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Lapin: Retirement Isn’t Biblical

Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the Christian right’s favorite Jewish wingnut. He appeared recently on an American Family Association radio show and declared that no one should ever retire because there is no Hebrew word for it and it therefore doesn’t appear in the Bible.

An easy thing to say when your “work” consists of saying batshit crazy things every day. You can keep that up until the day you die. Not so easy if you’re someone who does physical labor, but they apparently don’t count. By the way, the word “airplane” also doesn’t appear in the Bible, so pilots are clearly committing a sin.

Comments

  1. Randomfactor says

    Neither is television. In fact, I’m pretty sure that by appearing on television, the good rabbi is initiating electromagnetic waves which DO WORK ON THE SABBATH.

    Stoning is appropriate, if you believe in that sort of thing.

  2. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    I’m pretty sure he’s wearing mixed fabric right there.

    That’s a specifically stonable offense in the good ol’ Bible.

  3. shouldbeworking says

    IIRC the first steps in stoning was to dig a hole about neck deep and then place the victim in the hole and then fill in the hole. While the rabbi is digging the hole for me ( the dirt is under the 1 metre of snow), this Canadian will have more coffee, blueberry waffles with maple syrup: all words that aren’t in his holey book.

    I’ll wait in the kitchen. Yum…

  4. ildi says

    shouldbeworking: nah, that’s old school. In Washington and Colorado you simply add some marijuana to the batter.

  5. schism says

    Rabbi Daniel Lapin is the Christian right’s favorite Jewish wingnut.

    I wonder if that will change now, seeing as “(white) retirement-aged” is one of the few demographics the GOP can still count on to vote their way.

  6. says

    The bible also says that we should work six days and have only one day off. We are also supposed to work from sunrise to sunset. No 9 to 5 workdays.
    The bible also doesn’t mention sick days or vacations.
    Biblical labor laws suck.
    The reason people’s health declines after retirement is they are old. They are on the dowhill slope.
    When he said that retirees stop helping people when they retire is an insult to all of the retirees who help out with their extended families and do hours and hours of volunteer work.

  7. Sastra says

    I think the Bible’s code word for “retirement” was “old.” As in “too old to farm or do house chores so your adult children should set you comfortably by the fireside while they scramble for day-to-day survival according to the standards of subsistence living they had thousands of years ago.”

  8. thebookofdave says

    Isn’t Rabbi Lapin’s image featured in the gospel of Matthew, under the title: How to Recognize a Pharisee? I’m (not so) surprised AFA overlooked such an embarassing flaw in selecting their show’s guests. It’s a good thing there were no white Protestant seniors in the audience to misunderstand the meaning of his little pep-talk.

  9. Artor says

    I had bacon for breakfast, and I’ll be working both Saturday & Sunday. Don’t worry about the stoning though; I’ll take care of that myself. I have my own burning bush right here…

  10. says

    Is there a word for “computer” and “internet” in the bible? Because, if not, he should get off his “computer” and the “internet” and – is there a biblical saying for “pound sand?”

  11. matty1 says

    Even the word Bible isn’t in the Bible and I think that goes for Hebrew equivalents too.

    Anyway retirement is a good thing a combination of longer lifespans with loosing the old assumption that you dig the farm until you can no longer lift a spade and then you starve.

  12. Rodney Nelson says

    Neither heart attacks or cardiologists are mentioned in the Bible so the rabbi had better watch his cholesterol (which isn’t mentioned in the Bible either). But you know something that is mentioned in the Bible? Hypocrites.

  13. says

    I’m pretty sure he’s wearing mixed fabric right there.

    That’s a specifically stonable offense in the good ol’ Bible

    Biblical citation, please.

  14. wholething says

    Back then, people didn’t live to be 65 years old unless they had a job that was like being retired their whole lives., like being a rabbi.

  15. raven says

    I’m pretty sure he’s wearing mixed fabric right there.

    Probably not.

    wikipedia:

    Observant Jews in current times also follow the laws of shatnez, and newly purchased garments are checked by experts to ensure that there are no forbidden admixtures. In addition to the above mentioned methods, modern day shatnez experts employ the use of microscopy to determine textile content.

