Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Time to Think Again

Well, tax season is finally over and I finally have the time to think about things and to write about some things.
I have also decided to not do a single post about what I think is the problem with the Jewish community, but the more I have thought about it the more I realized that it will require more time and information to fully flesh out my thoughts.
The first thing I would like to do is to discuss the following:

Rabbi orders maiming of dolls

Mar 26 2006 09:15:20:137PM

In a tough break for the children of Orthodox Jewish families, a former grand rabbi of Israel has urged parents to amputate their dolls to avoid the perils of idolatry.

Jerusalem - In a tough break for the children of Orthodox Jewish families, a former grand rabbi of Israel has urged parents to amputate their dolls to avoid the perils of idolatry.

Basing the move on a Biblical ban on the possession of idols, Mordechai Eliyahu, a Sephardic rabbi, broadcast his edict on a religious radio station calling for an arm or a leg to be dismembered.

In the case of a teddy bear or other stuffed animals, the children will see their beloved toys lose an ear or an eye instead.

"It is very important that these toys do not remain intact so as to remove the element of idolatry," said Eliyahu.

His son, Shmuel Eliyahu, himself a rabbi in the northern town of Safed, said that it was inappropriate to own statues or dolls, even to play with or for artistic purposes.

"They need to be amputated or at least altered," he said.

Shmuel revealed that his father had forced one of his followers to snap off the ear of a replica of a statue of Moses by Michelangelo that he had bought at an exorbitant price.

Religious edicts are not legally binding in Israel.


Now I will point out that story is a month old, but the link is still valid.  When

I first read this item I nearly fell out of my chair.  I find this concept to be most absurd.  I had a G.I. Joe when I was a child, I never once confused the toy with being a god, or even of being representative of anything but a toy.  I played with, and still have in storage, small military figures representing American, British, German and Japanese soldiers from WWII. Once again, I never thought of them or confused them with anything other than what they were, toys.

From the time I was a baby until I was 12 or 13 I had a stuffed animal Chimpanzee, and I never thought it was anything, at least that I can remember, other than a stuffed animal that I cuddled with when I slept.  (I have to say I loved that little stuffed chimp with his banana in one hand.  And that banana fit in his mouth.)

My wife has several collectors dolls, and we have, between us, a number of stuffed animals.  I have never confused these with anything other than stuffed animals or dolls.  I have never had the urge, desire or any other instinct to pray to, worship or anything else.  I don't think that I am special, I don't think that I am mentally stronger than anyone else.  I also don't think that children look at a doll and think of it as anything but a toy.  I have to say that I believe there is a firm difference between what constitutes an idol and what is a toy.  I think most, if not all, children can tell the difference.  I doubt there is any child in the world that would look at the existence of a doll and say, oh look that is god, I must pray to it. (Think of this, can you see a person bowing down before a Barbie doll and praying to it.)  (I have not seen any dolls that are 'anatomically corrrect' and if they existed, do you really think they would be for children.) 

The problem with this concept is really two fold, one it assumes that children are stupid.  I find that to be personally offensive.  Now I am not saying that children understand everything in life, but they are certainly capable of differentiating between a divine representation and a toy.  The other problem that I have is at what point do you draw the line.  If owning a Barbie doll/G.I. Joe is bad, and my beloved stuffed Chimp from my childhood needs to be maimed, then what about destroying a picture of a person or animal.  After all if the toys can be confused with an icon, then can't the pictures of some one or an animal be confused by those self same children as being representative of a divinity. 

If the pictures or toys need to be maimed or defaced, what about pets.  Isn't this just the next step. Should I take one or both of my cats (Maggie and Anina) to the vet to have a leg cut off or an eye poked out.  After all a child may confuse Maggie, especially when you take her long-furred beauty in to account, as being of devine basis and there for in need of being worshiped.  (I would have used Anina and her Siamese beauty as the example, but anyone who has been biten by her would know that she is nothing if not evil.)  Is this not the ultimate extension of the idea, or perhaps that the ultimate extension is to maim every human being at birth, after all at various times in human history, individual humans were revered as gods. 

I find this kind of mishigoss to be the ideas of the unrealistic.  My wife collects cat items, one of the things that we purchased is a replica of the Egyptian goddess Bast. (Bast was a goddess in the shape of a house cat.)  We have the item in the apartment, if you want to say that I own an idol, that may be, but art is art.  I believe we own a piece of art, nothing more and nothing less.  If the Rabbi's in the article disagree, then I have only one thing to say about that: "If they can't trust them selves to look at a piece of art and not worship it that is fine", but I have yet to worship any art I have ever seen, and as I said before I have never even had any inclination to worship any of these types of items.  These items have no power if we don't grant them power, but if we grant them the power by fearing that they may be seen as divine by the uneducated or unsophisticated, then we are lessoning our selves not that which we are seeking to censure.  We are granting power to items that they don't have.  Is this rearly what this is all about.




I have GI Joe, action figures, stuffed animals, and even Barbies. Why bow down to these things which are powerless and void of life itself? They are toys of fantasy and not reality. Never did I not know to differentiate between reality and fantasy in relation to toys. All TOYS ARE INFERIOR to the real things. When I pray and seek help or forgiveness, it is not to some toy. It is to my God.
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