Monday, September 25, 2006

How To Be Less of an Asshole: Rosh Hashanah Edition

The Jewish New Year started this weekend, which means for the week to come, Jews across the globe will be doing their damndest to get inscribed in G-d's big book of "Who Lives and Who Dies 2006-2007." Next Monday, on Yom Kippur, that book will close, so on that day we'll fast and give the whole sin-purge thing one last push. See, the thing is, if your name ain't inside that book at the closing bell, well, it was nice knowing ya...

Not wanting to take any chances myself, I got me some religion this weekend and attended services led by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of CBST, aka, Congregation I Love My Son's Boyfriend. CBST is the oldest gay synagogue in New York, but it welcomes all cheapskates who won't pay for services elsewhere. I've attended services here for years, not only because I'm allergic to paying retail for religion, but also because Rabbi Kleinbaum gives good sermon. Say what you will about your religious leader, but mine found a way to unite the Christians, Muslims and Jews in Israel when she tried to organize a World Pride Day march! (Okay, so they actually united against her in anti-gay vitriol. Potato, potahtoe.)

Last year, I wrote about her sermon here, and this year the Rabbi came through again. Sure, the general theme was the same, ie, how can I be less of an asshole in the year to come? But this year the Rabbi encouraged us to think about the portion of the bible we were reading that day. Essentially the story is about an incredibly dysfunctional family, Abraham and Sarah, and Abraham's concubine, Hagar. It seems that Sarah got really jealous of Hagar and the son she bore for Abraham, and in a huge hissy-fit, banished Hagar and Ishmael from her house. Abraham, not wanting to fight his legal wife on the status of his lover, agreed and tossed his baby mama into the desert.

The Rabbi's take on all this was pretty interesting. What she said was that the bible doesn't give us stories about perfect people, it shows us folks who are as flawed as you, me and Angelina Jolie. And that even our forbearers acted out of spite and jealousy (much like Jennifer Anniston when she spoke out and posed butt-up for Vanity Fair). So what we need to take from this is that people have always and will always act without the best of intentions: motivations are rarely good-n-pure. But what we need to strive for in the next year is to inflict less pain on the people in our lives. We need to terrorize them less. Essentially we need to be less bitchy.

It won't be easy, but I am going to give it a shot. And for all of you who just made a snarky comment under your breath about my intentions... well, it was nice knowing ya!


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