    In most cases, garments that do not comply can be made compliant by removing the sections containing linen. There exist some companies that label compliant products with “shatnez-free” tags.

    There are whole organizations dedicated to detecting mixed fiber fabrics and you can earn a label of “shatnez free” for clothing. It’s a big enough market that it isn’t too hard to find clothes made with pure materials.

  16. says

    This is one of the many examples of how the cultural resentments of the religious right get twisted to serve the plutocratic interests of the monied right. I’m not sure that one could survive without the other.

  17. raven says

    Life Expectancy – Overview of Life Expectancy
    geography. about.com › … › Population Statistics › Population Geography

    During the Roman Empire, Romans had a approximate life expectancy of 22 to 25 years. In 1900, the world life expectancy was approximately 30 years and in …

    The average life span in biblical times isn’t known too well. Estimates range from 22 years to 40 years.

    If Rabbi Lapin was living a true biblical lifestyle, chances are he would be dead by now. He would also have watched half his kids die young while blaming it all on demons.

  18. Draken says

    @billdaniels:

    We are also supposed to work from sunrise to sunset. No 9 to 5 workdays.

    I’m not certain that is in the bible, I can’t find it at least. But the Quran has these obligatory prayer times which are offset against sunrise and sunset. Either Allah (NSFW) didn’t know about Scandinavia, or he (ROTFLOL) has a fine sense of humour.

  19. reddiaperbaby1942 says

    Actually, in Luke 2:29 we find the line “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word”. This is often known as the “nunc dimittis”. There’s also the line in Matthew 25:21, “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant”. Although these lines probably refer to death, they could easily be interpreted as having served sufficiently and now being allowed to depart — whether to death or to a peaceful old age.
    It’s always nice when we can use the religious crazies’ own weapons against them. Athough in fairness these are both from the NT, so perhaps the good rabbi doesn’t know them.
    Besides, I’ve always loved the language of the King James bible. One doesn’t have to believe in any of it — just enjoy the poetry!

  20. reddiaperbaby1942 says

    sorry, I mistyped my original message: the second line should be “Well done, thou true and faithful servant.” That makes all the difference to the poetry!

  21. says

    So, dismantling the social safety net, turning our educational system into crap, regressive taxes to punish the poor, Bachmann not paying people for work, and now we’ve got someone trying to undermine the legitimacy of retirement as a cultural concept. Yeah, looking like they’re trying to create a slave class.

  22. Sastra says

    There is a grain of truth hidden under the rabbi’s silly injunction to not retire or the Lord will smite you for failing to help others. It’s that people who retire from their job (or career) and show no concern for finding interesting and meaningful things to do with their time often do succumb to boredom, then bad habits, and then avoidable early health problems.

    The solution is not to keep on working till you die (the death rate associated with that is a horrendous 100%!) The solution is to find interesting and meaningful things to do (however you define them) and keep up with healthy habits. “Helping others” is good, but as an overall agenda for every person at every stage in their life I think it can be overrated.

  23. matty1 says

    Actually now I come to think of it is the word Rabbi in the Hebrew Bible? I know it’s in the New Testament but surely Lapin doesn’t want to cite that.

  24. tbp1 says

    I certainly want people of different religions to get along, or at least refrain from persecuting and killing each other, but I’ve never understood Jews who spend so much time hanging out with people who—literally—think they are going to Hell, and deserve to, for the crime of being Jewish (well, the crime of not being exactly the right kind of Christian). Not to mention that evangelical “support” for Israel is predicated on their belief that Israel must be unified before Christ can return to slaughter most Jews and send them to, you guessed it, Hell.

    I wonder, do all the evangelical types people like Lapin and Medved spend so much time with try to convert them, if they really think their good friends will spend all eternity in unbearable agony? If not, why not?

    A more cynical man than I might suspect that their political/economic agenda is what really motivates them, and the religion is just a smokescreen, at least in many cases.

  25. khms says

    Yeah, looking like they’re trying to create a slave class.

    Well duh, slavery is in the bible!

