December 18, 2013

G-d is not nice

The G-d of the Holocaust and pogroms.
The G-d who commanded us to exterminate Amalek’s children because their remote ancestors attacked Jews in Sinai.
The G-d who demanded thousands of slaughtered animals on his holidays.
The G-d who commanded us to kill our fellow Jews over their private sexual habits. 
Is it not a decent human being’s obligation to rebel against such a G-d, to refuse him our “power of consent,” however futile the gesture?

For Christians, the answer is simple. Their religion is narrowed down to ethics, beautiful because of its fuzziness, like post-impressionism. Among its founder’s pronouncements, one may only disagree with the apocalyptic visions of righteous people herding their family members into eternal damnation. The possibility is rather remote. Rabbinical Judaism went much the same way, excising the harsh commandments from practical halacha.

Christians have yet another reason to submit to divine whims: salvation. That shameful doctrine has entered the sectarian Judaism of Essenes and Pharisees to the vehement opposition of the Temple priests, the Sadducees. The Torah does not know resurrection, only eternal sleep in Sheol. Prophets—disregarded completely by the priests as folk tales—hint at resurrection. But the doctrine of eternal punishment and paradise blossomed in the later literature for the very same reason it has entered Christianity: to attract the flock.

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