Sago Boulevard

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Is Prager a Jewish Thinker?

Or just a conservative one who tacks on the annoying phrase "Judeo-Christian" to give himself credibility? I've already ranted about how much I hate the phrase "Judeo-Christian" so I'll let you read it for yourself. Aside from that, though, I'm genuinely curiously: Is there a particular Jewish constituency that believes Prager to be speaking for them? I certainly don't see the left-leaning Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist groups singing his praises. As a conservative, he may appeal to some Orthodox Jews (although not me) but can hardly be compared to the heavy-weights of the Orthodox world in yeshivot and universities. Anybody familiar with rabbinic writing from any time period should notice this immediately: Prager doesn't cite sources. Just search Prager's articles for words like "talmud," "midrash," "halakhah," "rambam," "mitsvah".

If you want to argue that your position represents a normative (or even minority) Jewish view, don't you think you should provide at least one or two sources? Instead, Prager just says "Judeo-Christian" and then tells you what he thinks, as if the two have anything to do with each other.
"Poor" in biblical nomenclature were truly destitute, not at all analogous to those classified as "poor" in America. (source)

A verse? A mishnah? Just give me something that indicates that "poor" is absolute rather than relative. Because the poor in the Bible didn't have indoor plumbing either. I guess that makes us all filthy rich.
The biblical view is that man and woman are entirely distinct beings, and human order in large part rests on preserving that distinctiveness. (source)

Oh, so that's why the Torah tell us that God created Woman from Man's "side" (or "rib"). It's because men and women are "entirely distinct". Thank you, Rabbi Prager, for enlightening me. I think this is the kicker, though:
Jews opposed to capital punishment cite the Talmud (the second most important religious text to Jews), which is largely opposed to capital punishment... Yet, the notion that a murderer must give up his life is one of the central values in the Old Testament. Indeed, taking the life of a murderer is the only law that is found in all Five Books of Moses. (source)

So the rabbis, the most significant and authoritative interpreters of the Bible, oppose capital punishment. Prager admits this much. But, he argues, the rabbis must have glossed over all those biblical passages that seem to support it. How silly of the rabbis.