Rabbi, control thyself

Perhaps it is religion, taken to extremes, that is the root of all evil. I am usually harshly critical of Muslims who use their religion as the justification for their violence and suppression of women. Today, it’s my people’s turn: rabbis acting badly.

The rabbis in question are two eminent sages from Israel, who have embarked on a tour to America. One of the purposes for which appears to be fund raising. Well, to make money, you’ve got to spend money, the saying goes. So, these holy of holies have spent many dollars to ensure that their sense of modesty isn’t offended on the flight to America.

According to this story, our holy rollers

concluded an agreement with El Al that would see them enjoy a woman-free and movie-free flight.

The Gerrer Rebbe, a Hassidic leader who will fly abroad on Sunday, asked El Al that no air stewardesses be aboard the flight.

El Al complied with the rabbi’s request and on Sunday’s flight to the United States only males will look after passengers.

The rabbis asked that the flight from Israel adhere to the strictest standards of modesty. Their aides agreed with El Al officials that they will not have to see women during flight.

The rabbis bought all first class tickets on the flight to make sure no businesswomen are on board.

It was also decided that no films will be screened during the flight. Moreover, the backs of first class seats will be covered with plastic so that the rabbis won’t even have to see the television screens.

I’m all for modesty, but at what expense? And at whose? If these holy rollers can’t abide looking at women or popular entertainment, perhaps they should simply blindfold themselves.

This is a triumph of religious legalism over decency and common sense. Not only that, it’s an offence against God, who created both men and women in His image. Who are these men that they can’t abide to look at a woman? How weak they must be in spirit to go to such lengths to avoid the slightest temptation.

I’m hardly a saint, and can’t go about giving lectures on how to stay pure. But I do know that the world can’t be changed to suit my requirements. And I’ve learned, the hard way, that moral living must start from within.

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