“We just go there to eat”
said the Israeli man i met today as a friend of mine invited me to meet her family.
We were discussing the various Jewish venues in Zurich, Switzerland, and the man did not like his daughters attending a secular Israeli youth movement that serves non kosher sausages..for so many people food has become the religion..i think now reflecting upon the conversation . Eating with other jews, giving a donation for the meal, a donation that will serve to pay the rent of a big house for the rabbi and sponsor his trips to give lectures and to feed and clothe his children. Switzerland is a very expensive country in which to only preach for religion, i suppose every country is but especially switzerland but there are many people who earn a very good salary who can easily afford to also donate to feed the rabbi and his many children and their children etc. but the question remains for a thinking human being , such as i attempt to be, what is the purpose of the rabbi being there?
The Lubbavitzer rabbi who follows a Rabbi who can be best described as a “guru” who has followers who spread the good word and whose declared intention is to bring jews closer to the faith and so they host meals on holidays raising money for their purpose, which is declared as making the jews more jewish.
“There are two types of jews”, the Lubbavitzers joke, “One type of a jew is religious and the other is not religious yet.” and yet, i reflect upon the many jokes the rabbi told on the high holidays, the meals attended and i think of the people i met, people who only come to eat..
Yes, you can meet people who only come to eat also in yoga centers and in church events, people who only come to eat, but what then is the difference between a cow grazing in a field and a human being ? Most people consider that the main difference between human beings and cows is besides the fact that people do not get eaten but cows get slaughtered is that human beings have higher cognitive abilities, they can think and the highest level of thinking is to think for oneself without being told what to think and that is , how i think , how the jews got Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud and all those nobel science laureates and all those writers like Yitzhak Beshevis singer who wrote “Yentel”, about the plight of a young girl who wants to study the torah too but can only do so if she is dressed like a Yeshiva boy. Barbara Streisand made Yentel her spokesperson promoting the right of women to think for ourselves , and to not be dictated what roles we must accept, something that is still unthinkable amongst the ultra orthodox jewish circles and in the Lubavitzer circles.
There is not one popular world religion that is not dominated by a male leadership and presence but then again statistics tell us that about 50% of humanity is female then where are the women and girls to take up leadership roles ?
At one point Jews who could think for themselves were also busy in changing the tradition of male dominated religion so that girls and women do not feel inferior and limited by rules that G-d had given claiming women have certain roles, women to the kitchen and to tend for children and men for work and study, this division , argued the liberal jews, must change because it is unfair and not good for a world where women now can take on more and more roles.
We are just here to eat , declare so many people , but then they go back to the same traditional role divisions and the same limitations and do not think that there is something wrong with men dancing with the torah while women look on from somewhere separated where they dance in their own separate circles.
The rabbis who are so proud of famous jews like Bob Dylan and Albert Einstein and many others forget that those jews had to break down barriers and that they ALL thought for themselves, not following the traditional black and white dress code for thinking .
Changing traditions means challenging yourself and asking yourself, are we really here just to eat? In what ways then are we better than cows? because we have more words to describe our reality ? really? is that it? because human beings can devise clever technical inventions to make life easier?
True thinking means to free ourselves from the bonds of traditions and false belief systems that tell us that we are limited, that we were created for a particular role decided thousands of years ago as women or as men.
The yoga world i had spend time learning and practicing Sivananda has many more men as leaders and teachers but also an impressive number of women who in France and in Austria are the ones making decisions and leading the centers and giving talks as equals in a world that had been previously dominated by men too, but Swami Sivananda opened up the doors for women to teach and to practice and to learn yoga philosophy too, and we are all on the yoga mat as equals and despite the fear of the orthodox jews and the religious Moslems and the pious christians there is no wild sexual orgies but a respectful learning where women do not cover their hair , yes, there are rules of modesty out of respect for the traditions but there is no one way to dress as a woman and another as a man, all dress in the simple clothes of a yogi and all are down on the yoga mat uniting a gender less soul that knows no limits dictated by a particular human society which is why i found myself some times ago preferring attending a yoga center dressed in simple pants and t shirt than to take part of the high holidays fashion circus in the local temple.
Just to be fair to the alternative jews, there are places of worship where people do not look at your clothes ,the kabala center in Tel Aviv, women may dress as they like and no one will judge them but there unfortunately i did not see an egalitarian service .
It took me some time to let go of my previous learning of what looks “right”, women dressed in a certain way and men in another and i still do not think that dressing up like men will make women equal to men.
Whether President Hillary Clinton will wear a skirt or a pants suit like Angela Merkel likes to wear will not make her equal to men but her thinking beyond restricted limited ways of thinking will liberate her and other women from falling into old traditional ways of thinking that are not only unfair , unjust but irrational of treating girls and women as inferior to men.
So this holiday season i will not go to eat with people, just to eat, i cook my own food , and i eat with the company i choose, and the company that chooses me not because of the food i cook or prepare but because of me, because i am there and they are there to be there .
As Americans vote the first woman president , so long overdue, let us break those chains of bondage and slavery to old ideas .
Thinking for yourself is like riding a bicycle for the first time without helping wheels, it is like walking for the first time all by yourself , it is like cooking for yourself and not having someone prepare it for you, and it also means that you do not need to subscribe to ideas that do not seem just or fair if you think about it and you should always think about it, always think about thinking.
It is important to eat but think whether the food you eat is food for thought or are you giving up thinking for food when you are attending religious dinners and donating money for religious causes that promote the work of religious leaders in being able to eat and live from money of people who think that religious people are the messengers of god on earth, they are not, only G-d is god , and people , they are just people, whether they choose to think or not, is what will make them on a higher level closer to g-d or closer to the grass..closer to their true self as a human being or closer to the animals which they eat for dinner.
Think about it!