Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Why I don’t go to shul to pray

We’re in the middle of a plague. I’m vaccinated so I’m practically removed from danger. But I can still pick up the virus and give it to someone else. So, I still have to wear one or two facemasks, socially distance, avoid crowded places, etc. I also don’t want to ‘inspire’ others to disregard health advice. Mostly, I don’t want to be a link in a chain of infection that could sicken, main, or kill people. In my Bible, it says: Guard thou health very well, Love your fellow as yourself, and Thou shan’t murder (the Ten Commandments). It does not say: pray in a shul.

The people who pray in my shul now are not dishonest. They are just not Dutch but thoroughly Israeli. At the moment, we can only be in shul with 5 people with face masks spread out 2 meters apart from everyone else. For them, that is done when 25 people, most of them with a face mask, most of them are spread out 2 meters apart from almost everyone else.

When the genius Hareidic rabbi of the shul gave a lecture of half an hour without a mask, I was done being there until the epidemic has died down.

In the synagogues that I pray, prayers are said for the welfare of the government. To not obey the authorities’ directives, just because it’s so inconvenient, means dishonesty. Not only was I not born a liar (who is?). We also know that G^d doesn’t listen to the prayers of liars.

The Sages teach us in Sayings of the Fathers not to sit in the company of fools and not to follow the majority in evil. Maimonides says that if there are no proper people around, go live alone in the desert. My home.

When Rabbi Simon with his son, after many years, came out of the cave, his evil eye burned normal people to death and he had to return for another year to not destroy normal life. I’ve been inside for 10 months and I just can’t believe what I see. How can so many religious Jews have no respect for authority, human life, and the wellbeing of others?

So, I’m back praying at home, for the time being.

This week, my son got married in Benay Barak. I showed up with my biggest smile. I asked my son beforehand if I could distribute masks. No. Or, if I could put a pile of them on my table. No. And I know my place. It’s not my wedding. I just came to make bride and groom happy. I found almost all things done in the open and socially distant. And I just didn’t participate in or encourage things done too close for health or comfort.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * 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. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), 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), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating 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. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors 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. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. 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 a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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