Originally Published: August 16, 2002 3 p.m.
My thanks to the people who take the time to write letters expressing their thoughts about my columns – even the critical ones.
Len Beiser responded to some of my comments about the mitzvot commandments (those in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament). He knows much more about the Torah than I do. I didn't know that the 613 commandments comprised 248 "Do's" and 365 "Do not's."
I just know the Torah contains a lot of them, and people ignore most of them.
Somehow I gave Mr. Beiser the impression that someone appointed me to determine which commandments apply today and which do not. Sorry about that because I feel exactly the opposite. Each person should decide for himself.
The point that I tried to make is that all of us pick and choose which scripture to obey. Actually, most of us don't even know what most of the Torah commandments say, so we may disobey out of ignorance. What bugs me is that many people say that everything in the Bible is God's Word and we should obey it, and then they ignore what they don't like.
This is interesting because it reveals a lot about how we think about religion.
I contend that much of the Bible doesn't even apply to us today. Let's look at some samples.
One of my favorite commandments says that a newlywed husband shall not work for one full year, but shall stay home and keep his bride happy. (Deut. 24: 5) Wonderful! How many of you husbands did that?
If you find that your bride is not a virgin, the elders shall take her back to her father's house and stone her to death. (Deut. 22: 20-21)
If your son is disobedient, the men shall stone him to death also. (Deut. 21: 20-21)
Death is the prescribed penalty for cursing a parent, committing adultery, having sex with a sister or a daughter-in-law, and many other things.
A menstruating woman is unclean. You cannot touch her or use a seat that she has used. (Lev. 15: 19-24) Today, is there a church anywhere in this country which segregates menstruating women?
Slavery is OK – you can sell your daughter as a slave (Exodus 21: 7), but you cannot sell land because it belongs to God. (Lev. 25:23)
Are you getting the idea? Do you still believe that we have to comply with every commandment because it is God's word?
Before you answer, read Deuteronomy 28:15-68. It says that we must comply with every commandment – or else. The "or else" is worse than a horror movie. Read it if you have a strong stomach.
Some say that the New Testament teachings superseded the Torah. OK, suit yourself, but remember that what we call The Ten Commandments are 10 of the 613. What shall we do with those 10 – other than post them at the courthouse?
Isn't religion interesting?
I get a kick out of Donald Davitt's letters. Last week he wrote a rebuttal to one of my columns and used the words "pathetic", "clueless," "stumble and bumble" in just the first sentence. The expressions "blah, blah, blah" and "rail away" came later.
He didn't contest my basic argument – the fact that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the Declaration of Independence say anything about the United States being a Christian nation, and the Constitution is the foundation upon which our nation exists. It's tough to argue against facts.
But some people resort to insults and ridicule when they don't have facts and logic on their side. Mr. Davitt's letters nearly always include insults or ridicule, so I'm happy that he's on the other side.
The readers get to decide what is "blah, blah, blah."