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An Open Letter to Sarah Silverman

I wouldn't be writing these words had your most recent video not been framed in biblical language. Its title held deep significance to me, as I am sure was your intention... I believe I have your number...

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Dear Sarah,

You have grown political as of late, and your politics have traction. Your YouTube video “Let My People Vote” has been viewed more than 1.4 million times. You have 3.4 million Twitter followers apparently eager to consume your mix of sexual references and political barbs.

I wouldn’t be writing these words had your most recent video not been framed in biblical language. Its title held deep significance to me, as I am sure was your intention.

Your name is Silverman. My name is Rosenblatt. We both have Jewish ancestors; I am not sure what else we share. You are good at what you do – comedy – and I try to be good at what I do – being a husband, dad, rabbi, and manufacturer of kosher meat. My wife and I are blessed with six children and my day is spent earning for the brood.

You stand out among comedians because your comedy is sharper than theirs. It is crude and clever, simple and punishing; your perception of the human condition is acute, which is why your punch lines bite deeper and hurt longer. You have a knack for finding faults and inconsistencies in people and blowing them wide open with carefully plotted language and cleverly nuanced pauses.

If I were to be gratuitous, I would say you mock what is imperfect because you know what perfect should look like and you seek the ultimate perfection.

But I won’t be so gratuitous. You are in show biz. I am in the rabbi biz. You entertain people. I serve people. I believe I have your number. You will soon turn 42 and your destiny, as you stated, will not include children. You blame it on your depression, saying you don’t want to pass it on to another generation.

I find that confusing, coming from someone as perceptive as you are in dissecting flawed arguments. Surely you appreciate being alive and surely, if the wonder of your womb were afflicted with your weaknesses and blessed with your strengths, it would be happy to be alive, too.

You said you wouldn’t get married until gay people can. Now they can. And you still haven’t married. I think, Sarah, that marriage and childrearing are not in the cards for you because you can’t focus on building life when you spend your days and nights tearing it down.

You have made a career making public that which is private, making crude that which is intimate, making sensual that which is spiritual. You have experienced what traditional Judaism taught long ago: when you make sex a public thing it loses its potency. When the whisper is replaced with a shout there is no magic to speak about. And, in my opinion, Sarah, that is why you have had trouble forging a permanent relationship – the most basic desire of the feminine soul.

Human beings have many acquaintances and fewer friends, but only one spouse. Judaism celebrates the monogamous, intimate relationship with a spouse as the prototype of the intimate relationship with God. Marriage, in Judaism, is holy. Family, in Judaism, is celebrated. But for you, nothing is holy; in your world, nothing is permanent. Your ideology is secular. Your culture may be Jewish, but your mind is not.

I think you have latched on to politics because you are searching for something to build. There is only so much pulling down one can do without feeling utterly destructive. You want to fight for a value so you take your belief – secularism – and promote it. As an Orthodox rabbi, I disagree with just about everything you say, but respect your right to say it. All I ask, respectfully, is that you not use traditional Jewish terminology in your efforts. Because doing so is a lie.

Nothing you say or stand for, Sarah, from your sickening sexual proposal to a Republican donor to your equally vulgar tweet to Mitt Romney, has the slightest thing to do with the most basic of tenets which Judaism has taught the world – that the monogamous relationship is the most meaningful one and that a happy marriage is the key to wholesomeness.

You are driven. You are passionate. I pray that you channel your drive and direct your passion to something positive, something that will make you a better and more positive person, something that will allow you to touch eternity and truly impact the world forever. I pray that you pursue marriage and, if you are so blessed, raise children.

About the Author: Yaakov Rosenblatt, the author of two books, is a rabbi and businessman in Dallas.


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890 Responses to “An Open Letter to Sarah Silverman”

  1. No, she's shilling for the Democrats. Let's not lose focus on what the message of the video was.

  2. Caz Bailey says:

    What a shame that the rabbi chose to attack Sarah personally, instead of commenting on the real subject of the video – ie the egregious disenfranchisement of certain sections of the American voting public.

  3. Yori Yanover says:

    I actually bought Grey's Anatomy for my daughter and quizzed her on it. She wants to be a surgeon.

  4. Yori Yanover says:

    We're all depleting natural resources, it's called being alive. Life is about creativity and prosperity, and you don't get that from devoting yourself to not using resources. The rabbi's children could end up providing benefits of all kinds to millions — isn't it a good investment to support them? Your option spells little more than death and paralysis, I'm afraid.

    As to eating animals — we could all benefit from eating less meat and more green, leafy vegetables. But dubbing meat eaters immoral is a tad out there.

  5. Yori Yanover says:

    I think the line "stop being judgmental" is the finest piece of satirical expression I've read in a while. It's way up there with "nobody's generalizing."

  6. Are you really that self-deluded? You server people? You are a rabbi; you serve a religious ideology at the expense of people. You promote your own beliefs which is self-serving. You serve no actual value to other people. Sarah, however, does. She makes our lives a little bit better by making us laugh.

