A Horrible Case of Inflation June 21, 2011

A Horrible Case of Inflation

It’s a bad idea to treat symbols as if they are the real things.

It’s silly to think anyone could “desecrate” a cracker… unless you’re a Catholic who foolishly believes a consecrated communion wafer actually contains the body of Christ. It’s crazy that some Christians would rather die than see a random, generic Bible get destroyed because one book shouldn’t be a stand in for everything you believe and value.

It’s incredible, then, that anyone would make a big deal out of a dollar bill that was once “blessed” by a Rabbi.

But that’s what’s happening in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Cha’ bad Palm Beach Synagogue had a donation box stolen — which is awful — and it “contained a $1 bill that was blessed by a rabbi who died a few years ago.”

They’re offering $1,000 for its return.

Let me repeat that.

A synagogue is offering $1,000 for the return of a $1 bill because a rabbi once did some hocus-pocus over it.

I feel bad that the synagogue was broken into, and I hope they get their box back, but this is lunacy.

Even if someone were to find it, how would they even know it’s the “blessed” bill? Blessed bills look like all other bills, just like “holy” communion wine looks just like the cheap wine I can buy off a grocery store shelf.

The only way I can justify this $1,000 reward is if it was the only way to get any publicity… or if the box contained far more than $1,000.

If it’s not one of those things, though, it’s just another example of religious people treating their symbols with far more reverence than they deserve.

(Thanks to Todd for the link)


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  • niftyjack

    Well to be fair, it could be a sentimental thing, like if the rabbi was a close friend.

    But as a Jewmanist, Chabads are crazy. Especially this one sect in Crown Heights, New York, where they believe this one old rabbi was the messiah (even though he died). I don’t understand it.

  • From the picture, it looks like the rabbi who blessed it is Rabbi Schneerson – the guy that all the Chabadniks thought was the Messiah.

    He died in 1994 and they rebuilt his Brooklyn townhouse as a complete replica in Israel, expecting him to return and live there.

    These guys are extremist as you get in terms of Judaism, in that they sort of decided to break with the rest of Judaism and revere a specific person as the coming Messiah. Most Jews think that they are utterly insane.

    They still have bumper stickers and billboards in some places in Israel predicting his return, although many probably will admit by now that it’s getting a little embarrassing. =)

    They’re complete nutters and I even know some ultra orthodox religious Jews who will openly say this. So yeah, it isn’t just a rabbi who blessed it – to them, it’s the Messiah. It’s as if Jesus himself blessed a dollar bill and a church wanted it back.

    Complete idiocy, I know, but I just had to put it into context.

  • Speaking of communion wafers, does anyone know who makes the damn things or where they can be gotten? I’d love to be able to offer them as snacks at our club meetings with some dip or something.

  • Except Catholics don’t believe the blessed bread and wine are symbolic. God is supposedly actually incarnated (or in-cracker-ated) during communion. The wafer is just as literally ‘the body of God’ as Jesus’ human body was.

    I’m sure that still sounds ridiculous, but my point is that it’s not any extra ridiculous compared to believing Jesus was God in the flesh.

  • Cafeeine

    While I get your drift, it occurs to me that the same damn bewilderment would apply for the current market value of any 1930s copy of Action Comics, or any half-century old baseball card.

    People can assign arbitrary value on anything, and I’m fine with that, so long as they don’t assume I have to adhere to the same value system. If these people want to value that old $1 at 1000$, I’d be more than happy to take that money from them, if I had that bill (Of course that assumes I would be able to tell it apart from others…)

  • …and some people say that devout Jews worship money. Nooooo!!! lol

  • gski

    From the OP, “Even if someone were to find it, how would they even know it’s the “blessed” bill?”

    The serial number.

  • Richard Wade

    Even if someone were to find it, how would they even know it’s the “blessed” bill?

    Oh this particular dollar bill has pow’ful mojo. It’s magic. It’s alive. You can tell by the expression on Washington’s face. It’s a look of good manners and personal character barely containing an explosion of disgust, dismay and despair as he sees his beloved country hijacked by fascists and fundies kissing each other’s asses as they steer us all sharply to the right, directly into a deep ditch filled with stinking, steaming bullshit.

    I have a picture of the magic dollar. See the expression?

    George is not happy

  • Maverick

    “contained a $1 bill that was blessed by a rabbi who died a few years ago.”

    I find that surprising. Many Chabadniks wouldn’t do this…say that Rabbi Schneerson was dead. Many believe him to still be alive (“Why are there guards at the Rebbe’s tomb?” “To prevent assasination”).

    Seriously, the logic goes as follows. Since:

    A. Rabbi Schneerson was/is the Messiah.

    B. You can’t be the Messiah if you are dead.

    Therefore:

    C. Rabbi Schneerson isn’t dead.

    For extra lols, the name of the sect, Chabad, is the pronuncitation of the acronym “Het-Beis-Daled” and stands for “Hachmah-Binah Da’at.” This translates roughly into “Wisdom, Discernment, and Knowledge (or Intelligence).” I didn’t realize irony was so prized among the Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

  • Karen

    It doesn’t strike me as being much different than the collector who will spend hundreds, thousands, or even more on a coin because of it’s rarity and association. (My husband is a coin collector — thankfully not an expensive coin collector — but still, I can’t fathom why he does it any more than he can fathom why I string beads to make jewelry that I don’t sell.)

