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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘values’

Jewish Values are the Salvation of the Republican Party

Monday, November 19th, 2012

A ‘malignant weapon’. That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat, to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”

The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.

I also knew, from my many lectures before women’s groups, that the sexual obsession that has come to define Republican social values could cost the GOP the election. At the start of my campaign, one Republican leader told me, “Americans want to hear about the economy, not values issues.” He was right. But little did he realize that extremist social values rhetoric would wound Republicans. There is now a consensus that the GOP’s alienation of women due to the social sexual obsession, as well as the alienation of Latinos due to their position on immigration, did incalculable harm to the GOP.

Here is what confuses me about Republican Jewish donors. They give the party their money when their values are probably even more relevant at this juncture. Why do those Jews who support the party generously not clamor for a greater infusion of Jewish values that would change the conversation away from values that alienate to values that inspire?

I care about the Republican Party because of its strong emphasis on the dignity that comes from economic opportunity and self-reliance, a robust foreign policy that holds dictators accountable for slaughtering their people, its emphasis on school choice, and strong support for Israel. And anyone who cares about the party knows that it can no longer postpone a serious reexamination of its sexual values obsession. My great teacher, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, advocated a ten point plan for people to start leading more spiritual lives. Only one of those ten was about sex, namely, the laws of Jewish family purity. That’s ten percent focus on sex. But the Republican trifecta of abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, is one hundred percent about sex. How strange is that?

And for those Democrats who are gloating about the Republican loss, with all due respect, at least the Republicans are trying to highlight moral issues, even if they’re misguided. The Democrats do not offend with their values because, with the exception of economic values issues, they barely discuss the subject. Here, then, is what the GOP must do to rebuild itself.

1.     Repudiate the religious extremists who are obsessed with abortion, rape, and sex. If candidates want to speak about legitimate rape or divinely-sanctioned rape, let them do so from an asylum. Not as official representatives of the Republican Party. If they want to obsess over sex and reduce all of America’s greatness to a trifecta of social sexual obsession, they can. They can create the “All-sex-all-the-time Party.” But get this conversation out of the GOP. The Republican Party represents more than opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and contraception. Judaism, for the record, allows contraception, believes that sex is for intimacy and pleasure as well as procreation, and has a far more lenient position on abortion than Catholics or Evangelicals. And since the Christian position on abortion is based on the Hebrew Bible, specifically Exodus 21:22, the time has perhaps come for Christians to look to the Jews for a different understanding of this text.

2.     Preach positive inspirational values that lead to altruistic citizenry. Bring the values conversation out of the bedroom and show Americans you’re prepared to talk about values in the boardroom and the living room. Stop talking exclusively about gay marriage and focus on saving heterosexual marriage. Make marital counseling tax deductible. Pass legislation creating a year of national service so America raises generations of more altruistic youth. If the Republican argument is that Democrats are winning elections because they have become the ‘Free Stuff Party,’ then counter by making the GOP into the ‘Serve America’ party. Embrace and co-opt the JFK’s credo of asking more about what we can give to our country rather than take from it.

3.     Embrace the Biblical Teaching of Loving the Stranger. No one should come into this country by breaking the law. But there might be something personally virtuous in a man or woman who steals across the Rio Grande at great risk to feed their babies and send money back to poor families. America has to stop illegal immigration. But that doesn’t mean it has to demonize illegal immigrants. We need to distinguish between those who steal into our country to blow up buildings and those who come in because they regard America as a land of opportunity. Stop ignoring the twelve million undocumented workers who form a shadow economy and who are not paying taxes while benefiting from living here. Mass deportation is unrealistic and immoral. Penalize them for having broken the law, but give them a path to remain here and contribute.

4.     Focus on legal immigration from Latin American countries, as opposed to Europe. As my friend Robert Goldbaum, who was a Romney surrogate, told me, Latin American immigrants want to come to America because they love its opportunities and want to work. This is different from the entitlement-addled economies of Europe whose immigrants are used to, and expect, government programs. Latino immigrants are deeply in sync with American values of hard work and entrepreneurship. The Republican Party should be taking the lead in pushing for far higher quotas for Latino immigrants as opposed to other regions.

