Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I Never Did Mind About the Little Things
Apparently, you can't drink beer on Passover.
(Yeast, you know.)
Somebody at work asked me the other day whether or not Jews can drink beer on Passover. The question presupposed a couple things-- one, that I'm Jewish. Anybody who's not blind or stupid or both knows that just by looking at me, so there you go. It also presumes that I drink, and generally speaking, people who suppose this about me suppose that "everybody" drinks, so why shouldn't I?
And, really, why shouldn't I? I mean, I don't-- but there isn't really any reason why I shouldn't. No family history of alcoholism, no history of mental illness that would be exasperated by the presence of alcohol, no past traumatic experiences involving drink-- etcetera etcetera.
At any rate, I don't drink. Why? Probably because I'm holding onto my complete and total sobriety-- not even like a security blanket, but as a quirk. Something that makes me different from you. Something uncanny to remark on during a first date-- not that I'll ever have one of those again.
The question about beer on Passover also supposes something else about me-- not just that I'm Jewish, but that I have sufficient knowledge about and/or interest in the intricacies of Passover and its do-and-do-nots such that I would be able to rattle off an answer that would satisfy the innocent interoffice interrogator on the subject of barley and/or hops during the Passover holiday.
Friend, I do not possess the knowledge or the interest. I don't care. Eat pepperoni-filled garlic knots dipped in motor oil on Passover for all I give a damn. Chew panko-encrusted shards of broken glass. Please, just leave me alone.
I feel like I'm never going to stop writing about it. It's like the girl you're in love with in high school that your brain can't ever let you stop thinking about. It's the pimple inside your nose. It's the goddamn tiddlit of broccoli stuck between your teeth in the back of your mouth-- your fucking miserable tongue just CAN'T STOP PLAYING WITH IT!
I don't know of another religion that is as obsessed with minutia, that loves detail, that wants nothing more than to separate and segregate until the end of time. When I think about Judaism, I picture a matryoshka doll. You know what I'm talking about. If anybody you know has ever been to Russia, that's what they brought back for you as a gift-- because, what the fuck else would they bring back for you-- a turnip with a beard?
Anyway, Judaism is like a matryoshka doll in that, when you look at it in a superficial way (the way lots of people look at things because, hey; who has the time?) it looks like a nice, painted wooden doll. Okay. However, the more you get into Judaism, the more you delve into its history and its ethics and, much more than that-- its thousands and thousands of covenants and rules and regulations, the dolls and the details get smaller and smaller and smaller until they're impossibly small-- until you can't possibly fathom how these crazy little dolls were once living so peacefully and so quietly inside of this big doll.
Can I turn on water in a hotel on Shabbat if less than 50% of the guests are non-Jews? This is a "legitimate" question one of my wife's friends asked once upon a time. Are you fucking kidding me? What does God want you to do-- go to the front desk and check all the last names on the register? Pull down all the pants of the guys staying in all the rooms to scope out their dicks for mushroom caps? Another real question: if a woman is pregnant, and she goes into labor on Shabbat-- can she call an ambulance if the EMTs are non-Jews-- oh, wait-- somebody has to call for her-- a non-Jew, because she can't use the phone on Shabbat. What if the EMT in the back of the ambulance with her is Jewish-- the goy has to drive. But, wait? Isn't it against Jewish custom for a Jew to work on Shabbat-- so an observant Jewish EMT won't work on Shabbat anyway.
Phew! Well, that solves that part of the equation.
It's maddening and it's madness. And we're just talking about the tip of the iceberg (Goldberg? Sorry.) here. The dolls just keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller as the knowledge goes further and further. And all I can say is: not interested. Leave me out of it. This craziness can have its fans and its fanatics, but I will not be one of them. Are we going to raise our children to be Jewish? Sure we are. Are we going to encourage this banana-pants dissection of a faith that originated before shabbat elevators and ambulances and running water-- fuck, no. Because I never did mind about the little things-- and I hope to hell my children don't either.