Published August 3, 2004
Ask Rabbi Dan
Fred wants to know,
Recently, a Gentile family member sent a joke to another member who is Jewish.
The Jewish family member was highly incensed at the joke because part of it referred to a rabbi falling to his knees and then on to his face in order to have his prayers accepted. He was angry because he saw this joke as demeaning to Jews and said that Jews do not pray that way.
Is it? Please explain.
The Jewish member of your family is correct, except in one instance. Jews do not prostrate themselves, except on Yom Kippur, and then only if they are the ones conducting the Service. My grandfather, of blessed memory, was one of the few exceptions ... he would fall to the floor even when sitting in the pews during Yom Kippur.
His anger, in my opinion, was inappropriate. I am certain that the Gentile
relative intended no harm or insult in his joke. In all probability, he was just
telling it the way he heard it. It would have been sufficient to tell him that
Muslims prostrate themselves and Catholics kneel but, for the most part, Jews do
neither. In so doing, there would have been an exchange of education between the
relatives instead of animosity.
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