5.     Show the black community that Republicans understand the history of adversity African-Americans have faced. There is little chance that many African-Americans will vote Republican right now. But it makes no difference. The Republican Party should undertake a grand gesture to give the lie once and for all that it is a party insensitive to black concerns. This is, after all, the party of Lincoln. The Republican house should sponsor a bill for the construction of a monument on the national mall commemorating the greatest American evil of all, namely slavery, to demonstrate Republicans are attuned to African-American history and suffering. But while we commemorate the past, we move forward to the future. The Democratic Party often takes the Black community for granted, as I saw in my own race where my challenger did not even turn up for the NAACP candidates’ forum. President Obama skipped the NAACP convention as well. Drive home Republican emphasis on school vouchers and how the Democratic Party has caved to the teacher’s unions to put teacher tenure before children’s education. In my campaigning, most African-American parents whom I met strongly supported vouchers, charter schools, and school choice.

6.     Women, women, women, and more women. Destroy the myth that the Republican Party is hostile to women. According to Gallup, the 20-point gender gap in this presidential election set an all-time record. Republicans should stop obsessing on the uteruses of young women and instead pledge to reduce abortion by focusing on the Guttmacher Institute’s data that 85% of all abortions take place outside of marriage. Strengthen marriage, educate men to respect women, and you’ll automatically and significantly reduce the number of abortions. Stop making this a legal battle.

7.    Have more kids. For a party that so strongly opposes abortion, we sure aren’t having enough kids. People believe the Republican Party is the rich people’s party. This is an unfair and inaccurate characterization. But what is certainly true is that while immigrant communities (most of whom vote Democrat) continue to have large families, those who are better off economically have fewer children, statistically. Stop complaining about immigrants. The more Americans the better. But the growth of the indigenous population, of people reared from birth in this great nation, is just as important.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

How in Losing a Congressional Race I Found More of Myself

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

A few hours ago I lost my bid to unseat Congressman Bill Pascrell in New Jersey’s Ninth District. But thank G-d, I’m in a good place and miraculously in a good frame of mind. I’m writing this late at night to capture my thoughts and feelings after investing approximately seven months of my life in this endeavor.

Firstly, believe it or not, I don’t feel sadness but contentment (although I can’t predict how I’ll feel in the coming days). Why contentment and relief? I set out to accomplish certain goals, and though I wish I had been more successful at advancing them, I feel we met many of those goals and I’m grateful to G-d for having made it through the campaign with a positive message.

First, I wanted to be a voice for universal Jewish values in politics. For years I had felt America was becoming obsessed with talking about gay marriage rather than heterosexual divorce. Abortion rather than men respecting women and replacing the recreational nature of sex with something of its sacredness. Contraception rather than the joy of children. I wanted to bring something of the joy of Jewish values to supplant some of the austerity of the Christian social sexual values which have come to dominate our social discourse and divide our nation.

I also wanted to run an ideas-based campaign that focused less on fundraising and more on novel policies that could address the values rot in American culture. I didn’t want to talk only about economics, deficits, and national debt, but the value of human dignity that accrues through self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and economic independence.

Most of all, I wanted to demonstrate that religious Jews, running campaigns based on Jewish wisdom and values and founded on a platform of a proud Jewish identity, can compete as viable candidates in politics and in every other sphere of American life. From the constant, positive, national attention our campaign has thank God garnered, we have shown that being an orthodox, committed Jew is not in any way a hindrance or limiting factor.

I knew from the beginning that running in a race where Democrats outnumbered Republicans four to one was like climbing a political Mt. Everest. But it was the journey that mattered.

And here is what I have learned. Running for public office has a profound maturing effect on one’s character. You have to wake up every morning and figure out how will you maneuver to deliver your message through all the noise and clutter of the media and the friction of politics. It toughens you up and sharpens your instincts. It humbles you and makes you utterly dependent on all the people around you. People you might, in your arrogance, have otherwise overlooked are now your masters. Every single one matters. And whether they embrace you or reject you, it is always they who are important with you being subordinate.

Abraham Lincoln, on a day that happens to be my birthday (November 19), gave the Gettysburg Address where he spoke of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. For once, I wanted to experience what it was like to be ‘of the people.’

