Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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Religion Religion or Government Secular Religion?

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

The Torah, the Jewish bible, contains 613 mitzvot, or G-dly mandated actions or prohibitions.  Many of them are only applicable to a particular gender, such as for men to put on tefillin or for women to go to the mikvah.  Some are applicable only to a particular religious status, such as cohanim – the Jewish priestly clan – who may not enter a cemetery.  Some are applicable only to the Land of Israel, such as the laws of shemittah – leaving farm land fallow in the 7th year.  And some are applicable only to a particular time, such as not eating bread on the 7 days of Passover or not eating at all on Yom Kippur.

While the result is a large set of technical religious laws, the amount applicable to any particular day, moment, or person is a manageable livable set.  And since this is The Manufacturers Instructions, it’s what we do (if you believe in the Creator and consider it appropriate to follow His instructions).

Further, there are experts who study the set, to whom to turn and ask about application in various situations.  They master the full law set, though this takes 10-20 years of study.  We call them rabbis [4+ years of specific study], dayanim (religious judges) [10+ years of study], and gedolim (Torah leaders) [20 years to a lifetime of study].  The experts are dedicated to the cause, and rarely become wealthy from their involvement.

Failure to observe the actions or prohibitions may result in religious ostracization in this world, Heavenly judgement resulting in impact in this world, and jdugement in the next world.  Ignorance is a defense, and teshuvah (repentence) is a corrective path.

Some complain it’s large and unmanageable, but it’s those who look in from the outside – taking in the whole picture, who get that inaccurate impression of religious Judaism…………….


The U.S.A. Tax Code is 73,954 sheets of paper, over 7 times larger than the Torah.  That’s JUST the basic “Income Tax” section.  If you add in banking regulations, State and Local tax regulations, Sales Tax and Asset Tax regulations, it’s over 20 times larger than the Torah. 

It includes tens of thousands of mandated and prohibited actions.  They are applicable to every citizen of the U.S.A. as well as any registered resident of the U.S.A., wherever they may be in the world, as well as anyone within the borders of the U.S.A.  They apply every day of the year in every location at every time.

This results in tens of thousands of extremely technical monetary laws, with the amount applicable at any particular moment in the hundreds.  Any operation involving money or even the movement or transfer of ownership of any physical object or virtual item of value invokes untold numbers of such laws and associated regulations.  We follow a subset we somewhat understand because the boss is mean and capricious and has a history of arbitrary and seemingly random severe enforcement.

There are experts who study portions of the law, though it is beyond even the best experts to master even a 1/10th of the full set.  As one’s activities increase, one is required to engage more and more such experts to remain in minimal compliance.  The experts are dedicated to their profession, and the better ones often become relatively wealthy from their activity.

Failure to follow the actions or prohibitions may result in financial, legal, and criminal sanctions.  Items may be seized and people arrested.  Ignorance is no defense, and the corrective path may involve penalties so far out of balance with the crime that it leaves one destitute and permanently unable to recover. 

Everyone complains it’s unmanageable, but one is not given an option.  The only way to opt out is to die or leave the United States, gain foreign citizenship, and renounce U.S. citizenship – which will not be granted if it is believed the reason is to avoid paying. 

……….one system offers free will, the other does not.  The surprise for most is which is which.


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