  26. caseloweraz says

    The word “retirement” may not appear in the Bible, but “retire” or its equivalent certainly does. From Dictionary.com (edited):

    re·tire — verb, re·tired, re·tir·ing, noun.

    verb (used without object)
    1. to withdraw, or go away or apart, to a place of privacy, shelter, or seclusion: He retired to his study.
    2. to go to bed: He retired at midnight.
    3. to withdraw from office, business, or active life, usually because of age: to retire at the age of sixty.
    4. to fall back or retreat in an orderly fashion and according to plan, as from battle, an untenable position, danger, etc.
    5. to withdraw or remove oneself: After announcing the guests, the butler retired.

    And in fact “retirement” as the period of one’s life when one has stopped regular paid work is only one possible meaning of that word. Again, see Dictionary.com.

    It’s true that Rabbi Lapin uses it here to mean stopping paid employment. This is a relatively new concept, and as others have pointed out, one of a multitude of modern concepts that the Bible does not mention. Thus, it can be argued that the good rabbi is merely japin’.

    I’d say more, but I’m too shy and retiring.

  27. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    There are whole organizations dedicated to detecting mixed fiber fabrics and you can earn a label of “shatnez free” for clothing. It’s a big enough market that it isn’t too hard to find clothes made with pure materials.

    I’d heard of the ridiculous no-button elevator, the phone that keeps dialing until you pick it up, and the compressed-air powered wheelchair for use on the sabbath, but I’d never heard of that one before. Truly there is no limit to the amount of time and money people waste to satisfy the baseless and useless laws of their favorite imaginary friend.

    You learn new things every day.

  28. Rip Steakface says

    Biblical citation, please.

    No indication that it is a stonable offense, but there is a specific prohibition against mixed fabric garments in Leviticus 19:

    Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

    Or at least no mixing linen and wool.

  29. andrewlephong says

    The average life span in biblical times isn’t known too well. Estimates range from 22 years to 40 years.

    Methuselah lived to be 969 years old. But then again, lots of babies were dashed to the rocks in the OT, so I guess it still averages to around 22-40 years.

  30. says

    Rip Steakface,

    No indication that it is a stonable offense, but there is a specific prohibition against mixed fabric garments in Leviticus 19:

    Yes I know that. I was looking for the reference that it was a crime for which one was stoned to death.

  31. Erp says

    I think the rabbi is also wrong. The Torah goes into to detail for only for the jobs related to the sanctuary. However there it seems to set an optional retirement at age of 50.

    Numbers 4
    2 “Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting. 4 “This is the work of the Kohathites at the tent of meeting: the care of the most holy things.

    22 “Take a census also of the Gershonites by their families and clans. 23 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting.
    24 “This is the service of the Gershonite clans in their carrying and their other work: 25 They are to carry the curtains of the tabernacle…

    29 “Count the Merarites by their clans and families. 30 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work at the tent of meeting. 31 As part of all their service at the tent, they are to carry the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts and bases,

    Numbers 8
    23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the tent of meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”

  32. says

    This reminds me of your recent post on Heterosexual Awareness Month, where the wingnuts on Facebook complained that homophobia is a made-up word. It often strikes me that there is a weird sort of essentialism lurking in the minds of the religious right, that there is a set of Real Words with True Meanings, and that language that deviates from that is somehow suspect.

  33. Randomfactor says

    better watch his cholesterol (which isn’t mentioned in the Bible either).

    Not directly, no. But it did observe that in Egypt, Pharoah’s heart was hardened.

  34. steve oberski says

    shouldbeworking

    Will I be stoned for having blueberry waffles for breakfast?

    They’ve been known to taste better when you are stoned.

  35. caseloweraz says

    Erp quoted Numbers 8:25 and noted “there it seems to set an optional retirement at age of 50.”

    I agree, which means the Bible does mention retirement in the sense that Rabbi Lapin means it. Thus the good rabbi is wrong in the most specific sense.

    My contention above is wrong, too; but I am glad to stand corrected.

  36. caseloweraz says

    @kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith:

    Have you heard the one about the steam tables?

    It seems there was a question in some Kosher cafeteria about whether the steam from the steam tables was Kosher. Since it touched the various foods being warmed, this was a real issue.

    Apparently non-food substances don’t have to be Kosher, and the Torah defines something as non-food if a dog unfed for six hours won’t touch it. So the folks at the delicatessen put a few drops of pine oil in the water for the steam tables. Patrons couldn’t detect it, but dogs could. Problem solved.