Never once in my campaign did anyone make me feel that being a Rabbi meant I could not be their candidate. True, many of the Arab-Americans in our district challenged my position on Israel. But they always did so with respect and hospitality. (Please read my column on all the people I met in the race).

The Republican party, which suffered a huge defeat on so many levels tonight, needs to make some serious changes. They cannot highlight the social sexual issues which distract us from fixing so many of America’s real social problems, like increasing narcissism on the part of our youth, a catastrophic divorce rate, the portrayal of women in much of the media as a man’s plaything, the absence of a year of national service, the increasing loss of intellectual curiosity on the part of much of the electorate as shallow reality TV shows make us think less, and our addiction to material objects to bring us happiness. We also have to deal with immigration in a compassionate and sensitive manner. True, people who come here illegally are breaking the law and being unfair to all those who wait to enter by legal means. But before we throw the full book at them – and let me be clear that they should not be breaking the law – let’s at least understand that so many of them do so to feed their babies or to send money back to very poor families. They are breaking the law, but that does mean that they are criminals in the usual sense of the word. Their humanity has to be preserved at all times and we have to find a way to deal with 12 million undocumented workers, many of whom have made America their home for many years. Not to address this problem is not only to risk further electoral defeat, but it is to compromise our values of compassion, even as we rightly insist on the vital framework of law.

Finishing my campaign with a positive energy and dignity, even as I keep the door open to the possibility of further political involvement, also allows me to put some of the unavoidable awkwardness of partisanship – much as I have tried to avoid it – behind me. Two hours after my defeat my dear friend and brother Mayor Cory Booker of Newark came to my home to hang with me and cheer me up. We had a great time discussing all the things that connect us, like a deep love and spiritual friendship of twenty years, without politics being on the agenda.

Now is the time for America to come together and fix its problems. I fought hard against Bill Pascrell. But when I called him tonight I told him he will be my Congressman and I bow fully to the majesty of the magical democratic system under which we are all so privileged to live. Likewise, President Obama continues as my President. I don’t agree with both men on many things. But I will work with them to create an America that is unified and that is fully focused on being the light of liberty, prosperity, and freedom to every corner of the earth.

God bless all of you and God bless America.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Voting isn’t Revenge, it’s ResistanceVoting Isn’t Revenge

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

There are plenty of ways to cast the divisions between parties and movements, but the elemental act of voting divides rhetoric from motive.

Obama called voting the best revenge, because for a sizable portion of his base that’s exactly what voting is. Their votes are a violent act, a spiteful assault on a country that they can never participate in for economic or cultural reasons. Change for them is not a positive program, but a negative assault on the national majority. Bankrupting the country by robbing it for their own benefit is their revenge.

Voting for us isn’t revenge, it’s resistance. It isn’t a choice that emerges out of reasoned debate between two sets of values, it’s an act of resistance against the revengers, the looters and the destroyers. The voting booth is a form of sabotage against their regime, their corrupt interests and their oppressive regulations.

These last four years we have endured an intensified occupation of our political, religious and personal freedoms. We have been robbed, lied to, ordered around and in some cases even killed. These crimes have been carried out by elected officials and the election will allow us to remove some of them. It will not end the reign of terror, but if successful, our act of electoral resistance will inflict a severe setback on the plans of their ideological movement and the unelected officials who rely on them for funding and political support.

The election will not end the occupation, but it will interrupt the forward momentum of the occupiers. It will force them to fall back into their think tanks and formulate new strategies for dismantling the Constitution, eliminating our civil rights and ending elections as anything but empty shows with no meaning.

Some of us act as if elections will be here forever so that we can wait for the next one to come around and the one after that when the right candidate will lead us to victory. They won’t be. The ideology that we are resisting believes in populism only when it serves its ends. Its judicial appointees have acted repeatedly to neuter referendums when the results do not go the right way.

The ultimate goal of the occupation is to shift power away from elected officials and into the infrastructure of unelected officials, so that their elected officials can draw on nearly unlimited powers by dictating to the bureaucratic oligarchy of the state, while elected officials not aligned with their movement will be narrowly constrained and have very little influence over the bureaucracy.

