Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Reform Jews praying at the Kotel. Archive: January 26, 1997

The battle lines are drawn. Some Orthodox Rabbis say that we should try to bring reform Jews closer to Torah. Other Orthodox Rabbis relate to them like lepers out to destroy Judaism. If you want to know where I stand, I love reform Jews. First of all, many of them aren’t Jewish at all, and the Torah teaches us to love all people, even gentiles. Rabbi Kook writes:

“The heart must be filled with love for all: for all of Creation, for all mankind.

“Love must embrace every single individual, regardless of differences in views on religion, or differences of race, or country.

“Hatred may be directed only toward the evil and filth in the world. We must realize that the kernel of life, in its inherent light and holiness, never leaves the Divine Image in which mankind was created, and with which each person and nation is endowed” (Midot Ha’Riyah, Ahavah).

Certainly, if we should have a love for gentiles, we should love gentiles who think they are Jews.

Advertisement

For instance, I have a relative who divorced his Jewish wife and married a non-Jew, who had some kind of reform “conversion” which, of course, didn’t make her a Jew. They had a child, who, of course, wasn’t a Jew, but even though the child never had a Jewish education, his parents told him that he was a Jew. When he grew up, he married a Jewish girl, and they joined a reform congregation. Their children are Jews since the mother is Jewish. He became the president of his congregation, even though he is a gentile. America is loaded with mixed up situations like this.

Beyond the walls of the Orthodox world in America, it is becoming impossible to know who is Jewish and who is pretending, even though he or she believes it for real. Nonetheless, according to Rabbi Kook, even though this relative of mine isn’t Jewish, I should love him all the same. And even though his Jewish wife is a reform Jew, I should love her too. And that love should extend to their Jewish children as well, even though they are reform Jews.

The truth is, I love all Jews.

I love good Jews and I love bad Jews. I love fat Jews and I love skinny Jews. I love reform Jews and deformed Jews, progressive Jews and regressive Jews. I love assimilated Jews and Jews who have married gentiles. I love homosexual Jews and lesbian Jews. I love leftist Jews and Peace Now Jews. I love Jews who call me nasty names and Jews who say I’m a lousy writer. I even love Diaspora Jews. Some people say I’m too hard on them, but that’s because I love them so much.

If you see a blind man about to fall off a cliff, you yell out to warn him, right? What is this similar to? If a person who never heard about heart transplants wandered into the operating room of a hospital and saw a team of doctors removing the heart of a patient, he’d think they were monsters trying to kill him – but the very opposite is the case. The surgeons are trying to save him. It’s the same thing with me. Precisely out of the passionate love I feel for my brothers and sisters in exile, I try to open their eyes.

Since the Three Weeks are approaching when we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and the Beit HaMikdash, this is a good time to stir up the embers of the love we feel for our fellow Jews, even the reform Jews amongst us. Rabbi Kook taught that since the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of senseless hatred, it will be rebuilt by gratuitous love.

In truth, most reform Jews are people who don’t mean any harm. They never learned anything about real Judaism, so they don’t know better. They don’t observe the commandments, not out of spite, but because they don’t believe that the Torah was really given by G-d, or they don’t believe that religion should have laws, or for whatever other reason, how errant it may be.

The problem arises with the “professional” reform Jews who wage a campaign against real Judaism. They go out of their way to wage a war against the Orthodox world and its time-honored traditions. These are the reform Jews that are rightly seen as destroyers. But Rabbi Kook teaches that we should even love them – not for the evil in them, but for the good which exists in all people. He writes:

“Though our love for people must be all-inclusive, embracing the wicked as well, this in no way blunts our hatred for evil itself – on the contrary, it strengthens it. For it is not because of the dimension of evil clinging to a person that we include him in our love, but because of the good in him, which our love tells us is to be found in everyone. Since we separate the dimension of the good in him, in order to love him for it, our hatred for the evil becomes unwavering and absolute.

“It is proper to hate a corrupt person only for his defects, but insofar as he is endowed with a Divine Image, it is proper to love him.”

