Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Dog's Life (err...Religion)

It was unreal. No. It was surreal. Yesterday afternoon I spoke to a congregation in Queens about the historical and religious dimensions of the so-called 'disengagement.' Among the themes that I highlighted was the virulently anti-Judaism agenda that is part and parcel of the Leftist elites campaign for leaving Gaza. I discussed the history of this campaign, going back to the Oslo years (and its relation to Post-Zionism). I tried to highlight the fact that while the Orthodox community made a healthy contribution to the all too common hostility to the Torah, this secularist agenda developed on its own and intensifies on its own.

Then I read the news this morning. There were two items of relevance. First, it appears that the geniuses in the Chief Rabbinate have advised synagogues not to give aliyot to non-Orthodox men. This is what appeared on Ma'ariv's Yahadut site (in the rolling headlines section):

הרב מלכיאור, יפנה לרבנות הראשית בבקשה לחזור בה מההמלצה לא לקיים עליות לתורה לחילונים בשבתות
סגן השר לענייני חברה ותפוצות ומנהיג מימד, הרב מיכאל מלכיאור, יוצא היום (ראשון) נגד המלצת הרבנות הראשית שלא לאפשר לחילונים לקיים עליה לתורה בשבתות. לדבריו, "נקודת המוצא של הרבנות הראשית היא שהיא משרתת אך ורק את הציבור הדתי. במקום להתקרב אל המשפחה החילונית ולהפוך את בר המצווה לאירוע משמעותי עבור המשפחה, שבים ומרחיקים את החילונים מיהדותם."מה שהיה נהוג במשך דורות כאירוע מיוחד של קבלת הילד את המצוות - הופך לעוד נקודת פילוג שמשניאה את התורה והופכת אותה לשייכת רק לחלק מהעם. החלטה כזו מעמיקה עוד יותר את הנתק בין חילונים לדתיים בישראל, נתק שמורגש היטב כבר היום".הרב מלכיאור הודיע, כי יפנה לרבנות הראשית בבקשה לשנות את המלצתה זו.
Now, it is very rare that I find myself agreeing with Michael Melchior on anything. Here, however, he is absolutely right. What the blazes were they thinking? You have nice, secular people who finally come to shul and you treat them like second class citizens? Are they crazy? Instead of bringing people close to Torah they confirm that religious Jews are arrogant, smug, supercillious jerks!
Yes, I know there are reasons for a policy like that. In our case, where the soul of the entire Jewish People is at stake, it behooves us to follow the lead of the overwhelming number of qehillot around the world and allow such aliyot. (As for this problem, here too one has to learn how to talk to people.)
Want to know just how bad things are. Take a look at Ro'i Gazit's piece in Ynet on 'Divorcing the Rabbinate.' Now Gazit has his own ax to grind. However, it is true that the Kallah classes in the rabbinate are a horror. You don't tell sophisticated women, many of whom have been sexually active and are getting married to have Jewish children, that they're going to die if they don't go to miqveh. You certainly have no chance of getting them to miqveh, if you adopt that tack. Instead, there are sophisticated ways of presenting our sophisticated Torah to sophisticated people. Of course, we don't have a sophisticated rabbinate. We haven't built a Modern Orthodox infrastructure. We are paying a very high price, across the boards, for our failure in this regard.
At least, though, there are some bright spots that get around the rabbinate. There is Tzohar, there is Itim, and there are the Yoatzot who graduate Nishmat. Women and Men who take Taharat HaMishpaha at Bar Ilan in Limmude Yesod, also receive appropriate instruction. All of these need to be supported, strengthened and publicized. In addition, it's time to take over the rabbinate, or the rabbinate will fall (and the Jewish character of the state with it.) That would make the Post-Jews very happy. We, however, are not in the world to make them happy.
What did HaZaL say? Pne HaDor ke-Fne HaKelev. Well, change that to Pne Parnasse HaDor, keFne HaKelev.


Anonymous said...

Could you please check the link to the "Divorcing the Rabbinate" piece - I can't find it on the Ynet site (of course, it could just be my Hebrew!). Thanks.

Menachem Butler said...

"In our case, where the soul of the entire Jewish People is at stake, it behooves us to follow the lead of the overwhelming number of qehillot around the world and allow such aliyot."

In the fifth edition (2004) of We Have Reason to Believe, Rabbi Louis Jacobs writes in a new retrospect:

"And there is the odd matter of the London Beth Din issuing a ruling to the effect that while I am welcome in any United Synagogue as a congregant, I cannot be called up to the Torah because, granted my beliefs, I cannot honestly recite the benediction: ‘Who has chosen us from all peoples and given us His Torah.’ But I am allowed, I was told, to open the Ark. An Orthodox journal thus explained the inconsistency that opening the Ark is a ‘non-speaking part’, as if the synagogue service were a film in which I could be an extra but never have a starring role." [p.xv]

See the JTA article from a few years ago, when:

Jacobs, who broke away from mainstream Orthodoxy to establish the Masorti movement, as Conservative Judaism is known in Britain, was attending an Orthodox aufruf, a pre-wedding Sabbath celebration for the bridegroom, Jacobs´ future grandson-in-law.

Acting on advice from the synagogue´s governing body, the London Beit Din — or Jewish legal court — Bournemouth Hebrew Congregation Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld declined to allow the 83-year-old Jacobs the aliyah.

Anonymous said...

I think there's a difference between Jacobs, who ideologically rejected Orthodoxy and 99% of the other Jews in the world who just don't do it.

Joseph Abramson

NN said...

OK, so how do we take over the rabbinate?

Jeffrey said...

Now you're talking. I think we need to organize a combination of monied, intellectual and political leaders to push for the appointment of MO/NR rabbis to as many posts as possible. Haim Ramon's outrageous preference for Haredim, to the detriment of women and others, should have caused a fire storm in our community.

Alternatively, we could disengage from the Haredi hostage rabbinate and set up a parallel system.

Nachum said...

You say MO/NR. Remember that the two are not always synonomous.

How does Haim Ramon prefer Charedim, and what does he do about it? said...

I'm catching up here a bit late. A sneaky suspicion tells me that the average Yoetzet graduate from Nishmat is as cold as the average "rebbetzin" in the rabbinate. Perhaps a bit more intellectually sophisticated, but not necessarily warmer. My wife's experience with the Rebbetzin was one of a simple, but well-meaning woman. I'm not sure that cold sophistication coupled with deeper halachic knowledge is the answer here. If the yoetzet interview in Anat Tzuria's "Purity" is anything to go by, it will be a long time before they can make an impact in the Orthodox community - let alone the non-religious Israeli world. Cold, cold, cold.