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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 (97)
March 18, 2016
The rabbi will disagree but it amounts to important principles:
Look at it this way.
Start with Noah. Literally or figuratively, Noah is the ancestor of all humans after him. He is warned about those who shed the blood of humans: "by humsns shall their blood be shed." From this, derive the assumption that humans should avoid acts leading to bloodshed (e.g., robbery, adultery, and the bloodthirsty result of eating animal blood.) Noah and his descendants can eat whichever animals they choose. He is told that, just as people previously were permitted to eat plants, now Gd has "given you all". The laws of kosher eating were not given to Noah or to you.

Later, look at Sinai, when the entire Torah was given through Moses. The Torah tells Jews (& nobody else) what to eat. You can summarize these rules: "You will not eat wild animals, but only domesticated, & not pigs, camels, or rabbits--they're fertility symbols. No horses either. Eat poultry & cattle, & avoid giving pain."
March 18, 2016
You are what you eat.
And animals with fangs are not kosher.
Bugs are not kosher.
Sea creatures in the fame family as bugs (such as eight legged creatures or other invertebrate creatures) are not kosher.
Eagles and hawks are not kosher.
Fierce animals are not kosher.
Gd's Bible says for the Children of Israel to eat only kosher food.
It doesn't tell anybody else what to eat, except not to eat blood, because it may make them bloodthirsty. Some people, for example, eat blood pudding.
Does Gd care what we eat, or is eating an irrelevant "petty" part of life?

Food IS life. Without food we die. Our entire body is made of the food we eat. Gd is the Gd of Life, and most certainly does care what is eaten by the Children of Israel. But for other people His concern is only that you avoid eating blood. It's OK to get a blood transfusion because without it you might die, and Gd wants you to live, but to just eat plain blood for the pleasure of it could be spiritually harmful to you.
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.