Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Specify type of seder

Posted by metaphorical on 2 April 2009

The late comedian Richard Jeni had two jokes I always wanted to see come together.

1. On going to war over religion: You’re basically killing each other to see who’s got the better imaginary friend.

2. The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you’ve got millions of pals out there. Type in, ‘Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire,’ and the computer will say, ‘Specify type of goat.’

Nowadays, the two jokes have hooked up, at the Kinky Sedar, the fourth annual one of which will be this Sunday. According to an excellent article in the Jewish Forward,

When about 100 Jews gather in Brooklyn on April 5 for a pre-Passover Seder, they will pay homage to their enslaved ancestors not with the traditional sinus-clearing horseradish, but by spanking each other with wands of chocolate licorice.

They will recount the story of Passover with a liberal dose of double entendre; they will break from the Haggadah reading to play a grown-up version of show-and-tell, in which guests showcase their “most-treasured kinky item” — be it a restraint, a whip or a pair of spiked heels; and they will sing a sex-positive version of “Dayenu,” with lyrics like, “If she only dressed in leather/Bright and shiny patent leather/If she only dressed in leather/Dayenu.”

There won’t be any goats of course. That’s prohibited by Jewish law—in fact, sex with animals seems to be one of only a few sexual practices prohibited by the Torah. (In his excellent book, Superstition, Robert Park notes that “If the universe was designed for life, it must be said that it is a shockingly inefficient design.” Along the same lines, if the Bible was designed to offer guidance about sexual practices, it’s a shockingly inefficient design.)

In any event, there won’t be any sex at all at the sedar:

Kinky Seder guests, who are encouraged to dress in “fetish attire” — no jeans, no sneakers, please — are likely to be disappointed if they’re expecting an orgy to break out at the Seder. While KinkyJews-sponsored events occasionally involve on-site sexual experimentation, the vast majority do not, members say.

And yet, somehow, the sedar manages to offend almost everyone. It’s even condemned by what must be the leading exponent of Jewish sexuality, a rabbi whose own book, The Kosher Sutra, has surely offended many of his fellow chosen people.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author of “The Kosher Sutra: Eight Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life” (HarperOne), said the notion of a kink-themed Seder is disrespectful to both the sanctity of marital relations and to the Passover holiday.

“Can you imagine the outrage if a group of people decided to commemorate African-American slavery by having an orgy?” Boteach asked. “This wasn’t a joke. Millions of God’s children were sold on the block, and here you are trivializing evil with this vulgar celebration.”

(By the way, rabbi, nice exaggeration on the “millions of God’s children.” There were all of 600,000 Jews in slavery in the first place, or at least, that’s how many were in the Exodus. There were probably only a few million people in all of Egypt, and of course most of them were godless, in your view.)

Anyway, the important thing is that the good rabbi is all for sex. In an article last January in the Jerusalem Post, he wrote:

Judaism, alone among the religions of the world, deeply endorses the passionate sexual interaction between man and woman.

The “alone among religions” is probably an exaggeration as well, but it’s more than atoned for by his wonderful double-entendre, the joy of which is dimmed only be the likelihood that it was unintentional.

Jewish, and in general, religious positions (pun intended, or at least retained intentionally—hey, they’re hard to avoid when writing about sex), seem be all over the place.

In fact, religiously-justified assertions about sex seem to match the very definition of a continuum—for any two ideas about what’s right and wrong, or allowed and forbidden, there’s a third idea held by someone, that falls somewhere in between.

People seem to just make up what they think the rules are. Tthat seems to be true of religious law in general, but all the more so when it comes to sex. (I know people who are strictly kosher at home, with the four sets of plates and everything, but will eat anything in a restaurant. Similarly, consider evangelical Christian willingness to lie in bed with Dick Cheney, despite his support for his lesbian daughter, when lesbianism is one of the few sexual practices that the Bible might unequivocally condemn.)

We have a name for specify-type-of-goat people: libertine. And we have a name for people like Rabbi Boteach: hypocrite.

One Response to “Specify type of seder”

  1. digglahhh said

    Is there no end to the discrimination against jeans and sneakers?…

    Richard Jeni was an underrated comedian, btw. “Platypus Man” was a legitimately great special, as I remember.

    No, no substantive comment to offer about the “meat” of the post though.

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