Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 25 July 2016

Again With The Wall

There's something viscerally annoying about Reformative Jews who, having reformatted Judaism into a secular liberal creed, then presume to tell Orthodox Jews about Torah.  This is something the Women of the Wall and their supporters seem to do on a regular basis.  Having jettisoned 95% of Jewish law, they grab at the little that doesn't offend their sensibilities and use it as a flag of superiority to parade in front of the genuinely Torah observant.
Granted that the behaviour of Orthodox Jews at the Wall when the WoW show up isn't exemplary, it's still annoying when the Reformatives play at innocence and genuine intent.  After all, this is a group that, far from praying for the rebuilding of the Temple, has eliminated any mention of the Temple from their liturgy and would be horrified at the sight of an all-male crew of priests slaughtering animals in the name of God.  For the Orthodox Jew it's not the Wall but the Temple that used to stand above it that is the holiest place in our world.  For the Reformatives it's just the Wall but without any mention of why that Wall matters in the first place.
What's even more annoying though is the picking and choosing.  Yes, we in the Torah observant community are just as guilty a lot of the time.  The description of the hooligans in this article from Times of Israel shows that.  But there is a difference.  While we pick and choose, when we do perform a mitzvah it is done with kavannah and an understanding that we do it because the Creator wishes us to.  The other consideration is that other than career criminals like the Rubashkins and Nechemiah Weberman types, we admit when we fall short of our standards.
The same cannot be said of the Reformatives.  The approach in that community is a "it's feels good so I'll do it" one.  Those mitzvos that don't "feel good" are quickly discarded or declared archaic and non-applicable.
And here's where the annoying part comes in.  The Reformatives luxuriate in the stereotype that the Orthodox are obsessed with ritual while they are fulfilling their "Judaism" through deeds of kindness.  Yes, there is something to that stereotype.  The Chareidi masses, for example, do go crazy with certain aspects of bein adam l'Makom as they interpret them.  Witness the uniformity of clothing, pickiness over the perfect esrog or separate seating on buses.  But a tone such as this article betrays a complete lack of awareness of the full spectrum of the Chareidi community.
No, I haven’t studied Shulchan Aruch. This is the answer I didn’t give. My refusal made the young man’s questioning more persistent. Finally I said: “I’ll answer your question, if you answer mine. Have you helped someone say a deathbed Vidui?”The Vidui is a confessional prayer. Typically recited during the High Holy Days, there are two deathbed versions: one for someone capable of prayer, one for someone incapacitated, like my wife, who seven years ago was slowly dying of brain trauma. A Reform rabbi came to the hospital that Shabbat HaGadol to recite it on her behalf.
So consumed with judging my Judaism and all of liberal Judaism based on the ability to recite halachot — laws concerning religious practice — the young man forgot some core tenants of our covenant.
Justice and righteousness are practiced in the streets, in hospitals and other people’s homes. We visit the sick. We fill the mourner’s fridge and freezer with food. We sit with the elderly, play with children, advocate for the disabled, free the captive and clothe the stranger.
Oooooh, he visited a hospital.  He helped out at a food bank.  Is the author of the post completely unaware that the Chareidi community has entire networks devoted to all of these needs and more?  And compared to the Reformative community there is no question that they do it on a far larger scale and more effectively.  How many Chareidi-run gemachim are there in Israel?  How many Reformative?  How many medical assistance organizations?  Resources for the poor?  We are so happy to bash on the Chareidim because of a few bad apples in their midst, to focus on the negatives, that we forget all that is positive and because, perhaps, we don't want to admit all the good that they do.  After all, if all you have is your hospital visits and food bank service, the only way to live with your abandonment of 3500 years of law and tradition is to convince yourself that you do the kindness thing better than the religious Jews.  If you don't, then what's your justification?
The author concludes with a great quote from Isaiah.  Unfortunately it's hard to take him seriously when he tosses the rest of the Prophets' materials into the trash when it doesn't fit his secular views.
The Wall might belong to the entire Jewish people but not without qualification.  Showing up with an invented religion and insisting that the Wall accommodate you is not a demand you can legitimately make.

1 comment:

Mr. Cohen said...

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD taught:
“Justice is what Torah refers to as justice.
Compassion is what Torah designates as compassion.
Non-Torah ideas of justice and compassion have played no small part in the moral decadence so prevalent in modern civilization.”

MICROBIOGRAPHY: Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD is a Chassidic Rabbi and founder and Director of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center. He was born in 1930 CE and traces his ancestry to the Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement. He wrote more than 60 books. His web site is: www dot AbrahamTwerski dot com. His channel on YouTube is named AbrahamTwerski.

SOURCE: Let Us Make Man (chapter 19, page 93) by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski MD, year 1987, ISBN-13: 978-0933711013 ISBN-10: 0933711018

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