Jewish Atheist

An agnostic atheist perspective
from a once orthodox Jew.

Mr. President, Make Shrimp Illegal

With all that blathering about how the USA uses a “judeo-christian” moral system, this seems to be the only logical next step…. So, let’s get the ball rolling…

re: imperfect jewish world…


Well actually being Orthodox in theory means keeping Halacha but I’ll put that aside for now…

We are in agreement about certain points though. I think it is absolutely necessary to hold our leaders and rabbonim to a higher standard than the average person. I don’t follow leaders who display particularly abhorrent behavior. I also don’t think the majority of those identifying as ‘Orthodox’ do either

There are always going to be so-called ‘leaders’ who do things however I would question the amount of shomer-mitzvos Jews they are actually ‘leading’. A great thing about halacha is that there is a lot of room for different hashkafos in that box of rules. There are many different communities; who they listen to is their own business and responsibility.  

I would ask for specifics to what you refer but the point is moot. Obviously if a rabbi isn’t properly following the Torah including those laws under the “bein adom l’chavero” category, it’s silly to follow them.  I don’t believe though among ‘our’ gedolim however, that this particular horrific behavior exists. Otherwise they wouldn’t be gedolim. Obviously no one is perfect but if such stories exist they usually prove to be motzei shem ra, fabrications and/or gross exaggerations.  


Firstly, ever heard of a “naval birshus hatorah” - it’s an idea from the Ramban (I believe) which recognizes that people can follow halacha and still be complete asses.

Secondly, it sounds like your making a “no true scotsman" fallacy. It’s easy to say, "well, they’re not doing it right" or, "they’re a small number who don’t represent the whole." but that fails to recognize that orthodoxy is a tiny slice of the world’s jewry, and that tiny slice is truly broken into many smaller ones. you may consider one group kinda small and kooky, but they may just as well think the same of yours.

Thirdly, if the ways in which someone can interpret the torah and live an orthodox life vary that greatly, then what moral instructions is it giving? Sounds more like people basically interpret it to fit their needs and preconceived positions. So moral people will interpret it morally, and immoral people will interpret immorally. as such, it doesn’t seem to function well as a moral guide if you need to be moral in the first place to interpret it morally!

Lastly, one of my parents is a lawyer in the frum world, and both have been very active in the jewish community for several decades - and even though they’re religious, they readily agree with me bc they get to see a side of the frum world which many - particular the young and eager - don’t get to see. Even when I was super frum I had to accept the uncomfortable reality that there’s a lot of corruption throughout the system. (and, like in business, it’s often the most ruthless people who get to the top.) I know you’d rather consider it all fabrications or exaggerations, and I’m sure some of it is, but what does happen and is documented is often truly horrific enough itself.

Some examples: (and please tell me whether you consider these legitimate rabbis, or whether your legitimate rabbis are ok with this)

1) metzitzah b’peh (esp w/o providing any medical warnings to the parents)

2) stealing gov’t money with welfare so one can learn torah (e.g. the recent report on failed messiah, “93% Of Kiryas Joel On Medicaid Or Subsidized Health Insurance”)

3) covering up sexual abuse / abusing those who try to uncover it! (“Chabad Community Harasses, Ostracizes Child Sex Abuse Victim”)

4) hatred for lgbts… and basically anyone who doesn’t believe like they do. (e.g. “Senior Zionist Orthodox Rabbi: It Is Forbidden To Rent Apartments To Lesbian Couples”)

5) educational censorship for topics which aren’t “torahdic” e.g. science. (e.g. ” head of shas party forbids women from going to college.” or “"How Much Goyishe [Non-Jewish] History Do Our Children Actually Need To Know?"”)

those are just some examples off the top of my head and looking briefly at FM. The fact is, there are SOOOO many examples. When you’re in the frum world, you don’t usually hear about it bc people don’t want to  speak “loshon hara” or simply don’t want to get involved in politics, or bc they simply blindly follow their leader. But oh yeah, this shit happens all the time.

(Source: girloverhere)

Anonymous asked: In your most recent post, I liked the way you explained that the comparisons given were irrelevant because poetry isn't meant to make people sober while torah is meant to make people moral, good, kind etc.. However you could have gone further and offered better comparisons to Orthodox jews who are assholes or creeps. For example, someone who has been on a fitness program for their whole life but is unfit, or a doctor who kills every patient he is given.

lol, thanks anon, that’s true but I try not to pick on a group just bc of what a member does, so I focus on the leaders. but yeah, picking an immoral leader for moral guidance is about as dumb as picking a sociopathic sadist as a dentist.

