Some telling Jewish humor

This is actually an email forward that I got from that relative who always sends me email forwards. (Almost everyone has at least one of those, don’t they?) Usually the messages are long lists of puns I’ve heard before, or else they’re nutty conspiracy theories/urban legends I have to answer with a link or two to Snopes … but this one did a pretty good job illustrating how torn I feel between conservative and liberal religious sects, so I thought I’d share it with you.

If you’re a fundamentalist, you believe lots of extreme and awful things but at least you’re consistent about it. The liberals tend to be much more compassionate and more sensible on everything they haven’t compartmentalized as “religion,” but at the point at which it’s okay to throw out half the supposed “word of God” why should anyone bother keeping the rest of it?

Anyway, here’s the joke (minus the giant font size and other clutter):

Hello. You have reached the office of the Board of Rabbis.

If you are Orthodox, press 1.

If you are Conservative, press 1 or 2.

If you are Reform, press any button you like.

If you are Reconstructionist, press all the buttons.

Please hold while I transfer your call.

(1)  Hello. You have reached the Orthodox rabbi.  The answer to your question is that it is forbidden by the Torah.

(2)  Hello. You have reached the Conservative rabbi.  The answer to your question is that we have ruled that either answer is acceptable to some of us and neither answer is acceptable to all of us.  We hope this has been helpful.

(3)  Hello.  You have reached the Reform rabbi.  The answer to your question is: if you want to, sure, why not?  Who are we to say?

(4)  Hello.  You have reached the Reconstructionist rabbi.  The answer to your question presumes there is an answer to your question. However, my role is to empower you to answer your own question.  To answer your own question, please hang up now.

And that’s why I usually feel pretty comfortable around Reform and Reconstructionist Jews. At the same time, I still can’t shake the little voice that asks, “How is this even Judaism anymore?”

Of course, there isn’t a “Board of Rabbis” making sweeping judgments that are supposed to apply to all Jews, although in Googling for a source to cite for this joke (didn’t find one) I found another version that refers to the “New York Board of Rabbis” which does exist. It’s an advocacy organization, though, not any kind of doctrinal authority. Maybe that’s part of the problem here … or, maybe not.

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1 Comment

  1. Rabbi Jacob Adler

     /  September 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    This excellent joke is the work of Rabbi Richard Hirsh of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.

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