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When will the frum community stop telling fairy tales and modernize their stories

jewish stroies kingIt seems like within every shabbos drash that my Rav, a U-Penn educated, gives over contains a story about a king and his son. The king and the son story is meant to be a rallying cry for the Jews and Hashem, but I and everyone I know cannot relate to kings, kingship, and monarchy at all. The other stories that seem to take place, all have to do with bearded men driving their wagons deep in Eastern Europe and they always undoubtedly stop at an Inn for some mashka and a place to rest. What happens in the Inn is always something to do with a non-Jew trying to kill him, Eliyahu paying him a visit, or finding some jewels in some random package he received. It’s not like I believe any of the stories that Rabbis tell me, but I can’t even relate to them. It’s high time, we brought the Jewish fairytale or moshel, into modern times.

Instead of finding jewels in a fish or sack of flour, why can’t the guy find a winning lotto ticket tucked into the pages of a sefer he just bought off a non-Jewish homeless man selling books on the side of the street. Or maybe, he bought a desk on Ebay and found thousands of dollars inside of it. The King can become another respected persona, like the President that you really find good, some Rabbis could evoke Nixon, while others may evoke Clinton to show some sort of king-esque idea. Of course, there can still be the part where the “king” or other respectable persona, screams at his son and calls him a fool for not heeding his advice and squandering his olam habah, valhalla, or virginal paradise. Instead of treasure, it could be a treasure trove of stock options from Apple and Facebook.

I’m not saying that we should get rid of fairy tales, but I’m sick and tired of hearing them in shuls with adults. If you want to brainwash the kids early with fantasies of treasure and narrow escapes from Russian pogroms that seem to promote alcoholism so it can lead you to visions of Eliyahu Hanavi or former colleagues of yours begging for mechilah so they can get into gan eden, it’s perfectly fine. If you want to teach the children about Hashem by comparing him to the king and his son, it’s all good, but isn’t it about time we started trying to get a normal image of Judaism and God into the minds of adults.

I’ve always wanted to get in the mind of recent BT’s and ask them what they thought of all the fairy tales that Rabbis like to tell. Not that anyone thinks they’re real, but just from a marketing perspective. If you’ve never been exposed to Judaism and they start on it like a D and D club, it doesn’t sound like good marketing.

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{ 76 comments… add one }
  • A. Nuran March 31, 2014, 5:33 PM

    To a very great extent stories are what make us human rather than just smart monkeys. From time to time they have to be retold in ways that compel. Harry Potter wasn’t an incredible success because it was new. Far from it. It revisited the old tales in a way which touched a generation of readers.

    But even as we tell stories we have to understand that’s what they are. Teaching stories cannot be taken literally. The girl who pinned her skirt up so she wouldn’t be immodest while she was being dragged to death? It didn’t happen except in the fiction written by the (secular) writer Y. L. Peretz in Three Gifts. The only homes struck by missiles were the ones with unkosher mezzuzahs? Trusting that will get you killed.

    • M.U. March 31, 2014, 6:47 PM

      People do take stories literally.

      • A. Nuran April 2, 2014, 7:51 AM

        And that is why sometimes I despair for the human race.

  • Mimi April 1, 2014, 5:11 AM

    Children generally are not as cynical as adults, and besides, for some reason these ‘fairy stories’ set in olden times make them feel secure. Changing the background to more modern times and situations won’t make the stories for children appear any more or less true. Adults being more worldly wise aren’t so gullible and are bored with all variations of the same theme, modern or olde worlds.

    • A. Nuran April 1, 2014, 12:38 PM

      Adults aren’t so gullible? Infomercials, Glenn Beck and a thousand people selling magic segullot would beg to differ

  • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 9:30 AM

    I don’t like these stories just because they are not really Jewish. G-d is not our king in the Torah – that is a Christian influence. Hashem is meant to have a spousal relationship. That is a lot more challenging, but also a lot more interesting.

    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 11:21 AM

      Elokeinu melech haolam. Christians again?

      • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 11:36 AM

        Please tell me which pasuk in the Chumash refers to Hashem as our king.

        • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 11:51 AM

          So the chachamim were just making it up according to u. Ok

          • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 12:48 PM

            In other words: you accept that seeing Hashem as a king is in fact NOT found in the only document we have that we use as the foundation of all of Judaism. Or am I missing something?

            • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 1:08 PM

              No I think the chachamim based it on Tanach clearly. From Adam to Avraham to Yaakov to Moshe and Aharon and bnei yosroel to Shimshon and Shaul and Dovid and shlomo az yashir tehillim every interaction w Hashem is the same. The only exception is shir hashirim. The relationship is clear. If you don’t like that and want to have your own that’s nice butyl it’s Judaism per our texts and tradition. Not that u have zero basis bec of shir hashirim. But even Shlomo’s relationship in navi is traditional. So one work vs everything else is not a well rounded basis and it definitely destroys your idea of it being Christian and unfounded in Judaism.

              • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 1:36 PM

                Let’s try this again:


                • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 1:40 PM

                  Dude I don’t want to blow your whole world. Keep doing whatever you’re doing I don’t really care to hurt you.

                  • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 1:42 PM

                    If you want source material I’ll get you

                    • M.U. April 1, 2014, 2:22 PM

                      Send me the source.

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 2:28 PM


                • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 1:52 PM

                  “Vayaminu bashem uvmoshe avdo”. Moshe is the closest an is an eved. Avraham eved Hashem. Etc.

                  That’s the nature of the relationship. Not spouse. Slave.

                  And since you want an exact term of melech from gods mouth:

                  1 Samuel 8

                  6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

                  • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 1:56 PM

                    We don’t pasken from anythng but the chumash. Everything else is already filtered through people, and so it is not given the same chashivus. But if you want to quote nach at me, how about Hosea 2:16: “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’

                    • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 1:59 PM

                      And we are NOT slaves, because we retain the freedom to CHOOSE the nature of our relationship. Slaves cannot do that.

                      I choose to be an eved Hashem, because I recognize that G-d has given me the freedom to make my own decisons, and because I desire a closer relationship. But ours is marriage, not a king-slave relationship. Or it should be.

                      This is, of course, according to the Torah, which you seem to discount as a source. What kind of Jew are you, again?

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 2:11 PM

                      Your own ideas and choices and whatever are great but it has nothing to do with Judaism.

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 2:10 PM

                      There’s no Halacha involved. Psak is irrelevant. Hoshea is nevuah leasid not present so that nevuah is a raaya to me bec he in that you will “no longer” call me master. Meaning now we do.

                    • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 3:07 PM

                      Now you do.

                      I live in Hosea’s future. And I read the chumash, every reference and connection between marriage and the mishkan, etc.

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 3:27 PM

                      Lol what? Mishkan defines your relationship with Hashem as marriage ? Is it the buying gold for Hashem? Or the sacrificing animals? Or are you one of those ppl that finds sexual innuendo in everything? Building a fancy place of worship and asking forgiveness and humbling yourself before the glory if god is common deity worship practice across countless cultures. At least we don’t sacrifice our kids there.

                    • Seriously? April 1, 2014, 4:02 PM

                      Let’s see:
                      Gold for Mishkan only from married couples.
                      The laver made from copper used to inspire desire between husband and wife.
                      Keruvim were male and female, reaching for each other.
                      That is enough to start.
                      Where are your examples of G-d called “melech” in the chumash?????

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 7:23 PM

                      You’re ignoring every major theme and statement in the Chumash and navi I bring in favor of these minor pieces that are only tangentially relevant when interpreted by certain isolated meforshim. Address just one if the major things I said if you’re actually interested in a real discussion

                    • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 2:45 AM

                      I am reading THE WORDS of the Chumash. You are inventing things based on a Mesorah that is contaminated by Christian ideas and ideals.

                    • yeshivaforum April 2, 2014, 6:22 AM

                      Right. because the chachamim , prechristoanity, were contaminated by it. And the Navi is meant to be ignored for an unrelated reason you misinterpreted a rav say one time tabs you decided to pull it out if your ass into this conversation and use it as a shield against any new information that doesn’t make you feel warm and comfortable inside . And all the stories in the Chumash and the Shiras hayam are crap because of some other reason which you don’t feel the need to enlighten me to. You don’t know how to deal with new knowledge that will make you chambers your ideas. Am haaretz eino lomed. To quote the Christian scholars of our treifeh mesorah. You idiot.

                    • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 8:00 AM

                      Do you believe in learning and arguing for the sake of Torah/Shamayim? Because what I am reading here is just name calling.

                    • yeshivaforum April 2, 2014, 9:01 AM

                      You’ve made up your mind and no facts will ever mean anything to you. You’re not worth arguing with. Nothing productive is ever going to come out of this conversation.

                    • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 9:26 AM

                      Listen to yourself.

                      The Torah is chock full of analogies between the divine relationship and a marriage. These are the ACTUAL WORDS.

                      But you are fixated on claiming G-d as King, an idea pioneered by Bilaam and widely accepted by Christianity, and in turn which fills the fables and stories of Jews living in Christian lands.

                      Who has the facts?

                    • yeshivaforum April 2, 2014, 10:14 AM

                      Your analogies and hints are a joke to anyone besides yourself. Ask a lawyer or any same person. If we are trying to figure something out we need proof first and then we can tie in cute pshetlach later. You are doing a horrible job proving your case. So far I found nothing. Show me proof like you were in a court room showing a judge proof of murder.

                    • Seriously? April 3, 2014, 8:32 AM

                      You want to say Hashem is King is a Jewish and not a Christian idea.

                      Christian texts are FULL of this.

                      The Torah itself has virtually none of it (Bilaam’s words).

                      Who has to make a case?

                    • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:31 AM

                      Nope. Not pioneered by Bilum. If anything, pioneered by moyshe and miryum or whoever it was that wrote shiras hayum.

                    • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:30 AM

                      THE WORDS! Yeah, THE WORDS!

                      I’m surprised your frum friend missed it. He threw the dart and it landed maybe a chapter away for wayyyyy fewer points.

                      “Adnoy Yimlokh Loylim Vowid”:= YHWH will reign (be king) forever and, ummmmm…. ever?

                    • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:28 AM

                      I think you’re mixing up your khumish and your midrish there.

                    • Seriously? May 19, 2014, 5:36 AM

                      I reign over my household. Does not make me king. And no mixing – the chumash says what the laver copper was used for.

                    • 56r April 1, 2014, 3:13 PM

                      Both of you are wrong.
                      As if we can understand God and the nature of His relationship with us, He can be our king and partner at the same time, but these are all names, simple meshalim so that we humans could somewhat understand that we have a special relationship.

                      By the way, according to the mesoreh, a wife to a husband is somewhat like a slave to his master, this gives you an idea of how these two can work together and are not necessarily a contradiction

                    • yeshivaforum April 1, 2014, 3:29 PM

                      I don’t know. Could be. You need some basis for that idea though.

                • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:26 AM


                  Seriously, you need a yeshivu dropout to tell you that?

                  • Seriously? May 19, 2014, 5:34 AM

                    We say He will reign (not that he is King). Hashem Yimloch. G-d never says he is a king in the pshat.

                    • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 6:25 AM

                      Your god never said a thing, ever, ‘cos your god is a figment of your imagination.

                      You asked for an explicit statement in the Pentateuch that refers to the primary deity of the ancient Israelites as a monarch. I brought you a citation from the book of Exodus.

                      I’m not here to quibble over exegesis. If you’re in the mood of twisting your thumb and hacking in chaynik over what the pshat may be, go back to yeshivu.

        • Steven April 1, 2014, 9:02 PM

          Hashem yimloch l’olam va’ed. (from the Shira, shmot 15:18)
          Hashem elokav imo, u-t’ruat melech bo (from Bilam’s blessings, Bamidbar 23:21)

          • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 2:47 AM

            The first was a triumphalist shira, declaring G-d’s power. It does not say he is King.

            And the second helps my case! It shows that seeing G-d as King is the best Goyim can do to understand.

            • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:33 AM

              Seriously??? No, you just moved the goalposts. This conversation is over. Goodbye.

        • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 6:39 AM

          I’m adding a comment here after a long period of time without commenting for two reasons:
          1. I happened to be reading the post about the woman who

          • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 7:25 AM

            OK, to repeat, after accidentally pressing enter.
            I have previously posted as “Catholic Mom.” I was reading the post of several months ago in which Dale Rosenbach critiqued an article by a woman about how she stopped wearing her wig. Somebody had posted inane comments under the name “Catholic Mom” there, undoubtedly as a troll to try to stir up trouble. I added a reply there yesterday (under the name Catholic Mom) to disavow those comments and indicate that they were written by a troll, however, apparently only official discus names show up as “recent comments” now.
            As far as this thread goes, both seriously and yeshivaforum are accepting as a basis for the debate that the Christian view of God is that he is like a master (king). That is not exactly correct. First, you have to realize that Christianity has a trinitarian — not a unitarian — view of God. That is, God’s characteristics are so complex and multi-faceted that they can only be fully expressed as three persons within one entity.
            According to Christian teaching, the relationship of the creative nature of God (God the Creator) to the Jews, as revealed in the Old Testament, was indeed that of king/subject or master/servant, but now, for Christians, it has become that of father/child (“you are no longer servants, but sons”) which is why the Creator is now called “God the Father.”
            The relationship of Christians to the 2nd person of the Trinity (incarnated on earth as Jesus Christ) is that of spouse to bride, in the sense that the whole People of God (the Church) is called the Bride of Christ. Song of Songs is presented as a metaphor for the desire between Christ and his Bride. Marriage between a man and a woman is expressly, in the marriage liturgy, described as something that should model this relationship (the husband is commanded to “love your wife as Christ loves the Church”).
            So Christianity accepts all these metaphors: king/servant, father/child, husband/wife. (And that’s not even getting into additional relationship metaphors that can be used when we discuss God the Holy Spirit — it certainly cannot be said that Christianity has a non-complex view of the nature of God or the relationship of God to man.)

            • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 7:41 AM

              I might add that the marital relationship of Christ to the Church is also extended backwards in time to describe the relationship of God to the Jews as well — which is part of the basis for the prohibition on divorce in Christianity. Although the Jews were “faithless wives” to God at various points throughout the OT, yet God was never faithless to them — he never abandoned them or replaced them with another chosen people. And when they returned to him, he always accepted them back with forgiveness. This then is presented as a model for the relationship of Christian spouses. God never dumped the Jews (no matter how badly they behaved), Christ never dumps the Church (always calling for repentance and return no matter how badly it behaves) and husbands/wives do not dump their spouses or refuse to forgive them. [Spousal abuse is considered a different category and different rules apply.]

        • klom April 7, 2014, 5:57 PM

          psalm 47, psalm 145,

          • Seriously? April 7, 2014, 8:17 PM

            Neither is the chumash.

        • Sholom Keller May 19, 2014, 5:25 AM

          Adnoyimlokhloylimvuwid – shmoys something or another, shiras hayum.

  • disqus_NqKzYdWxI6 April 2, 2014, 1:00 AM

    Why does quoting from the bible make it truth? I’m right because it says so in such and such a pasuk… So what?

    • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 2:51 AM

      I choose to believe the Chumash is G-d’s own word, and is the guidebook for our lives. That is MY truth.

      You have things that you believe in religiously (everyone does). Could be the idea of a “true” underlying reality, or the primacy of nature.

      Other people – like muslims – believe in other deities, and their truth is that they are willing to die and kill in the sake of their name. Whether Allah exists is not what matters: what matters is that people believe that Allah does, and that Allah wants them to blow other people up.

      Beliefs matter. What we believe shapes us, and everything we touch. So the Torah is TRUE to me, and that is a reality for everything I am and do.

      • M.U. April 2, 2014, 5:35 AM

        It can’t be his own words.

      • A. Nuran April 2, 2014, 7:47 AM

        Except that it isn’t true. The Earth is more than 6000 years old, much more. There was no world-wide flood, much less Noah. The Exodus story didn’t happen. Pi is not equal to three. There is no “firmament”. The list goes on and on.

        • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 8:05 AM

          Nuran, the way you read the Torah is not developed or thoughtful.

          For starters, the Torah does not give a value of Pi, or say where the center of the world is.

          As for the rest of it: the Torah is NOT a history primer, or a science text. It does not tell us what IS. It tells us the purpose of our existences, what SHOULD BE. So we are not told that we are animals even though we are: because people should strive to be much better than mere animals!

          I don’t believe for its own sake. My life is far more productive and constructive and fruitful because I choose to see the Torah as a guidebook for life, and with myself endowed with G-d’s own powers of creativity.

          Other people (like many on this site) devote their lives to unproductive things, like making fun of others or just to pure bile. Does that make you feel good about yourself? Is the world somehow better for you having lived?

          • A. Nuran April 2, 2014, 8:46 AM

            You didn’t specify. All you said is that you “believe” and do so “religiously”. The clarification makes all the difference between a thoughtful person of faith and a gibbering madman.

            You talk about Allah and Hashem as if they were two different gods. They are the same. In fact the name Allah was cribbed from Jews by Christians and Muslims. And your prejudice, while subtle needs to be examined. You claim to live for your faith. For you the epitome of a Muslim’s religion is killing and dying.

            • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 8:55 AM

              I fully accept that belief is not subject to reason. The existence of a deity can be neither proven nor disproven logically: the only question is what we CHOOSE to accept. That choice determines what we make of ourselves.

              I do not think there is a world to come. I do not think we are supposed to live our lives for the sake of what happens afterward. In that sense, my version of Judaism is radically different from both Christianity and Islam, which are focused on what happens after life, not what we can do with life itself.

              As for gods being the same: nonsense. “The G-d of Avraham. Isaac and Jacob” means that each person had their own relationship. Or, to crib from a different tradition, they each felt a different part of the elephant. My god has nothing in common with Allah. Hashem is not a king or a master; he is a partner, a spouse, a force that keeps me on my toes. The mitzva is not to OBEY, but to “shma” to listen, to consider, to internalize. And yes, even to argue. Jews are the only tradition where holy people argue with god. My relaitonship to Hashem is unique to me, just as unique as your relationship to your wife is to you.

              • M.U. April 2, 2014, 9:08 AM

                How do argue with someone who doesn’t argue back? There was a time when G-d spoke to humans supposedly and now G-d is mute can’t speak or won’t speak.

                • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 10:41 AM

                  I am in conversation with Hashem all the time. I see advances and setbacks and opportunities and hurdles, His hand in all of it. The divine spirit is INSIDE you – but you have to listen hard, especially during tefillah.

                  Nuraun would call me a gibbering madman or worse. But it is really just a matter of choice: I choose to see Hashem. Nuran chooses not to. Neither of us can logically prove that we are right.

                  But one thing is clear to me: I get a heck of a lot more done with my life by seeing Hashem, than I would if I was a professional detached cynic.

                  • A. Nuran April 2, 2014, 8:12 PM

                    And you are sure that your conversation is accurate while those of every other religion are delusional or damnable.

                    • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 8:39 PM

                      To me, only the Torah is emes. Christianity was born out of a fundamental misunderstanding of scripture (not that different from many people here who have questions, but do not find answers that satisfy them).

                      Everyone should be free to make their own choices. Even *knowing* that we can make our own choices is a step ahead of many peoples, who believe that their lives are dictated by fate or impersonal forces.

                      So I have no problem with other people choosing their own paths, their
                      own versions of reality, as long as they leave me free to make my own

                    • A. Nuran April 2, 2014, 11:50 PM

                      No problem with the freedom. But if you sneer at evidence and claim privilege over everyone else with the same sort of stories you should expect to be mocked. Not mocked by ignorant soul-dead people in denial but mocked by any reasonable person with critical faculties.

                    • Seriously? April 3, 2014, 8:37 AM

                      What privilege? I am not claiming privilege. Nor do I consider these stories to be meaningful.

                      Two people look at the same data: One person can see coincidence, while the other person sees hashgachah pratis. There is not logical way to prove one is right and one is wrong. What actually happens is that each person is right FOR THEMSELVES. And they live their lives accordingly.

                      People often create self-fulfilling prophecies from their worldviews.

                    • Seriously? April 3, 2014, 8:35 AM

                      It is not delusional to believe otherwise. Pharoah had magicians. People have happily worshipped idols for millenia. The belief itself is at least a placebo effect.

                      I am not condemning others. And nasty humor is reserved for our enemies – for whom humor is very dangerous.

              • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 11:11 AM

                “In that sense, my version of Judaism is radically different from both Christianity and Islam, which are focused on what happens after life, not what we can do with life itself. ”
                Since you cannot “do” anything in the afterlife (you can only “be”) Christianity is totally focused on what you can do with life in this world. The difference is that it teaches that the choices you make and what you do in this world will affect what you can “be” in the afterlife. Or rather, what your relationship with God will be.

                • Seriously? April 2, 2014, 11:53 AM

                  Catholocism has “sold” suffering to thousands of years as peasants, promising them reward in heaven if they just grin and bear it on earth.

                  Heaven and Hell are ESSENTIAL to Christianity. Not so in Judaism, where neither is even mentioned in the Chumash itself.

                  • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 12:13 PM

                    Umm..well actually no. If you want to say that rich people who had vast power told the peasants not to worry about their sufferings because hey look at everything Jesus says about how the poor and suffering will be compensated in the world to come, no doubt lots of cynical people said that. The exact same texts, however, say the reverse as well — that is, that the rich and powerful will almost certainly suffer greatly in the afterlife because ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven” and “the love of money is the root of all evil.” In fact, Jesus says that when those who have failed in this life to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or care for the sick stand before him at the last judgment, his only words to them will be “depart from me — I never knew you.” So no…I don’t think Catholicism was telling anybody that exploiting the poor in this life is a good idea. Renouncing materialism (a la St. Francis) was always, of course, taught. Which is why monks took vows of poverty. But the requirement to share your wealth with the poor is taught explicitly in the New Testament. (It might be noted that the early Christians were literally “communists” (as recorded in Acts — “and the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. “)

                    • CentralJerseyMom April 2, 2014, 12:50 PM

                      I will, however, agree that the concept of an afterlife is essential to the religion in a way that is not true for Judaism. Because the afterlife is essential to the fulfillment of the promise “I am come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

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