Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
It is a tragic reality today that a generation so meticulous in its observance of Shabbat, kashrut and mikveh is so lax in its observance of Choshen Mishpat. It behooves us to understand why such a disproportionate number of our people don’t find a contradiction between going to minyan and cheating on taxes.
We as a community lost our focus during a significant part of the 20th century, when many observant Jews were abandoning Orthodoxy and joining ranks with the Conservative and Reform movements. In response to our dwindling numbers, we stressed the ideas that obviously defined Orthodox Jews from the other denominations (i.e., Shabbat, kashrut, etc.) and placed less emphasis on the more universal religious principles of honesty and integrity.
Unfortunately, this response led to an overemphasis on external forms of religiosity. Nowadays, for example, when inquiring about a shidduch people often will ask where the family davens, or what shechita they eat, but rarely does anyone ask if they engage in honest business practices. People will ask about the length of one’s sleeves and what kind of kippah one wears, but not if one avoids shopping in “cash only” stores.
Back when Orthodoxy was losing droves to the other movements, we needed to define ourselves and make ourselves distinct. In the process, we deemphasized some very important Jewish values. But Judaism cannot be compartmentalized. The system of Torah is one complete entity. How we buy, sell and pay taxes requires as much religiosity as how we dress, daven and eat. The sad reality of today is the fallout of raising a couple of generations without proper zerizut in Choshen Mishpat observance.
I believe, however, that times are changing again. The only positive side of sinking so low is that we can’t help but recognize the need to change and improve. Recently, shuls as well as Jewish schools and communities have begun addressing these fundamental issues; the emphasis on honesty and integrity as prerequisites to spirituality is once again at the forefront. It is the topic of shiurim (on www.ou.org, you can find seventy different shiurim on Choshen Mishpat topics that address various aspects of how sincere Jews conduct business affairs), the theme of retreats, and in the curricula of Jewish day schools.
We have a long way to go; like Avraham we must stem the tide of a generation. But unlike Avraham, we have a road map and a rich and comprehensive system of halacha to follow. And we have Avraham as our patriarch, who began a mission and entrusted us with a legacy to transform humanity with tzedakah umishpat.
This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as we stand before the Ribbono Shel Olam and ask for the opportunity to survive and live the year being His partner in the transformation of humanity, we invoke the claim that we are the true heirs of Avraham Avinu’s legacy.
May we work hard and be zocheh to be worthy children of Avraham, and may Hakadosh Baruch Hu bless our efforts with success, and allow us to make a positive impact on all of mankind.
Rabbi Steven Weil is executive vice president of the Orthodox Union. This essay originally appeared in Jewish Action, the quarterly magazine of the Orthodox Union.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier
The Gazans are now paying for the choices they have made.
As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.
Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.
UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.
People test Israel every day to see how serious we really are in knowing when we are right.
Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?
It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.
Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.
So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.
King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.
Have you ever wondered why Avraham was the first patriarch of the Jewish people? Probably not; the reason is so obvious. We have grown up hearing the stories of the young boy Avram, who questioned the irrational idolatry of his time. We have followed him on his journey of discovery; how he investigated nature, science, each mode of worship – and logically arrived at the conclusion that there has to be One Omnipotent Creator responsible for our existence.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/emphasizing-honesty-and-integrity-during-the-days-of-awe/2010/09/07/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: