Friday, July 22, 2005

A Cry from the Heart

Travelling in various circles in New York over the past month, I have consistently encountered well-meaning people who fail to grasp the larger issues that impending expulsion from Gaza raises. Today's Haaretz has a long interview with Rav Yaakov Medan, incoming Rosh Yeshiva of Har Etzion, which states things straight on. While I differ with him in writing off the entire secular elite, he is 95% on target there as well.

Le-maan Yiru ve-yirau.

Comic Relief

I just received an e-mail from Professor David Berger which includes the following:

I wonder if I ever told you the best cross-cultural, cross-linguistic one-liner I ever heard.
A yeshiva bochur asked his rebbe if it's muttar to go to the opera. The rebbe replied, "You're not over till the fat lady sings."

To understand this one line, you have to konow about kol isha, you have to know yeshivish, and you have to know the American expression about the fat lady.

I reprint it here, with attribution because, as he writes: 'Ba-avonoseinu, we need things to laugh about.'

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Quo Usque Tandem Abutere Gideon Levy Patientia Nostra!

In response to the worst screed yet to emanate from the pen of Gideon Levy, I present my posting to Haaretz' website:

It`s time to call a spade a spade Gideon Levy is a paternalizing racist. How? He dares to serve as the mouthpiece of the Arab/Muslim World without deigning to listen what that world says. That world (in Artabic, which Levy of course would never think of learning) says straight that Islam demands unending war against infidels and that the means are not all that important. If Levy would read the Qur`an, the Hadith, the Shari`ah, and Qur`an commentaries (not to mention sermons in mosques), he would know that. He, instead, sits in his ivory Tel-Aviv tower and pontificates.Enough is enough Levy! Read a book. Get an education! Then get back to us.

Quo usque tandem abutere Gideon Levy Patientia nostra! (Oops. I forgot. You don`t know Latin either. So let`s see. No Western education. No eastern education., No Jewish education. And you dare to call yourself a pundit!)

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.