There are a few things that bother me about religion. I don’t like how it fosters a sheep-like mentality, and discourages critical thought. Sure, you can have thoughts about how some of the things people do are insane and make no sense, even in the context of religion, just as long as you don’t come to any conclusions that are different than what we’ve been doing for thousands of years.
OK, so you want an example. Fine. Yom Tov Sheini shel Galuyot. This whole thing is a fiasco of thought from top to bottom. For my non-jewish readers, a quick explanation. Holidays are determined by the lunar calendar. In days of antiquity, the beginning of every month was decided by testimony by two people that they’ve seen the new moon. Once that was accomplished, the Rabbi’s declared the new month, and everyone knew that 15 days from today was Passover. Except for the people who didn’t live within shouting distance. So an intricate sysem was set up of lighting fires on mountaintops to signal the new moon (because the new moon could only be declared in Jerusalem), and tell the people who were living in Babylon at hte time. (This system was made into a very cool sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, to signal that war was starting). So now, pretend you’re living in Babylon, and you see a fire and you think “Woo Hoo, New Moon.” And then the idiot next to you screws things up and says, “yeah, but did they light that fire today or yesterday?” And so now Passover is either 14 or 15 days from today, and you just don’t know. So in 14 days you make passover, have a seder and do the whole thing. And then you do it ALL OVER AGAIN on the 15th day, just to be sure. And then a rule develops. In Israel, where there’s no problem of dates, you keep 1 day of holidays. But everywhere outside of Israel, you keep two.
Fast Forward a few hundred years (we’re not at modern times yet). Hillel, a very smart dude, figures out some lunar movement, does some math, and makes a calendar. Sets the date and time for every new moon (down to the second), and therefore the date for every holiday. With precision. So the whole fire-on-the-hill-is-a-day-late problem is not a problem anymore. So what do we do? Keep doing the two day thing. Why (this is where it gets logically dicey)? Because that’s what our fathers did. Never mind that your father didn’t know a calendar from a cave scratching, this is what he did, so you do it too.
Fast forward a couple of thousand years to the present day. Now, travel is easy. People live in America, do two days of holiday their whole life, then decide to Jet to Israel for Passover one year. What do they do? Well, letting them do the custom of the place their in, because there NEVER WAS a problem of two days in Israel, isn’t acceptable, because Judaism has to be a pain in the ass (I think that’s in Leviticus somewhere). So you make them keep two, because that’s what they’ve been doing in America. But this frustrates some rich Americans. So now the Rabbi’s come up with 1 1/2 days. Which is even more retarded than it sounds. Because it’s not like, until 3 pm and stop. It’s this thing you can’t do, this thing you can. Don’t do any work, like Passover, but don’t make a seder, because it’s not really Passover. Just retarded. Either it is, or it isn’t.
So now you have four different families in the same hotel doing four different things for the same religion and the same holiday. I mean, if Boy meets Girl in this hotel over this holiday, it’s practicaly intermarriage. Well, not really, because Girl would just forget her traditions, and take Boy’s. There’s always some male dominance to smooth things over.
Now, to make a long blog post longer, the reason I really wanted to make this point. The phenomenon of “L’Ma’an Teeezzzzzzzkeru.” What is this all about? You have to say out and loud and stress the Z there, because, you know, G-d may think you are saying “so that you should rent” instead of “so that you should remember” during Shema, because, Shema is nothing if not an economic set of guidelines, right? I mean, really? G-d wrote this stuff. We say it every day a bunch of times. He knows the script. He’s not stupid. If you don’t emphasize the “Z”, you think he gets fooled? So then why don’t we emphasize EVERY “z” everywhere? I mean, during Shemoneh Esreh we’re supposed to say everything quietly, so that nobody else can hear (because at that point of the tefillah, G-d can hear whispers. Just not during Shema). Well, because that would be stupid. Oh, I see. And this one random time isn’t stupid at all.