    Oh, and I say as an ex-Catholic, be assured that the wine they serve in communion actually tastes like cheap wine you can buy at the grocery store. 🙂

  • Most chabadniks don’t think that Schneerson was the Messiah. It is true that when he was alive the vast majority did think he was the Messiah, and a disturbingly large fraction still do, and they all consider him to be one of the holiest people ever (probably him and Moses at the top. Maybe the Baal Tanya is at the same level?). Of course, that’s not to say that chabad isn’t as a whole pretty crazy. In that regard, this behavior is not that surprising for chabad. Even the saner ones treat pretty much anything connected to their late Rebbe in a manner similar to how medieval Catholics would treat the relics from saints. In fact, they also have a fair number of claimed miracles associated with his relics.

  • Something’s value is not always equal to what it originally cost or what a similar item would cost today. Take Marilyn Monroe’s Iconic White Dress for example. It sold for $4.6 Million in a recent auction. I’m sure you could buy a copy of it for a small fraction of that.

  • Nik

    @Dustin, try Google. I found several places online that sell them.

    Although using them with dip is definitely sacriligious – they taste awful, and would ruin perfectly good food. Or wine for that matter.

  • Steven

    Every time I see crazy news from South Florida, I just know it’s close to where I live. This is no exception. I’ve gotta get out of this town. 😉

    Dustin Finney Says:
    Speaking of communion wafers, does anyone know who makes the damn things or where they can be gotten? I’d love to be able to offer them as snacks at our club meetings with some dip or something.

    That’s a terrible idea, Dustin- those things are bland and tasteless. (No pun intended.) Get some nice tortilla chips instead.

  • TheBlackCat

    The only way I can justify this $1,000 reward is if it was the only way to get any publicity… or if the box contained far more than $1,000.

    …or if it was a really expensive donation box.

  • frizzlefrazzle

    So, here is my plan. I’m going to mail them a buck and ask them to mail me a check for $1000 if it’s the “one.” If not, please mail me back the dollar, and I’ll mail them another one.

    I recently attended a bachelor party…and, well, let’s just say I’ve got a bunch of one dollar bills. Maybe one of them is it.

  • Tom Bourque

    Are you going to take donations to replace the $1? 😉 j/k It must have some sentimental or religious value to them.

  • Richard Wade

    I have some WTF questions. Can someone knowledgeable illuminate me?

    WTF is the back story behind Rabbi Schneerson blessing a dollar?

    WTF is blessing a dollar supposed to do? Get you more bang for your buck? It keeps coming back no matter how many times you spend it? Did he bless other currency? A nickel? How about a personal check so it wouldn’t bounce?

    Would he have ever blessed a credit card? “Don’t leave home without it.” “It’s everywhere you want to be.” “Priceless.” “What’s in your wallet?”

    Rabbi Schneerson died in 1994. Is it possible that he might have blessed a ’93 Ford Tempo GL, blue with a gray interior? Just wonderin’. They’re asking $1299 for it, but if it was blessed, well hey. I know Catholic priests are always blessing inanimate objects, like cars, golf clubs, child sized handcuffs…

  • Claudia

    @Richard, maybe it has something to do with this? This article appears to support that notion.

  • Nordog

    Buy wafers to serve at a party may be snarky, but it isn’t sacrilegious.

  • I’ll gladly bless a bill for them, at 1/10 of the cost too! $100 for a $1 bill. I’ll die one day and it’ll certainly be worth at least 10x

  • Annie

    I don’t have my glasses on, but when I first looked at the photo, I thought there was a picture of Darwin on the box.

  • Dan W

    I agree with you Hemant, this blessed dollar crap is absolute silliness. And so was the huge uproar a few years back involving PZ Myers and communion wafers. Then again, I’m a godless heathen who thinks nothing should be regarded as “sacred” or “holy”, so I doubt those who believe in such things would see reason.

  • That’s a terrible idea, Dustin- those things are bland and tasteless. (No pun intended.) Get some nice tortilla chips instead.

    They couldn’t be that bad with a little seasoning and some dip, could they? Or maybe served on a snack tray with cheese and summer sausage?

  • He looks a bit like Dumbledore. What does the magic dollar do exactly? Does it make muggles more generous with their money?

    In Norse mythology Odin had a magic ring (no snickering at the back) that was named Draupnir. Every ninth night the magic ring produced eight new, golden copies of itself. Does this magic dollar produce new magic dollars every week or so? If it does then I would think that the police would be interested in uncovering this forgery ring.

    With slightly less irreverence I would think that putting this dollar into circulation would serve God’s plan better than locking it in a box. I mean the magic presumably will rub off on the hands of anyone who handles it and be distributed to hundreds of people in the course of a week or a month. Even if the magic is diluted all those people will have some small divine fortune that comes out of the magic dollar. Clearly it being stolen was God’s plan otherwise the magic dollar would have prevented the thief from stealing the money, maybe by turning him into a frog. Or something.

    Maybe it turned invisible.

    Sorry that was just as irreverent.

  • Buy wafers to serve at a party may be snarky, but it isn’t sacrilegious.

    This is true. If you wanted to be blasphemous, you’d have to serve wafers that have already been consecrated. It’s not hard to do, but it would be time-consuming. You’d have to go to communion and pocket the wafers until you had enough to serve at a party. Unless you enlisted a whole bunch of people and hit as many churches as you could find, it would probably take you a long time, so it depends how dedicated you are to the cause, LOL.