The same dynamic exists in our world as well. Many people believe the Torah should also be subject to public opinion polls. Prohibitions that are frowned on by modern sensibilities should be re-evaluated, even re-read and re-interpreted, so as to conform to the “higher morality” that stems from man’s instinctual drives.
Threats are made that people will abandon Judaism if the appropriate concessions are not implemented. Traditional norms are under siege, and the Jewish home – heretofore a rock of stability and one of the sources of our eternity – is faltering under the pressure.
There is a relentless juggernaut that now seems unstoppable to cajole the Torah world into acquiescing in the erosion of the moral norms that reflect the Divine word and have always defined the uniqueness of Jewish life. And all in the name of “morality.” It is a complete inversion of our traditional position of defending against the encroachment of secular society’s values into Jewish life.
A president who today used the language of FDR or JFK would be derided. If he were a candidate, the media elites would bury his chances of winning the election. He would be a laughing stock to the aimless young people whose uninformed opinions on public affairs seem to matter more than they should. But they can hardly be blamed, for this is how they were educated.
It was a better country when FDR and JFK felt comfortable invoking God’s name, as it was, indeed, a better society when they, despite their infidelities, nonetheless felt it distasteful to divorce their wives. Marriage – however imperfect the institution of the bond of one man and one woman – meant something. Those days are gone, replaced by a growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, polygamous marriages, and other permutations of the same that have denuded the institution of its meaning, sanctity and long-term viability.
In such a climate, Torah Jewry is indeed called upon to be “a light onto the nations,” not to ape their values but guide them toward embracing ours. We can hold firm against the decadent tide that now inundates us, recall the halcyon days to understand how this decline came about, behold the systematic collapse of the most pleasant exile with which God has blessed us, and ready ourselves for our return to God’s holy and chosen land.
About the Author: Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey, and the author most recently of “Judges for Our Time: Contemporary Lessons from the Book of Shoftim” (Gefen Publishing House, Jerusalem, 2009). His writings and lectures can be found at www.Rabbipruzansky.com.
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