Mind Boggling Religious Rules

I’m guessing that most of our readers will be familiar with at least a few of the fairly brain numbing rules that Christianity dictates for its adherents, and I’m pretty sure we all know that all Christians are at best selective about which rules they follow and which they don’t. Leviticus’ instructions on making burnt offerings spring to mind as the obvious example. The Abrahamic religions all seem to have these little aberrations, so I set myself the task of finding the most bizarre set of religious rules I could.

Now, at this point I want to invite contributions in the comments section (please don’t use circumcision as an example, it’s too obvious), but before you do that I’d like you all to wrap your minds around this: Ladies and gentlemen, the rules laid down by Islam, concerning male ejaculation during periods of fasting!

” SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

Sexual intercourse invalidates the fast, even if the penetration is as little as the tip of the male organ, and even if there has been no ejaculation.

If the penetration is less than the tip of the male organ, so that it cannot be said that intercourse has taken place, also if no ejaculation takes place, the fast does not become invalid. This applies to both, circumcised and uncircumcised men.

If a person commits sexual intercourse intentionally and then doubts whether penetration was upto the point of circumcision or not his fast, as an obligatory precaution, becomes invalid, and it is necessary for him to observe its qadha. It is not, however, obligatory on him to give Kaffarah.

If a person forgets that he is observing fast and commits sexual intercourse or he is compelled to have sexual intercourse in a manner that makes him helpless, his fast does not become void. However, if he remembers (that he is observing fast) or ceases to be helpless during sexual intercourse, he should withdraw from the sexual intercourse at once, and if he does not, his fast becomes void.

MASTURBATION

If a person, who is observing fast, performs masturbation (Istimna), his fast becomes void (The explanation of istimna has been given in rule 1581/iii).

If semen is discharged from the body of a person involuntarily, his fast does not become void.

Even if a person observing fast knows that if he sleeps during the day time he will become Mohtalim (i.e. semen will be discharged from his body during sleep) it is permissible for him to sleep, even if he may not be inconvenienced by not sleeping. And if he becomes Mohtalim, his fast does not become void.

If a person who is observing fast, wakes up from sleep while ejaculation is taking place, it is not obligatory on him to stop it.

A fasting person who has become Mohtalim can urinate even if he knows that by urinating the remaining semen will flow from his body.

If a fasting person who has become Mohtalim, knows that some semen has remained in his body and if he does not urinate before taking Ghusl, it will come out after Ghusl, he should on the basis of recommended precaution, urinate before taking Ghusl.

A person who indulges in courtship with an intention to allow semen to be discharged, will complete his fast and also observe its qadha, even if semen is not discharged.

If a fasting person indulges in courtship without the intention of allowing the semen to be discharged, and also, if he is sure that semen will not be discharged, his fast is in order, even if semen may be discharged unexpectedly. However, if he is not sure about the discharge and it takes place, then his fast is void. ” Source

Glossary of terms:

“Istimna” – Cuffing one off.
“Mohtalim” – Having a wet dream.
“Ghusl” – Taking a bath. Only it’s a ritual bath.

I know it’s childish, but I did giggle about this one! So come on (no pun intended), readers: Find me some weirder religious rules. Bonus points if they’re rules that are actually observed.

  • Elemenope

    Weirdest religious rule ever: No Bacon.

    Instituted by not a few religions, making it a highly shared folly.

    • Artor

      Only 3 religions I know of, but one of those is the second most populous, so yeah. I eat a whole panful of bacon with my breakfast when I have the chance.

      • Artor

        Islam, Judaism & Jainism are all I can come up with.

    • UrsaMinor

      I view this as a blessing in disguise, as it means more bacon for me.

    • Bart Mitchell

      This harkens back to the year 2000, when I finally found the definitive proof of gods existence.

      Bacon double cheeseburgers are so delicious, that it not only proves of gods existence, and his divine love for us, but it also proves he hates Jews Muslims and Hindus.

      • Hilary

        Until you get a heart attack, and it’s Dr. Levine, nurse Fatima and pre-med intern Dharma Srinivasam checking you vital signs, heart monitor and IV drip post-op. /friendly snark

        Hilary

  • vasaroti

    So, if I’m reading this right, a guy can have all the sex he wants during a fast, as long as he’s helpless and “compelled.” Bondage, anyone?

    • http://luigiscorner.com Azel

      So these rules are religious subsidies to BDSM clubs…

    • Miguel (Argentina)

      No need of BDSM. You can “forget” you are observing fast, so your fast is not void. If anyone ask, you “forgot” you were observing it. That’s great. Make a rule and give a silly excuse to circumvent it.

  • John

    Seems to advocate prostate milking, too.

    • Custador

      Don’t knock it until you’re malnourished and you’ve tried it, son!

  • Nox

    “One may not play with a ball on ground that is not paved or surfaced. Playing ball on a table, a court, or other area that is paved or surfaced is permitted, provided it is indoors, or where one may carry, and the ball is not likely to fall out of bounds. Children need not be prevented from playing ball games, even on unpaved ground. However, older children and adults are advised to refrain from playing ball on the Sabbath, and to devote their time to learning and to activities more in keeping with the holiness of the day.”
    -The Concise Code Of Jewish Law (1978 edition) (p 203)

    • Hilary

      What denomination is this? Orthodox? Hasidic?

      Hilary

      • Elemenope

        Well, it’s primarily based on this work, whose author was Orthodox.

        • Hilary

          Orthodox. Figures. I’m Reform. A Christian comparison would be Greek Eastern Orthodox v United Church of Christ. I will freely admit that traditional, Orthodox Judaism is a treasure trove of weird customs. There is a logic to them, an internal logic that makes sense within itself and in context to its culture and history, but a lot of it looks weird as all get out from the outside. I guess most religious traditions are like that. I mean, taking one day off a week to rest, renew connectionss with family and friends, study stuff for the fun of it not to just get ahead, and remember that your life is more then just productivity is a good idea, but extreme prohibitions on Shabbat/Sabboth can get absurdly extreme. My favorite Shabbat activity is a nap, I like to get one in every Saturday.

          • Alan

            “A Christian comparison would be Greek Eastern Orthodox v United Church of Christ.”

            Only if you have no real understanding of the historical or practical differences between Jewish denominations. It is pretty obvious that you don’t though when you ask about Orthodox and Hasidic as if they are similar categories.

            As for absurd rules, it isn’t limited to religions – all human societies have made some pretty ridiculous rules in the course of creating community standards and laws (a simple read of the tax code should demonstrate that). For example, in Virginia it is illegal:

            To hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, with a gun, firearm or other weapon on Sunday, which is hereby declared a rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life, except raccoons, which may be hunted until 2:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

            • Hilary

              I know Orthodox and Hasidic aren’t the same. Modern Othodox in particular are different from the different Hasidic sects. And you are right, that Greek Orthodox v. UCC isn’t the best comparison, I just was reaching for something to get across the difference. There’s not an easy one to one comparison between different Christian denoms and Jewish denomenations. I have in-laws who are UCC and I do think that is a good comparison to Reform Judaism.

              Yeah, humans come up with weird stuff, proving what’s normal in one society is absurd in another. Tax code is a good example of that from a secular POV.

              Hilary

            • Yoav

              Hasidic is a subset of orthodox that split from the mainstream of eastern European judaism by replacing the emphasis on religious scholary with a more mystic approach. Currently hasidic groups are a subset of the haredi, or ultra orthodox, end of judaism, they all dress in black but you can tell the difference if you know the codes, for example non-hasidic haredim will wear felt hats all the time while hasidic ones will wear a fur hat, different designs for different sects, on weekends.