The occupation is not here to take power for another four years, but another forty years and another four-hundred years. It is not playing a short term game in a system where power shifts back and forth, but putting in place the infrastructure for the permanent occupation of the United States of America. But despite all its power and control, the miles of video screens that spew forth its propaganda, the billions of dollars that flow from its coffers into the pockets of its supporters and the cultural control that its proponents wield– it still has one vulnerability.

A piece of paper, a push of a button, and the occupiers have to fall back, gritting their teeth and planning a renewed offensive in the spring.

The left overreached itself in the last four years. Its occupation was poorly managed and the native population has been alienated. While its Chief was sacrificing thousands of American lives to win over the natives in Afghanistan, his occupation of the United States was crumbling. The economy is rotten and the people are tired of being lied to. The resistance is popular and the community organizers are running scared.

This is our moment and in a single day we can push the occupation out of the countryside and back into the cities. We can undermine its morale, strip it of the money with which it bribes collaborators and force it to rethink whether it really wants to spend the next few decades battling to control an unruly population. We can make men like George Soros and Ted Turner decide that their money would be better spent terrorizing Eastern Europe or Africa, instead of America by making oppressing us seem like a bad investment.

Daniel Greenfield

More Religious? Or Going Off the Deep End?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

They want to have total isolation from the rest of the world? I think perhaps we should finally give it to them. It pains me to say so but based on what I am reading in their very own media, going off the deep end is not an exaggeration. It may even be an understatement! It is a wonder that they do not have a bigger OTD problem than they already do. I guess that their system works very well for them that way.

First the good news. In the extremist enclaves of both Chasidic world and non-Chasidic Yeshiva world, there are very positive things that we can all look up to. Their community is very warm and loving. It is almost like having one very big extended family. They learn and promote the values of the Torah as they understand them.

Although it is true for both worlds, the Chasidic communities emphasize things like Chesed programs while in the Yeshiva world there is a stronger emphasis on Torah study. Their community is saturated with a system of family values unlike any other. They get married young and have lots of children. And have a rather effective educational system for their purposes. Chasidim even encourage working for a living albeit without the benefits of a higher education in most cases. (There are exceptions.)

They celebrate life-cycle events with great joy as they do Shabbos and Yom Tov. They live their daily lives with fervent religious devotion. But there is a negative side. A very negative side.

Theirs is a formula that combines all of the above with isolation. There is a complete break from the rest of the world by living their lives in ways that make it difficult if not impossible to participate in anything outside of their own Daled Amos.

Among Chasidim this formula is greatly enhanced by their manner of dress, their pejorative attitude towards non Jews, and their extremely negative attitude about secular education – treating the native tongue (English) as if it were spiritually unclean – as opposed to the ‘spiritually clean’ language of Yiddish. They learn English only as a second language for purposes of survival in a non Jewish culture. I can’t imagine anyone trying to escape it without major difficulty. Although the Yeshiva world does not go that far, there is no shortage of those who desire to catch up with them.

Sliding to the right doesn’t even begin to explain how far off the deep end some of these ridiculous extremes go.

How far? An article has been published by a bold and courageous women who lives in one of these enclaves. Mrs. Tzipi Caton wrote the cover story in last week’s Family First. This is the weekly woman’s supplement that accompanies Mishpacha Magazine. (Yes, I do sometimes read women’s magazines.)

Mrs. Caton is a decidedly Charedi woman. Her Shtreimal wearing Chasidic husband learns full time in a Kollel. They live in a very large Charedi neighborhood that has many exclusive Charedi schools to choose from.

She wanted her nursery school aged daughter, Dassa, to have the finest Charedi education she could provide. So Mrs. Caton applied to some of the more exclusive schools in her neighborhood. Long story short, after applying to six schools, she was rejected by them all. She is apparently not Frum enough for them. What were some of the issues? Let’s start with the contact Mrs. Caton had with the principal of one school. From the article:

She made no effort to hide the way she looked me over from sheitel to shoes. She asked exactly one question about my maiden name, and then sent me on my merry way.

Among the reasons that school rejected her daughter was the following:

(They) didn’t like that I went to an all inclusive Bais Yaakov high school. It didn’t look good for Bais Bina, a chassidish pre-school, to accept children whose mothers didn’t grow up wearing beige stockings.

Here are some of the questions on an application form of another school:

* What (bungalow) colony do you attend?
* Where is it located?
* Who owns the colony?
* List two references from said colony.
* How many times a year do you go up for Shabbos?
* (Is your daughter’s) maternal grandfather, preferred to be referred to as “Rabbi” or “Mister.”

A friend of Mrs. Caton who was granted an interview by one of those schools for her own daughter – something Mrs. Caton did not get. Here is what happened:

(T)he principal called me aside (and) said, “Mrs. Rosenberg, you are 98% of what we are looking for in a prospective parent. The 2% holding me back from full acceptance is a certain something about the way you look. If you would agree for me to take you shopping so that I can reevaluate your wardrobe and help you dress more to the manner that we find appropriate, I would be happy to allow your daughter into our nursery class.”

Another school Mrs. Caton applied to does not allow their parent mothers to chew gum. Or to use cell-phones.

Another school rejected them without any explanation simply saying that her family did not share the values of the school. What values? Keep reading:

This particular school did not allow their teachers to quote any litvish sources in their curriculum, including R’ Moshe Feinstein…

The last school she applied to ended up rejecting her because she had been rejected by so many other schools. How’s that for irony.

I have discussed this with a reliable source who lives in a community like this. Here is what I was told:

[T]he minute a school opens with the intention of being small and select, no matter what denomination they are, this is what happens.

Another thing- when one school in the neighborhood enforces a rule, all the other schools rush to copy it at the risk of seeming “less frum” than the others. So when one school told their parent body that their women were not allowed to wear “pony sheitels” the rest all sent out adjusted handbooks within the week. The same went for banning shoes that were any color but Navy or Black, and yeshivas requiring their boys wear velvet yarmulkas that are composed of “six” slices vs the more “modern” “four slice.” And now that the Chassidish schools in Monsey banned mothers from driving, the driving chassidim have to choose between a chinuch with their mesorah or being a mother who can independently shop for groceries…

Normally I might say live and let live. People have a right to choose any lifestyle they wish, no matter how ridiculous. But when it becomes the ideal of a community that considers itself to be the most religious among us, someone has to call them on it… and expose just exactly what they consider to be more religious.

To make matters even worse, it all comes with a price tag paid for in part by the government. Here is what my source told me:

All of these schools receive government funding because they “offer a service to the community.” Exactly what community are they offering services to? The non-driving community? The non-gum-chewing community? The community where they only wear white stockings on Shabbos and don’t wear earrings that hang below the earlobe? (I kid you not, these are all real examples of the rules) If the politicians knew where their community funding was going – would the schools continue to get those grants? I wonder.

Government funding?! These schools should not even be supported communally, let alone be supported by the government.

I think at this point, we ought to at least give them what they want. Complete isolation from the rest of the world. Including all normal Charedim!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Rosenblatt v. Silverman: A Culture War

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The numerous comments we’ve received on Rabbi Rosenblatt’s Open Letter to Sarah Silverman are fascinating. Once you get past the expletives, you can learn a lot about the culture that produced them. The statements and the tone of the comments demonstrate the differences, even the massive gap between Jewish culture and Jewish-American culture.

Rosenblatt addressed a public figure who has no problems exposing her inner self and saying whatever is on her mind on any subject, no matter how offensive or inappropriate it might be to anyone. Rosenblatt questioned what her underlying motives might be and offered what he believes is the answer. He couched his message, as Silverman sometimes does hers, using his notion of Judaic values and cultural identity.

And that’s when it hit the fan.

Certainly it’s permissible, possible, even easy to disagree with Rosenblatt’s explanation and worldview. I certainly expected to see some intelligent conversations developing around the article. But why all the openly hostile obscenity?

Silverman’s father’s foul mouthed reaction was the first indication that Rosenblatt had inadvertently hit a very raw nerve.

By and large, the commenters were using an obvious double standard. They claimed the Rabbi crossed the line. The Rabbi was offensive. The Rabbi was [fill in the obscene word], and followed it up with their thoughts on Judaism (in some cases displaying ignorance and hatred).

Yet, Silverman, who prides herself on her “potty mouth” and crossing the verbal line on many social mores is untouchable and can do no wrong.

When Sarah Silverman, on video, propositions Sheldon Adelson, using her doggie in mock soft-porn as substitute for the elderly billionaire — that’s humor and acceptable.

