It was in those days that I still lived in Amsterdam that the Jewish Historical Museum, that factually was run by Reform Jews, was having the opening of an exposition on Purim afternoon. That is the time to eat the ritual bread meal! I liked that they preserved the past but I didn’t like that they seemed to have a monopoly on present-day Judaism. And that things I use almost every day (phylacteries) were there exhibited as relics from the past. What to do? I decided to eat it early and rush to the Museum.
I liked my Purim outfit for that year. It was a crème-colored caftan with a rope as a belt, sandals on sockless feet (It was so cold and raining!), and a big white yarmulka embroidered with gold and silver threads. As a fashion accessory, I carried a book under my arm which clearly showed on its cover the words “Am I Guilty?” (Is het mijn schuld?) (for fun bought for one guilder) over a crown of thorns from which red drops of blood dripped. My uncovered skin, from my toes and legs (to the knees) to my arms (from the elbows) and face, I had darkened with fake-tanning lotion.
For the second reading of the Scroll of Esther in the morning, I went to a small gathering close to my home where I also was Shabbat morning. The Saxton did not recognize me without my black suit and hat and with my new tan. “From where is your honor?” he inquired in English. From around the corner, I answered in Dutch. He did not understand my disguise.
The only one who got it was a guy from the Spanish-Portuguese community who shouted from afar: Jesus!
Interestingly, I found that my non-White friends and acquaintances were a lot warmer with me now I didn’t look so pale anymore! Makes you think.
In full regalia, I went to the Museum. It was packed. To my surprise, uninformed as I was about Reform, there were many women with yarmulkas but all the other men were bareheaded including the man who was saying the Blessing for festive new things (Shehhehchehyahnu). After the speeches were done, a radio reporter came up to me.
She introduced herself as from the Catholic Radio Broadcasting Organization (KRO) and said: Seeing your attire, I wonder in what function you are here. I replied, this is not an attire — I’m dressed up. Today is Jewish carnival. Dressed up as what? she wanted to know. As Jesus, I replied, respectfully. She almost fainted. She seemed a modern secular woman but she turned white as snow and her eyes seemed to spin. With her last breath, it seemed, she blurted out, “But why?” I answered that he’s not been in any Synagogue or Jewish celebration for so long that it seemed high time to me.
She regained her strength and asked what she really wanted to know. “In the Old Testament,” (O, those Jews) “it says that a woman is impure for 33 days after birthing a son and 66 days after a daughter — is that not sexism? Doesn’t that bother you?” (Leviticus 12:1-5 — MM) I had no clue what to answer her so I said: “You should ask a rabbi. They know these kinds of things.” “Oh,” she sighed frustrated, “that’s what everyone here tells me.”
Now I know that this impurity only is for entering the Temple and touching consecrated things. But that after five days that the bleeding has stopped, the woman can go to the ritual bath and the couple can touch each other again. Let’s say, in total 7+33= the holy 40 days and after a girl: twice.
The Rabbis tell us (Vahyikrah Rabbah 15:7) that if a woman is scrupulous about the seven days of separation, she will merit to count the eight days before circumcision, a son. We bless and pray for sons but not daughters?
Easily, most people focus on the negative. That’s OK but give the positive a place too.
During the 40 days (after a girl even 80 days) that the new mother sees blood from her private parts, the couple won’t become ritually impure for touch (Maimonides, Rashi — ask your rabbi). That is such a nice ‘leniency.’ So, when the baby is a girl, the couple gets a double amount of leniency.
And not being able to enter the Temple is like not being able to travel on Shabbat. Please recognize that you then also don’t have to. What a relief.
We pray for and bless people with sons because really, contrary to popular opinion, they are the weaker sex and need all the blessings they can get to make it into this world (and stay here).
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. *
As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. *
If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: https://youtu.be/QMPp6h6r72M *
To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/. *
Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. *
Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. *
His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. *
One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. *
He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. *
He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. *
He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. *
His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. *
To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. *
His newest books you may find here: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3AMoshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&s=relevancerank&text=Moshe-Mordechai%2FMaurits+van+Zuiden&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1