            • Hilary

              Yoav

              Thanks for the info. I’m a Reform Jew in Minnesota with mostly Christian extended family so my experience with Orthodox and Hasidic is completely theoretical from reading about them. I try to be somewhat respectful to them even though I’m on the polar opposite end of Jewish denominations. I’ll disagree about a lot of things, but I try not to be rude about it.

              Hilary

            • Alan

              Hilary – I think the key point is that ‘denominational’ differences in Judaism don’t translate the same as those in Christianity and you shouldn’t really try. Particularly when talking about ‘Orthodox’ Judaism which is used as a broad blanket term for traditionally halachic Jews.

              For example, whereas Yoav calls Hasidic a subset of orthodox and a subset of ‘Haredi’ implies that, like with Christian denominations, there is some definitional body they are in communion with. This of course is not true, the distinction between Hasidic and Mitnagdic Jews in Eastern Europe predate the Orthodox movement in Germany and Hungary and are independent of it. There has never been any connective body that would subsume all those traditional groups under a unified ‘Orthodox’ denomination in any meaningful way – and that is before we start talking about Sephardim or Mizrahim. Within Hasidim there are many independent communities – and not all Hasidic sect wear fur hats (for example the Lubavitch wear felt ones) so that isn’t a reliable differentiator either.

            • Hilary

              Oy vey. And this is what happens with three Jews on an Athiest blog the day before Erev Christmas. Like we have anything better to do.

              Thanks guys. Have a good night. :-)

              Hilary

            • Yoav

              Judaism sure can be fun if you’re into amateur social anthropology. The decentralized nature of judaism make trying to discuss it in the term of denominations somewhat confusing, add to that the fact that a lot of the definitions are only in comparison to other groups. The idea of orthodox judaism only appeared after reform and conservative judaism came on the scene as a blanket term for anyone who doesn’t belong to any of these groups, the same is with mitnagdim (literally objectors) which basically define a group as not hasidic. Likewise the idea of haredi is a pushback against the secularization that started in the 19th century in Europe. So strictly speaking you can’t define hasidic as part of orthodox in an official organizational manner but if you try to draw the venn diagram of judaism then the hasidic circle will be completely inside the haredi circle who in turn will be inside the orthodox circle.

            • Sunny Day

              “Yeah, humans come up with weird stuff, proving what’s normal in one society is absurd in another. Tax code is a good example of that from a secular POV.”

              I don’t think its a good representation of a secular POV at all. The tax code example you cited was obviously based around a religious belief. If its to be used as an example its one about how religion poisons everything.

      • Capt Dingleberry

        Moronic?!

      • vasaroti

        “ground that is not paved or surfaced” I believe it’s the denomination of mothers concerned about germs and dirt.

    • Yoav

      Judaism has a long tradition of Q&A literature where rabbis will publish collection of answers to question they get from the public. When you combine a public combined of morons who feel like they have to check with a rabbi before taking a dump and a religion that doesn’t have the concept of separation between the secular and religious so the rabbi actually believe that they should give a religious answer to questions like, is it OK to talk on your cellphone while in the toilet (apparently it’s not) you get a treasure trove of hilarity.

      • Hilary

        Add to that the ratio of Jews to opinions, 2 Jews = 3 opinions, 3 Jews = 5 opinions, and it can get exponentially absurd.

        • Hilary

          Although I personally think talking to someone via cellphone while going to the bathroom is rude and unhygenic, never mind any religious beliefs. I think that takes multitasking one step over the edge. If you consider that taking care of your body is a religous act that deserves respectful attention, and talking to someone on the phone that person deserves your respectful attention, it makes sense not to cross the two. But that’s just me, if some one else wants talk and relieve themselves at the same time, that’s fine for them. All I ask is don’t tell me that’s what you’re doing while talking to me. Ewwww, gross, TMI.

          • Miguel (Argentina)

            Rude? maybe, if you make gross noises.
            Unhygienic? I can’t see why.
            Defecating is a religious act?

