Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Tempting God’s wrath with a meagre beet

Jun 28. 2018
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Re: “Vegan Passover easily prepared”, Have Your Say, June 27.

To be clear, I personally would favour a vegan Passover similar to the one that Ian Martin describes (featuring a beet as the main course instead of a lamb). It should be obvious that vegetarianism is morally superior to meat eating. I would also applaud a vegetarian Jesus. Most of all, I would appreciate it if Ian would occasionally cite chapter and verse of whatever scripture he’s referring to instead of just blithely assuring us that the Essenes or the Ebionites believed this or that. 

Unfortunately the matter is not up to me and Ian. If we are to trust a long-established written record, it is clear that Jesus ate meat. It is also clear that the Torah (the Jewish law) ordains that observant Jews should eat a lamb for the Passover meal – not a beet. I wonder what kind of Jews take the liberty of substituting a beet for a lamb when their scripture clearly specifies the latter. People are free to reject religion if they wish, but if they profess to be religious, and if they take their religion seriously, they ought to obey their own scriptures.  

A Jewish translation of the Jewish scriptures, “Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures”, published by the Jewish Publication Society in 1985, has this to say in Exodus 12: 13-10: “Speak to the whole community of Israel and say that on the tenth of this month each of them shall take a lamb to a family, a lamb to a household. … [A footnote says that it could be a kid (baby goat) rather than a lamb, because the Hebrew word “seh” means either a sheep or a goat.] They shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.”

This passage is part of the Torah. Jesus was a strict constructionist of the Torah. In Matthew 5:18 he tells us (Revised Standard Version of the Bible): “Till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” 

A strict constructionist will tell you, “If God had wanted us to sacrifice a beet, he would have said so. He wouldn’t have specified a lamb or a baby goat.” It not only had to be a lamb or a baby goat, it had to be an unblemished yearling male.

I can imagine the deity objecting to Ian’s genial substitution of a beet: “I told you a lamb, and you’re giving me a lousy beet? Do you remember what happened to Cain when his offering displeased me?”

Giving an entire family only one beet to eat would leave many of its members extremely hungry. It would leave me extremely hungry, too, which is why I would favour a vegan Passover, but not one limited to one beet. Maybe Ian meant many beets. I certainly hope so. I can hear A Bangkok Atheist laughing his head off all the way to the atheum (a residence of atheists).

Ye Olde Theologian 

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