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- Jonathan Lockwood Huie (jlh @sail7.com)

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Friday, February 8, 2013

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What is Moral versus What is Right

Never let your sense of morals
get in the way of doing what's right.
- Isaac Asimov


What can Isaac Asimov possibly have meant in this quote? I interpret the quote this way...

"What is Moral" is what we have been taught by our parents, teachers, religious leaders, and other influences.

"What is Right" is what we know in our heart to be compassionate, generous, honorable, and noble.

As an example, in the Bible, when Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath he was criticized by the religious authorities for being immoral in violating the Commandment against doing work on the Sabbath. (Luke 13:10-17)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree..listen to your heart. Never miss an opportunity to be loving. Try not to displace your compassion, your geneoristy and your honor on those who can readily do for themselves. Sometimes it is charity to allow others to be.

Anonymous said...

Interesting commentary by JLH. If the Nazarene was healing on the Sabbath he would have been obeying the commandments rather than breaking them. Just more New Testament anti-semitism slipping thru the cracks - but I did not expect to find it here.

Asimov the atheist was being cynical here, but he spoke true in the sense that most of us have a sense of morality which we inherited, and have not deeply examined, as JHL points out. I would explain this quote with another, from another notable cynic: "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

An Anonymous Yid.

Jonathan L. Huie said...

To An Anonymous Yid:

Below is the full quote of Luke 13:10-17 Since Jesus was a Jew, isn't it a little strange to claim His words are anti-semitic?

10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”

15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite![b] Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, the Nazarene never left an existing written record of his teachings. All we have are second or third hand reports, usually by non-Jews unfamiliar with even the simplest aspects of halacha, or Jewish law. Below is the very well known, very basic law regarding Sabbath healing, unchanged for over three millennia:

"The [laws of] the Sabbath are suspended in the face of a danger to life, as are [the obligations of] the other mitzvot. Therefore, we may perform - according to the directives of a professional physician of that locale - everything that is necessary for the benefit of a sick person whose life is in danger.

"When there is a doubt whether or not the Sabbath laws must be violated on a person's behalf, one should violate the Sabbath laws on his behalf, for the Sabbath laws are suspended even when there is merely a question of danger to a person's life. [The same principles apply] when one physician says the Sabbath laws should be violated on a person's behalf and another physician states that this is not necessary..." from: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/935201/jewish/Chapter-Two.htm

There are very many mistakes about Judaism in the New Testament. To a Jew, reading the New Testament is like reading a story about a french resistance leader in Nazi occupied Germany, that conveniently neglects to mention both the Nazis and the Vichey government, and has the resistance fighting the French people! In the time of the Nazarene, Judia was ruthlessly occupied by Romans and their quislings. The New Testament was compiled by Jewish culturally illiterate individuals, mostly non-Jews, far from Judia, in Rome, decades and centuries after the events described. The above mentioned quote from Luke is about as true about the laws of Sabbath healing as the anti-semitic rantings of the Nazis. If the Nazarene was a Rabbi (teacher), as is often claimed, then the words of Luke are clearly fictional, inserted for anti-semitic purposes (and still effective that way after two millennia). Nothing about healing suggested in the quote would have been unacceptable to observant Jews of 2000 years ago, except the part about shaming adversaries, which is a very un-Sabbath-like thing to do.

What seems really strange to us is how ignorant Christians, unable to even read in anything but English, have the chutzpah to try to tell us what our laws are and what they mean, when they can not even read Hebrew or Aramaic, let alone the Greek or Latin of the second and third translations (English is usually three or four layers of translation removed from the original texts)

If you are interested in the topic, I recommend "Revolution in Judaea" by Hyam Maccoby for starters.

Thanks for your forum, and for listening. Go now and learn.

An Anonymous Yid

Jonathan L. Huie said...

To An Anonymous Yid:

Thank you for your long and interesting explanation.

For me - as someone who likes their wisdom in bite-sized nuggets - the whole message was, and is...

"Compassion is to be valued more than law."

Hopefully, those of all religions can agree upon that.

Anonymous said...

Amen

Anonymous said...

i would just add to this that it is not religion but humanity that drives us to be compassionate to others'cause you see yourselfand if morality has not blurred your vision then martin buber i-thou are one audrey

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