Appeasing my Shoes

Sometimes, there are things that really bother me about my religion. See, I think the Torah was essentially a system of laws. The stories matter only for their historical relevance (in asserting that the laws that were handed down have a place, and were appropriately handed down) and for the proposition that G-d is good, his wisdom absolute and that he chose us. If a story can also pass along a law (like Avraham and Bris Milah), then it’s doing double duty.

So here what I don’t like. When somehow, the religion and the rules that govern it are skewed out of proportion, and asserted as some sort of cosmic guide, relevant to things that seem overly mundane and ridiculous to be dealt with by a code of laws. For instance, I risk offending my shoes if, for whatever reason, I put the left one on before the right? Or heaven forbid they’re tied in the wrong order? What if I’m wearing loafers? Does the right shoe become sullen because he has no laces to be tied? Does it make everything OK for them if I take the shoes for a nice shine on my way to work?

Essentially, what I’m asking is, what the hell does the order of how I put my shoes on have to do with Torah Judaism? Why does the kitzur shulchan aruch even bother to deal with this? It seems like an awful waste of space, and worse yet, an adulteration and severe disrespect to the things the Torah does emphasize. (Not to mention having derived itself during a time when, for some reason, right was more important than left. Lefties were freaks. Somehow, of identical sides of a bilaterally symmetrical body, one became more important than the other. Huh?)

Moreoever, is there some cosmic significance to the order of how I cut my fingernails? Will I undo creation by cutting consecutive nails? Is this a lav for which I can get malkus? Why do respected rabbis and teachers even bother with this stuff?

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4 responses to “Appeasing my Shoes

  1. I think that it’s the feet that we are respecting not the shoes.

    I have heard that the right is first only if you are a righty (and the Kitzur assumed everyone was a righty b/c everyone was forced to be a righty back then) but if one is a lefty he reverses the prescribed order.

    I think the fingernails thing is an Ayin Hara thing b/c we cut them in order after someone dies.

    I agree that some of that stuff sometimes seems picky/minute/ridiculous (I still feel guilty when I don’t shampoo first b/c the Kitzur says to wash your head first when cleaning) but you can make that argument for much of Halacha. Why does God not care if one puts on a light at 6:32pm today, but you violate a tenet of our faith if you do so at 6:34pm? In our religion minutes and inches matter (Shechita) and the basics of hygiene and the order of getting dressed are regulated. BTW, we also smell spices and hold our curved hands up to a flame to end the Sabbath and in one week we will be blowing a ram’s horn in specified tones and two weeks after that we’ll be shaking a whole host of vegetation and walking in circles around our synagogues!!! Weird but we do it.

    Rob

  2. “I think the fingernails thing is an Ayin Hara thing b/c we cut them in order after someone dies.”

    We do a lot of things when someone dies. We cut their fingernails as part of the ritual; should living people never cut their nails? We don’t cut them in order because they’re dead, we cut them in order because to do otherwise would be assinine. So, instead, we bring the assinine out for the living?

    The details and minutae are important, when dealing with laws. Yes, G-d cares about two minutes of light because Shabbos is a law, and shabbos has set start and finish times. Just like any system of laws has the details (Murder 1, 2 or 3, l’havdil) so does the Torah law have important details.

    However, the USCA (Unites States Code, Annotated) does not tell me how to tie my shoes or cut my nails, or in what order to soap my body. Why do later achronim (let’s be clear here, the kitzur shulchan aruch is not torah m’sinai) insist that the Torah does also?

    Yes, we’ll blow shofar and take the Arba Minim. But that’s not minutae or details. Those are laws. De’oraita laws. Certainly, one can take issue with some of the rituals we have, but that’s not the point of the post. I was taking issue with things that are not laws, and have no place in a code of laws, being injected into it.

  3. “(let’s be clear here, the kitzur shulchan aruch is not torah m’sinai)”

    Then what is it? Where does Torah Shel Baal Peh end and commentary begin? Do you know?

    “The stories matter only for their historical relevance…”

    I feel like this borders on apikorsus, but I am not an expert. I do remember being taught the ‘stories’ are a great deal more than just that. Yes, they place our history and give credence to the Torah. But, along with depths I may never know, they teach us a code of life, a way of living, or put simply derech eretz. And although it makes no sense to you, perhaps that is what the kitzur is addressing?

  4. Noam, I just wanted to apologize in public, reading over my last post, I think I used language that was a bit too strong.
    I do stand by the content of what I said, it being my understanding of the written and oral Torah.

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