Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
I have always been proud of the Jewish people, even when I wasn’t Jewish.
I’m a convert. I looked up to the Jews, to their strength in times of trial, to their faith when giving up all hope would have been more practical.
Nothing made me prouder than immersing myself in the mikveh and yoking myself to the Jewish people. But today I sit ashamed of what we’ve let ourselves become. We are a nation divided and broken.
Like many others I was confused when I read that the chassidic reggae singer Matisyahu shaved his beard and even more confused when he posted a cryptic message to his Twitter page: “At the break of day I look for you at sunrise when the tide comes in I lose my disguise.”
Soon it became clear that he was going through something spiritually and I couldn’t help but wonder what that was. Was he denouncing Orthodoxy as a whole? Judaism? Or maybe like all of us, he just did something without thinking.
My curiosity was extinguished when I saw the responses he was getting. The news media didn’t seem to care. The non-Jewish population questioned his motives for a moment and then moved on to someone else. No one seemed to mind all that much, except Matisyahu’s own people.
Immediately I began to see angry responses from Jews, calling him a fraud, a sellout and questioning his religiosity even after he assured the masses that he is still an observant Jew. Facebook and Twitter have been full of people mocking him and saying how typical his “spiritual journey” is.
What happened to Matisyahu is something that happens in our communities every day. We are only comfortable with those who look like us and identify themselves the same way we do. The moment people step across the imaginary lines we’ve drawn we’re unsure of how to deal with them, so we don’t. We invalidate them and look down on them as if they are less.
I signed my toddler up for a playgroup at a local Conservative synagogue, much to the horror of those around me. I was asked repeatedly what I was thinking and was told it was no place for an Orthodox child. My immediate and permanent response is “why?”
My children will grow up in a world filled with people who are different from them; the Jewish nation is less than 1 percent of the world’s population. There is no way I will raise them in a make-believe world and tell them that every Jew is just like us – and that anyone who isn’t, just isn’t as “Jewish” as we are.
We are weak because we separate ourselves from one another at every turn. We divide into groups – Orthodox, non-Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, yeshivish, chassidic. We make mental notes of who is better and who is worse based on hair coverings and skirt lengths, beards and shtreimels.
We cease to be the Jewish people and become a minority within our own minority. Worse than closing ourselves into small boxes, alienating ourselves from our own people and teaching our children to do the same, we shove others out of our circles when they don’t comply with our brand of Judaism.
When did we forget what Judaism is about? It’s about knowing, loving and pleasing Hashem. It’s about having complete faith in Him even when we can’t see the end of the road. It’s about a nation of people, forever bound to one another.
We are the people who accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We above all others told Hashem “Yes! We want to do your will. We want to know you.” All the mitzvahs we do are to please him. I wonder how pleased he is when we condemn fellows Jew instead of offering our support or simply letting them figure out their lives without our interference.
Hashem speaks to each and every person as an individual. He will not tell you what Matisyahu should be doing, or your neighbor or your friend. He will only tell you about you.
The day after he publicly shaved his beard Matisyahu posted a quote by the Alter Rebbe: “I want nothing at all! I don’t want your gan eden, I don’t want your olam haba…. I want nothing but you alone.”
Perhaps this is something we should all remember when we get caught up in the politics of our lives and faiths instead of focusing on what matters. Our ultimate pursuit should be to know and to please God, not to fix our fellow Jew.
Yael Armstrong is a wife, mother and freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com
About the Author: Yael Armstrong is a wife, mother and freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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parently an affront to J Street’s worldview, the focus of which appears to be the creation of a Palestinian State, whether or not that will bring peace.
The importance of the caucus on organ harvesting in China, sponsored recently by the Liberal Lobby in the Knesset, cannot be exaggerated. On the surface, the caucus’s topic seems odd. Knesset members and other VIPs were called together to discuss horrors being perpetrated by the Communist regime in China against what the government there calls “regime opponents.”
My mother, the eldest daughter of Reb Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, was niftar last month at the age of 92. She took her last breath in her home in Efrat, Israel, next door to the shul that was my father’s for 24 years before his passing in 2007.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
It’s only natural to see increasing evidence of Jerusalem’s glorious Jewish past being unearthed, quite literally, under modern Israeli sovereignty. The new archaeological finds are also very timely – as the Arab onslaught attempting to detach Jerusalem from its Jewish roots gains steam, the facts on the ground, or “under” the ground, show quite otherwise.
The Talmud (Berachot 26b) says, “tefillot avot tiknum” – “prayer was established by the avot.” The Talmud then uses the following verse (Bereshit 19:27) to prove how Avraham established prayer: “Vayaskem Avraham baboker el hamakom asher amad sham et pnei Hashem” – “And Avraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood before God.”
Nearly 13 years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak journeyed to Camp David to end the conflict with the Palestinians. With the approval of President Clinton, he offered Yasir Arafat an independent Palestinian state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza and in part of Jerusalem. Arafat said no.
The news that the Internal Revenue Service unfairly targeted conservative groups has brought renewed spotlight on a 2010 lawsuit filed by the pro-Israel group Z Street, which alleges it was also singled out by the IRS when applying for tax-exempt status.
In an editorial last week (“Circling the Wagons”) we noted the efforts by the administration and its supporters to dismiss allegations that the government’s spin on the Benghazi attack was designed to shield the president and that the IRS was improperly used to stifle opposition to Mr. Obama’s reelection.
As the controversies besetting the Obama administration continue to grow in number and intensity, the prospect that President Obama would seriously consider military action against Iran, should that country continue its drive to become a nuclear power, becomes more and more remote. So we welcome the current enhancement of sanctions against Iran on the federal and New York State levels.
To his parents’ friends, he was “Mrs. Greenberg’s disgrace,” but to sports fans he is one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Jewish baseball players of all time. Long before Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg excited Jewish sports fans with his prowess on the baseball diamond.
To eat is to live – to keep our physical bodies alive. For without the body, there is nothing. No experience. No memory. No joy and no hardship. But man, unlike animals, eats to live and to enjoy. So how should a Jew respond when he is challenged as to why he imposes upon himself not just ceremonies dedicated to the enjoyment of eating but even more to the limiting of what he can eat?
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/divided-and-broken/2012/01/04/
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