” is more an attempt for some folks to feel superior, that THEY follow the commandments of god and will be rewarded…unlike the rest of us “heathens.” 

If you think I’m wrong about this, or running off on some wild tangent, consider these factors.

1. If you were REALLY following all of gods commandments from the Torah, you’d be adding animal sacrifices (in some cases burning them) and smearing lambs blood on your doorposts for Passover.
2. When I had my first television it had rabbit ear antennae.  I used to have to adjust them for proper viewing.  It made sense and it worked.  Akin to “wooden bowls” of technology, I now have cable (ceramic).  Do I still plop a set of ‘ears” on my TV and adjust them?  Of course not; I don’t need them.  I don’t need two sets of dishes either.

You might argue that following these traditions makes you feel closer to god.  These folks also burn perfectly good food at Passover (food that is not Kosher for Passover).  Wouldn't God be happier if you gave the food to a hungry or homeless person?  Isn't that more spiritual?

There is no harm in keeping these practices, and I firmly believe that, as long as you don't hurt anyone else, What you do is your business, just don't look down on the rest of us for not doing it.

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