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Pet Peeves: Just Words?

Example: Government leaders who say, “We have the right to defend our citizens.” Is it really a ‘right’? Or do they mean ‘responsibility’? Every government is obligated to defend its citizens from threats domestic or foreign. Should a government feel that they are incapable of such defense, they must resign and let someone else govern. Is it just words? Or is it wrong-headed?

Example: Rabbis who equivocate, “We believe G-d spoke to our ancestors at Mt. Sinai.” We believe? Who’s we? Believe? Do you or don’t you know? It’s been 3,000 years and you still don’t know? And you’re a rabbi!

Did G-d create the world – yes or no? You believe he did? Maybe you should take up knitting! Is it just words or does it reveal a lack of conviction – the conviction that every Jew should have?

Example: Teachers who say, “G-d wants your Mitzvahs but doesn’t need them.” Let me understand this: G-d wants what he doesn’t need? He’s too perfect to need but not too perfect to want?

He wants every Jew to keep kosher yet not every Jew does; is He still perfect? He creates the world with a purpose – an important purpose – yet whether this purpose is achieved doesn’t matter to Him?! He doesn’t need it?

G-d says “I am a jealous G-d” but He is not really jealous?! He says non-kosher animals are an abomination, but thier not His abomination?!

We call Him “Father and King” but He doesn’t need His children or Hispeople?! He doesn’t need Pharoah and the Egyptians to know Him – even as He gives that as His reason for ten plagues of human suffering?!

Wants. Needs. Is it just words or does it trivialize Him to claim that He demands what He does not need?

Example: Calling intimacy “Making love.” Does one ‘make’ love? Love is a feeling. Does one make feelings? Love means attraction. Does one make attraction? I know you can feel love; I don’t think you can makelove.

Love is a very nice feeling and is often apropos to important relationships. But how can you compare it to intimacy? Love is personal; intimacy is interpersonal. Love can’t be regulated; intimacy must be regulated. Love can’t turn ugly; intimacy can. Love can not produce a baby; intimacy can.

So calling intimacy ‘love’ is degrading and vulgar. It reduces the sacred to a feeling; the spouse to an object of one’s mood; the baby to an intruder on a personal experience. Is it just words or we losing sight of all that is holy.

Example: People say “I doubt that”. Often they really know nothing at all about the subject. So what is doubt? What’s wrong with saying, “I really don’t know?”

“Do you think there is life on Mars?” “Nah, I doubt it”. Is that supposed to mean that you know something about Mars that makes you doubt it would support any kind of life?

How old do you think the world is? Do you think the Torah is Divine? Who do you think wrote the Zohar? Are you not sure or are you sure you don’t know? Is it just words or do we have a hard time being honest?

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