Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Srugim 15: Erev Yom Kippur

The season finale of Srugim heightened my feelings about the deep-rooted spiritual malaise that feeds like a cancer on the body politic of Orthodoxy. It has many different sides to it.

One is the tragic inability of Israelis, Religious Israelis especially, to live with any type of complexity. Everything is a matter of all or nothing at all. Moreover, that 'everything' is extremely rigid. We have set the minimum standard of religious observance so high, so strict and so sub-group specific, as to exclude myriads of Jews from the Torah, and to drive many others out. There is no room for struggle. There is no room for variation, even if the Torah does allow for it. There is only judgement, לחומרא.

Another is our obsession with externals. We are obsessed with how things look. We give absolutely no time or thought to the content of our observance. The obsession with externals means that we have failed to develop the tools to deal with the outside world. We possess neither courage to explore, nor the humility to put on the brakes. I am not saying that everyone can do it. I am not saying that everyone can succeed. I am saying that if we teach courage and humility, many more can come closer (or stay) under the wings of the Shekhina.

Speaking of the Shekhina, where is the Ribbono shel Olam in Srugim? Where is the Ribbono shel Olam in our prayers (whether quick or slow)? Where is the Ribbono shel Olam in our inter-personal relations? Where is the Ribbono shel Olam in the idolization of Torah Learners and Rabbis? The answer is, apparently, nowhere. We read about Hester Panim ( Deus Absconditus ) in last week's Parsha. We complain about Hester Panim in our lives, in politics, in the economy. Who, though, is hiding from whom?

It's almost Yom Kippur. The sanctity of the day is already tangible. It's in the very air we breathe. The words of the Kotzker are perhaps a cliche, but cliche's are there because they are true.

וואו געפינט זיך דער בורא עולם? וואו מאן לאזט עם אריין
Where is God? Where you let Him in.
It is of all this that I hope to speak on Hoshana Rabba.


SuperRaizy said...

I have never see Srugim, but I think that you ask some excellent questions about the state of Judaism today.

Anonymous said...

if one goes to veoh.com and searches for srugim , most of the episode, though not the last one are there

Anonymous said...

I was walking across a bridge one day and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!"
"Why shouldn't I" he asked.
I replied, "Well, there's so much to live for!"
"Like what?" he asked.
I said, "Well,... are you Jewish or a Goy?"
"Jewish," he replied.
I said, "Me too! Are you Orthodox or Reform?"
He answered, "Orthodox."
I said, "Me too! Are you Charedi or Modern?"
He said, "Charedi." I said, "Me too! Are you Litvish or Chassidishe?"
He answered, "Litvish."
I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Litvish Yerushalmi or Litvish B'nai-Braker?"
He said, "A Litvish Yerushalmi!"
I said, "Me too! Are you a Litvish Yerushalmi Mussarnik or are you a Litvish Yerushalmi Brisker?"
He said, "a Litvish Yerushalmi Mussarnik!"
I said, "Me too! Are you a Litvish Yerushalmi Mussarnik Slobodkaniker or a Litvish Yerushalmi Mussarnik Kelmer"
He said, "Litvish Yerushalmi Mussarnik Slobodkaniker!"
I said, "Apikoires" and pushed him off the bridge.

PS Naturally the pusher is a Litvak of course.......

Nachum said...

If he was a Litvak, he'd say "apikayres," not "apikoires."

Very funny, though!

Anonymous said...

Could someone summarize episode 15?