Another Nail in the Coffin of Religious Orthodoxy

Too hot for a shtreimel today?

Mel Konner, whether you agree with him all the time or not (and you shouldn’t–not because he’s wrong but because you should never agree with anyone all the time), has a provocative and snarky post on some recent Orthodox Jewish criminals, whom he likens to the Sopranos. Now, I hope none of us have illusions that ankle-length black coats and  shtreimels in August automatically make you an ethical bloke, but trafficking in human organs is pretty low. I suppose when evolutionary psychologists claim that all of us have a murderer hidden in our genes they aren’t joking. And neither is Mel.

When you’re a stickler for the fence (no, not that kind of fence) around the Torah, when you shout Shabbes! Shabbes! at every little kid who rides a scooter into your neighborhood, when you yell at your wife that she might miss the candle-lighting time by a second, when even glatt kosher isn’t really good enough—well, haven’t you stored up so many points with the Almighty that you can ignore little mitzvahs like Thou shalt not steal?

The Other Cairo Speech

Mel Konner has a provocative post in which he writes the speech he wishes Obama had delivered in Cairo last month. He prefaces it with a lengthy criticism of Obama’s actual speech, in which he makes some salient points. He stresses that Obama “bowed too low”, just as he had to the Saudi king and Hugo Chavez. He may have a point, and I hope Obama read it. Being the good guy is great, but the world cannot risk an American president who appears weak. Ever.

So here’s my crack at the other Cairo speech, the one I believe many people heard in place of what Obama actually said. It begins like this:

Fellow Muslims…”