Monday, March 27, 2006

On the Mutilation of Cabbage Patch Kids

Quick, Barbie, hide! Teddy Ruxpin better vamoose or he's headed for a mutilation! Take an eye off that Cabbage Patch doll! Raggedy Andy doesn't really *need* two arms does he?

The newest edict comes to us from Mordechai Eliyahu, a Sephardic rabbi in Israel. He has decreed that parents should amputate or mutilate their children's dolls so as to avoid an issue of idolatry. As Rabbi Eliyahu put it himself:

"It is very important that these toys do not remain intact so as to remove the element of idolatry."

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a Rav and will not pasken that the above sounds like a bunch of nonsense. I'll leave that to more learned individuals (Rabbi Student, are you out there?). However, my gut reaction tells me that there is a vast difference between an object venerated as a divine power and a child's plaything that isn't taken seriously by anyone except children and collectors.

But the question does have to be raised: Jewish children (along with non-Jewish ones) have been playing with dolls and stuffed animals for years. I've never heard a single story where Reb Moshe told his kids to "alter" their children's dolls. I've not heard one Chassidic Rebbe order the Chassidim in his sect to take an arm off of Barbie. Why not? If this is such an important issue (and we can agree that Avoda Zara *is* a big issue), why haven't we heard about this until now?

N.B. Of course, we're not talking about cases where dolls are (for whatever insane reason) actually worshipped as idols. My daughter happens to like her American girl dolls, but she doesn't *worship* them. I can only imagine my daughter's horror at telling her that I have to chop off one of Josephina's arms!

The Wolf

Hat tip: CustomerServant via Shmarya

19 comments:

PsychoToddler said...

What has been, like a month since the last moronic edict? Quick, we gotta keep up appearances. Otherwise people might start to think we were normal.

Still Wonderin' said...

what religion is this anyway? I though we were jews, not muslims.

aj said...

Are you sure this is real? I did a news search, and I couldn't find anything about it except in 2 South African and 1 Egyptian...usually Haaretz would have done a thing about it by now...

queeniesmom said...

Just think if we take all these parts, and reassemble them we could have another thing to mutilate.

Just try and go after josephina, at those prices no one messes with those dolls.

What will be next? Headless transformers?

Yo said...

I will be the first to agree that Rav Eliyahu does sound a little out-there. And there has never been a time when I have gone to him with my halachik shailot.

However, the disrespect of some of the comments forced me to speak out.

Wolf, as you said, you are not a rav. That should have been the end of your post. Why? Because once said, there is nothing more to say. How much do you know about this issur? How applicable is it today? What is the geder? While I may be mistaken (and if so, I apologize) I would venture a guess that no one in the above comments has the faintest clue!

Here is a rabbi, one of the most honored Sefardic rabbis and Kabbalists in the world, a former chief rabbi of Israel, hundreds of devoted followers, but because this sounds foolish, you all think you know better. Ignorant children.

My Rebbe went to Rav Elyashiv to ask about a stuffed sun that their child had as a toy! How many people know about the problem of drawing a sun? Nothing fancy, just a circle with lines coming out of it. Ask a rav – It is possible that this is also under the issur. Some advice my Rebbe got was to color the sun an unnatural color and to draw it incomplete, out of the corner of a page.

At the Talner Shul in Boston, while for years there were statues of Lions on top of the Aron, when Rav Meyer Twersky took over from his father, Rav Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky Zatzal, he took them down because of this problem.

This is a real issue, and should be looked into. I would suggest you research it, or contact one of the people I mentioned above for clarification. I think a more useful post would be to discuss the issues and present Rishonim and Achronim on the topic instead of just asking in a sneering fashion.

almost_frei said...

Great post...

I hope these same (or insane) rabbomin and people like the commenter 'yo' don't ask why there are so many like me!

The Chainik Hocker said...

I think I remember reading in All For the Boss that Rabbi Herman broke the nose off his daughter's doll...

Rebeljew said...

No, only real magic and superstition for us.

Ilan Mordechai Nefesh said...

Well, I for one am way ahead of you. I've know it was wrong for years, without even knowing why. Therefore, when my little sister started playing was barbies, I went out of my way to make sure that each one was as mutliated as possible. And cutting off a limb was not good enough. Barbie got micorwaved, sawed in half and hot glued to a car tire. Never has doing a mitvah be so fun.

Anonymous said...

I took it a step further and used firecrackers to stop the avodah zarah. I seem to recall a parachute being involved as well.

Michael Kopinsky said...

Methinks Barbie has much bigger issues than avoda zarah...

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

I'm reminded of when I was reading an English 'abridged version' of the Shulchan Aruch, (OK, I'm not the world's biggest scholar) and came across the section where it's clarified that an unmarried girl may smooth her braids with her hands on Shabbos before going to shul.

I immediately had a vision of the moment that produced this particular point of law--an eleven- or twelve-year-old screaming that if she can't fix her hair she's not GOING, and her grandmother, in sixteenth-century dress, yelling at her husband the sage that he can just say it's all right, why does everything have to be such a big deal.

If this rabbi would like to go up against an eight-year-old with a doll, in the interests of mutilating it, he may do so. Personally, I can't advise this as a prudent course of action.

Anonymous said...

eliyahu is the guy who said that god would not permit the disengagement from gaza. but god did. so the bloke is wrong. and daft. 'nuff said.

yehuda said...

In daughters of destiny the chofetz chaims daughter says her father made her cut off the nose of her dolls.I have seen the same about the steipler.The issue is the intrinsic issur of tzuras hodom not personal worsip of dolls and not hearing stories has no halachic bearings

BrooklynWolf said...

Fair enough, Yehuda, but I must then ask the following questions:

1. Because the CC or the Steipler did something, that doesn't necessarily make it binding halacha on everyone else. Or did you see somewhere that they issued this ruling as something that *everyone* must do (and not as something that they want done in their families)?

2. Did they differentiate between a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional image? Maybe all pictures of people should be assur? If the problem is with Tzuras Ha-Odom, then perhaps all pictures should be assur. I explored this issue in this post.

The Wolf

Reb Yudel said...

> when Rav Meyer Twersky took over from his father, Rav Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky Zatzal, he took them down because of this problem.

Sounds like Rav Meyer's bigger problem might be one of kibud av

yehuda said...

BW,(1)I won't comment on rav eliyohus psak I was primarly responding to your comment that the practice of mutilating dolls was not done by gedolim.(2)almost but not everyone feels that pictures are okay since their flat surface does not have real tzurah.100 years ago however the opposition to pictures was more widespread.

Anonymous said...

yehuda and BW instead of arguing like this why don't you just learn YD:141,4-5 and come out with real knowledge of the topic at hand as well as an understanding of all the opposing viewpoints (if you delve deeply enough)and take it from there?

Chana said...

What to we do to ensure avoidance of rabbi worship?

(Chana (still wiping away tears at the hot glue comment)