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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
My least favorite meme is going around again

At this moment, David Shuster is twittering about it.

It's the one about some of the Levitical prohibitions - there's even an icon that references it.

And it's WRONG. YES. Someone is WRONG on the internet. And so, of course, I must correct it.

This time, it's not the "making fun of people who actually practice it." This time it's getting the actual facts wrong.
David Shuster is saying that the other referenced prohibitions - mixed fibers, mixed plowing, mixed gardens (note a theme here?) rate the death penalty. Um, not so much.

The icon (as I said - they're WRONG! WRONG, I say!) says that the prohibition against mixed fibers is a prohibition against *man-made* fibers. This is more amusing than anything else. Ignoring the fact that all fibers are manmade, because none of them are usable in their natural state, we have this progression that shows why WRONGNESS needs to be corrected -

1. Someone reads a faulty translation of the Torah that says "mixed fibers" are forbidden.
2. Someone then assumes (reasonably) that means all mixed fibers, such as cotton/polyester, are forbidden.
3. Someone ELSE sees that and comes to the conclusion that POLYESTER is forbidden.

See the twisted path? The FACTS are that shatnez is very narrowly defined as sheep's wool and linen. Sheep's wool and cotton? Just fine. Cashmere and linen? Not a problem. (Person I know asked her rabbi if she could spin linen and mohair together. Yes, she could.) But the first mistake bred other mistakes, until you get the idea that acrylic brings the death penalty.

If you want to make a point (and this point has been made so often that it's almost meaningless), get the facts straight first. It means more.


I think people might be expanding the idea of shatnitz because the actual meat and milk prohibition is lamb and mother's milk. Folks could be extrapolating the same way.

Still doesn't mean that in this case they aren't out of line.

Actually, no. The prohibition is KID and mother's milk. It was expanded to all meat and all milk, and then to poultry and milk, but it started with goats, not sheep. (Also, sheep and goats can be sort of interchangeable in the Torah, I know.)

Very minor point, I know, but I'm in a nitpicky mood.

I've gotten into this argument before. *sigh*

BTW, you might actually know this. How does a frum Jew have a halakhicly compliant kitchen garden? Not a farm, but a garden where you have a bunch of different plants growing on the same plot.

We asked OUR rabbi about this.

It doesn't count outside the land of Israel. So if we were to plant one, we'd just do as everyone else does.

Is there an explanation for why wool and linen mixes are prohibited, or why it's prohibited to grow different things in the same plot of land (within Israel)? And how does that apply to modern ideas of farming like crop rotation?

I'm not trying to be rude, but I am curious.

Nope. These prohibitions are called "chokim" - we don't have an explanation for them.

What works for crop rotation is letting the land lie fallow every seven years.

What gets me about the "Christian" Leviticans is that their major religious figure told them they didn't have to follow these prohibitions anyway - and it's not like they keep kosher. They pick and choose more than we independent Jewish folks do. :)

In addition to everything that you've said, which is a great analysis of the way these things spiral into madness, these arguments frustrate the hell out of me because they're just a way to feel smug about NOM-type folks without any hope of persuading them. I have yet to EVER see or hear of someone who said "what, the Bible also forbids shrimp? I guess same-sex marriage would be okay then!" Anything with a chance of changing minds would have to address the much more complex theology going on, but these sorts of arguments aren't about changing minds; they're about patting ourselves on the back about how "we liberals are free of all these silly archaic superstitions."

I do agree with the other poster, though, that it's easy to understand why people might expand the original rulings by a vague application of the "fences around the Torah" principle. After all, the NOM folks do it too; the Bible says nothing about lesbian sex being wrong, but I suspect they'd disagree . . .

Seeing the words "polyester" and "forbidden" in the same sentence makes me want to make a crack about leisure suits. And there are lot of them that should have a dead penalty.

But it just goes to show that people will interrupt any rules as they want them to be done.

That is, however, human nature. I just don't like denying people equal (not SPECIAL) rights by using the Torah.

This is probably a weird comment...

But I thought I'd tell you that I learned alot about faith and religion from some of your X-Files fics, and I wanted to thank you for that.

As far as the Leviticus thing goes, I get it. My mother is a selective Bible reader, and she likes to quote Leviticus in her anti gay rants. It's easy for pro-gay sentiment to be just as selective in what it chooses to promote or pervert in the readings. It's often an emotional argument and that can lead to some pretty broad generalizing.

I actually took a bible study course so I could be more well-versed in what the Book has to say (or not say) about, well, anything really, and I have to say that now my faith is about myself and my relationship with God, and less about the penalties for eating lobster *L*

Anyway, I find the stuff in your LJ fascinating, and again, just want to say thanks!

Re: This is probably a weird comment...


I wrote that series on a dare - you know that, right?

And good for you for finding your own way.

I have a LJ friend who has one of those icons, and I've been trying to figure out how to talk to her about it. I'm 49% inclined to point her to your posts, but I'm 51% inclined to not cause you any more trouble than you've already endured.

I wrote this because of Shuster's twitter and an icon I saw in a comment on a friend's lj - the person using it not being on your flist.

The fact is, I get the point of the icons. I even agree with it. I just think that the point doesn't change with accuracy. This particular icon doesn't, at least, belittle those who DO believe in the Torah, which is a major plus.

Annoying and timely, what with Acharei Mot/Kedoshim being this Shabbat.

I have to wonder if the meme's reappearance is just coincidence or if it was planned to coincide with the parsha.

I think they're reacting to current events - "National Organization for Marriage" and Miss California, and that stupid congresswoman from North Carolina. But the coincidence is amusing.

In the same rant there is a reference to the fact that shrimp are called an abomination just like gay sex. Well, no, unless you believe that the Torah was written in English. Gay sex is called a toevah. Shrimp are called sheketz. Two very different words, with different meanings.

Side note: Gay sex is called a toevah, not gay people, while shrimp are themselves called sheketz.

Yes. That's another point I wanted to make. Thank you.

Totally beside the point but...

I didn't get those tweets on my phone. wtf?

Re: Totally beside the point but...

Which Shuster twitter are you following? I'm following @Shuster1600.