Jewish Law, U.S. Law? (Guest Post)

5 Sep

So even though Jews have a special connection of their own, we’re all different, right?! And you can probably say that each one of us can’t be any more unique as when it comes to the way we practice our religion. Today, I see many Jews picking and choosing what works for them in practicing their religion. Jewish-established views and laws are either well-accepted as traditions, simply rejected as “no-go’s” or most popular these days, they are tailored as a custom fit to one’s lifestyle.

Finding this topic really juicy (although I must admit, I’m not one whom usually refers to Torah portions) last week’s Torah portion, Ki Tetzeh, explains a great bulk of 74 out of the 613 Mitzvot. As all you wise guys and smart gals might already have known, these Mitzvot brush up on many aspects of life and definitely receive varied responses depending on one’s view pertaining to Jewish law.

In my usual attempt to keep thoughts stirred up and fascinating, I pulled together five different mitzvot from Ki Tetzeh which exhibit the greatest variety. Now I’m asking you to picture American life (no paint brushes required) if the following five Mitzvot were turned into U.S. Government Law!

1. You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
2. If you have a rebellious son who does not obey his parents after he’s been punished, he can be taken out to the elders of his city to be stoned to death to clear the evil among you.
3. A man’s attire shall not be on a woman nor may a man wear a woman’s garment.
4. If a man is found lying with a married woman, both of them should die.
5. When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you desire, until you are sated, but you shall not take any with you.

I am curious to know your thoughts! So chat away and establish your opinion:
~What would life be like in America if these laws were strictly enforced upon
EVERYBODY in this country?
~What would work and what wouldn’t work for your life?
~Are these laws suitable for every citizen in this country?

Roy Schneider is the Joseph J. Edlin Journalism Intern at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. He is pursuing a degree in Communications with a focus in Public Relations.

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2 Responses to “Jewish Law, U.S. Law? (Guest Post)”

  1. Amy F. Weinberger September 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Well – first – Roy – I can so totally hear your voice in your writing. I feel like I am having the conversation with you. So, now my thoughts are your proposition. As a mom, number 2 is a bit harsh, but I suppose it can be interpreted a little more loosely – like maybe the death part could be revamped. Number 3 is completely unacceptable – I love wearing my husband’s sweatshirt although the same is not true for him. In all seriousness, I don’t like this commandment at all. Number 4 – I am not in someone’s situation regarding this – I don’t condone the behavior, but I am not one to judge this one. Five is interesting and worth a conversation. Now I feel a little awkward about taking my neighbor’s oranges each season even though he invites us too, which I suppose, is the exception.

    Seems like you had a grand time putting this together. Thank you for your enlightened words and sharing. That is the coolest part – the sharing!

  2. Fanny Goldberg September 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    This is a great question. Much of our country’s laws are based on the bible/Jewish values/”Judeo-Christian” values/however you want to look at it, but clearly some of the more antiquated laws were left out, such as these five. Our American founding fathers picked and chose from the bible what they wanted to found the country upon, leaving many laws out for obvious reasons. Clearly, separation of church and state is necessary. However, there are those in this country that attempt to support their political beliefs with religious text. To me it seems just as absurd for someone to use the bible as justification to deny same-sex couples equal rights as it would be for someone to use the bible as justification for stoning his or her child to death for disobedience. The bible and the ten commandments in particular are the foundation for the ethics and morals upon which we have based our society, but perhaps that is where we should draw the line.

    As for #4, I can’t help but wonder if people would remain more faithful if the punishment for adultery was death to both parties…

    I find it interesting that #1, #3, and #5 state prohibitions but not punishments as #2 and #4 do. Any thoughts?

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