web analytics
September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



The Argument Against Zealotry

We live in an age of extremism.

Whether in politics, art, music, religion, or even just “personal expression,” we seem to be overrun by people who live at the edges. We witness the world roiled by extremists in the Middle East, the Far East, even in Europe. In Africa, failed states become sanctuaries for extremists who foist their ideologies on others, most often with cruel and inhumane violence. We find ourselves stunned nearly to silence by the slaughter of innocents, the desecration of religious institutions, and the destruction of the secular and the everyday.

“Taliban” has become shorthand for this kind of extremism.

While secular religion (pan-Arabism, communism, partisan politics, etc.) can sometimes lead to extremism, often it is faith that opens the door to zealotry. After all, if the Creator of All asks something of us, can there be any limit to how we should respond? Should there be?

While some religions embrace zealotry, traditionally Judaism has tended to turn away from it. But for so many Orthodox Jews from Jerusalem to Brooklyn, kana’ut – zealotry or extremism – is now the name of the game in approach, ideology, methodology and speech. What has happened to us that we have become used to unbending and unforgiving actions affecting every aspect of Jewish life? From whence comes this harshness?

We live in a blessed, glorious time of Jewish renaissance. Yeshivot and Torah learning thrive, massive kosher supermarkets serve our communities, stately synagogues and cozy shtiebels line our streets. And yet, a derech unknown to us as we grew up has taken hold of hearts and minds. We knew families totally committed to everything Jewish and halachicas prescribed by Shulchan Aruch and our mesorah while still participating in the benefits and goodness available in society at large; families where there were no color distinctions among Yidden; families where the black hat was not standard but where gray hats and straw hats after Memorial Day were the norm.

At the same time, we were devout and loving Jews, more focused on what was under the hat and within the heart than the particular garb one wore.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut? Insisting that seltzer water have a heimishe hechsher in addition to normative and trusted national certifications? Refusing to pray in a shulwhere the Israeli flag is displayed? Urging men and women are to use separate sidewalks?

The Jewish way is not the harsh and rigid way of kana’ut. God forbid that devout Jews should employ the mindset of the Taliban.

* * * * *

Who was Pinchas, whose name is claimed as a badge of honor for such behavior? We know he was the son of Elazar, the grandson of Aaron, but beyond that, little of his personal life. What we do know, of course, is his zeal for God; he slew a man on the spur of the moment, without trial or warning, in defiance of all judicial procedure prescribed by the Torah. In other words, he took the law into his own hands. He exacted judgment and punishment against all legal, moral, and societal norms.

Yet God’s reaction to his act is positive and complimentary. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Pinchas the son of Elazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for My sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.”

God even went on to reward him. And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.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.

No Responses to “The Argument Against Zealotry”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
IDF map of terrorist tunnels that were found near Israeli communities near the Gaza border, identified and mapped. July 27, 2014. These were destroyed by the IDF. Residents fear there are more that have yet to be uncovered.
Gaza Belt Communities Fear Lack of Security, IDF Pullout
Latest Indepth Stories
0.5-Shekel-hatasham-RJP

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

champions

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Eisenstock-082914

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

What defines kana’ut these days? Throwing rocks at passing cars on Shabbos? Burning an Israeli flag on Yom Ha’Atzmaut?

One who may leave his wife an agunah is not included in the general rule that we may not imprison on Shabbos.

“Fulfill my requests for good, grant my request, be mindful of us for deliverance and compassion…remember us for a good, long life…give us bread to eat, clothes to wear…”

Too often, as parents and teachers, we think it means talking at our children, delivering to them good and worthy content that they should simply hear and assimilate into their minds and hearts.

I was singing, dancing, jumping and, sweating. Just joy and happiness. One child on my shoulders after another. What happiness! And then, the little boy on my shoulders – he could not have been older than six – began to cry.

The only way for children to find a way back to the path is through parental love and understanding.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-argument-against-zealotry/2014/07/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: