An amazing thing happened to me last night! While I was sleeping, an angel appeared in a dream and told me to start a new Jewish religion.
“A new Jewish religion?” I asked, bewildered.
“That’s right,” he replied.
I was certain that I was hallucinating because I had fasted yesterday and that my mind was playing tricks. So I went back to sleep. But the angel appeared once again and told me to start a new Jewish religion.
Two times is already a sign that a dream is true, so I was really at a loss for words.
“Why me?” I asked.
“You have a nice beard,” the angel replied.
“Lots of people have nice beards,” I answered.
“You have a nice smile, too” he said. “Looks are what matters these days. If you want to have lots of followers, you have to look the part.”
It sort of made sense. But who was I to start a new Jewish religion? True, Orthodox Judaism, while showing a definite resurgence in recent years, still wasn’t pulling in the masses. And all the breakaway movements hadn’t done anything to stem the tsunami of assimilation which was eating away at Diaspora Jewry. So there certainly was room for a new movement that would inspire the Jewish People back to the fold.
Needless to say, after my middle of the night encounter with the angel, I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got dressed and sat down at the computer to print out an official Rabbi diploma. After all, if I was going to start a new Jewish religion, I’d have to be a Rabbi. So I typed up a very distinguished looking certificate with a picture of Jerusalem and printed out another 500 copies, figuring I would have to have a lot of assistant Rabbis to help me spread the new movement all over the world. Plus, I figured, I was going to need money to publicize the new Jewish agenda, and by selling official Rabbi certificates to as many people as I could, I could generate funds for the operation. So, if anyone would like to become an official Rabbi, and help out the cause, all you have to do is send me $5000, and I will mail the certificate to your home, and you can be an official Rabbi too.
When my wife woke up in the morning, I asked her to please start calling me Rabbi.
I won’t tell you what she answered, but as they say, no man is a prophet in his own home.
“At least just for show, honey,” I begged. “I’m going to become the new Internet Rabbi. Soon, I’m going to be world famous.”
“Famous, shmamous,” she answered. “Did you pray Shachrit yet?”
“No, I’ve been busy,” I admitted.
“Well, go pray, and then you can worry about saving the world.”
Why bother to pray, I thought? After all, going to minyan three times a day can be a big burden, and formalized prayer can turn a lot of people off. If I was going to start a popular new Jewish religion, I’d have to attract as many followers as I could, and any whiff of coercion was sure to keep people away. Tefillin too would have to go. What enlightened person wants to put a little box on his head and walk around with tzitzit? Ever try to make a pass at a shiksa wearing tzitzit and a kippah? They were a big turn off too. In fact, all of the Torah’s commandments were too heavy and time-consuming to expect people to follow, so why not do away with them all? The Jewish holidays too. Why should Jews feel different from their gentile neighbors, with separate Jewish holidays? The progressive and reform liberal movements still pretended to have some sort of parve Jewish holiday observance, but why continue the masquerade? It only served to separate us from the goyim. In my new Jewish religions, there wouldn’t be any commandments or holidays at all. Everyone would be free to do just what he or she wanted, and they could still be Jews. If anyone wanted to be a Jew, even gentiles, just wanting to be a Jew was enough. No need to study. No tests. No primitive mikvahs and ritual immersions. What’s important is feelings, right? If someone wants to be a Jew, or feels like a Jew, all he or she has to do is send me $2000 a year for a yearly membership in the new Jewish religion, and they will receive an official certificate that I will print out stating that they are 100% Jewish.Tzvi Fishman