    I heard this on the radio years ago. I don’t have a cite for it and I may have the unfed period wrong (it may have been 24 hours.)

  37. peterh says

    @ #33,

    “Well duh, slavery is in the bible!”

    You’d quickly be tempted to run screaming if you waded through the incredible messes apologist fundamentalists will dredge up to show how fuzzy-feely-all-over were the relationships between masters & their “servants.”

  38. stever says

    Some scholars suspect that the extreme ages of Methuzalah, Noah and other OT figures are among the Babble’s many mistranslations, with an old word for “lunar months” misrendered as “years.” 969 lunar months is less than 75 years. In pre-antibiotic times, that would have been amazing, but not unreal.

    I’m surprised that no Israeli engineer has designed an elevator with a brushless motor, solid-state controls, and fiber-optic cover-the-light “pushbuttons.” Such a system would look and work like any modern elevator, but produce no sparks at all. Anybody know the URL for the Israeli Patent Office?

  39. says

    There are a great many words and ideas not found in the Bible. “Gun,” for example. “Internal combustion engine.” “Airplane.” “Clock.” “Television.” “World wide web.” “Chinese food.” “Poodle.”

    What should we make of these facts?

  40. says

    An easy thing to say when your “work” consists of saying batshit crazy things every day. You can keep that up until the day you die.

    I don’t know, Ed. Have you seen Pat Robertson lately? The senility is definitely winning the battle there.

  41. eoleen says

    In regard to shouldbeworking’s question about getting stoned if you eat blueberry waffles or pancakes, or muffins, for that matter, the answer iw a resounding YES, but only if you make them with MaryJane…

  42. joachim says

    “jewish wingnut”…oops! A little of that GNU Atheist anti semtism slipping out there Eddy!

  43. Rip Steakface says

    Yes I know that. I was looking for the reference that it was a crime for which one was stoned to death.

    Unlikely that it’s crime that gets a death penalty, even by the harsh punishments common to the Bible. Only reference to death in the chapter is that men who sleep with engaged slave women will not be put to death, but the woman instead will be “scourged.”

  44. hypatiasdaughter says

    #49 stever
    The Bible literalists reject that interpretation because it also says someone (Noah, I think) had children at “60” which would make them parents at 5 years old.
    I wonder if the Rabbi gets paid in cash or with the doves and sheep brought into the temple for sacrifice?

  45. Rip Steakface says

    How about linen and nylon? Or woolen and nylon?

    Nylon wasn’t invented when the OT was written, so…

  46. says

    No, Joachim, Judaism as a religion can be every bit as nutty as any other religion. There’s nothing anti-semitic in distinguishing Jewish wingnuttery as a style distinct from Christian, Islam, Zoroastrian, or Hindu. That’s not a comment on a people. Ethnicity and religion are separate concepts, no matter their sometimes overlap in people.

  47. tbp1 says

    @58: What you said. Also, Mr. Lapin is of interest to the Christian right primarily because he IS Jewish. Thus having him on their radio and TV shows allows them to pretend that the Evangelical/Fundamentalist (and yes, I know they’re not exactly the same thing) movement isn’t anti-Semitic to the core.

  48. says

    #26: The closest I have come up with so far, by thumbing through my Book of Common Prayer is in Psalm 104: 23-24:
    “The sun rises, and they (lions) slip away and lay themselves down in thier dens.
    Man goes forth to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.”
    I’ll keep looking for a better verse.
    #15: Your posts needs a few “so-called’s” to make it more believable.

  49. anubisprime says

    The more the religiotards pontificate, rant ,rave and claim…the more they become critters of wonder delight and unparalleled hilarity.
    They are becoming unmitigated parodies of themselves….this is not a lampoon this is a so called man of god, ad the rhetoric has started to become noticed and laughed at…before it was just background gobbly gook now it is becoming a competition as to who in their rag tag and bobtail ranks of who can utter the most mendacious, ridiculous, and brain dead gambit yet still keep a straight face!

    The next few years I guarantee the theist waffler’s will drag out every puerile, vacant, irrelevant and callow inanity that rattles around the echoing dark and cold cavern of their intellectuality as a ‘therefore god’ gambit.
    It has always been childish…now it will descend into complete fiasco and their erstwhile traditional targets will wise up and see the rhetoric for what it is…old, frightened, desperate men with the IQ and the integrity of a dumb rock talking nonsense…and nothing more!

