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Monday, January 23, 2006

Dinosaur-Speak:

In response to the likes of a recent op-ed article published in the Jerusalem Post which is critical of Chabad for being too tolerant, Rabbi Friedman wrote the following comment:

Do you know why scientists have a hard time explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs? It’s because they are not extinct at all but very much in evidence - particularly in the behavior and thinking of many Jews. We need only read recent columns in the Jerusalem Post and elsewhere for clear corroboration of this theory.

These dinosaurs are among us and are in pain! It is sad to hear and see fellow Jews suffering in vain. They are the saddest collection of Jews and for no good reason. The ‘dinosaurs’ still think of Judaism as a religion! For shame.

A religion dictates that you will have your religious types and your non-religious types. As a religion you will spend your life defending against non-believers and hopelessly justifying, defending, protecting the religion itself. (Every religion seems to need defenders as it cannot defend itself.) As a religion you must emphasize reward and punishment to keep the people in line. And you find yourself quibbling among yourselves – “more punishment less reward” or “more reward less punishment.”

As a religion, you will watch in despair as more and more members defect or just drift away. But you half expected that, and sometimes you wish you could bring yourself to do likewise. You think reform and conservative congregations are your enemy because all the denominations are ‘religious’ to varying degrees and you must insist that your degree is the correct one. You are not ashamed to say that to your Judaism “denomination matters”. You have put your finger on the problem but don’t yet know it.

Come into the light of Torah. It will be a balm for your weary soul.

The dinosaur Jew believes that Judaism is simply about “Torah and Mitzvot, obedience and limitations, maintaining laws and traditions to transmit to the next generation.” If I believed that, I would be depressed as well!

This pithy summary of Judaism is fine as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. It is missing a soul. It is missing purpose. It is missing G-d. Such thinking should have gone out the window three hundred years ago. So try a more Jewish approach. Try imitating G-d!

1. G-d is not religious; don’t be more religious than Him.

2. G-d loves Jews, not religion.

3. G-d asks Jews to join Him in all that is precious to Him: keep ‘my’ Shabbos, ‘my’ Mitzvot, ‘my’ Torah, love ‘my’ children; they are the apple of my eye.

4. Esther told Mordechai to proclaim a fast on Pesach. Mordechai objected and Esther asked, “Im Yisroel ayin, Pesach lomo?” Without Jews what is Pesach? G-d agreed with Esther and the rest is history.

5. To G-d the Jew comes first. He chose Abraham and his children. He comes down to Egypt to take out “a nation from among nations”, not by messenger or angel. He comes personally to carry them on “wings of eagles” and then gives them His Torah.
He makes them His partners in creation and depends on them to make this world G-dly for that is His purpose, His end goal. Toward that purpose His people have toiled and sacrificed for three thousand years.

Now as we get closer to the objective, we encounter stiffer resistance - it’s the bottom of the barrel - we are almost done. Yet the bottom is the grubbiest and hardest to clean, and His people will face the evils of communism, Nazism, ‘enlightenment’ and destruction. A whole generation grows up unaware of Torah, traditions, or punishment.

Yet, defying all logic a Jew gets into his car on Shabbos and drives to a place where other Jews observe Shabbos, wear sheitels and beards, speak of G-d and His chosen people; where this Jew will feel totally inadequate and out of his element.

He does this against the advice of his family and rabbi to find something he cannot articulate or justify, but neither can he deny it. He is a Jew and he will find his Father in heaven. Peer pressure will not stop him, discomfort and embarrassment will not keep him away. His family is upset with him, but he cajoles and insists and he brings them along.

But the Jewish dinosaur wants me to tell him, he who is closer to G-d than I, that he is violating G-d’s will and he is not welcome!

Understand that this Jew is moving closer to G-d. By learning about the Mitzvos, he is closer to observing them and his sincerity and purity of intentions makes me jealous and refreshes my soul. Yes my soul, which has become complacent in the habit of Mitzvot and in the arrogant assumption that G-d is pleased with me.

So let’s do ourselves a favor. Let’s stop defending Torah and start defending G-d’s children. Let’s stop practicing a religion and just be Jews. And, please, let’s stop promoting a denomination; let’s promote a world of Torah and Mitzvot created by the collective effort of fourteen million Jews and six billion human beings.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

very interesting writer. a bit abstract but nice.
thanks for getting me thinking. Most blogs dont.
Don

3:12 PM  
Blogger Saad said...

Thank you Rabbi Friedman! For saying as it is - with pride, integrity and wisdom.

I'm lovin' your blog, and hope to see more articles like this one on current events through your lense.

Two requests, please:
RSS syndication
"Email to friend" function

4:47 PM  
Blogger Saad said...

JPost posted an article on their site just a few hours after this post went up. The very title of the article questions what Rabbi Friedman already addresses indirectly in his article: Do denominational labels matter?

Article here:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1137605900865&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Esther... said...

I agree with everything and it makes so much sense i heard it in ocala and its great to hear it again it keeps me going and thiking about good stuff! thanks this blog it great!!

9:36 PM  
Blogger BlogMaster said...

Saja,

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I've added a feed link to the site. The link is at the bottom of the archive section in the left menu.

Please let me know how it works for you.

As for the "email a friend" feature, I haven't found a way to do that yet. Any suggestions?

Thanks again.

~ BlogMaster

9:01 AM  
Blogger ComfortZone said...

Is there a link where i can see the original article that this article is in response to?

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Cruiser said...

Brilliant. Not the content - the courage to say it. I only pray this gets more exposure than this website.

How long has it been since I heard someone tell Jewish 'leaders' to stop alienating their followers!?

Encore.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous mds said...

It is amazing how different branches of Jews fight among themselves saying our way is the best, my way is better than yours. It is so simple to just be a Jew and respect every Jew and every Path since all Paths lead to Hashem.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Cruiser said...

All paths lead to Hashem? Tell that to the ignorant, intemarried children of those Jews whose leaders' path led them away...

No one's saying anyone is evil. We can handle an important debate without panicking about discord.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Proverbs 21:30:

אין חכמה ואין תבונה ואין עצה נגד השם.

3:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, I enjoyed this blog.

I see the denominations as a staircase.
Many people who want to find their way back to their heritage are not ready to start at the top, it is too overwhelming. As you gain knowledge of Torah, one starts to climb the stairs; if you start pointing fingers from the upper steps, then the person is most likely to go back down or even go away. (Or worse, somewhere else).

How can you ever expect the outside world to stop throwing stones when so much of that occurs within even when the goal is the same?

8:32 PM  
Blogger Mirty said...

Everything you wrote in this post is right on target. Thank you!

5:39 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I enjoyed that. Thank you.

8:15 AM  

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