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Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:01 AM

Rabbi Yosef Goldman on recent Supreme Court decision


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In Jewish law, religious freedom in a global pandemic is the freedom from any other relevant obligation if a life would be risked in its fulfillment. In fact, protecting the lives of the living becomes the obligation. What the Supreme Court is protecting is not religious freedom.


The source for this principle is Leviticus 18:5: וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֤ם אֶת־חֻקֹּתַי֙ וְאֶת־מִשְׁפָּטַ֔י אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם הָאָדָ֖ם וָחַ֣י בָּהֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י ה׳׃
‏You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which man shall live:

The rabbinic interpretation of the verse, found in the Talmud is “that you shall live by them,” and not die by them.
2/5


The Babylonian Talmud (Tractate Yoma 85b) states that one must even desecrate the holy Sabbath if it means that one will be able to sanctify many more as a result. sefaria.org/Yoma_85b.3 3/5


For a good introduction to this concept of when the law is superceded to preserve life—referred to as Pikuach Nefesh, laws for when a life is at risk—see this introductory article from @jewlearn myjewishlearning.com/article/saving…





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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:06 AM

1. Boom. And there it is.

Last edited Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:36 AM - Edit history (1)

Thanks for sharing this octoberlib.

❤ lmsp

ETA From the thread, this nugget...

We are in the middle of a massive pandemic for crying out loud! Limiting large indoor gatherings when that is a proven disease vector is a good public health idea, not some shady attack on religion.




And here's the unroll




Hello, please find the unroll here: @yosgold: In Jewish law, religious freedom in a global pandemic is the freedom from any other relevant obligation if a… https://t.co/ek08i0FtH2 See you soon. 🤖

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Response to littlemissmartypants (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 09:51 PM

15. And here is the problem with the modern Christian mentality prevalent in SCOTUS

Mental Splitting--a DSM-IV psych issue. Strong Christians use it to resolve 300 biblical errors.

The impact on Christianity was exacerbated after the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, where many different churches got together and affirmed that the Bible is without Error. Previously, the position was that the Bible was divinely inspired by God and written by fallible man, which could explain away the over 300 errors in it, but once that meeting in the late 70s occurred, churches started pushing that the Bible is without error.

The intelligentsia of the churches and Christian colleges protested and were forced to either adopt this sham or resign. As such, most left their positions in protest. This created a brain drain and opened the door for a bunch of uneducated religious hacks to fill the voids. Church leaders began to fabricate backstories that never existed to build false narratives of why these errors exist.

Church congregants also know of the many errors in the Bible and this is what causes the mental conflict. Akin to I know this is wrong, but to be a devout evangelical I must believe the stories I'm being told. This also grooms the congregants to accept other false information and adopt it as true.

This makes these churchgoers pliable to charismatic leaders and easy to manipulate.

.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:34 AM

2. Thank you X 1000

The real problem is fundamentalists so blinded by their own self-righteousness that they can’t see the suffering humanity in front of their eyes. Sadly, there are fundamentalists in every religion — but they are far from being the whole.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:57 AM

3. The same should be said for the congregation(s) bringing the case.

They should know better.

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 04:58 AM

4. The Rabbi, like pretty much every other observation I've read, gets the decision wrong.

Last edited Sat Nov 28, 2020, 05:46 AM - Edit history (1)

The opinion, and every single justice who separately concurred in it, signaled - in no uncertain terms - that religious entities/events are not exempt from generally applicable restrictions enacted to prevent the spead of COVID 19.

What 7 of the 9 justices said was that, if the question was before them, orders that expressly target religious events for harsher restrictions than secular events would almost certainly be found unconstitutional. That's Con Law 101. It is not a hard question - and it is a matter of protecting religious freedom. Even the two justices who didn't agree as to that likely outcome disagreed because they believe the rules favor religious events (which also creates a first amendment issue, should secular entities choose to raise it).

But the BIG thing that everyone seems to miss is in the first paragraph of Justice Kavanaugh's concurrence:

Importantly, the Court’s orders today are not final decisions on the merits. Instead, the Court simply grants temporary injunctive relief until the Court of Appeals in December, and then this Court as appropriate, can more fully consider the merits.


I agree with the dissent that the court should have restrained itself, and not issued an injunction. But I agree with 7 of the 9 justices who suggested that Cuomo needs to go back to the drawing board and write rules that target risky behavior, not religious events. If the rules restrict risky behavior (regardless of who engages in it), those rules will be as enforceable against religious entities/events as they are against secular entities/events.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 05:04 AM

5. Good, 'write rules that target risky behavior, not religios events.

If the rules restrict risky behavior (regardless of who engages in it), those rules will be as enforceable against religious entities/events as they are against secular entities/events.'

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 05:21 AM

6. Thanks for the post. Explains things really well.

This is the DU member formerly known as octoberlib.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #4)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 08:01 AM

11. I think the rabbi is not speaking to the decision

but rather to those sects that wish to argue that their religious freedom allows them to congregate in large numbers for weddings or daily religious services or other (for them) obligatory functions.

Indeed every Jew (from the most Reformed and progressive to the most ultra Orthodox), once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) listens to the Kol Nidre prayer sung at the outset of the services. It’s an ancient prayer that asks G-d to release you from any external oaths or vows you might have to take in the coming year—vows that might run counter to the religious ones to which you are obligated.

This is thought to have originated in the 15th century, when Spanish Jews had to convert to Christianity during the Inquisition or be subjected to certain death. So too, should every Jew, including the Hasidic ones in New York State, make a vow to “choose life”—another important concept stressed on Yom Kippur—by following the directives of the governor to refrain from public gatherings that might compromise one’s life or the life of the community.

