Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Yonasan Rosenblum Thinks Again

It's easy to criticize. The Ribono Shel Olam knows I do it enough. It's far harder to compliment. Perhaps we're all so used to being negative and protesting when someone says something we don't like that when something non-objectionable comes along, we just pass it by in search of a new target.
One of those targets just before Pesach was a column by Rav Rosenblum criticizing people who go away for hotels to Pesach. In truth, a careful reading of the column would reveal that Rav Rosenblum himself was only expressing some discomfort with the idea while quoting from a rav who was downright opposed to it. Most of the comments on the forum at Cross Currents where it was also posted missed that subtle point.
What distinguishes Rav Rosenblum from other writers at that site, however, is his ability to absorb criticism and take a second look at his previously stated positions. He doesn't necessarily change his beliefs or positions but is able to respectfully understand the different viewpoints of his detractors, something which sets him above other authors.
The best example of this is the follow-up column to that piece. in it, he notes the simple fact that not all Jews can approach the same concept, in this case Pesach, in an identical fashion. For some staying at home for the holiday is essential to their observance. For others, the benefits afforded by a hotel stay help enhance the holiday.
One must remember that when God took us out of Egypt, He very quickly organized us into thirteen separate tribes. Certainly if He wishes for us to all approach Him in the same way, He would not have encouraged such separateness. But as various commentators over the centuries have noted, there is a variety of ways the sincere, observant Jew can approach his Creator, all within the boundaries of Torah and its proper observance. No one approach fits all, nor is it meant to. Perhaps the best example of this is the portion of the Torah where the princes of each tribe bring a gift at the dedication of the Mishkan. Each of the twelve gifts was identical, yet the Torah lists each separately. Why spend a couple of columns on this when it could simply have said: And each of the princes brought the same gift:...?
The Midrash Rabbah answers this question by explaining that although the superficial gifts looked identical, the intention behind each was different for each tribe, based on their understanding of history and their connection to God.
Thus it must be for all Jewish observance. Using Pesach as an example, one can see that for some the holiday simply isn't right if the family isn't gathered together at home for the Seder. For others, the hotel is the answer but for both groups, the ultimate goal is identical: a meaningful Pesach in which the participants feel as if their themsleves came out of Egypt and developed a personal connection to God.
Kol HaKavod to Rav Rosenblum for his attention in this area.

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