Thursday, February 23, 2012
A Little Dirt Never Hurt Anybody!
Mat 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying,2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
Mat 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
One Friday evening on a very cold, very wintery day in the Twin Cities, I was driving through a Hassidic neighborhood when I saw several bearded, black clad Jews converging on a synagogue. Having some time to kill I found a parking spot and followed the parade to their house of worship.
I was welcomed warmly to the Sabbath services, but warned sternly that there would be no “Christian missionary work” allowed.
The services were intriguing, to say the least. I was provided with a personal guide to help me understand the bobbing and weaving, the chanting and responsive readings.
Then came a part of the function that all faiths could well understand...food and fellowship. Now, I could feel at home!
But first, the ritualistic hand washing. Picture a surgeon scrubbing up before a procedure and you will get an idea of the ordeal. The water is poured over your hands, allowed to run down the forearms and drip off your elbows into the basin. If any of the dirty water were to get back on the hands again, then the process would have to be repeated. And all this for some hummus and Pepsi? It's not brain surgery, you know!
The fellowship to follow was a real delight. I was the center of attention as a bagel baker’s dozen Hassidim bombarded me with questions about our similarities and differences. A little "Christian missionary work" was allowed through the back door after all!
I treasure the experience and the skull cap they gave me.
I have now attended Ultra-Orthodox services in Newport, RI, St. Louis Park, MN and Tiberias, Israel. I am struck by one similarity between these precious souls and my Independent, fundamental, nary-a-piece-of-literature Baptist brethren. We tend to make a big deal out of things that aren't all that important while ignoring the things that are. We are prone to straining at gnats while swallowing camels.
Ask the average died-in-the-wool, fundamentalist preacher what would happen if a person were to inadvertently swallow a drop of alcohol or take one choreographic step while music plays or step into a movie theater and they start to shake. Sweat beads up on their brow, fingers tremble, nerves fray. Hell hath no fury like a Baptist tradition scorned!!!
But when a family in trouble is about to have their heat turned off, or when their electricity is about to have the plug pulled, or when they don't have the gas to get their kid to the hospital and they call that same straight-laced pastor for a bit of help, the preacher's religion tends to get pretty thin. (If applicable, delete “Baptist” and insert your own denomination)
After the phone call, they hurry to their wash basin and cleanse the filth of that hurting family's call from their hands, allowing the defiled water to drip from their elbows.
Then it's off to Burger King for a double Whopper with cheese, Coke and fries. Oh, and super-size that order, please!
A little dirt never hurt anybody. That's what my mom, and Jesus, said.