Lost on the margins of the horrific murder of three children by their father in Netanya last week was the story of the neighbor who heard the tragedy unfold but did nothing because, as she noted, “I’m a religious woman so I touch nothing on Shabbat.”
According to the criminal code, this woman is supposed to be indicted for failing to prevent a crime. Yet we can assume that the police and prosecutor’s office won’t see fit to even launch a preliminary examination of this affair. After all, this woman enjoys one of the most powerful protections available in Israel: Religion.
In any case, legal action against her won’t bring these miserable children back to life. It’s much more important to address this issue on a more fundamental level.
We can of course dismiss this case easily, declaring that the woman’s religious studies weren’t too thorough. After all, almost everyone is familiar with the obvious rule that saving a life overrides the Shabbat. However this would be an easy solution. It would also be a very convenient solution for the religious establishment’s leadership, which corrupts the state and gradually turns it into a primitive theocracy.
The question that must be asked is as follows: How is it possible that a Jewish woman in 21st Century Israel hears a little girl pleading for her life, screaming “dad, let go off me,” and prefers to ignore this as not to desecrate the Shabbat?
The answer has to do with the emergence of a new local religion – pagan Judaism.
Obsessive preoccupation with trivialitiesPeople invented religion in order to address various needs. Some stemmed from fears and anxieties in the face of the complexity of human existence, others from a simple desire for power and control, and elsewhere from the need to facilitate reasonable coexistence within the community. Many Jewish rules, for example, have an impressive moral and social basis – ranging from the 10 Commandments to the rules pertaining to the Shabbat, converts, and widows.
However, the primordial era had been replaced by a modern era of education, science and technology. Instead of taking up this challenge and focusing on boosting Judaism’s moral aspect, the religious mainstream turned to obsessive preoccupation with the “do’s and don’t do’s” of daily life.
For hundreds of years now, the finest rabbis and students have been engaging in strict interpretation of mitzvahs and prohibitions, depreciating Judaism to a shallow ritual of hollow, trivial discussions that often appear to be sheer madness to outside observers.
Simultaneously, and not detachedly, large parts of the religious community turn to ritual worship of objects and ceremonies, amulets and spells. The obsessive kissing of mezuzahs is merely one symptom of this phenomenon, which brings a religion that in its golden age was considered the most progressive in the world closer to paganism.
Most of the contemporary religious leadership - that bunch of dwarfs that for some reason is known as our generation’s giants - does nothing in order to bring this reckless train back to the tracks of sanity and logic. The opposite is true: They cooperate. It’s apparently convenient for them – the more ignorant the masses are, the easier it is to control and manipulate them.
A woman who prefers not to call for help on Shabbat while children are being butchered by their father right next to her may be an extreme case, yet the backdrop that gave rise to such case may represent a much broader phenomenon: Jews who forgot that the most important decree is to be a human being.
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