|Dennis Prager (Haaretz)|
I not only found someone that fit that bill, I soon learned that Prager was an observant Jew that did not work on Shabbos and Yom Tov. And that he was loud and proud about it. I found out that he comes from an observant home and was educated in in the Yeshiva of Flatbush - a Modern Orthodox elementary and Yeshiva high school. And quite often during his show, he would talk about his belief in God - providing a rational approach to that belief. He also often talked about how deeply religious he was.
I thought... Wow! Here’s a guy that can intelligently influence many secular Jews that were among his listeners to take their Judaism more seriously
He is in fact quite intelligent (...or so I thought then. More about that later) making his arguments in favor of politically conservative values hard to dispute. (To the surprise of absolutely no none since I lean conservative, anyway. But I digress.) His cogent arguments in favor of religion in general and Judaism in particular were equally persuasive, I thought. (Again - for obvious reasons.)
I soon found out that his observance of Judaism was selective. And that he could not by any real definition be considered Orthodox. That’s because he openly rejects rabbinic Judaism.
Prager has talked himself into believing that since Chazal were human he is just as capable of deciding post biblical religious law as they were. But that he has the advantage of the vast amount of knowledge unavailable to them giving him an edge they did not have. Mesorah is even more meaningless to him other than as some sort of nostalgia that is at most optional.
How sad I thought - that a man like Prager who actually had a Jewish education, was smart, whose arguments in favor of religion and Judaism were so convincing - thinks so highly of himself that he can reject as unnecessary - centuries of settled rabbinic Jewish law. That kind of arrogance makes him not only unorthodox, it makes him dangerous.
It’s been a while since I have listened to his show or even paid all that much attention to him. Until today. Where once again his arrogance shows him to be the fool that he is. It makes a mockery of his so-called intelligence and instead makes him pretty stupid. From The Daily Beast:
While most Americans are trying not to catch COVID-19—or, at the very least, pretending it doesn’t exist—one fearless pundit claims to have hugged thousands of people in order to finally contract the respiratory illness…
(He) claims it is ‘infinitely preferable to have natural immunity than vaccine immunity…
The Jewish talk-show host… bragged about getting infected with the virus, whose severity he has long downplayed despite it killing 4.9 million people worldwide, including more than 725,000 in the United States... (and the fact that) Four vaccine-skeptic U.S. conservative pundits have died from the virus in recent months.
So much for his high intelligence. Where it counts the most – his intelligence has failed him. How he can ignore the best minds in disease prevention and favor his own ‘logic’ is a mystery to me. I guess the ability to reason better than most does people does not guarantee intelligent results.
The fact that he is otherwise so intelligent makes what he is doing more dangerous than it might otherwise be. There are a lot of fans that think he knows what he’s talking about and that he puts his ‘money where his mouth is’ by actually getting sick on purpose just to prove he’s right!
God forbid any of his fans stupidly follow his example! That he speaks so positively about (his personal version of) observant Judaism probably means there are a lot of observant Jewish fans among them. Making him dangerous on both religious and disease prevention grounds.
My hope is that most of his fans especially the Orthodox Jews among them are sane enough to realize Prager’s folly. And that they are either vaccinated of soon will be. Including getting the booster shot. Which I plan to do as soon as Moderna - the vaccine I got injected with over 6 moths ago - is authorized by the CDC and becomes available. Which should be by the end of the week. For those that follow in his footsteps… May God protect them from their own stupidity.