Picture it: Limmud Weekend. Two summers ago.
I’m at a retreat for Jewish adults and families. It’s like summer camp, for everyone. And at this very moment, I’m having a shouting match with a rabbi.
I said, “Don’t you think, rabbi, that all the minhag and all the interpretations and Talmudic stuff detracts away from the original intention of the Torah? I mean, at what point are we putting the Baal Shem Tov above Moses?”
He replied, “It’s all Torah. In every generation someone comes along and clarifies it and expands on it. Rambam did it. Baal Shem Tov…”
“Isn’t that just idolatry? Building up another bronze snake that someone’s going to have to tear down in another generation?”
“Ah, but see. That’s it. Idolatry is OK as long as it’s the idolatry that HaShem tells us is OK.”
I get angry and storm off. Who does this guy think he is? Idolatry is OK as long as it comes from God? What kind of whack job non-sense is that?
But then again, what kind of whack job am I? Months later I would obsess about making sure that my vinegar was kosher for Passover, while at the same Passover seder advocating for gay marriage.
Life’s like that. We pick and choose the things that matter: even if that means picking and choosing to ignore that we’re picking and choosing.
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