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Why is Jewish Law so Petty Minded?

Why is Jewish Law so Petty Minded?



Why does the Jewish religion seem to obsess over insignificant details? How much matza do we have to eat, which spoon did I use for milk and which for meat, what is the right way to tie my shoelaces? It seems to me that this misses the bigger picture by focusing on minutiae. Is this nitpicking what Jews call spirituality?

(I actually already sent you this question over a week ago and didn't receive a reply. Could it be that you have finally been asked a question that you can't answer?!)


I never claimed to have all the answers. There are many questions that are beyond me. But it happens to be that I did answer your question, and you did get the answer. I sent a reply immediately. The fact that you didn't receive it is itself the answer to your question.

You see, I sent you a reply, but I wrote your email address leaving out the "dot" before the "com." I figured that you should still receive the email, because after all, it is only one little dot missing. I mean come on, it's not as if I wrote the wrong name or something drastic like that! Would anyone be so nitpicky as to differentiate between "yahoocom" and ""? Isn't it a bit ridiculous that you didn't get my email just because of a little dot?

No, it's not ridiculous. Because the dot is not just a dot. It represents something. That dot has meaning far beyond the pixels on the screen that form it. To me it may seem insignificant, but that is simply due to my ignorance of the ways of the internet. All I know is that with the dot, the message gets to the right destination; without it, the message is lost to oblivion.

Jewish practices have infinite depth. Each nuance and detail contains a world of symbolism. And every dot counts. When they are performed with precision, a spiritual vibration is emailed throughout the universe, all the way to G‑d's inbox.

If you want to understand the symbolism of the dot, study I.T.

If you want to understand the symbolism of Judaism, study it.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Discussion (95)
September 17, 2015
My dear anonymous friend, Judaism wasn't created when the internet was around because it wasn't created for the internet. It was created for people and they haven't changed, not a dot (pardon the pun). People still need to breathe, sleep, drink, eat, relate with each other, etc. As you study Judaism you should always ask yourself "how does this help me?" - you are entitled to do that - maybe even duty bound.
Shlomo Schwartz
Toronto, Canada
July 31, 2015
The reason why a dot represents something so significant is because it represents something exact and unchangeable. Adding a dot in an e-mail in todays day and age is common sense and everyone who know how to use e-mail does it. It doesnt mean i need to buy a new computer to send e-mails and another to look up my dentists number. I've heard people say if you have nothing nice to say, dont say anything at all. I think there should be a new saying. If you have nothing relevant to say, dont say anything at all. Because Judaism wasn't created when the internet was around. And don't mix dairy with meat? You are what you eat. It all goes to the same place. Humans are definitely not kosher as much as people may like to think.
April 25, 2015
True story
Way back, when networking wasn't a household name, I remember having trouble connecting two computers. I had to back up the all thing in a car and "pay" a visit to two specialists. Took me more than half a day, two hundred miles and specialist fees.
What did I do wrong ?
It was obvious to the second one:
"Sir, you can't see you typed : instead of ; "?
He was right!
Goy boy
April 8, 2015
What a strange answer. Judaism is not the Internet. It is nothing like the Internet. Such a flip response, from a rabbi no less, to such a serious question is rather... insulting? Troubling to the future of our faith?
August 5, 2014
Why is Jewish law so petty?
Your answer was timely, accurate, informative and inspirational. Thank you, Rabbi Aron. It helped me to understand the same question but just was hesitant to ask.
June 9, 2014
Modesty is not ugliness.
Modesty is privacy.
Being modest does not mean being unattractive. It's fine to wear beautiful headgear or beautiful wigs. But some things are private, and, for Orthodox Jews (as well as observant Muslims and, in former days, Christians), one of those things that are private is a woman's hair.
A man can admire a beautifully adorned woman.
But she knows he is not seeing her own private hair.
The sight of her own hair is set aside for her husband alone.
When she REMOVES the wig and invites him into her bed, she can experience a level of intimacy which women who expose their hair to the world cannot begin to imagine.
June 9, 2014
To Wind
"Modesty" is a huge term. It refers to the way one talks and how one interacts with how one furnishes one's home and makes a wedding...and refers even to how one mourns in public. It's often, as well, projected in how one dresses. There are laws about all of the above. Needless to say, just because one follows the letter of the law of modesty doesn't, sadly, reflect the spirit of the law.

The laws concerning modesty in dress are not meant to make one unattractive. Quite the contrary. In fact, most people are decidedly more attractive clothed than unclothed. The laws of modesty state that a person's body - and this includes a married woman's hair - is for the privacy of her and her interaction with her husband. Indeed, she should always look nice. She's to take pride in looking attractive. The spirit of 'modesty' is not to be unattractive. She should dress nicely, and cover her hair in a way that feels comfortably 'nice' to herself. And if her wig is nicer than her real hair..or if she looks much more attractive dressed than not....well, that's one of the perks of clothing...:)
Bronya Shaffer
May 28, 2014
Can you explain why orthodox women who are supposed to be "modest" (and I use the term the loosely) by covering their hair choose to wear wigs far sexier and erotic than their own hair could ever be? I am a proud atheist Jew (I identify culturally with Judaism but have yet to be convinced there is a god) and it's the silly intricacies and hypocrisy all over Jerusalem that have driven me to this lifestyle.

Feel free to try and convince me if you can. And please note the dot.
April 20, 2014
Rabbi Moss, I loved your answer! It all makes perfect sense with a simple and funny explanation like that. Thank you!
Miriam Baley
Mexico City, Mexico
March 20, 2014
Jewish Minutiae
This is precisely why I reject Judaism and, instead, embrace Republicanism; within this context it just makes more sense to me.

I make my judgements based upon a study of whose freedom gets taken away by my actions and indeed, there is, since the founding of this Great and Grand Republic tons of case law that explains this.

For example, that someone would pick up sticks on the Sabbath; there is a penalty attached to this.

Republicanism teaches that someone picking up sticks on the Sabbath doesn't interfere with my own right to either pick up sticks myself or to my own right to chose not to pick them up; the personal freedom of a republic is demarcated by something called law and this law is man-made and we have regular public debates over what form this law should take in a free press.

A much better system, in my honest opinion, then Halakah.
Freedom Mann
Forest Hills, NY