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The New Idolatry, and Why Society Can’t Do Anything About It

November 14, 2013

Almost 2,000 years ago in ancient Palestine, there lived a Jewish man whose religious and spiritual views were not exactly in accord with those of his peers and contemporaries. Said Jewish man features prominently in many aggadic passages of the Talmud, and is known to have gained his greatest fame after being hounded by the occupying Romans. His birthday, the anniversary of his death, and the anniversary of “the day he left the cave” are now celebrated as holidays by his followers. Many years after his death, those seeking to spread the word of his teachings wrote up a whole new compilation of scriptures, in addition to the original Hebrew Bible, where in they ascribed new superpowers and teachings to him, even though it is widely acknowledged by objective scholars that those writings could not have had anything to do with the actual man in question. Today, there is a whole religion dedicated to beseeching this dead Jewish man, as his followers believe that they can only entreat G-d via this man. I am, of course, referring to…  Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai, and it is extremely unfortunate that we have lived to see yet another Christianity be born unto us. If you have not seen it already, just keep your eyes open.

Why is there nothing to do about it?

Because long ago, our allegedly Orthodox clergy gave up on trying to denounce outright idolatrous practices among well-intentioned Jews. This explains everything from segulas to kapparos to running cover for pedophiles. If only these Rashbi worshippers also believed in women’s prayer groups. Then they would be met with some vocal and prominent opposition.


From → halacha, original

  1. I have to agree. I’m wondering if I could push this a little farther, and suggest a couple more problematic focal points: 1) Chabbad messianism and 2) Na Nah Nuts.

    I’m not sure which is more problematic. The first is actually backed by more than a handful Torah scholars, albeit I’m not sure how scholarly they are, if they maneuver everything to fit neatly into their hashqafah.

    The latter is very much about getting high (perhaps in more ways than one), and if a halacha or mishnah is mentioned it is ignored, or if Rabbi Nachman is quoted, then it is obviously taken out of context. Even when the older generation of Na Nach’s quote Rav Yisrael Odesser, they are not taken seriously unless it fits what they already want to think and do. For example, R’ Odesser said not to go to Uman on Rosh HaShannah, rather go to Jerusalem. I don’t know too many to believe this or care.

    Also, we have seen Christian missionaries use the “Rebbe is Mashiah” strategy, learned from a Chabbad town, in order to gain the favor of Jews.

    Are you sure there’s nothing we can do about any of this?

    BTW, the Rashb”i didn’t even die on Lag b’Omer. :-/

    • What matters is that rashbi’s worshipper’s believe he died on Lag LA-Omer, just like Jebus’s worshipper’s believe he died on Passover.

  2. Moshe permalink

    Some may be encouraged to ask the same of Purim and Chanuka (perhaps mostly Chanuka). Nevertheless, Rashbi did not start a whole new religion nor did he abandon the practices and traditions of his predecessors.
    So calm down, enjoy the kids happiness, and have a hotdog, a potatoe and smores.

    • Tell that to my neighbors, whose house nearly burned down an hour ago, or the people in Ramot, who were evacuated today from a forest fire. I also do not see the connection to Hanukka and Purim.

  3. rafihecht permalink


    I read this post and, what deeply concerned me was not that you assume that this is inspired by idolatrous practices, but that this is all. Culture-wise Judaism is 99% borrowed from other cultures, most of which had idolatrous practices. Take the ancient Greeks for example. Most people know that Greek culture and language got mixed in with Judaism. In the Mishna alone many words are Greek. But it doesn’t end there. The second Temple which Herod renovated arguably didn’t look like what the Temple Institute has, but looked more like a Greek temple ( The list can go on and on.

    Regarding dancing at graves, I noticed a similar thing happening at King David’s tomb when visiting last year (

    It doesn’t end there. The vast majority of Jewish music, food and clothing has been inspired by other cultures. If you go back everything was taken from something else.

    So what makes something “Jewish?” What makes it Jewish and kosher to use, apparently, is when the practice is deemed a force and not a direct cause to the act of idolatry itself. Having a house of worship designed in Greek structure doesn’t automatically make it fit to start worshipping Zeus, and sounds of songs from other cultures doesn’t make one want to sing in a church. However, something like an Ashera tree for example would since the nature of the tree changes when having it grow while an idol is buried underneath it (a common practice in Avodah Zara at the time).

    Just my 2c.

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