The Chief Rabbi (as the Telegraph sycophantically calls him) decided to go off in a brand new direction and talk about the inadequacy of consumerism as a worldview. Gosh you know what – he’s totally right!!
Speaking at an interfaith reception attended by the Queen this week, Lord Sacks said: “People are looking for values other than the values of a consumer society. The values of a consumer society really aren’t ones you can live by for terribly long.
“The consumer society was laid down by the late Steve Jobs coming down the mountain with two tablets, iPad one and iPad two, and the result is that we now have a culture of iPod, iPhone, iTune, i, i, i.
“When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i’, you don’t do terribly well.”
He went on: “What does a consumer ethic do? It makes you aware all the time of the things you don’t have instead of thanking God for all the things you do have.”
I love it that he said that to an audience that included the queen – since she’s so utterly separated from any kind of consumerism doncha know. No consumerism about our Brenda! She makes last year’s T shirts do for another decade, so she does. She dines on lentils and coarse rye bread. There’s a rust spot on the undercarriage of one of her Bentleys.
In an attempt to highlight the link between faith and happiness, Lord Sacks pointed out that on the Jewish day of rest, the Shabbat, the devout spend time with their families rather than spending money in shops.
Yes, and? What’s the connection? Lots of the non-devout also spend time with their families rather than spending money in shops. Furthermore, those two items don’t exhaust the possibilities for how to spend non-job time. There are many alternatives to spending money in shops other than spending time with one’s family – and furthermore, spending money in shops does not exclude spending time with one’s family: the family can all go shopping together.
The connection perhaps is that people who slavishly obey what they take to be The Rules about “the sabbath” are more or less forced to spend time with their families by being forbidden to go to the shops, or unable to go to the shops because the shops are all closed, or some such thing. Whatever it is, the whole idea is a silly bossy interfering piece of nonsense, from someone with a vested interest in more people being more devout so that there will be something for chief rabbis to do, besides flattering the queen for being so abstemious.
The Chief Rabbi, who has represented Britain’s 300,000 Jews since 1991 and is due to step down in 2013, said: “Therefore the answer to the consumer society is the world of faith, which the Jews call the world of Shabbat, where you can’t shop and you can’t spend and you spend your time with things that matter, with family.
“Unless we get back to these values we will succeed in making our children and grandchildren ever unhappier.”
There you go: the true bossy note: you can’t shop, you can’t spend, you spend your time with what I say matters. And in what sense does the chief rabbi “represent” Britain’s 300 thousand Jews? Did they elect him? Are all 300 thousand “devout”? I think the answer to both questions is no, so I don’t see how he can be said to represent them.
He represents unelected chiefs of things, like the queen, more than he represents all British Jews, if you ask me.