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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Is Sabbath Observance Enough?

I would love to consider all people who observe Shabbos as observant. That was once the case.
An Israeli family welcome the entrance shabbat in a bomb shelter in the southern city of Ashkelon.

An Israeli family welcome the entrance shabbat in a bomb shelter in the southern city of Ashkelon.
Photo Credit: Edi Israel/Flash90

The claim by Conservative thinkers is that if Chazal were alive today, they would see what we see and respond along the same lines they do. Thus they do away with Halachos they see as being influenced by the ‘incorrect’ spirit of Chazal’s times. Wouldn’t Chazal do that too if they lived today?

Well intentioned though they were – even the walls of Shmiras Shabbos were breached by the Conservative movement. By their own admission that has led to disastrous results. The permit they gave to driving only to Shul (if they were already driving) has morphed into driving anywhere they want. Their intention of keeping their flock observant by guiding them into shuls has by their own admission been a massive failure. Which they say is the primary cause of their attrition problem.

They believe that the breakdown of cohesive religious neighborhoods that are characteristic of Orthodox Jews are the result of the driving permit. Conservative Jews no longer had to live together in order to be close to a Shul. They could live wherever they wanted and drive there.

These problems do not even address the difficulties with some of their theology that allows for a denial of the events at Sinai. Or the exodus from Egypt. Or even the divinity of the Torah!

It is one thing if an individual thinks this way. But when a movement does, it gives cover to anyone who does so bolstering their ranks with believers in heresy.

As an individual Ms. Horn’s her egalitarian ideas would probably not have stood in the way of full acceptance as an observant Jew. In any case she would not have any way to put her theories into practice. But when an entire movement justifies it and offers ways to facilitate those beliefs that is a horse of an entirely different color. Furthermore belonging to Conservative movement means not only accepting the ritual changes, it means accepting the movement’s theology as well.

This is very sad and troubles me greatly. Ms. Horn is a sincere Jew who truly believes that her observance is in concert with authentic Judaism. Most of her observances probably are. I would love to consider all people who observe Shabbos as observant. That was once the case. It truly grieves me to say this but through no fault of her own she is mistaken in her belief that buying into the doctrines and practices of the Conservative Movement are in concert with authentic Judaism. They are not.

This does not mean that I do not fully accept her as a Jew or respect her any less. I do. Especially her commitment to Shabbos. But as a believer in Emes, this is the way I see her state of observance.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

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.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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