Holocaust survivor Tommy Lapid, the father of Yair Lapid, was an outspoken opponent of what he termed religious coercion in Israel’s public life.
He said he did not hate the Orthodox in themselves but what they had done to Judaism, which turned rational and younger people off religion.
In other words, the idea that religion was devised by man to enslave man, bears truth.
The idea that religion was devised by man to enslave man is a controversial and complex perspective that has been debated by scholars, theologians, and skeptics throughout history. It is important to acknowledge that religion has been used and is still used to exert control and manipulate people.
Religion, at its core, emerges from humanity's inherent need to understand the world and find meaning in existence. It provides a framework for answering fundamental questions about the purpose of life, the nature of reality, and the existence of a higher power. Through religious beliefs and practices, individuals seek solace, guidance, and a sense of belonging within their communities.
However, it is undeniable that religion has been misused as a tool of power and control by certain individuals and institutions throughout history. Religious dogmas have been exploited to manipulate and oppress populations, perpetuate social hierarchies, and justify discriminatory practices. From the Crusades to the Inquisition, from religious wars to witch trials, history is replete with examples of religion being used to justify violence, persecution, and the suppression of dissenting voices.
Think of the Northern Ireland conflict, the Yugoslav Wars, 1991/2001, and of course the continuing conflict in our backyard.
Moreover, the hierarchical structure inherent in many religious institutions has often facilitated the concentration of power in the hands of a select few. Religious leaders have used their authority to dictate moral codes, regulate social behavior, and enforce conformity, thereby exerting control over the thoughts and actions of their followers. This has resulted in the suppression of individual autonomy and critical thinking, effectively limiting personal freedoms.
It is crucial to note that religion, like any human institution, is shaped by the actions and intentions of those who believe that they alone have the sole right to interpret edicts. And by default, many of these ‘leaders’ have sought to exploit religion for their gain; power, influence, and monetary achievement.
On the plus side, religion has motivated individuals and communities to engage in acts of charity, promote social justice, and foster a sense of interconnectedness among diverse groups.
Furthermore, religion has played a significant role in shaping art, architecture, literature, and cultural practices throughout human history. It has provided a sense of identity, unity, and continuity for communities, fostering a shared narrative that binds people together. Religion has inspired great works of literature, music, and art, and has provided a source of inspiration and creativity for countless individuals.
Ultimately, the idea that religion was solely devised by man to enslave man oversimplifies the complex and nuanced relationship between religion and human society. While religion has been misused and manipulated to exert control – which continues to this day - it also offers individuals a source of comfort, meaning, and purpose. It has served as a foundation for ethical systems, social cohesion, and personal transformation.
There can be no doubt that religion is a tool of oppression. However, recognizing the potential for abuse and manipulation within religious systems, while also appreciating the diverse ways in which religion has positively influenced human civilization, can lead to a more nuanced understanding of this deeply ingrained aspect of human culture.
According to Karl Marx (who was Jewish by birth) religion is a social institution that is dependent upon material and economic realities in a given society. With no independent history, it is a creature of productive forces. Marx wrote: “The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.”
Marx argued that religion is an illusion whose chief purpose is to provide reasons and excuses to keep society functioning just as it is. Religion takes our highest ideals and aspirations and alienates us from them.
Let's for a moment just center on Israel.
In our collective naivety, we expect our religious leaders to set (good) examples for us mere mortals to follow. After all, is that not the definition of the title Rabbi, teacher?
And while we must not paint all with the same brush, in recent years we have had a former chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, jailed for a slew of corruption and bribery charges involving some $2.6 million.
Or what about Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the disgraced founder of the Zaka Search and Rescue Organization who had been under investigation for decades for sexual offenses against girls, boys, and women?
And, Malka Leifer who went from revered teacher to convicted sexual abuser.
Yaakov Litzman resigned, following a plea agreement from the Knesset in June 2022, as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted a breach of trust and criminally obstructing the extradition of the pedophile Malka Leifer.
And of course, we have ‘master criminal’ Arya Deri. Who, according to his supporters is as white as driven snow. Go tell it to the Marines.
The list goes on and on. Yes, these people are human and like us have flaws, which is fine and acceptable until it comes to the time when they stand tall and tell us what to do and not to do, all the time being hypocrites themselves.
This is exactly what Tommy Lapid meant by the line “turned rational and younger people off religion”.
Just in the last 24 hours, there have been reports of violent riots by ultra-Orthodox men in Beit Shemesh, Jerusalem. The riots were staged in response to a variety of municipal and national policies, which these ‘schnorrers’, parasites, the majority who contribute zero to Israel, but feel they have the right to deem that all conform to their antiquated life form.
Minister Ben Gvir will no doubt refer to these rioters as 'sweet boys', just as he did a few days ago when speaking about the rampage the settlers caused on the West Bank.
I appreciate that Minister Ben Gvir spoke in Hebrew and that his words were translated into English. Nevertheless, he would be wise to choose his words carefully in the future lest someone suspect that his orientation leans the other way. 'Sweet Boys' does have other connotations.
Several of the reader's comments following the news reports - https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-748096 - are worth reviewing:
“Why don't they use that energy to fight to defend the country or they just fight those who can't hurt them, like the police force? Also, would the Yeshivot pay for those burned garbage containers as their "students' did that? Besides, they're supposed to be religious people that should pray for peace mostly among Jews like themselves. I suppose that the Yeshivot will deduct the hours they spend rioting instead of learning Torah which is the only reason for them to get "stipends", otherwise they're doing another crime, that is to collect the money they get to study full time and use part of that time to riot.”
“The ultra-Orthodox do not want the train to pass through Beit Shemesh because the train also runs on Shabbat. They want Israel to be a theocratic country, like Iran, but Jewish. The ultra-orthodox travel by plane, they use computers, if they get sick with cancer they will ask for targeted gene therapy based on monoclonal antibodies... they communicate with the latest generation of cellular phones... they get CT scans... ultrasounds... ...... And they take advantage of the scientific advances the science that they despise... And while they take advantage and enjoy all the scientific advances, at the same time they pray to an imaginary being that at night turns on the lights in the sky and during the day turns them off... and blesses the moon every month.... forgetting that 12 astronauts walked on it, urinated on it and defecated on it... Can there be dumber people? If you find them, let me know...”
“The Heradim shooting themselves in the foot, they should have patience for probably by 2050 according to their current birth rate they will be a majority and they will be able to take over the government giving them their dream. They will control the army allowing them to recruit all the 18-year-olds into the yeshivot, sustain the national income by taxing their few fellow Haradim and the few Hiloniim left, and take advantage of the subsidy received from Iran for allowing them to have a majority in the Knesset.”
I have written about this before, but think about this:
“Israeli Government Advances Bill Criminalizing Incitement Against the ultra-Orthodox” “Should the bill be made into law, incitement against the Haredi community would become a crime with a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment.”
What a load of utter BS.