Thursday, April 03, 2008

Let Them Have It

I was reading Newsday this afternoon, and this article caught my attention.

A synagogue in Westhampton Beach on the east end of Long Island is seeking permission to construct an eruv.

Morris Tuchman, the synagogue's president, formally requested permission from the village last month to erect the eruv, which creates an area within which Orthodox Jews can push or carry things without breaking religious law that bans work on the Sabbath outside of one's home.

"We have more and more traditional families that have moved to Westhampton Beach," Schneier said. "According to Jewish law, one can carry items outdoors on the Sabbath only when the act occurs within a proper enclosure. We have a number of younger traditional families who are not able to wheel their babies to services on Saturday morning."

Of course, as an atheist, I think Sabbath laws are stupid. Imposing such onerous hardships on oneself to appease a non-existent deity is bizarre. However, judging from what I read in the article, it does not seem to be much in the way of an imposition on the town.

An eruv usually is made by putting wooden or plastic sticks on utility poles, sometimes with string or cord connecting the poles. In Westhampton Beach, however, thin plastic poles would be placed just beneath the lowest wire on existing utility poles at the boundaries of the eruv. The utility wires would constitute the symbolic fence.

The town will likely grant the request, and as irrational as it seems to me, I say, let them have it.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Religion:
When Changing a Silly Rule is Simply Not An Option.

tina FCD said...

Weird.

Andrea said...

They can't put their babies in strollers? Huh?

Reminds me of a funny quote from Reverend Lovejoy, on the Bible: "Have you ever read this thing? Technically we're not allowed to go to the bathroom."

Lew Scannon said...

Maybe God owns stock in construction contractors. After all, Jesus was a carpenter, right?

bullet said...

I agree, as long as it doesn't cost the city anything and isn't inherently dangerous, I don't ssee the harm in accomodating their ritual, regardless of how silly it is.

Stardust said...

Why can't they just adapt like the Amish? The Amish don't get special traffic lanes etc for their horse and buggies and have to abide by traffic laws for slow-moving vehicles. I say if we let them have their eruv, then some other religious group will want special accomdations and then another, and then another. It's getting crazy with loudspeakers calling people to prayers five times a day, church bells chiming and playing religious tunes for the entire neighborhoods to hear, special pathways to walk, it's nuttiness all around us. Why should we want to encourage that?

Tommy said...

I think sometimes it is better to bend just a little bit than be rigid and inflexible all the time.

Lucian said...

"Have you ever read this thing? Technically we're not allowed to go to the bathroom."

I know the episode: it's when Marge and Homer are having a rough time and are thinking of getting separated and having a divorce.