When Rabbi Rosenblatt tells Sarah Silverman to get married and have children — that’s an expression of hatred and intolerance.

The question is, why?

I propose that many of the Jewish-American commenters got so upset because the Rabbi crossed a line. But the line he crossed was not about his views on motherhood, but rather his views on the role of the Rabbi and of Judaism.

Judaism, to some of those commenters, belongs locked in a box in a synagogue, and should never be allowed out to offer any moral observations, opinions or guidelines that disagree with the most permissive of Western cultural values.

As expressed by some of these commenters, Silverman actually represents “Judaism” to them.

Some of them might have a list of humanitarian/liberal values and call them Jewish values, while taking traditional Jewish values like Shabbat and Kashrut (as well as Judaism’s own social values), and relegating them to archaic, comical, even dark places in the culture.

For them, Judaism is Liberalism. A definition and identity where anything is permitted, alongside a strong pride in their cultural/ethnic identity as Jews, regardless of whether that identity actually represent a Jewish value system, or an accident of birth.

The question is certainly open as to whether the Rabbi was right or wrong in his analysis of Silverman, but one thing is clear, Rosenblatt rattled something deep and painful in the psyches of those who define themselves as cultural/ethnic Jews, without any actual Judaism to go with it.

Finally, we don’t moderate comments on our website, because we believe in the free exchange of ideas. But as our guests, we request that you refrain from obscenities and Antisemitism in your remarks.

Stephen Leavitt

The Downside of Religious Idealism

Friday, October 5th, 2012

After thinking about yesterday’s post, I realized that there is a method to this madness. Why is there so much animosity between Charedi and DL/RZ (Dati Leumi/Religious Zionist) factions? I can’t fully answer the question. But I do have some thoughts about it. I think it is because Israelis are far more idealistic about their religious values – especially those who make Aliyah.

Moving to Israel is not easy. No matter how much of a religious Zionist one is or how committed a Charedi is to learning in an Israeli Yeshiva – leaving the culture one grew up in is difficult. I don’t think most people even realize just how ingrained that culture is in them until they leave. It becomes virtually a part of one’s identity. But even if they do realize it, the sincerely committed make Aliyah anyway – difficult though it may be to pick up and move to a distant land where the culture and way of life is so different.

They do it because the values most important to them over-ride all that ingrained culture. They believe that being a Jew in the fullest sense of the word can best be fulfilled only in the holy land. They are defined mostly by those religious ideals.

It is one thing to be a die-hard Cub’s fan. But compared to living in Eretz Yisroel being a Cub’s fan is almost meaningless. Oh… one may still be interested in whether his hometown sports team is doing well. But on the scale of things important, it is way down on the list.

This is true for those with the Dati Leumi Hashkafos as well as those with Charedi Hashkafos.

The religious way of life for Charedim in Israel is a far superior to that of America. Yom Tov in one of the many religious enclaves like Ramat Bet Shemesh is filled with Limud HaTorah. I have observed that there are Shiurim given daily on Chol HaMoed by various Roshei Yeshiva and other religious personalities daily in one Shul after another. One can walk into a Shul Beis HaMedrash on any given Chol HaMoed morning and find it packed with young people – mostly Charedim – learning B’Chavrusa till the earliest Mincha at about 12:30 PM.

Teffila B’Tzibur in most places is taken far more seriously… and takes longer on the average than most American Shuls. This is true for both communities. On Chol HaMoed afternoons, many parks, zoos, and other leisure type areas are filled with huge numbers of Charedi families enjoying the facilities. You can tell it is Yom Tov all over the land. In other words the lifestyle of a Jew is lived far more fully in Israel than in most communities in America. Even Boro Park.

The problem lies in the Hashkafic values of these two dedicated groups and the intensity of adherence to them. The Hashkafos do not coincide. Although there is some overlap since both communities are observant after all – there is apparently not enough for any kind of harmonious relationship. The values end up clashing. Each side feels their values are the correct ones and the values of other religious Jews are actually detrimental to their goals. It is because both camps are so idealistic that they are so uncompromising.

To a religious Zionist, making Aliyah is an important focus of his life. Once in Israel supporting the Medina, protecting and defending it via military service is a part of it. As is being a materially productive member of the society.

