Tomorrow (and tonight) is Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish calendar, when even mass murderers pay the membership fee to come to Temple and atone. Especially the mass murderers. Most of us have crimes slightly less heinous like yelling at kids, coveting the neighbor’s ass and skipping Temple to eat breaded shrimp. So how bad was masturbation really?
By the way, in the Jewish religion it is not technically a sin for women to masturbate as they are not spilling any seed. Talk about getting off on a technicality! Suck it Catholics! (I mean if you’re allowed to, oral sex is still considered sodomy in a bunch of States, even among marrieds. In those States if you feel like blowing your husband you just watch the real Housewives franchise instead.)
It’s also customary to fast on Yom Kippur – meaning abstain from all foods, liquids and even toothpaste. (What an aromatic prayer service that turns out to be.) For many years I did fast on Yom Kippur, mostly because I went to a very Orthodox Jewish school and part of me was still paranoid that if I didn’t, the Great Mean Old Testament G-d In The Sky would write me up badly in The Book Of Life or some shit.
This is the same asshole G-d who wouldn’t let Moses see the promised land because of one tiny mistake. One mistake. I mean, how fucking vindictive! And here I was banging Christians way before marriage, what chance did I have?
Fasting was always extra difficult because I’m hypoglycemic, so within four hours I would start to hallucinate, followed closely by my psyche going to the very bad place.
So when I was living in New York, one Yom Kippur afternoon I was fasting when I got lightheaded, lay down, felt really horny, and… whacked off. Hey nobody’s perfect, and I never expected to reveal this in print. I didn’t watch porn, just thought about my Jewish then-fiancé, that’s gotta count for something right? Just a good Jewish girl thinking impure thoughts about another member of the tribe. Without even using electricity or spilling any seed. Surely that had to be okay?
I’m pretty sure that the answer was still a big N-O on the rubbing one out on the Holiest of Holies (at least I didn’t go blind like the Catholics do.)
Would it have been better not to fast, but also not to whack off? Should I have eaten a hearty continental breakfast, then meditated on my animal soul for the rest of the day? What would the Rabbi say, as he assumed his studied pretend-non-judgment? Pretty confident these issues are not addressed head-on in the Old Testament (porn, vibrators, smartphones) though the good news is you can interpret the Bible to say almost anything, especially if it gives you an alibi to start a war!
Later, when I was (still) married and the kids were little, every Yom Kippur I used to set bizarre limits for the family, inevitably ending up acting like a controlling cunt. Random attempts at observing the holiday like “I will drive, but no music in the car.” Or “No TV, but you can have your iPad.” “No prosciutto, only salami.” These random edicts would cause us all a lot of stress, and make me feel like I was regressing as a person, as opposed to the spiritual growth the Lord intended.
Now that I had kids, clearly I couldn’t afford to narrow the small margin that kept me from “reasonably cray but still okay” to “full cray,” otherwise I just setting myself up to atone for it next year.
I’ve always loved atoning. I was an awesome atoner, all year long I used to beat my chest asking the male Hebrew G-d’s forgiveness for something, so why would Yom Kippur be any different?
I would be asking forgiveness even in the midst of doing whatever I was asking forgiveness for. I didn’t get it timed quite right to actually stop myself before I committed “evil” acts, instead I was addicted to feeling awful once it was too late to change anything. Since all the atoning didn’t help change my behavior for the better, I have decided to be done. Ladies and gentlemen, I have atoned enough.
One of the things I love about Judaism in America is that it’s like Starbucks, bland, commercial and however you want it. You can have it slightly bitter and cold with no sugar (Orthodox,) black and warm add Splenda (Modern Orthodox) or peppermint/pumpkin swirl mochachino (Reform.) Maybe that’s why everyone hates the Jews, we truly are popping up on every corner.
Would you like your religion Short, Grande or Venti? Did you want it sweetened with syrup and whip, to make it more palatable? How about a serving of modern day Kabbalah, where centuries old esoteric wisdom is distilled down to a supes positive meme?
Personally I like my Judaism on the side, or maybe like an optional sauce, where it can occasionally uplift me with the remembrance of a long forgotten Hebrew song. These days the main meal is the spirituality inside my heart; the gift of intuition that guides me to do the right thing at the right time, and not do the wrong thing at the wrong time.
The commandment I like best is one of my own invention: Do what you’re supposed to do and don’t do what you’re not. That’s it. In my experience if you show up for that part, the Universe takes care of the rest. And it does not need a specific day in the Lunar calendar for that.