Here is a short and very partial list, just to get an idea of some of the more peculiar religious Jewish verdicts mentioned in the Israeli media during the last few years. All have good religious explanations. Note that some of them obviously contradict others:
It’s not allowed to pick your nose on the Sabbath.
It’s not allowed to comb your hair on the Sabbath, except if using a soft brush.
It’s forbidden to kill lice and mosquitos on the Sabbath.
It’s not allowed to put lemon in hot tea on the Sabbath.
If life is at risk, it’s okay to operate an electrical appliance on the Sabbath. In such a case, you should insert the plug into the outlet not directly, but try doing it using your mouth, elbow or head.
If life is at risk, it’s okay to use the phone on the Sabbath, but one must dial using a pencil rather than using the fingers.
Video pictures from security video cameras in religious neighborhoods, must be displayed on two screens alternately during the Sabbath.
It’s okay to download software from the Internet on the Sabbath, provided you begin downloading before the Sabbath, you turn off the screen’s power supply, and the web site is operated by non-Jews.
For children younger than thirteen years, it’s okay to play with Lego on the Sabbath.
It’s not allowed to watch movies on computers.
It’s not allowed to use cellular phones with color screens.
The Internet should not be used, even for professional purposes.
If you drop your Palm computer, which contains religious prayers in it, then you must kiss the computer when you pick it up.
A visit to the planetarium is forbidden.
Baking of cakes in army bases is forbidden.
Blood transfusion from a secular source is not recommended.
It’s forbidden for a Jew to donate organs to a non-Jew.
Jews of priestly heritage (e.g., those who carry the last name of Cohen) should not fly over cemeteries.
Tattoos are forbidden, with the exception of a small heart on a man’s arm.
It’s forbidden to use the services of a non-religious court.
It’s forbidden to participate in a census. The recommended way to count the population is by using coins.
It’s not allowed to read a Hebrew newspaper while in the toilet.
A person in the toilet is not allowed to talk to a person outside.
It’s forbidden to kiss during the marriage ceremony.
It’s not allowed to step on ants.
Sex is allowed only at night, preferably in a room with no flies.
A woman should not wear a wig.
Organs such as eyes, ears or arms should be removed from toy dolls.
A man should not walk between two women.
It’s strictly forbidden to swim in a pool that contains both men and women.
Women should not pray while cleaning the house.
In case of political dispute between a husband and a wife, it’s recommended for the wife not to vote in the elections.
If a paramedic has two patients – a man and a woman – the man must be taken care of first.
Women should board a bus from the back door.
It should be emphasized that many of these strange rules are generally not kept by most people, and often are not even known. Sometimes they simply represent the result of some internal argument between various religious subgroups.
It should further be mentioned that religious belief fills a whole spectrum of shapes and forms. In most Western religions, there are many people who “sort of believe”. They keep some of the rituals, abandoning others, not even knowing about most of them. Sometimes they claim to carry the flag of “keeping the tradition”.
Is it better or worse? Does it make sense to avoid pork but eat a cheeseburger (welcome to McDonald’s in Israel!)? Or does one avoid both but sell things on Saturday (welcome to Burger King in Israel!)? Isn’t it kind of hypocritical to fast on Yom Kippur but drive on Saturdays? Is it forgiven to go to church on Sunday but perform adultery on Wednesday? Don’t you piss off God more when you disobey your rabbi, and wait only three hours between a juicy steak and a cheesecake?
The answer, like always, is in what you decide. It’s the god in you that is pissed off by some details and is ready to accept others. It’s the god you’ve created.