    They should all be dressed in harlequin quarter colours and wear a three-cornered hat with bells on the end!
    Then they can add bashing their victims on the head with a pig’s bladder and singing little dirty ditties to their repertoire to amuse and entertain the hall!

    Because when all is said and done…that is all they are good for!

  50. iangould says

    While it’s true that the Torah prescribes the death penalty for all sorts of crazy shit, as a matter of practicality such penalties probably weren’t enforced very often because the preconditions for enforcing them were quite demanding.

    Basically you had to be convicted on the testimony of multiple adult male witnesses before the Sanhedrin.

    If there’s any factual basis for the story of Jesus telling the crowd “Let he who is without sin…” etc, a smarter response might have been: “This shit is totally illegal. Knock it off or I’ll tell the Romans.”

  51. dingojack says

    Ian – Really? Using Google Translate I translated ”Rabbi” to ‘רב’. Then using BibleGateway searched the Habrt Hakhadasha/Haderekh for the exact term ‘רב’ here are the results.
    There are other variations on the word ‘רב’.
    Dingo

  52. says

    If there’s any factual basis for the story of Jesus telling the crowd “Let he who is without sin…” etc, a smarter response might have been: “This shit is totally illegal. Knock it off or I’ll tell the Romans.”

    It doesn’t appear in any versions of John prior to about 600ad. It’s certainly an addition – someone was inspired by god, “this … Is the kind of thing Jesus would have done for sure, yep, you bet. So my adding it isn’t lying to a bunch of illiterates, it’s glory to god!”

  53. iangould says

    “Rabbi” derives from “Rabb” meaning “great” “large” or, when applied or, when applied to a person “Lord” or “Prince”.

    “Rabb” appears in the Torah but only.to describe princes. So does the related word “Rabbim” (from memory – – spelling may be wrong) meaning “multitude” or “majority”.

    Additionally – I specified the Torah. The word may well appear in the Talmud or the New Testament – the disciples repeatedly refer to Jesus by a title translated as “Lord”.. ince I only have the vaguest spattering of spoken Hebrew and can’t rad it at all, I have no idea whether the Bible Gateway verses you quote are from the Torah or the New Testament.

    Prior to the destruction of the Second Temple (70AD), a Jewish religious teacher was a “kohin”.

    “The title rabbi is derived from the noun rav, which in biblical Hebrew means “great” and does not occur in the Bible; in its later sense in mishnaic Hebrew, however, the word rav means a master as opposed to a slave (e.g., “does a slave rebel against his rav”–Ber. 10a; “It is like a slave who filled a cup for his rav and he poured the water over his face”–Suk. 2:9). It was only during the tannaitic period, in the generation after Hillel, that it was employed as a title for the sages. The passage in the New Testament (Matt. 23:7) in which the Scribes and Pharisees are criticized because they “love… to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi” probably reflects the fact of its recent introduction. ”

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0017_0_16257.html

  54. dingojack says

    Ian – You are, of course, correct. The Westminster Leningrad Codex does have references to ‘Rabbis’ (in various forms) but whether these are idiomatic usages I can’t tell.
    Dingo
    ——-
    Any idea what ‘kohin’ means?

  55. Akira MacKenzie says

    Ah, here we get some of the crossover between economic conservatives and the Christian Right: Work! Work, you lazy good-for-nothings, or you don’t eat! I don’t care if you’re sick or injured! Where’s your work ethic, you moochers! You’re ought to be happy to labor from sun-up to sun-down and more from the day you take your first steps until the day you die! Now WORK!!!

  56. matty1 says

    It’s a long time since I looked at the New Testament but I’m sure I recall Jesus being addressed as Rabbi as well as Lord, suggesting there was a different word being translated and sure enough a search on biblegateway.com (New Internation Version since that was the default) returns 16 uses of Rabbi, all in the gospels and 6474 for Lord. Of course many of those Lords from the Hebrew text will be replacements for YHWH but there are New Testament uses and I don’t think the unpronounceable name was used in Greek.

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