(Warning, contains adult content)
I’m eating Chinese food after the Rosh Hashanah service when my friend Shabbat Sam* starts talking about driving on Shabbat.
“The teshuva for driving on Shabbat is that you help to make a minyan,” Sam tells me. In other words, it’s OK to commit the sins of traveling, lighting a fire and carrying because making a minyan is that important.
Last year, I met a Modern Orthodox rabbi who puzzled me with another Halachkic idea: it’s a sin to waste seed (see the Story of Onan), so many believe that the barrier method violates Jewish law. On the other hand, according to this rabbi, it could easily be argued that masturbation is not a sin because you’re not actually wasting anything, since your seed would have never gone to any good use in the first place.
The bottom line is this: for any sin a person can commit, there a really great way to work around it.
And on the flip side of the coin, I recently met a young woman who’s anger at a group of local rabbis in Israel lead her to post on Facebook, “for every rabbinical will, there is a halachkic way”. It seems the river can flow both ways: while us sinners are working our Godly logic around Jewish law, those of us with a holy agenda and sure-as-heck-gonna-find-that-law.
Here’s my question for you: are you observant, or just a jerk? Are you a Bible scholar, or just someone who wants to do whatever they want? Are you searching for laws to push your agenda, or apologetics to make life easier?
*Shabbat Sam keeps the largest list of Jewish events in Atlanta and regularly emails several thousand people a week. Why Federation, JCC or one of these other Mega Lo Mart Jewish organizations doesn’t hire him to do this professionally, I’m still not sure. He’s the Perez Hilton of Atlanta Judaism.