The rabbi is speaking to those resistant Jews, not to the Supreme Court.

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Response to Ms. Toad (Reply #4)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 09:42 PM

14. The decision sounds less terrible now that you describe it that way...

...but this "temporary injunctive relief" comes at the very worst time for the spread of the virus.

I'm not sure in which details religious events were under harsher restrictions, but if the temporary injunction means that, until the next hearing, religious events are under no restrictions whatsoever, rather than some temporary less-harsh restrictions, a lot of damage is going to be done.

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Response to Silent3 (Reply #14)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 09:56 PM

16. Except that the churches got the injunction for two rules that don't even currently apply to them.

They are in yellow zones - and are subject to the same restrictions as everyone else in the yellow zone. It is only in the orange and red zones that the injunction has any meaning.

And the solution is for Cuomo to revise and reissue the orders so that they don't single out religious entities. If the orders being challenged aren't the governing orders, the case goes away as moot - AND - if the churches object to the new orders they would have to bring another case.

(As for putting in place temporary less-harsh restrictions - that is beyond the power of the court - they don't get to make up the rules, only evaluate whether they are constitutional.)

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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 05:28 AM

7. Religions are more about money than protecting lives

They are having a hard time financially so they would rather have someone to pass the collection plate then worry about them dying.

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Response to mdbl (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 05:30 AM

8. This is definitely true of Christian religions.

I have no idea if Orthodox Jews pass around a collection plate.
This is the DU member formerly known as octoberlib.

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Response to mdbl (Reply #7)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 07:32 AM

10. Although churches still pass around

a collection plate, most of their money donations these days come from people's credit or debit cards in pledges to give x amount per month or per year.

It's tempting to think that those donations from parishioners are money scams to fleece the gullible, especially if you oppose religion. But, in reality, that's not universally true. There are scam artists in religion as in other fields of life. The Bakers, Falwells, and Oral Roberts come to mind.

But for mainstream churches (the only kinds of churches that I am familiar with), donations and pledges are used in a number of ways. Some funds cover utilities and maintenance of the building and grounds, and salaries for employees. Some go to support church activities like operating day care centers, nursing homes, food banks, disaster relief, and material, psychological, and legal assistance to immigrants and refugees.

Churches are not just open on Sundays for services, but throughout the week. They are used by many organizations for meeting places, like AA, Alanon, NarcAnon, and various charities to discuss community needs and merge efforts. Some have mission committees that seek out community services to contribute to, without proselytizing.

They have kitchens to prepare food for fund-raising dinners, and to give out food to people in need. Churches also provide space for youth groups to meet for community service activities or for socializing among themselves and discussing issues that they deal with.

My church is an old building in an old central part of town that was once affluent but now has many rental properties and low income residents. The membership ranges from poor to middle class to well off. In summer heat waves, the doors are opened to people in the neighborhood who lack air-conditioning. In winter, they collect hats, gloves, etc. (home made or newly purchased) to distribute. They are currently offering Zoom meetings on anti-racist documentaries and discussions, coordinated with Black clergy.

These things cost money and are paid for with regular contributions, one time donations, grants from foundations, etc.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #10)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 05:21 PM

12. It's good some of them serve a worthwhile function in society

but to me most of them are dogmatic belief systems and they have become counter-productive to society as a whole by their illegal participation in our political system. Hats off to those who try and follow the teachings of Jesus and really function that way in their communities. As a former Catholic, though, I got really sick of the church trying to tell me who to vote for and how to live every detail of my life while avoiding taxes. For many years they seemed to have some common sense which to me has all but disappeared. They will let their flocks turn into weird trump supporters as long as the donations keep coming in.

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Response to mdbl (Reply #12)

Sun Nov 29, 2020, 09:30 PM

13. The activities that I described

are typical of several denominations, e.g. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and several Methodist and Baptist churches, as well as some smaller, lesser known denominations, and many predominantly African American churches. That's an awful lot of churches all across the country. Millions of people.

I grew up among Catholics and have seen the things that you mention. But they still operate Catholic charities, hospitals, universities, and immigration services. They are losing money and members due to the sex scandal and their political positions. There are former Catholics in my church who left over being told to vote for anti choice candidates. My church's position on abortion is that it is a serious decision between a woman, her doctor, and her conscience.

There is a divide in Christian churches on social issues as in the rest of society. The evangelical fundies are the loudest, most political, and get the most attention. But in most mainstream churches there are no hellfire and damnation sermons about or exclusions of LGBT people, abortion, feminism, welfare queens, etc. They emphasize Christian principles of love and acceptance. They oppose the merging of religion and government. They challenge people to examine prejudices and eliminate them.

I am not selling religion to people who don't want it. I am just tired of sweeping generalizations that lump everyone together without knowing what is really happening in many churches. Most often the generalizations come from people whose negative experiences turned them off. I don't discount their experiences. But I disagree with sweeping generalizations based on them.

I respect people who simply can't accept, on a rational basis, the theology and tenets of a religion. I've had enough history, anthropology, and comparative religion courses to not take religion on a literal basis, and to understand both the positive and negative roles of religion in a society. For me, religion offers a framework for values expressed in traditions and stories whether or not the stories are literally or historically true. I look at the context of time and place to know where they are coming from and what they are saying.

I don't reject all of religion because of some of its history any more than I would reject the Democratic party because of Southern Democrats during Reconstruction, or because of some members like Senator Robert Byrd. I look at what the party is and does today.







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Response to octoberlib (Original post)

Sat Nov 28, 2020, 06:05 AM

9. That quote about religion being "the opiate of the people" comes to mind.

Sigh...

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