Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How the "Iraq surge" really worked

Way back in the days of the shtetl, Yankel a simple Jew came to his rabbi for advice.

"Rabbi," he said. "I can't stand it. My small hovel is too small for my large family. I'm going crazy." What should I do."

The rabbi replied: "Move your chickens into the house."

Yankel said, "What? How will that help?"

"Don't ask questions. This is da'as Torah!"

So Yankel moved the chickens into the house.

The next week, he was back at the Rabbi's office.

"Rabbi, things are awful, the clucking! the smells! The chicken dreck all over the place! None of us can get any sleep..."

"Yankel, now take your cow and bring it inside. No, don't argue. Da'as Torah!"

So Yankel did as he was told, with the expected results.

The next week: "Now I'm shoveling cow dreck! and rolling over on the chickens in my sleep, if I can get any sleep!"

"Bring that old skinny horse of yours inside now. Da'as Torah!"

After a week of getting kicked by the nervous nag, plus rolling around in various types of animal litter, Yankel headed off to the rabbi in great anger, ready to tell off the rabbi and convert to the Russian Orthodox faith, or, even worse, Reform Judaism. But as he burst into the rabbi's study, before he could open his mouth, the rabbi gave new instructions:

"OK, Yankel. Take all those animals out of your house now."

A week later, Yankel encountered the rabbi in the village market.

"Rabbi!" He exclaimed with a happy face. "You are great! Your advice is great! You are truly a giant of Torah! I can't believe how much room I now have, and how clean and quiet the house is!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Secular Israelis are as spiritually clueless as the most right-wing hareidi

If Bradley Burston over at Ha'aretz is right, all too many secular Israelis are as much of a problem for us non-Orthodox jews as the most right-wing hareidi. In fact, my black-hatter frum orthodox neighbors in CA-City are more reasonable on the issue of non-Orthodox Judaism than are these secular Israelis quoted by Mr. Burston.

There are those among us Jewish Israelis, whether we define ourselves as traditionalist or secular-as-Stalin, who cannot abide Reform Judaism and those who choose to practice it.

"I have to admit that the pseudo-spiritualism that the Reform Jewish synagogue manufactures is foreign to me," wrote Gafi Amir in an opinion column in Yedioth Ahronoth this week.

Taking a shot at the "neo-secular, particularly those who congratulate themselves for being enlightened and pluralistic," Amir decided that their level of religious observance will not include the commandments of fasting and searching one's soul.

"On Yom Kippur they will skip over these two clauses when they visit the Reform synagogue. Afterward, they will wear out their less enlightened and secular friends, like me, with the purifying experience they underwent there."

What kind of mishugass is this? I don't think I know a single "enlightened egalitarian," no matter how otherwise minimally observant who does a Yom Kippur without fasting and self-examination. The folks I know who don't aren't found in any kind of shul, even a Reform one.

There's a certain glee in the tone of these words. Part of it is because the words break new ground, going well beyond the timeworn observation that "The synagogue that I do not attend is Orthodox."

In particular, the words identify and castigate a new foreign body, yet another enemy in our midst. The words address the "Reformim" with the same dismissive contempt once reserved for Arabs, or for Jews who came from the other side of the Ashkenazi-Mizrahi divide.

The words treat the Reform as some form of quaint, deluded, would-be-Jewish tribe . . .

Deep down, we all know what the glee is really about. It is the blissful assurance that the collective "We" silently agrees with Gafi Amir . . .

. . .

Inherent in the hatred of Reform is the assumption that even the most pork-stuffed of the secular know authentic Judaism when they see it, and a fraud when they do not. They can somehow divine lack of commitment and observance in Reform, even when they themselves do not study, do not practice, do not believe.

Looks like secular Israelis need to read DovBear, to find out how "authentic" the practices of Orthodox Judaism are.

Burston continues:

I suspect that much of the scorn directed toward Reform Judaism reflects a certain frustration over the inability of many Israelis to feel a part of any congregation, Orthodox, Conservative or Reform. For many, the gulf between secular Israeli culture and the available forms of organized religion has yet to be bridged by liturgy and customs that speak to the non-religious.

. . .

Israeli Jews are searching for a synthesis that will speak to them. Judaism evolved over thousands of years. We would be well advised to allow people of good faith to carry out their trials, without laughing like bullies at their errors.

It is Yom Kippur. It is time to lay anger aside. It is time, as the prayers of both Orthodoxy and Reform specify, to shelve slander, scorn, ridicule and baseless hatred.

It is Yom Kippur. It is time to let Jews be Jews. It is time to recognize that Judaism itself is changing - even Orthodox Judaism. It is time to let individuals be alone with their God, and, at least this one day of the year, to accord that relationship the respect it deserves.


Conservative shuls stink!!

..Or at least that's what former Israeli Chief Rabbi Modechai Eliyahu believes.

The good "Rabbi" stated that "The reek of Hell" wafts from non-Orthodox shuls, and it is thus forbidden for elicher frum Jews to even walk past their doors.

I don't know what the good "Rabbi" would say if he visited CA-City, where lots and lots of erlicher frummers walk past the open doors of my congregation "B'nei CA" every day and never have they complained about any smells to us. Heck, frum people are even known to drop by and visit us (after services, usually). I invited a few of our frum neighbors to Apikoris Junior's bar mitzva, and, would you believe it, they actually showed up, even for the services! (Now I'm sure they davened at home beforehand, as our heretical rituals would not give them the proper mitzva points, but they did show up.) And they even said nice things about Junior's d'rash.

I think that "Rabbi" Eliyahu should be a little more diplomatic in his rhetoric. The Israeli Masorti (Conservative) movement agrees, and they're suing the good "Rabbi" to make their point.