With Rabbi Yitzchak Shochet. 

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi or follow him on Twitter @RabbiYYS. [divider]

Dear Rabbi

Thai boxing? You? Really? I don’t think so! Besides such violence – it’s hardly a job for a Yiddishe boy let alone a Rabbi.

Yossi

 

Dear Yossi

Yeah me! Really! Just see my special Purim profile pic on this page. And go to the YouTube link at the end of this column. Then you tell me whether you think so! Oh, and there’s nothing wrong with staying healthy! And utilising it for positive purpose as well, such as raising funds for charity can only be a good thing. I’m guessing you’ve got a chollent-filled pot-belly and you’re just jealous.

 

Dear Rabbi

Do you think it is the Jewish obsession with money that is the source of anti-Semitism? Maybe if Jews wouldn’t be such capitalists we wouldn’t have economic crises and there would be less anti-Semitism. Just saying.

Rick

 

Dear Rick

I’d like you to consider this story, apparently true. An 82-year-old Jew is sitting on a plane between two anti-Semitic Texans, on a flight from Dallas to New York. The first man says: “My name is Roger. I own about 50,000 acres of farmland on which I raise some 20,000 cattle a year. They call my place the Jolly Roger.”

The other man says: “My name is Frank. I own about 70,000 acres of farmland on which I raise near 100,000 cattle each year. They call my place Frank’s Fields.” The first man looks over at the old man sneering: “What do you own Jew?” The man looks up: “About 300 acres,” he says. “Ha! What on earth could you possibly raise on that?” He asks mockingly. “Nothing,” replies the old Jew. The other man looks to him laughingly. “So what do they call your place then?” To which the Jew simply replies: ‘Downtown Dallas!’

Let me tell you about Judaism’s economic system. It’s called “capitalism with a conscience.” It is a conditional capitalism, and certainly a compassionate capitalism. There are many legislated obligations to poor – not optional extras, not even pious recommendations but clear mandatory contributions to the less fortunate.

While society promotes unbridled ambition and the lust for money and power, that’s what leads to monopolies and conglomerates that leave no room for the next guy and widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Judaism presents an economic system which boasts the best of both worlds – the advantages of an unfettered, free market allowing personal expression and success relative to hard work, without the drawbacks of corporate greed. When we are the recipients of God’s blessing the deal is that we must share. If you have a problem with that, then the problem lies with you, which brings me to a final point Rick:

Anti-Semitism is a sleeping dog that just waits for opportunities to rear its ugly head. Anti-Semites can pin their Jew hatred on whatever excuse they want, but when it comes down to it, at the core they just hate – like Haman did all those years ago, and the many like him all through the ages. As Dennis Prager wrote in his book, Why the Jews? “Economic depressions don’t account for gas chambers.” Here’s a heads-up Rick. We beat Haman back then, Pharaoh has long since gone, Stalin is dead and Hitler’s miserable remains are lying buried in some heap somewhere. But we Jews are still here to the tale. Just saying.

 

Dear Rabbi
I was surprised that you are discouraging people from drinking this Purim. I’ve seen you in action. Shouldn’t you practice what you preach?
Robert

 

Dear Robert

I didn’t discourage drinking. I encouraged drinking responsibly. Can you process the difference? I did once get pulled over by the police on Purim. “Sir, I need you to blow into this tube,” the copper said. I replied, “I can’t.” “Why not?” he asked me. “I’m asthmatic,” I replied. “Fine,” the policeman concedes, “then allow me to take a blood sample from you.” “Can‘t do that either,” I told him. “Why not?” “I’m a haemophiliac.” “OK then, give me a urine sample.” I looked at him. “Sorry, can’t do that either.” He looked perturbed: “What? Why not?” “I’m diabetic as well.” “OK, OK then just simply walk in a straight line right here in front of me!” “Um I’m afraid I won’t be able to do that either.” “Are you kidding me – why ever not?” – “I’m drunk!”

I have this little mug in my home which reads: “Alcohol is the answer but I can’t remember the question.” (Bought for me by my mother-in-law! Boy I must make a good impression). We are supposed to get happy on Purim and while my father of blessed memory (who could not stand even the sight of alcohol) always insisted of me that one should be able to generate the high internally, nonetheless some of us can’t quite do that and alcohol then – within reason and drinking responsibly – becomes the answer.

It’s true that alcohol gives one the ambition to do anything – while simultaneously taking away your ability to do so – but the way I see it, even if only for one day, it is the anaesthesia by which we endure the operation of life. So bottoms up! ¡əuoʎɹəʌə ɯıɹnd ʎddɐɥ [divider]