    Sarah spends life tearing it down? You are a rabbi. You spend your life telling people what they can and can't do to appease an imagined tyrannical despot in the sky. You get in people's way from flourishing. I can't imagine anything more aimed at tearing people down than what you do. Sarah is promoting progress, freedom, and flourishing. She is tearing down efforts to oppress people. What she is doing is honorable; what you are doing is not.

    Making public what is private? Making crude what is intimate? These are what you do fora living. What could be more private and intimate then one's own beliefs and moral character? Yet you publicly coerce people's beliefs to conform to yours. Sarah's efforts are satire. Yours are serious.

    Openly discussing sex is freeing. It doesn't lose potency. Quite the opposite, it makes people feel more comfortable and liberated about it. It is religions that make people feel dirty about sex. What is dirty is openly promoting such religious beliefs. It is oppressing. That is something everybody has experienced throughout history.

    You pray for Sarah to be a better person? She's ten times the person you are. She has chosen to do honorable work. You have chosen oppressive and self-serving work. She sheds light on hypocrisy and promotes personal growth, all while entertaining. You promote oppression, regression, and blatant sexism. You treat women as valueless unless they marry and have children. She tears down efforts to oppress others. You tear down personal freedoms while oppressing others.

    You are a bad person and should be ashamed of your behavior. of your arrogance, of your hypocrisy, and of your self-delusion. I'd pray for you to be better, but I know prayer is ineffective. Instead, I'll take solace in knowing that people like you are on significant decline and people like Sarah are becoming more common. Education and enlightenment truly do expose people like you and push your ideologies to the fringe. And we are better for it. Good riddance.

  7. Annoying when one orthodox Jew says something inappropriate and, as a consequence, a long line of people, usually nonreligious Jews, take this opportunity to say, "See. All orthodox Jews are ignorant, controlling, etc."

  8. Yori Yanover says:

    You haven't met my folks…

  9. Denver Tina says:

    Marc – Where did I say I believed I evolved from a poo-flinging monkey?

  10. Ben Rabizadeh says:

    Bravo Rabbi. We need more engagement with our Jewish brothers and sisters out there.

  11. Rabbi Rosenblatt,

    I'll remember the name "Rosenblatt Kosher Meats, LLC" and if I ever see your wares in my neck of the woods, I'll head straight to the manager of whatever deli or store is carrying them, and inform her or him that I will not patronize their establishment as long as they are selling meat from a sexist pig such as yourself. I'll then send copies of your sexist rant to the people I know in the area and tell them of my decision.

    I don't find the bulk of Ms. Silverman's routines to be amusing. I often find her crass, vulgar and downright annoying. She even ventures into racism with her routines.

    You however, are far more offensive than anything she has ever said. I have a lot of friends who have chosen to be child free and while I do not share their decision, I respect it. You have no right to dictate to others what will and will not make them happy. Your terror, your fear of women who choose not to have children shows me far more about your own, petty, terrified insecurities than you imagine.

  12. Bridget Joyce Boyle says:

    I hear you have an issue with this man's position?

  13. me " Why is it that so many self-identified atheists are obsessed with religion?"

    Because there are jackasses like you, bin-Laden and Pat Robertson trying to use religion to shape secular law. It takes a profound level of hypocrisy to deliberately antagonize others and then get on a high horse when the people you attack get offended or fight back.

  14. Ann M Thomas says:

    One comment. I am Jewish, I chose not to have children for medical reasons. Orthodox Jews told my husband not to marry me because I am "barren" and therefore he would be violating G-d's law by choosing me. Thank G-d he didn't listen to them!

  15. " Lest you forget Avram Avinu has multiple wives, as did Ya'akov. Monogamy was not a traditional Jewish value from Torah–but a later adopted one. I am certain you know this–you are a Rabbi."

    I think you give him more credit than he deserves. He yammers like a Christian Creationist Apologists, getting his theology more from wishful thinking and prejudice than scholarly study. Yaakov Rosenblatt is a butcher. Any Rabbinical qualifications he claims appear to be more in the service of his Kosher certification than studying the creator and his will.

  16. Ann M Thomas says:

    The interesting thing is that by halakah, Jewish women ARE NOT required to have children, but Jewish men are. I've never figured out if this is for real, or just an assumption by the MEN who wrote it all that "of course all women want babies so we don't have to make it required for them."

  17. "Rabbi Rosenblatt was respectful"

    That word does not mean what you think it means.

  18. Sharon Gibson says:

    So, he's disappointed that she's not married and knocked up. Really, it's none of his business.

  19. It would be as strident from me. I have a lot of child free friends and I'm sick and tired of sanctimonious busybodies sticking their snouts in others' business.

    I don't even LIKE Silverman's act. She always stuck me as a female Andrew Dice Clay, but less original. I'm defending her here not out of respect for her act or even the video that sparked the Rabbi's misogynistic babbling, but because she was attacked unfairly. I defended Romney among my friends when he was accused of scientific ignorance when he made the joke about opening airplane windows, and I'm defending Silverman here. This isn't about politics, but about a butcher getting up in arms because women are deciding to be something other than what he wants them to be.