But maybe it’s fair to point out, say, a university where most of the graduates are dumb as bricks - I mean, it’s gotta say something about the institution, right? Cause honestly, some of the most religious communities I know are often the most immoral and backward. I don’t blame those individuals, but the leaders and the system. It’s just fucked up.

Don’t Expect Frum People to be Angels Either. You won’t stop reading poetry just because half of your favorite poets were alcoholics. You wouldn’t drop out of med school if you found out too many doctors are egoists. So don’t abandon Yiddishkeit when you meet frum(orthodox) creeps. Yes I regretfully inform you they exist. You’ll discover every variety of horrendous human behavior somewhere in the frum world, and you’ll find a few ordinary flaws in everyone. You won’t get perfection or utopia anywhere. You won’t even get spirituality and common decency every single place you find a mezuzah. Torah is only a guideline. It’s not an all-powerful fully guaranteed bleach.

Friedman the Tutor, “How to Get Deeper into Torah, Without Going off the Deep End” (via girloverhere)

I want to point out that poetry isn’t supposed to effect alcohol consumption, and practicing medicine isn’t supposed to effect one’s egotism - but being orthodox is supposed to make someone not be a dick.

And it’s one thing to talk about a joe-shmoe (or ploni almoni) jew who is a jerk, but it’s a whole nother thing to talk about the rabbis - the leaders of this ‘moral’ system - who sometimes display horrific behavior.

Cause I could totally overlook a poet whose a drunk, and I’d probably still use a doctor even if he was egotistical - but I wouldn’t read a poet who was just not a good artist, nor would I use a doctor that’s just not very good at medicine, and I wouldn’t follow the moral instructions of a leader (or book) which quite obviously does not exhibit a proper moral behavior.

And if you don’t know what I mean by ‘rabbis without ethics’, just check out

(via bennistar)

tonight, having bbq dinner at my friend’s parents’ house, who I hardly know (btw, amazingly delicious pork ribs)….:

mom: what part of the cow is the “loin”?

friend: I think it’s like… the crotch part….

mom: the crotch? that can’t be right… it doesn’t have enough meat on it…

me: ***casually propping up my collar*** well maybe yours doesn’t….

I’m an awesome guest, lol

Jewish Atheism, a brief look at some of the prominent jewish atheists in western culture.

(also, this is the most of fiddler on the roof I’ve ever seen.)

Anonymous asked: Following up on the lying thing. What if we consider it in terms of the categorical imperative: lying is only okay if it would be okay for everyone to do all the time. Seems to me like that would create a lot of difficulties. Or does the morality of the lie depend on the context in which it's being told? Shabbat shalom.

I don’t think there is a categorical imperative for lying, and perhaps not for anything. (I think good arguments could be made for situations when even murder would be justifiable, if not moral.)

Not only that, I think using categorical thinking is kind of immature. It ignores the complexity of life, the grey area.


Anonymous asked: So I remember a while ago you posed a thing about how an immoral act is one that increases suffering or something to that effect. But what about lying? If one tells a lie that doesn't directly cause anyone harm, isn't it still immoral?

great example to choose. I don’t think lying is inherently immoral. it depends on the situation. sometimes lying is the moral thing to do. so it doesn’t really have to do with “lying” as much as the consequences and motivations for the lie.

(but please write back with specific examples if you’d like.)


I had one of those when I was a kid. I thought it was the coolest toy ever. I’d hide around corners and try pathetically to catch my siblings plotting or cursing, lol

I had one of those when I was a kid. I thought it was the coolest toy ever. I’d hide around corners and try pathetically to catch my siblings plotting or cursing, lol

(Source: clickholeofficial, via theonion)

Circumcision is Very Very Old



On the other hand, this could just be an ancient dick-measuring contest.

According to Open Culture, the above is a lovely color illustration of the oldest known depiction of dick decapitation, a bas relief discovered in Egypt (shown below). Apparently, the image dates back to 2400 B.C.E, which would predate the story of Abraham by only a few centuries.

Since Open Culture already did the research…

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I need a fucking great day. Been working so much lately, between my two jobs I’m working 6 days a week and only sleep in my own bed for 4 days a week. Really damn tough.

So I need a fucking great day. A trip to a park or the woods with a cute girl, hike around a bit, make out under a tree, get a bit high (at least I am; I love green. chills me out and makes me ‘thirsty’), have a picnic, fuck in the bushes… just a great fucking day =]