But the bottom line is that the Orthodoxy Mr. Brooks describes does exist and the values he attributes to it are pretty much mainstream. We are a good people with good values. Values that are found in the Torah and in our mesorah. Most of them common to all segments of Orthodoxy.
Ours is a positive message that should not be knocked down by naysayers in response to a positive article about us. Yes, there are problems. Yes, there are issues that need to be resolved. Yes, some of our values are countercultural. And yes there are opinions and disagreements – including some major ones – about the best way to practice Judaism. Both here and in Israel. Two Jews – three opinions the saying goes.
But to tear down a positive article like this because of the problems we have is to give lie to the truth and the beauty of observant Judaism. Lived the way it should be – is to live an inspirational life. I believe with complete faith that the observant way of life – which is mandated by God through His Torah – is the best way to live. That’s why we are commanded to be a light unto the nations. Not by teaching Judaism in a classroom. But being living examples of it. To the extent that we sometimes fail is to the extent that some of us are human. And the truly criminal element among us are the sociopathic exceptions that prove the rule.
David Brooks saw us in a positive light. But if one reads all the criticism one could easily conclude that living an observant lifestyle is the not only- not – the best way to live but the worst. Nothing of course could be further from the truth. There are far more observant Jews who live good and decent lives with exemplary values which they practice daily than there are those who don’t.
Most of us do not cheat or steal, or sexually abuse little children. Or protect enablers. Most of us follow the law of the land and appreciate the great bounty this land has to offer. Most of us know right from wrong and live as though it matters – because it does. This is what David Brooks saw. This is what David Brooks reported. To undermine it because of the bad behavior of a small minority among us does a disservice to our people and is in my view a hilul HaShem.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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