web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



An Eis La’asos – The Time is Ripe

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, the former president of the Union of Reform Judaism, has argued that the reform movement should look to Orthodox Judaism for guidance. Harry Maryles argues that this provides an important kiruv opportunity.

An orthodox Jewish man argues with a reform Jewish woman wearing a prayer shawl at the Kotel.

An orthodox Jewish man argues with a reform Jewish woman wearing a prayer shawl at the Kotel.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

I certainly have my issues with the Reform Movement. These issues are very serious and in many ways insurmountable. For an Orthodox Jew the idea that Mitzvos are optional is anathema. No matter how strongly one supports doing them – doing them is not an option as Reform Judaism sees them. They are an obligation. This is a major theological difference between us.

This very point is behind the prohibition issued by the great religious figures of the past – including the “Rav”- R’ Joseph B. Soloveitchik. We cannot be seen to in any way endorse such views by participating with them in theological matters. That is because it might be seen as some sort of Elu V’Elu endorsement of their views.

That said, I believe that Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, the former president of the Union of Reform Judaism (1996 – 2012) and I are kindred spirits. He has written an amazing op-ed in Ha’aretz that – with one or two exceptions – I could have written myself. In fact, I think any Orthodox rabbi could have written it.

If there was ever a time to engage with the Reform movement this is it. I believe we can do so in meaningful ways and still live up to the spirit of the prohibition to engage with them in theological matters.

Here is the thing. Thinkers like Rabbi Yoffie realize what Orthodoxy has realized from the very beginning: A Judaism devoid of Mitzvos is no Judaism at all. To achieve this, Rabbi Yaffie clearly looks to Orthodoxy for guidance. Based on past articles written by him, this doesn’t surprise me at all.

Rabbi Yoffie has now become the biggest advocate of Kiruv and Jewish education. Kiruv and education of his own Reform constituents! And he turns to us as the model for that. His ideas of how to preserve Judaism for the future are exactly the same as ours. From that op-ed:

Reform Jews have much to learn from the Orthodox when it comes to ritual mitzvoth…

Let’s educate, educate, educate—in ways that work. We know what works with our kids: Jewish camps and day schools, Jewish pre-schools and youth groups, and of course Israel trips. Let’s focus on the basics and avoid the trendy. The “Hebrew Charter School movement,” which teaches Hebrew language but not Judaism to Jews and non-Jews in schools that get some public funding, is the latest example of pouring millions of Jewish charitable dollars into an educational gimmick that will have zero impact on the Jewish future… Let’s move out of our cocoons and learn from Jewish approaches other than our own.

He even has some ideas about how to fund education. Ideas that I have myself suggested:

Let’s rethink our Jewish world. Our Jewish structures are tired; let’s redo them. And let’s begin with some big ideas from Abraham Foxman of the ADL. Foxman has proposed that we redirect much of the communal purse now raised here for Israel and, in partnership with Israel, send the money back to America for Jewish education. Assume we are talking of $500 million per year; that money means little to Israel but would matter a lot here. Everyone would be a winner: Imagine a joint Israeli-American Jewish campaign to strengthen Diaspora Judaism. Imagine a dramatic rise in scholarships for Jewish camps, youth groups, and day schools.

He also says that Orthodoxy could learn something from Reform Judaism in the sense of Tikun HaOlam. He may have a point. Just because ritual Mitzvos are indispensible to Judaism does not mean we ignore our Tikun HaOlam requirement. All too often we are so self centered that we forget that there are things in the world that need Tikun that do not directly affect us.

He closes with the following comment:

[L]et’s encourage rabbis of all streams to invite a rabbi from a different religious movement to lecture at their congregation and share thoughts that they will not like and may not know. Our community will be stronger for it.

This is where we may have differences of opinion. Because of the prohibition of participating with Reform rabbis on the same stage in matters theological, it would be impossible to invite a Reform rabbi to address a gathering of Orthodox Jews. While we lovingly accept every Reform Jew as full brothers, we do not accept their theology and cannot therefore even be seen as accepting it. That may seem unfair, but sometimes sticking to principles leaves us no choice.

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 hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

One Response to “An Eis La’asos – The Time is Ripe”

  1. The opening staement is inaccurate, I do not suggest that we can or even should lift the ban on engagement with Reform on theological matters nshould be lifted. What I advocated is studying ways to reach out to them in this new climate without violating the ban. For example – accepting invitations to address them on observance. I do not in any way seek to have a theological dialogue with them.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.
‘Hamas Fired from UN School Area and Prevented Evacuation’ Says IDF
Latest Blogs Stories
Happy soldiers with pizza

Jameel went on a pizza run down south, and translated a letter from a soldier on the border, along with some of his own personal observations…

Rabbi Meir Kahane at the National Press Club ~ 1985

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

.Into Gaza!

Her message to her soldier son on the battlefield: “Complete the Mission! Sayyem et HaMissimah!”

El AL and Pilot

JoeSettler contemplated some new El Al slogans like: “El Al – Our pilots are trained in evasive maneuvers”…. Let’s hear your new El Al Slogans…

IDF volunteers come to Israel just to serve are the true idealists; Sean Carmeli was one of them.

And he whispers one last time, I love you mother.

It’s absurd, in this war places like Ariel and Shiloh are among the safest in the State of Israel.

Why aren’t American Jews coming s to Israel for the summer; Are they scared because of the war?

If you are lloking to buy socks, this store is NOT where to go! B”H

Ruthie Blum reveals just how hard it is for a Jewish mother to be a patriot at the time of war. Maternal cognitive dissonance On Thursday night, after 10 days of aerial warfare between Hamas terrorists and Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a ground incursion into Gaza. It was a move that much of […]

JoeSettler takes on the IDF Spokesperson’s tweets that he believes are morally wrong and negatively affect the war we are fighting…

The 7 Decisions that changed author Andy Andrews’ life and how they can guide you towards success.

Not asking the world for the right to defend ourselves; such a right is obvious to anyone with a spine.

Where has all the billions of Euros and dollars that have been poured into Gaza over the years gone?

One wishes the PA would distance itself completely from Hamas now for the sake of peace and development in the region.

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Iris Yifrach, mother of Eyal Yifrach HY"D, speaking at a massive rally in Tel Aviv on Sunday, June 29, 2014.

Inevitably when tragedies like this happen there is a sudden burst of Achdus. Tragedies unite.

Man walking in neighborhood of one of the Kidnapped Boys, in Elad, Israel.

Looking for a spiritual cause of a tragedy is a time honored tradition in Judaism.

It would be tragic beyond all proportion if Yeshiva University were to fold. I don’t think that is going to happen.

Radical Islam is an idea, not an organization. It is the enemy, not terrorism.

Unfortunately it really doesn’t matter what the common Muslim wants. Fanatic religious fervor trumps it all.

It seems like now more than ever Frumkeit has replaced sincerity as the primary focus of the right.

One measure for living a “normal” life is Halacha, and the other is societal standards.

Judaism is not only about doing the Mitzvos. It is also a belief system.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/an-eis-laasos-the-time-is-ripe/2012/09/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: