Our Role Is
To Keep the Faith
Rabbi Broyde and Rabbi Pruzansky authored well-thought-out perceptions of how the Modern Orthodox should respond to the challenges they face in the American exile.
Rabbi Pruzansky correctly observes that Rabbi Broyde’s accommodationist approach has “at times served the Jewish people well in exile… (We sometimes guarantee our rights by becoming) accustomed to sinful behavior – to groups whose conduct is anathema to our traditions…”
However, Rabbi Pruzansky also posits that the American exile has been the most Philo-Semitic, affording Jews the luxury of speaking out when conditions warrant the issuing of rebuke. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein defined “maris ayin” as the prohibition against giving the impression that one is doing something wrong, since such action or accommodation may influence others to sin as well. Does accommodation to SSA by Orthodox Jewish institutions pose an issue of “maris ayin“? Many Americans, including 100,000,000 Evangelicals, might not understand the reasoning or even agree with a Jewish accommodationist approach. Certainly, those Christians opposed to SSA would not be inspired to convert to Judaism, as Rabbi Pruzansky referenced to the Gemara’s teaching (Pesachim 87b).
Most significantly, Rabbi Pruzansky’s argument shines a light on the question: How can Modern Orthodoxy reverse the 30 percent dropout rate amongst their youth, an observation that Avi Ciment first made several weeks ago in an Op-Ed that helped trigger the debate concerning the survival of Modern Orthodoxy. Rabbi Broyde seems to only indirectly address this dilemma when he offers the solution of “…rebuild(ing) a moral society by the classic Jewish means – through every …heart that we touch by our good example, and not (by being) confrontationally intolerant toward others who choose not to live as we do.”
How can we persuade gentiles to accept biblically ordained teachings when 30 percent of our yeshiva children are not guided by them? As Rabbi Pruzansky observes, when Modern Orthodox children witness government recognition of SSA, they “struggle with the divinity of the Torah’s unequivocal prohibition and thus question the imperative of other mitzvot.” Rabbi Pruzansky adds “…it is hard to see how or even why it (Modern Orthodoxy) should survive.”
Is the Jewish mission to live and model biblical morality, or is our mission to just exist and survive in the punishment known as galut?
My thoughts are that Rabbi Broyde doesn’t quite appreciate how far America has already slid. The United States was built upon the foundation of the Judeo-Christian Ethic. The early Calvinists of New England studied the Hebrew Bible daily. Biblical morality has always been (until very recent times) the hallmark of American culture.
Rabbi Broyde suggests that “…a better way to defend our values is the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment.” However, Elon Musk’s release of the Twitter files demonstrates how the FBI, Big Tech and the mainstream media control, limit, and censor what used to be our freedom of speech. Freedom of assembly and the right to petition government was and is still being compromised by the Democratic party’s “show trial” of January 6 and the countless Americans still locked up, some in solitary confinement, even while government authorities are preventing transparency by blocking the release of tens of hours of videos of the gathering.
Ten years ago, who would have even imagined deliberate open borders, voting without ID, voter harvesting, and Election Season instead of Election Day? Who could have contemplated biological males competing in women’s sports, transgender mutilations performed on minors without parental permission? Who would have thought of deliberately guiding the country from energy independence to the doubling and tripling of gas prices?
Modern Orthodoxy has an opportunity to energize its movement by exciting its membership, adult and youth, with a sense of purpose. Traditional American values and religious beliefs have been challenged with an overwhelming onslaught from the government, academia, and the media. Our Torah is our armor. G-d is stronger than CNN, High Tech Media, the White House and the FBI. Americans of every religious persuasion depend on the Jews to keep the faith for everyone! As Mark Twain so astutely observed: “All things are mortal but the Jews.”
Great Neck, N.Y.
Equal Justice For Thee
Compare the differences in the way President Trump was treated to the way President Biden was treated with regard to classified documents. For President Trump, there was a surprise raid by the FBI on his house in Florida. For President Biden, there was no FBI raid and, in fact, Biden’s own lawyers were permitted to collect the classified documents and hand them over to the National Archives. This was done despite the fact the Biden documents were stored in several locations, some of which were unprotected.
The words on the Supreme Court proclaim “Equal Justice Under Law.” Clearly, this was not the case here.
Legislation introduced in Albany to bar anyone who was convicted of participating in the January 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, sponsored by Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman titled “Restrict Insurrectionists from Office Taking” (RIOT) is just another politically-correct liberal piece of legislation.
In New York, you can vote after incarceration for a felony conviction, or while you are on parole or probation. In these cases, your voting rights are automatically restored. There is no prohibition about running for and holding public office. Why doesn’t he expand the scope of his bill to include other violent protests that occurred as well, especially those that turned to chaos and riot in the aftermath of the horrific shooting and death of George Floyd.
Millions of dollars in damages took place as a result of attacks on public buildings and private businesses, looting, arson, physical assault on law enforcement officials and police vehicles. Taxpayers were stuck with the bill to clean it up. Minority-owned businesses in communities suffered, accompanied by the loss of some jobs as a result of this anarchy. Previous generations who engaged in peaceful protest would never dream of doing these things.
Great Neck, N.Y.