  20. Shahaf John Klein "that is where you are wrong! i do not judge nor do i want to be judged."

    Lying about what you're doing when we can all SEE what you're doing won't win anyone over, it just reveals you as a sanctimonious pig.

  21. Jon Narkleson says:

    Steve Dallas that was vulgar and hilarious. I'm going to have to watch that flick again sometime soon.

    This is not the response I thought I'd end up typing having read these comments so far. But I think the right things have already been said by Ari Moss, D'va Grrl, Shaun Duke and Ivan Rott. Just to mention a few people that don't have their heads in dark dank places.

  22. Tamar Amidon says:

    I love her dad's kicking of ass too

  23. He clearly cares more about Sara's uterus than the rights of disenfranchised voters. You'd think someone from a culture persecuted for thousands of years would have a LITTLE empathy for the plight of persecuted minorities. He's also astoundingly short sighted. What exactly does he think will happen to Jews if the nation is taken over by Christian extremists? Is he really so foolish as to think being a conservative enough Jew will win him brownie points with Theocrats who consider him a "Christ Killer?"

  24. To Yori Yanover: so you equate "truth," and your obeisance to it, to 'popularity,' and how many of the common denominator flock to it? So one can assume you will also be 'repeating the truths,' of Jersey Shore, Male strip clubs and Pornography in the coming days? 'Marrying,' isn't a "natural inclination," it is a result of learned, accepted societal and cultural norms – we believe we should 'marry,' because our socio-religious mores tell us we should. Not because we're genetically predisposed re 'nature.' As for your negative comments about women's 'emancipation,' i.e., the literal freeing of a person from under the power of another – somehow I'm not surprised that you'd view freedom of personhood in such a negative light spewing that it's a construct in opposition to having a family. Your horrific words really do speak for themselves. You see women's 'emancipation,' as inherently opposed to marrying and having children – tell me, do you think slavery in general has been good for family and society throughout world history? I was under the impression that human beings who aren't slaves, are happier than the oppressed, violated, subjugated ones who live in fear. As for not marrying or reproducing being a 'waste?' How so? What kind of dangerous ignorance, produces such overwhelming arrogance in a person that they feel they can constitute what is a 'waste,' of another person's time and/or inclination? Why and how do YOU get to decide that the lives of Plato, Jane Austen, Beethoven, Joan of Arc, George Washington – or any of the millions throughout human history who did not marry and/or procreate, be they despots, saints, scientists or billionaire celebrities like Oprah are 'wasting,' their lives? There's a difference between you and most decent human beings Yori Hanover, I don't judge or quantify the personal lives, happiness, humanity, or contribution of others by what does or does not issue from their loins. You are a silly, stupid man. If in fact you are a representative for this publication, they should weep at this intolerant pedestrian exhibition of yours.

  25. Jordana Brown,

    If you're so happy with the Rabbi's view of what a woman's place should be, why are you daring express your opinion before men? You, as a woman, have no standing over men in matters of religion, so why do you dare speak here?

    Could it be because, regardless of what the Rabbi thinks, you believe you have a right to voice your opinion?

    It's ironic that by voicing support for the misogynist butcher, you are ideologically demonstrating solidarity not with the Rabbi, but with the woman he is criticizing. You have more in common with Miss Silverman than with the Rabbi, even if you profess to adhere to beliefs that would have you subjugated.

  26. Marc Gottlieb Riiiight. Wanting people who have the legal right to vote to actually GET to vote is "shilling for the Democrats." We have to make sure only the "Right" people have the right to vote, don't we? We can't have any of those pesky liberals, moderates or minorities voting.

    By the way, have you looked into Willard Romney's actual legislative history? I know a lot of Democrats who see HIM as the more liberal candidate, except when it comes to reproductive rights. Some of them are more concerned with how Mittens will balloon the deficit. He likes spending money as if a fresh shipment will arrive from Heaven every morning.

  27. Yori Yanover Is her yardstick any more or less valid than the Rabbi's arrogant proclamation that a woman can't be happy unless she's having children?

  28. Yori Yanover Let me get this straight, your yardstick is Hollywood?

    Have you LOOKED at how Jews are usually portrayed in Hollywood? If you're going to use chick flicks as an illustration of the natural state of women, don't be surprised when racists use Hollywood to claim the natural state of a Jew is to be a neurotic mess who seduces their adopted daughter. And don't you dare criticize them for it, because they'll just be using your own logic.

  29. Bridget Joyce Boyle Yes, yes I do. He took issue with a video made by a female comic and spent a good deal of this "response" criticizing not the video, but her personal decision to remain childless. It's the typical "You're not a REAL woman if you're not married and pregnant" response. It's infantilizing misogyny, dismissing her not because of the content of her arguments but for the anatomy between her legs. It's offensive, sexist and disgusting.

  30. Scott Edmiston says:

    Sarah says shocking things and hopes that her audience thinks they are funny.

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