While most religious Zionists value learning Torah and are Koveah Itim (establish regular times for Torah learning) they firmly believe that most Jews should first support their families and be productive members of society. Not that they oppose learning Torah full time for the elite. They don’t. But they do not support it for the masses.

They therefore see the masses of Charedim not doing their part for the Medina and resent it. Especially when it is accompanied by disparagement of the Medina.

To the Charedi – learning Torah L’Shma is the best thing any Jew can do. It is the epitome of Judaism. They strive to learn Torah at great personal sacrifice… in most cases willing to live in poverty to achieve that end.

Harry Maryles

Rosh Hashanah Guide for the Perplexed

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

1.  Rosh Hashanah and the Shofar (ritual ram’s horn) symbolize and commemorate:

*The annual reaffirmation of faith in God;
*The first human-being, Adam, was created on Rosh Hashanah, the sixth day of Creation, the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrey;
*The opening of Noah’s Ark following the flood;
*The almost-sacrifice of Isaac (thou shall not sacrifice human beings!) and the covenant of the Jewish People with God;
*The three Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Prophet Samuel (the latter inspired Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” the cement of the American Revolution), were conceived/born during the month of Tishrey, which is called “The Month of the Strong Ones”;
*The release of Joseph from Egyptian jail;
*Mt. Sinai and receiving the Ten Commandment and the Torah;
*The commitment to liberty. The blowing of the Shofar also announces the beginning of the Jubilee (“Yovel” in Hebrew), which is a synonym of Shofar. The blowing of the Shofar represents deliverance from spiritual and physical slavery. It inspired the American anti-slavery Abolitionist movement;
*The reconstruction of the 2nd Temple and the destruction of both Temples;
*The ingathering (Aliya) to the Jewish Homeland, the land of Israel;
*The cycle of nature – seed planting season and the equality of day and night;
*Optimism in the face of daily adversity – genuine repentance and mending behavior warrants forgiveness;
*The fallibility of all human-beings, starting with Adam and including the most pious persons, such as Moses;
*Humility as an effective means to minimize wrong-doing;
*Restraint. Patience and long-term commitment – “Hashanah” in Hebrew (השנה) means “the year,” “change” and “repeat.”  No quick fixes!
*The “Ten Days of Awe” are initiated on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur.

2.  Rosh Hashanah – unlike all other Jewish holidays – is a universal (stock-taking, renewal and hopeful) holiday. “Rosh” (Hashanah) means in Hebrew “beginning,” “first,” “head,” “chief.” The Hebrew letters of Rosh (ראש) constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, “Bereshit” (בראשית), which is the first word in the Bible. Just like the Creation, so should the New Year and our own actions, be a thoughtful, long-term – not a hasty – process. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month of Tishrey, which means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew spelling of Tishrey (תשרי) is included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית).

Rosh Hashanah is referred to as “Ha’rat Olam” (the pregnancy of the world), and its prayers highlight motherhoodoptimism and the pregnancies of Sarah and Rachel, the Jewish Matriarchs, and Hanna, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph & Benjamin and Samuel the Prophet respectively. Sarah, שרה (the root of the Hebrew word, Israel, ישראל) and Hanna, חנה (the root of the Hebrew words Pardon, Amnesty and Merciful, חנינה) were two of the seven Jewish Prophetesses: Sarah, Miriam, Hanna, Deborah, Huldah, Abigail, Esther.  Hanna’s prayer has become a role-model for God-heeded prayers. Noah – who led the rebirth of humanity/world – also features in Rosh Hashanah prayers.

3.  The three pillars of Rosh HashanahRepentance (returning to good deeds – תשובה – in Hebrew), Prayer and Charity (doing justice – צדקה – in Hebrew).

4.  The Hebrew word for atonement/repentance is Te’shuvah (תשובה), which also means“return” to core morality and values and to the Land of Israel. On Rosh Hashanah, one is expected to plan a “spiritual/behavioral budget” for the entire year. The three Hebrew words, Teshuvah (Repentance/Atonement, תשובה), Shivah (Spiritual and Physical Return, שיבה) and Shabbat (Creation concluded, שבת) emerge from the same Hebrew root.  They constitute a triangular foundation, whose strength depends on the depth of education and commemoration. According to King Solomon, “The triangular cord cannot be broken.”

