Or: "Sea Monkeys Invade New York, Possessed Wigs Attack Unsuspecting Heads"
I received today from a colleague an online article about an Ultra Orthodox Rabbi named Yitzchak Fanger, who had previously held the titles of Reiki Master and Buddhist Priest. The article describes his vision quest to India after the army - a typical journey for many non-religious Israelis - where he discovered spirituality and religion (someone else's religion), and after a series of non-coincidental miraculous events, returned to religious Judaism and Israel and to his family.
I am of course pleased for him that he has found satisfaction with his life and has reconciled with his upbringing, but have issue with his rejection of his Reiki training. He tells the story of his million dollar Reiki clinic, and how one day a group of Ultra Orthodox women wished to study with him, and insisted upon a "Certificate of Kashrut" (The Rabbi Stamp of Approval) before they could begin the class. He went to his local Rabbinic Authority, and this supposed community leader told Fanger that not only would he not issue any Certificate of Approval, but that Mr. Fanger must close his clinic immediately - the source of income for him and his entire family - because the teachings and techniques of Reiki were based in Idol Worship.
The now born-again Rabbi Fanger complied immediately, and concludes his interview by saying that he now has six children who are worth more than any of the money he made as a Reiki Master helping clients, and that his life as an Ultra Orthodox Rabbi gives him everything he needs. (Because now someone else is footing the bill...)
I performed half of my Chiropractic internship with the Ojibwe/First Nation (that's American Indians to the politically incorrect), and they told me a story about the four original peoples who were placed on this planet by a Higher Power: the White, the Yellow, the Black and the Red. Each was given a heritage of healing which specifically addressed the energies and the history of their color, so to speak, and only recently have the medicines and their techniques become mixed.
I have always operated under the credo taught to me by one of my first mentors in Chiropractic School, "more tools for the toolbox": the more I study and the more techniques I gather into my consciousness and daily routine, the more I can help each person who comes into my office. When I work on a patient, I use up to eight different systems, both Western and Eastern, thus providing a more complete and effective treatment that last longer than traditional care. I don't need a Rabbi, untrained in medicine and in the real world, to tell me what I can and cannot provide for my clients, especially since he would probably tell me to stop treating men, as they insist that it is improper for a woman to be alone with a man and touch him. Never mind that I am a doctor, a professional, and never mind that my father, also a Chiropractor, takes care of the wife of the Bostonner Rebbe, and her husband doesn't seem to have a problem with them being alone in a room for treatment.
Several years ago, a group of Rabbis in America declared that natural hair wigs - worn extensively by Ultra Orthodox women and costing up to $3000 a pop - could not be worn because some of the hair came from Indian women, who practice Idol Worship in their own religion, thus their hair was tainted and impure. All over the world, a flurry of wig burnings ensued, with families who cannot afford to feed and clothe their children burning these items of Evil, and buying synthetic wigs in their place. The Jewish wig merchants with their Certificates of Kashrut certainly did well on that venture.
Until the Rabbis recanted and decided that if anyone had not yet burned their wigs, they need not. And to fill the void and to fill certain merchant's pockets, they instead declared that the water in New York was contaminated with microscopic lobster derivative bugs, and that all proper Jews must immediately buy a high end water filter system (from a proper Jewish vendor, of course) to eliminate the dreaded impurity. Upon which Ultra Orthodox seminaries, largely supported by external donations so the men can sit and learn all day while their wives work several jobs, installed the best systems possible, and happily their Talmudic students are no longer infected by micro-organisms that only their spiritual and religious mentors can see.
To quote Alanis Morisette, "It's all about the money." (It's all about the dumb, dumb dumbe de dumb.)
Religion does indeed fill the need of controlling the masses, and the rich historical heritage of despots, cult leaders and con men can be proud of the application of their theories among the Ultra Orthodox.