        • Jer

          You example seems to be linear. Opinions = 2*Jews – 1.
          Of course, with two points you can fit almost any curve.

          • Hilary

            It’s an old joke. So what would be the next number of opinions in an exponential curve –

            3 Jews = x opinions? 9, right? 3^3 = 9.

            Hilary

          • UrsaMinor

            I disagree. The number of opinions is (N^2) – (N-1)^2, when N = the number of Jews present.

            • Hilary

              I answered you with a new post below.

            • FO

              This is linear.
              (N^2) – (N-1)^2 = 2N – 1

            • UrsaMinor

              Of course the two expressions are the same. Bah! You physicists have no sense of humor.

      • FO

        Wait.
        Are you implying that there is any religion with a concept of separation between the religious and the secular purview? oO

  • Hilary

    “I’m pretty sure we all know that all Christians are at best selective about which rules they follow and which they don’t. Leviticus’ instructions on making burnt offerings spring to mind as the obvious example.”

    About the Leviticus system of offerings and sacrifices: I’m sure most people familiar with Christianity know that Christ was considered the penultimate sacrifice so Christians didn’t need to do them anymore. Jews don’t do them anymore since after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the rabbis/sages started re-writing all Jewish observances to exist in permanent exile, seperate from a centralized political nation/preisthood. The rational for droping levitical sacrifices for sins was prooftexted from Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, knowledge of G-d instead of burnt offerings” From this those guys substituted study of holy text, prayer, and acts of love and kindness for the burnt offerings of Leviticus to atone for sins. This works because the Jewish understanding of sin is radically different from Christians – and IMO much more humane and sane. No Original Sin, for starters.

    I’m not denying some of the weirder customs of traditional Judaism, but that’s why the levitical sacrifices aren’t done anymore. My favorite weird Jewish customs are not mixing linen and wool fibers, and something about waving a chicken over your head three times then ransoming it, then butchering it and having dinner. I know a lot of people comment on the mixed fiber thing as an example of how absurd Leviticus can get. Poly/cotten blends are ok, synthetic fibers can be blended with anything, it’s blending animal and plant fibers together that is prohibitied.

    There is a logic behind the original rules for Kashrut – keeping Kosher – but the lengths to which they get expanded on are rediculous, and created by men who didn’t have to do the dishes.

    Hilary

  • Hilary

    “I disagree. The number of opinions is (N^2) – (N-1)^2, when N = the number of Jews present.”

    So . . . N = 2 Jews
    (2^2)-(2-1)^2 =
    4 – 1 = 3 opinions, ok so far.

    N = 3 Jews
    (3^2) – (3-1)^2 =
    9 – 4 = 5 opinions, good

    N= 4 Jews
    (4^2) – (4-1)^2 =
    16 – 9 = 7 opinons. I’ve seen this happen on blog threads.

    Ok, for the minian, N = 10 Jews
    (10^2) – (10-1)^2 =
    100 – 81 = 19 opinions. That sounds about right for some of the Torah study sessions I’ve gone to. I wonder what this would look like graphed out on an X-Y axis.

    Does it matter what type of Jews involved? Do the Hasidic use a different ratio then Modern Orthodox, and would a Reform Rabbi’s opinion even be considered in the equation? Is there a different formula in Israel v diaspora? I’m in Minnesota, that’s the upper midwest of the USA and I’ve never been to Israel so I wouldn’t know.

    Dare I bring gematria into our calculations?

    Hilary

    • UrsaMinor

      It might be necessary to introduce a coefficient for the type of Jew involved. I’m not aware of any published research in this area, but my guess is that it’s close to unity for the Hasidim and perhaps as high as three for Reformed.

      • Hilary

        There’s got to be some Responsa on this somewhere. If a bunch of physic majors and mathmatitions did a Purim spiel, maybe?

  • Bart Mitchell

    Hrm, since most of us are atheists, you probably know that all these rules are just some guys own personal hangups that he decided were the word of God being handed down.

