Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Religious High Horse

One day when I was in the army and still religious, I got on a long bus ride to the north of the country to go back to my army base. I was very tired and fell asleep almost immediately listening to music on my disc-man (it was a long time ago). About an hour and a half into the ride, I was smacked awake by some crazy guy that was screaming at me, but I could not hear what he was saying. When I took off my headphones I heard him saying that I was a horrible person for not giving my seat up to an elderly person that had gotten on the bus. He than yelled "you should take off your kippa (traditional Jewish head covering worn by religious men) and be embarrassed".

Now, this screaming man was obviously nuts, because I was asleep and therefore did not know that there was an old man standing in the aisle. I remember at the time being very embarrassed and since my Hebrew was not that good yet, I could not even explain myself. But the guy kept yelling at me to "take off my kippa", even after I had stood up to give the old man my seat. I really did not understand what my kippa had to do with anything.

Fast forward to today. I was waiting for the light rail in Jerusalem. Standing next to my was a young ultra-orthodox guy (about 18-20 years old?) with a girl that I assume was his younger sister (15 or 16 years old?). They tried to buy a ticket from the ticket machine and it did not work. So he said to his sister, "lets just get on the train without a ticket. (Never mind that there was another ticket machine across the street that did work).  Worse case scenario and we get caught, they will just make us get off at the next stop". To the girls credit, she was very uncomfortable with the idea, but her brother insisted and she eventually agreed. Witnessing all this I thought to myself, "this guy is religious?!" And than I remembered what had happened to me, 8 years ago when I was in the army and I understood what the crazy guy was talking about when he kept telling me to take off my kippa. 

Obviously, all communities have their good and their bad people. But in Israel, many of the leaders and the most vocal members of the religious communities are constantly telling the secular community to "repent" and become religious. We are told that the secular life style is empty and without meaning. We are told that if we do not believe in a "god" that can see us at all times and judges us, we will eventually do immoral things. Proselytizers set up booths on main street corners trying to convince passerby's to pray. We are told it is good for our soul. 

With the religious community constantly telling us that we are bad, and that we should be more like them, when we in the secular "community" witness a religious person doing something bad, we jump on it. "This person thinks he is better than me, but here he is doing something bad". 

The point of this post is not to say, religious people are not as good as they claim or anything like that. As I wrote earlier, there are plenty of good and bad people from every kind of background. But the bottom line is that their are bad religious people. Religion does not make people good. So to all the "preachers" out there I would like to say, STOP preaching and telling all secular people to "repent". There are enough bad people that believe in god that you should question your "belief = good" formula. Get off your high horse, worry about yourself and leave me alone.


  1. What uncanny timing you have!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Well, I do not believe this soldier's religious beliefs are a part of this story, but I guess you never know. I am sure that if I looked hard enough, I could find someone that is justifying this religiously.

  2. Belief by itself does not make someone good. You have to live your life according to the beliefs as well. Since you grew up in an observant family, I assume you've heard of the term "chazzer fissel" - pig feet. The Talmud says that a pig sits with its feet sticking out because it has split hooves (one of the signs of a kosher animal). The pig does not have the internal signs, however. yet it puts its feet out to try and make people think it's kosher.

    My Rosh Yeshiva says many people are the same way. They wear their yarmulka, black hat, white shirt, and dark pants and say hey, look at me, I'm kosher. But internally, they don't have it. If you don't have both, it doesn't count for anything.

  3. Ami,
    I will begin by saying that I'm a grew fan of your blog.
    However, unfortunately it seems that you've completely reversed from being pro-religion to completely anti-religion AND religious people (possibly without even noticing it).
    I understand you've had difficulties, however just remember there are good Jews who do not feel the need to dress the part and do great things around the world, possibly something you have the right to be proud of I'm sure you're also proud of great atheists that have existed...
    As per your new post, moving away may not be a bad idea. You may learn that everything and everyone aren't as extreme as you think they are.
    All the best and Shabbat Shalom.

  4. Shloimi,

    Im glad you are a fan of my blog.
    I am anti-religion and I do not hide that. However, I am not anti-religious people. Many of my good friends are religious. I am against religious people claiming to have a monopoly on what is right/moral. I am against religious people trying to convince me to be religious. i do not go around trying to convince people to change their life style, whether I approve of their life style or not. I expect the same level of tolerance in return.

    As far as my plan to move, as I wrote I think it will do me a lot of good. But I do not think everyone is extreme. I never say everyone. I just write about those that are.

    Thanks for commenting :)