In other words, we can disagree with a reform Jew and even despise his opinions, but we should love him for his connection to the Jewish Nation. In the same light, the evil actions of a Jewish homosexual or child molester should be loathed as abominations, but the person himself should still be loved for the Divine Image he shares with the rest of mankind, and for his connection to Clal Yisrael (the Community of Israel). If, for instance, a Rabbi or an Israeli politician succumbs to an evil inclination and inner sickness of the soul that drives him to engage in sexual transgression, his evil actions should be despised, but this should not negate our love for the good that surely exists in him as well.

Rabbi Kook explains:

“The pious of the generation, lofty holy men, must disregard any deficiency or flaw in every Jewish soul that is in any way attached to the Rock from which it was hewn. Instead, they must strive to raise up the point of connection to Clal Yisrael that exists in every individual soul to its heights and exalted holiness. Nothing can diminish our unlimited love for the Nation, the source of our life, as it says: ‘He has not seen beheld iniquity in Yaacov, nor has He seen perverseness in Israel’” (Orot, Orot HaTechiyah, 24).

So, as the period of the Three Weeks approaches, let’s try to love one another as much as we can, reform and Diaspora Jews included.

Advertisement

19 COMMENTS

  1. Your love for the 'Reform' is unfounded. They are reshaim who are trying to imose their leftist progressive way upon the people of Israel. They are one step less than the missionaries and their false religion has NO place in Israel.

  2. As I wrote, not all reform Jews are the poisonous type which you refer to. Most are simple people without a fight against Judaism or Israel. Grouping them all together is like saying that all Arabs are evil, when in fact some Arabs may be decent people.

  3. Beautiful and true , Reform Rabbis in the mid 19th century rejected the idea of a god given Torah so who can blame the
    congregants . The ones who fight for equal rights at the Kotel
    are insencere as just 30 years ago they wouldn't wear a kippa or put on Tefillim .

  4. What is your definition of love ? We should love everybody because every human being is made in G-d's image? Do we love murderers, Nazis, the Amalekites that G-d commanded us to wipe out totally? Of course not! I'm not comparing Reform Jews to the above, only trying to make the point that it's simplistic to say " love everyone!" The same goes for respecting everyone's opinion. Do we respect an ill-informed person's opinion? Do we respect a belief that would harm innocent people?
    Of course Jews should stick together, but in today's world where there is no threat of a pogrom or just discrimination, there is no outside force to unite us, except Israel. Those who defame Israel, who claim they do it out of love, are not to be loved, whether they are ordinary Christians or Jews, or even Reform rabbis.

  5. We can only love the present generation, because the next generation are "schgutzim". Why are all the men, with one exception, not wearing tefillin. However, the one he/she is wearing tefillin? Reform men are willingly emasculated.

  6. As a Viet Nam era veteran I have nothing but contempt for Reform rabbis. While young Jewish men were fighting and dying for their country, the Reform movement refused to send chaplins into the US armed forces to serve Jewish soldiers. Fortunately, the Orthodox movement was willing to send as many Jewish chaplins as were needed so Jewish American soldiers who were putting their life on the line for their country were served by Jewish chaplins.

  7. I'm sorry no man, woman or child should be thought to love wickedness, injustice, terrorism, evil manipulation, double standards and the like. This will destroy humanity and the consequences are deadly. Just look at what the world has come to – has anyone got common sense to know what has caused this deadly evil world? God demands His creation to live by Godly precepts, commandments and values. Sorry there are no short cuts. This is not promoting hate but rather promoting love what is right for the human race.

  8. I have read narishkeit and I have read hateful, but rarely together. Today Tzvi Fishman proves himself capable of incredable writing ability. His skills allow him to write stupid and think he is brilliant. I am sure he must be a descendent of the Wise Men of Chelm.

    I am a proud Reform/Progressive Jew and am willing to match my dedicatiion to my faith and to Israel against anyone. Being Orthodx does not make anyone more holy, more right, or more of a Jew than anyone else. Not to be nasty, but the rigidity and claims to have all the answers of the Orthodox reminds me of the fanatic Muslims. I really have trouble separating them as to style and craziness.

  9. What gets me angry is these people who were born orthodox but have rarely attended a synagogue and know almost nothing of judism not even the prayers but they have the balls to accuse reform jews who goes to his or her synagogue every week to pray of not being jewish. These bums should realize that there is no free lunch.

Comments are closed.

Loading Facebook Comments ...