Jews are more successful financially, Pat Robertson said on his TV show, because they are “polishing diamonds, not fixing cars.”
I’m not sure who is worse in this clip, Robertson or his guest, anti-gay wacko Rabbi Daniel Lapin. In the jaw-dropping segment of Robertson’s 700 Club , courtesy of Right Wing Watch, Lapin was stumping for his book about how the Bible wants you to get rich:
“When you correctly said in Jewish neighborhoods you do not find Jews lying under their cars on Sunday afternoons, no, I pay one of the best mechanics around to take care of my BMW, I’d be crazy to take my time doing it myself,” Lapin said. “Or for me to mow my lawn, I’m the worse lawnmower in the world, but the young man who lives down the street from me, he’s one of the best and he’s happy to do it and I’m happy.”
Lapin’s statement is — as friend of the blog Amy Schiller once said — a mind-boggling “mobius strip of privilege.” Which came first, the wealth or the BMW? And one can scratch their head wondering which Jewish neighborhoods they’ve seen. (Maybe it was Monsey on a Saturday?) If this were Al-Jazeera, then we could expect a public outcry, not just from Jews but from Americans, and Rabbi Daniel Lapin outcast.
But the real gem in here is Lapin’s distortion of Torah in service of Republican sacred cows. Lapin goes on to insist there are no Hebrew words for “retirement,” “adolescent,” or (even better) “fair.” Says Lapin, “in Hebrew when there’s no word for it, it’s a bad idea.” Putting aside Modern Hebrew, there’s a few other words that the Bible lacks, presumably the majority of financial devices for which Lapin got dinged in the Jack Abrahamoff scandal. Although we could point out Torah definitely has rules against lying, cheating and stealing. I also couldn’t find “BMW” in the Torah and neither “car,” “TV show,” or “Christian conservative.”
But the most breathtaking assertion is that “fairness” is unbiblical. Only if you throw out the books from Amos to Zechariah and most of the rest. Railing against taxation, deferred retirement earnings, and antipathy towards the rich, Lapin forgets a slew of words whose root in Western consciousness rests on Biblical precedent. Retirement funds and Social Security are deferred wages; wages which Torah prohibits withholding from its earner. Paying taxes to community services is the topic of tractates of Talmud, including the responsibility of the wealthy to help meet the minimum needs of the poor. Not to mention medina malkhut dina (the law of the land is the law).
It would be enough if Lapin were only horrifically perpetuating bigotry about Jews and money and that God cares nothing for fairness, all while laughing with no-friend-of-the-Jews Pat Robertson on his popular TV show. But trampling the most core prophetic principles of Torah? Dayeinu.