Rabbi David Schneider’s Weekly Words of Wisdom 12: Shemini

shemini(Leviticus 9 – 11)

The time: First day of Nissan, one year to the day after the Exodus.

The place: Sinai.

As the Children of Israel stand full of awe before Moses, who’s about to share with them the laws of kashrus (what you can and can’t eat), Nadab and Abihu, two sons of Aaron, offer up something unprescribed on the altar of the L-rd and are struck dead by a fire from on high.

The time: the present, 3287 years later.

The place: North London.

As the readers of the Jewish Chronicle stand full of awe before another of Rabbi Schneider’s inspirational dissections of the week’s parsha, a certain Rabbi F sends round an abusive email claiming that I’m mentally unstable and that in the past few months I’ve been served four injunctions and been cautioned by the police on no less than five occasions.

It’s not hard to see the similarities between these two events. Plus ca change, as we say in Yiddish. Although what Rabbi F did was actually far worse, because at least Aaron’s sons made an unwitting error. Rabbi F knew exactly what he was doing, throwing around crazy accusations which have absolutely no basis in truth (though I’ve actually been cautioned six times, not five, so get your facts right, my friend).

If there’s one thing we learn from this week’s parsha, apart from the fact that storks aren’t kosher, it’s that the higher your position in life, the harsher the punishment for any error. Moses was refused entry into the Promised Land because when he was to bring water from a rock, he hit it instead of speaking to it. Anyone’s who’s tried to reason with a traffic warden knows how he feels. Similarly, Aaron’s sons were struck dead simply because they offered up something that wasn’t prescribed.

I’m not saying Rabbi F should suffer the same fate as them and have two rays of fire enter his nostrils, remove his soul and leave his body slumped lifeless on the ground, though that would be nice. It’s just that as a Rabbi, which he allegedly is, he should know about derech eretz kadma l’torah – you cannot call yourself a servant of the L-rd if you go round slagging other people off, as I keep telling the lowdown, sniveling little sheygetz. And as for that email he sent to what must be thousands of people, one thing we do learn from this week’s parsha is that spam simply isn’t kosher.

I suppose we should have expected all this from someone who’s home is swimming in bread and other chometz right in the middle of Pesach. I have pictures which prove it beyond doubt, despite the grainy long lens quality and the inevitable distortion of the net curtains and filthy windows which the senile old man in the flat opposite refused to let me clean because the Queen Mother was coming round to clean them next Saturday (clearly she isn’t shomer shabbos wherever she is, may she only be remembered for good).

If you look at the pictures, which you can on www.myspace.com/ shouldthismanbeallowedtowalkadogletaloneleadacongregation, you can see Rabbi F clearly covered in breadcrumbs. And as for his accusations that it was a letter bomb, who’s going to believe a story like that and anyway it wasn’t a bomb it was a simple Jack-in-the-Box mechanism which threw out bread and flour and a couple of mashed beigels, so what’s all the fuss about?

We all know what he’s up to. He’s trying to get Jeremy the producer to give him back my “Thought for the Day” slot. But Jeremy’ll never do that – he knows I’m not mentally unstable plus I’ve told him if he does I’ll kill myself with a challah knife. Perhaps Rabbi F could learn from Aaron who accepted the divine decree and remained silent when his sons were killed. Admittedly, he hadn’t just lost a prime slot on Radio 4 which would undoubtedly lead to numerous other media appearances. But I like to think that even if he had done, he would still have managed to bear it with dignity.

This article was first published in The Jewish Chronicle.

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