Atheist Promises to Obey the Jewish Sabbath for $1,000 Donation to Charity

How many times do I have to tell you all? Don’t sell yourself online.

Ari Mandel is an atheist veteran raising money for Chai Lifeline, an organization that helps Jewish children with life threatening illness. In an attempt to raise at least $4,500, one of his Twitter followers, Isaac Mavorah, made an interesting offer:

A $10 donation if Mandel kept the Sabbath.

Mandel said it wasn’t enough… so Mavorah upped the offer. To $1,000.

“To me, the sum is insignificant,” said Marovah. “One thousand dollars to get a Jewish atheist to keep Shabbat, Mikvah, and praying with a Minyan AND help sick children?”

“Truth is I would have paid double.”

Ari Mandel

I’d say that’s a pretty good trade. Mandel says he’ll now obey the Sabbath for one day and have a witness on hand to verify his actions.

Mandel was at least more successful selling his time than he was selling his spot in Olam Habaah (Heaven) earlier this year. Bidding on eBay went to around $100,000 before the auction was yanked for offering bidders something “intangible.”

Rarely do you see anyone get a major donation like that for promising to do nothing, but staying off the Internet for a day may be enough to make it worthwhile.

(Thanks to Brian for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • ShoeUnited

    I should offer a bidding war on my soul.

    • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

      *looks at comment*

      *looks at ad on the side of the page*

      Buy Hemant’s book, I Sold My Soul on eBay!

      *looks at comment again*

      I think it’s been done.

      • Jeff

        Thus confirming that there is a market for souls.

        • http://lady-die.deviantart.com/ LizzyJessie

          The German scholar Faust would agree with you!

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    And I have yet to get any takers on my ‘charity match’ challenge. It’s an idea that has been evolving, but basically when people start blustering about atheists not doing anything, I challenge them to match my donation to a Christian charity with a humanist cause (helping people, not proselytizing). I’ve done this at least four times, and I have yet to find anyone who will take me up on it. They dance around and then vanish.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, TOWAN

    every unemployed or underpaid atheist should take one simple lesson from the “ministers.” take the money.

    make a gullible person feel better for 1.5hrs. take their money. say “thank you.” and “this is because of REligion.” it’s legal. and tax free.

    everybody wins.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    One thousand dollars to get a Jewish atheist to keep Shabbat, Mikvah, and praying with a Minyan AND help sick children?… Truth is I would have paid double.

    I’m glad that Mr. Marovah is giving $1,000 to help sick children. I think he puts too much stock in the idea of getting an atheist to recite his magic words and to participate in his magic rituals. I can’t be sure, but I sense a tone of triumph about him “getting” an atheist to do it, as if his getting an atheist to do it is more important than the atheist doing it. Perhaps that’s not fair, but at the very least, he seems to think it will have an effect on Ari. It has no more effect on a superstition-free person than reciting the words of the Gettysburg Address backwards:

    “htrae eht morf hsirep ton llahs elpoep eht rof elpoep eht yb elpoep eht fo…”

    Hey, I’ll do that to raise a grand or two for a worthy charity.

    • Lando

      Be careful! Everyone knows that finishing that speech backwards will bring back every soldier who died in the civil war and kick off the end times.

    • baal

      Hey now, careful with those backwards words, you might summon a demon or a evangelical.

  • EdmondWherever

    So what all does he have to do, specifically?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Funny how you never see Joe Klein obeying the Sabbath to raise money for charity.

    • FTP_LTR

      Ah, the Joe Klein meme. The gift that keeps on giving. :-)

    • revyloution

      I bet Joe Klein rolls on Shabbas.

  • atheist

    If there was a some group that was putting up billboards that said Judaic belief in the supernatural is as much bullshit as Catholic, Fundamental and Islamic belief then the atheist could accept the offer and donate the proceeds to the billboard campaign without becoming a hypocrite.

    • eric

      Don’t worry, atheists have put up exactly as many “Judaism is bullshit” billboards as they have put up “Christianity is bullshit” billboards. Which is to say, none.
      So, he’s free to donate without hypocrisy. (Which, technically, doesn’t even describe the situation you outline.)

  • korinthian

    You would have paid double to help children, etc? Why don’t you? It’s not too late.

  • Paul Little

    Moving the goalposts in 4, 3, 2…

  • Jonas

    There is no need to refuse to push an elevator button, keep kosher, stay off the Internet or any other Sabbath related restriction. — You just have to know that they are wrong, when you do them…

    — From an old Jewish Joke.

  • Jeff

    Okay, seriously, I do not understand how a set of rules that was written thousands of years before the discovery of electricity can forbid the use of electricity.

    • Anat

      The rules forbid lighting or putting out a fire (except to save a life). Electricity was deemed a sub-category of fire.

      • Itarion

        Which makes little sense from a physics standpoint. Fire, generally, is hot, demi-plasmic gases. Electricity, in most consumer electronics, is electrons flowing through a solid. [it can flow through plasmas, but plasma itself is not electricity, which is the flow. SCIENCE!] I can see the “no incandescent lights” though.

        No, I don’t really expect the people who don’t use science to understand scientific differences.

        • Anat

          The categorizations of actions as ‘work’ for the purpose of Sabbath is a weird exercise. Back around 1996 some rabbi forbade walking barefoot on a lawn during Shabbat because one’s tread might pull out some strands of grass, which might be considered weeding. Also, no spilling water on the ground on Shabbat – might cause some plant to grow so would come under sowing.

          (There was a notorious ruling forbidding picking one’s nose on Shabbat, though I have no idea what reasoning was given.)

          • Joe

            Picking nose might cause bleeding.

            Electricity is forbidden because completing (or breaking) the circuit is a form of building (demolishing).

  • Tor

    Sit around and do nothing all day for money??? Great gig.

    • midnight rambler

      No kidding, that’s my weekend already.

  • Mark W.

    Hell, for a $1000 I’d even stop eating pork and shellfish for a whole week.

    • Mario Strada

      I can make my promise retroactive, since I haven’t eaten pork or shellfish for at least the last couple of months.

  • Anna

    “To me, the sum is insignificant,” said Marovah. “One thousand dollars to get a Jewish atheist to keep Shabbat, Mikvah, and praying with a Minyan AND help sick children?” “Truth is I would have paid double.”

    I’m curious what the (I’m assuming orthodox) Jewish belief about this is. I know they desperately want secular Jews to become observant, but why does he seem to get so much pleasure from an atheist going through the motions? Does he think it will have some sort of effect on Mandel? Or does he think it gives his god pleasure to see a Jew (any Jew) observing the Sabbath?


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