Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, January 19, 2005  

The Upshot

I like the way this sale of a memorial in a park, making it private keeps the ACLU at bay, but my real comment has to do as to the practice of dealing with chametz from Best of the Web:

The American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue the city of Frederick, Md., over a Ten Commandments monument in a city park, so Mayor Jennifer Dougherty came up with a clever idea: She sold the land on which the monument sat to the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. Since it's no longer on public land, she argued, it doesn't violate the separation of church and state--even though it's still in the middle of a city park.

It's similar to the Jewish custom of "selling chametz" for Passover. Chametz refers to any grain product except matzah prepared specifically for the holiday, and explains the sale procedure:

A person who owns a large quantity of chametz which he is reluctant to dispose of, because doing so may cause him considerable financial loss, may sell his chametz to a non Jew.

After writing a bill of sale, one may leave the chametz in his home without transgressing the prohibitions of not seeing or having chametz, since the chametz no longer belongs to him.

However, it must be set aside in a special place which is rented to the non Jew who has purchased it, so that the chametz becomes the property of the non Jew until after Passover.

The place where this sold chametz is stored should be inaccessible, so that neither he nor the members of his family take anything from there through force of habit. The bill of sale for the chametz states that he is selling his chametz to the non Jew for a specific price. The non Jewish purchaser then gives him a down payment either money or something with intrinsic value, to acquire ownership of the chametz.

A stipulation is added to the bill of sale, stating that if the purchaser does not pay the balance due by the end of Passover, the chametz will revert to the original owner at that time that is, at the end of Passover. The non Jew's failure to pay will not be seen as having retroactively invalidated the sale.

Thus, during Passover, the chametz belongs to the non Jew and the original owner is not liable for having chametz in his possession on Passover.

You can even sell your chametz online.

I can appreciate the cleverness of Talmudic reasoning of Jews just as I can of Jesuitical logic employed by some Catholics, but I find it ridiculous either way.

Clearly, God is not fooled by the legalistic ruse of transferring ownership of chametz which is not intended to actually be sold. Since it is clearly a ruse, why bother? That is, why bother with a rule or religious law which begs to be got around? If the rule is worth getting around, it is also worth no longer having since it is not really being respected or taken seriously.

Yes, the act of getting around it can be said to be a kind of respect for proper observance, but it is sophistry. It is as in the gospel when Jesus complains that there is a sneaky rule which says that if you swear by the temple, you can break your word, but if you swear by the gold in the temple, you have to keep your word.

It is childish this chamtez ruse. It is like a boy crossing his fingers behind his back while telling a lie. And the distortions of logic which religious people must go through to maintain the honor of their code, the rationalizations, just make things worse.

Intellectual dishonesty is a spiting of God no matter who does it or for whatever reason. On the one hand God can say to the misguided devotee, I see you sincerely want to keep your word to me and play by the rules, but on the other hand, don't you think you ought to reconsider whether I'm the kind of person who imposes such rules on you?

posted by Mark Butterworth | 3:01 PM |