    My question: If you got to start your own religion, what dietary or sexual edicts would you hand down from your own personality? Mine would be

    “If ye shalt eat the cheek flesh of the Tuna, it shall be consumed without ever touching the heat of flame nor pan.”

    • Kodie

      Sort thy Jolly Ranchers by color; even them up to the lowest amount of any, unless that color be raspberry. The remainder may be eaten in any order you like. Gummy bears may only be Haribo, and must only be bears. Consume first yellows and greens, then one by one red then white then orange. Any animal nor shape not a bear may not be consumed, unless it is a Swedish Fish that are only red.Thou shalt not eat Cadbury with fruit, nor any fruit embedded in chocolate, including Raisinets. It is mostly best to stay clear of candy of actual fruit or any shaped to resemble fruit, especially orange slices and the ones wrapped up in paper to look like a strawberry. Artificial fruit flavors are optimally consumed in any shape that is other than a fruit unless Wonka Runts. Be of mind that Sour Patch Kids are never as good as you thought they were, so just buy the small bag.

      Necco chocolates only are an abomination. Regular Necco multis are allowed, but only pink and white are worth it. If you seek a candy that the store does not have, settle thee not, for compromise will disappoint. Take5, Riesen, and Cinnamon Fire Jolly Ranchers are the best ones. Heath Bars and really any hard toffee seems like a great idea but it’s terrible. Eat only caramel that is firm but chewy, never the kind that is runny. Nougat is not any good at all so never eat nougat.

      • Sunny Day

        Kills Self

        • Kodie

          Diabetes would have come for you eventually anyway.

    • UrsaMinor

      Thou shalt not eat milk chocolate, for it is an abomination unto Me.

      Thou shalt strive to be good at oral sex regardless of thy gender or sexual orientation, because thy partners deserve it.

      Thou shalt also be a competent cook. Thou needst not be a gourmet chef, but thou shalt know how to put a simple, tasty meal on the table without using prepackaged mixes.

      Thou shalt not dismantle the biosphere.

  • Hilary

    For starters I would place cats as created in the Divine image before humans. The fact that I have one sprawled in my lap at this very moment is totally irrelevant.

    But if I was God . . . .

    Thou shalt not eat fake chocolate, vanillian flavoring, or anything requiring a biochemistry degree to pronounce.

    My communion prayer: Praised be you, O Eternal one, creater of all that is, for making us holy through your commandments and allowing us to partake of your essence with chocolate.

    Thou shalt not make war upon thy brethren, no matter how they schism upon presentation of chocolate, be it with milk, nuts, additions of orange or chili’s, or anything else that brings your neighbor joy upon communion. Should your neighbor be following a false doctrine of fake chocolate flavoring you shall gently correct them to the true path of organic, ecologically grown fair trade chocolate.

    Thou shalt not dismantle the biosphere.

    I annoint Danial Savage as high priest of sexual ethics and morality.

    Every year, seven days before winter solstice, there shall be a grand assembly. At this assembly, after prayer and reflection of the past year, both myself as the Eternal diety and such humans who have entired into a holy Covenant with myself shall review the details of said holy Covenant. The time alloted for negotiation shall be no more the three days, after which any new terms of agreement shall be ratified by a 2/3rds majority. If I do not favor any new term presented, a 4/5ths majotity is necessary to over ride me.

    After the sucessful renewal of the holy Covenant, a feast shall be declared throught the land. All shall rejoice with food, drink, music and dancing, and exchange of gifts for four days. After the children are put to bed my people shall rejoice in the gift of safe, joyful, and adult sexuality.

    Hilary, divine cat queen of the universe.

  • http://WhoHasTimeForThis.com David Cowan

    According to tractate 151 of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abridged version of the authoritative laws of Juadiasm, you should sleep on your side to avoid chances of engaging in sinful masturbation. Furthermore, you should use as few fingers as possible to hold the penis while urinating to avoid unwanted stimulation.


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