5.  Rosh Hashanah is mentioned in the Book of Numbers (29:1) as “the day of the Shofar blast” (Yom Te’roo’ah in Hebrew). The Shofar (ritual ram’s horn) is blown on Rosh Hashanah as a wake-up call, a break away from the professional, social and political mundane, in order to recommit oneself to roots and basic valuesrepair our order of priorities andmend human behavior.  Shofar (שופר) is a derivative of the Hebrew word forenhancement/improvement (שפור).  Blowing the Shofar symbolizes a new beginning – replaying the birth of the Jewish People – and the receipt of the Torah – at Mount Sinai, which was accompanied by sounding the Shofar.

6.  The Shofar should be humble (bent and not decorated), natural and unassuming, just like the foundation of a positive character in general and leadership in particular.

7.  The Shofar is the epitome of peace-through-strength.  It is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns, fending off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word, “ram” (איל), is 41, equal to the value of “mother” (אם), who strongly protects her children.

8.  While the blowing of the Shofar is a major virtue, listening to the Shofar is at least as important a virtue. The Hebrew root of “listening,” האזנה, is Ozen, ear (אוזן), which contains thebalancing mechanism in our body (אזון).  Ozen is also the root for “Scale” (מאזניים) and “Balance,” which is the zodiac sign of the month of Tishrey.  Both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (when people balance their good deeds vs. bad deeds) are observed during the month of Tishrey.

9.  The three ways of blowing the Shofar express the inner constant values (Te’kiyah), the tenacious human marathon through success and failure (She’va’rim), and the determined pursuit of faith-driven long-term vision (Troo’ah).

10.  The three series of blowing the Shofar represent the faith of mankind in God (Malkhooyot), the centrality of history/memory/roots and God’s Covenant with the Jewish People (Zichronot) and repentance/enhancement (Shofarot).

11.  The three different soundings of the Shofar represent the three Patriarchs (Abraham – tenacity, fighting capabilities and mercy, Isaac – benevolence, Jacob – truth), the three parts of the Bible and the three types of human beings (pious, evil and mediocre), all of whom are worthy of renewal.

12.  Rosh Hashanah services include 101 blows of the Shofar. It is the numerical value of the Hebrew spelling of Michael, a Guardian Angel, which was one of the names of Moses.

13.  The pomegranate – one of the seven species that bless the Land of Israel – is featured during Rosh Hashanah: “May you be credited with as many rewards as the seeds of the pomegranate.” The pomegranate becomes ripe in time for Rosh Hashanah and contains – genetically – 613 seeds, which is the number of Jewish statues. The pomegranate was employed as an ornament of the Holy Arc, the holy Menorah (candelabrum), the coat of the High Priest and the Torah Scrolls. The first two letters of the Hebrew word for pomegranate (רמון), Rimon – which is known for its crown – mean sublime (Ram, רמ). The pomegranate (skin and seeds) is one of the healthiest fruit: high in iron, anti-oxidants, anti-cancer, decreases blood pressure, enhances the quality of blood and the cardiac and digestion systems. Rimon is a metaphor for a wise person: wholesome like a pomegranate.

14.  Honey is included in Rosh Hashanah meals in order to sweeten the coming year. The beeis the only insect which produces essential food.  It is a community-oriented, constructive and a diligent creature.  The Hebrew spelling of bee (דבורה) is identical to “the word of God” (דבור-ה).

15.  Shofar Blowing Commemoration Day (Leviticus 23) is one of the names of Rosh Hashanah. One can avoid – rather than repeat – past mistakes by learning from history. The more one remembers, the deeper are the roots and the greater is one’s stability and one’s capability to withstand storms of pressure and temptation. The more stable/calculated/moral is the beginning of the year (Rosh Hashanah), the more constructive will be the rest of the year.

May the New Year (5773 according to the Jewish calendar) be top heavy with truth, realism and tenacity and low on distortion, wishful-thinking and vacillation.

Visit Yoram Ettinger’s website The Ettinger Report.

Yoram Ettinger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/rosh-hashanah-guide-for-the-perplexed/2012/09/16/

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