Of the many topics I try to avoid discussing in this blog, chief among them is religion. I find it generally too controversial, which is only exacerbated by my minority, non-conformist views on the subject; it’s just more trouble than it’s worth, in my opinion. (I just searched the blog and the sole previous invocation, “Yuletidying-up,” came last month during the Christmas Blitz.)

Nevertheless, I was struck by an idea that I just had to share. If I were savvy, it’s potentially even a lucrative enterprise. Admittedly, this brainstorm isn’t particularly religious in nature; it just uses as a touchstone a secular version of an aspect of one religion.

In Judaism, a mitzvah is (1) any of the collection of 613 commandments or precepts in the Bible and additional ones of rabbinic origin that relate chiefly to the religious and moral conduct of Jews.¹ A mitzvah is also (2) a meritorious or charitable act.² The word is most commonly known from the phrases bar/bat/bas mitzvah, which is an initiatory rite into adulthood.

The second, more ecumenical sense is the one I have in mind for this proposal. Ready? Here it is: The Mitzvah Bar: an establishment where one is discouraged from paying for one’s own drinks and food. Instead, such niceties should only be accomplished through the magnanimity of others, either your companions or, preferably, strangers. Although there might be some technical snags in getting such a system to operate fluidly, I believe it could make for a rather congenial atmosphere and a popular establishment. Or a whole lot of fistfights.

As a nod to the gimmicky underpinnings of the conceit, some Kosher wines could be available and other products such as He’Brew (“The Chosen Beer,” produced by the Shmaltz Brewing Company) would be on hand. I don’t even know if there’s such a thing as Kosher booze, but there could be some of that in the place, too.

Incidentally, I used a number of web search engines to look up the phrase “mitzvah bar” and, can you believe it, I found  zero results (aside from the two words separated by commas or semicolons or in repitition, i.e. none with the phrase’s intentional transpositionary sense)!

alepint

On a related note, Ironic Sans wrote on his blog last June about his idea for a techie pub called The Progress Bar.

¹ Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.  (accessed: 27 January 2009).
² Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online. (accessed: 27 January 2009).
©Accoutrements / Archie McPhee Yesterday morning I was listening to NPR and heard a brief story on a nascent holiday called “HumanLight.” Created eight years ago by some (secular) Humanists and celebrated between the winter solstice and Christmas, it is apparently intended to allow such folks to join in the seasonal festivities without compromising their irreligious principles:

“HumanLight presents an alternative reason to celebrate: a Humanist’s vision of a good future. It is a future in which all people can identify with each other, behave with the highest moral standards, and work together toward a happy, just and peaceful world.”

-from the HumanLight website.

(more…)

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