What business do politicians have with religious verdicts? Since when do parliament members determine the exact hour of the ‘Sabbath’, or whether the original circumcision process of a new immigrant to Israel was religiously correct?
Alas, in Israel 2016 – religion (Orthodox Jewish, of course) has invaded most of our disciplines. The chair-thirsty politicians have abandoned most free territories in the hands of the religious establishment and its whims. Want to get married? Go the Rabbi. What to ride a bus? Wait for a weekday. Even if you want to sell Kosher food by your own choice, you will not be allowed to legally say so, unless funding an army of religious supervisors and dealers. Only recently the high court forced “official” supervision for just using the word ‘Kosher’…
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This improper phenomenon has two interesting aspects. The first has to do with the attributes of the ‘mixed with’ relation. Those of you, who learned their math, know that ‘mixed with’ is a symmetric relation. If A is mixed with B, then B is also mixed with A. In other words: He, who mixes church with state, necessarily mixes state with church.
This is where the flock of believers rightfully complains: How come the legislator determines what is ‘Kosher’ and what is not ‘Kosher’? Since when do parliament members know which religious conversion process complies with the strict religious requirements? How dare pig-eater secular people set the rules for praying in that synagogue they call ‘The Western Wall’?
And here comes the other interesting aspect of that same phenomenon: The young State of Israel is not yet strictly governed by religious law; hence it has a variety of proper laws in many topics. Laws – by their nature – should not contradict each other, so the legislators must rule in cases where religious verdicts conflict with secular ones.
We saw an example of this last week, when the issue of the “Mikve’s” hit the news. A mikve is a ritual immersion bath that supposedly restores purity, but religion dictates the presence of “qualified supervisor” while someone else is immersed naked. Conflicting with other laws (that are obvious to secular ear) – the high court ruled that a woman may be there alone, without another woman supervising the act. The disclaimer, however, said that appropriate signs should explain how such an act is religiously-valueless.
This, of course, opens up endless possibilities to fool God in other issues as well: Let the state recognize non-religious weddings, with appropriate signs saying they are religiously-valueless. Or let us use public transportation in weekends, with buses carrying such signs. Oh well…
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It is not the state’s business to deal with religious issues. Let everyone wed or convert his religion, using any ritual one chooses. I couldn’t care less if A disqualifies the conversion of B, or if X does not recognize the marriage of Y. It’s the state’s job to provide – on top of all this – “civil marriage”, “civil conversion” and other civil processes with well-defined and practical criteria, which do not mix religious rituals – that are not the state’s business.