Sharing it With the World

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12 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    This iiuc was exactly the point E’ JB Soloveitchik zt”l makes on last week’s parsha – ger vtoshav anochi imachem – we (as temporary residents and citizens ) have a unique destiny as Jews but are still part and have common cause with the rest of humanity.

    I’m reminded of a famous kiruv mussar piece which ends in shamayim (afterlife) with one turning to his “frum” neighbor and saying “you mean you knew and you didn’t tell me?”
    KT

  2. mycroft says:

    Excellent post-

    “We wouldn’t teach about Shabbos, or kashrus, or the current Daf Yomi? What else is there?”
    Obviously-Yahadus has a lot to teach the world-see a famous 20th century example where R J B Soloveitchik gave the lecture that became the Lonely Man of Faith to a Catholic Seminary in Boston. Obviously, one has to know what one is doing but the principle is there. Another point, an importnat part of Yahadus is Shabbos, Kashrut, Limmud Hatorah etc but the other parts are equally essential part of Yahadus and must be emphasized more.

  3. LOberstein says:

    Are we so different than the rest of the world? Living in a free country where our ‘belonging’ is not in doubt,we are part and parcel of the United States. We are not an alien group foisting ourselves on an intolerant host.That was the way it was,but is not in this country.
    Jonathan Sacks is a great thinker but I feel sorry that he lives in England,where we are not as welcome. The way to keep America safe for Jews is to be Americans.
    Thus, many of my friends cannot understand why so many orthodox Jews have political and social views so at odds with the Torah’s commands for tzedek and chesed. Why do some frum Jews feel only contempt for the less fortunate and the other aliens, how can a Jew be a supporter of the politics that is so at odds with our heritage?

  4. Mike S. says:

    The speech was good. But the primary way we can teach Avodat Hashem is by example, not speech. And the example that matters most is how we treat other people. Not only other frum Jews, even from “non-standard backgrounds”, but Gentiles and the non-religious jews as well. Chazal tell us that when our interpersonal behavior is of the highest order, people are inspired to praise the Torah, and the opposite when are behavior is improper, chas v’shalom. Unfortunately, there have been far too many examples of the latter in the news recently.

    One reason for that, in my opinion, is that we have neglected to emphasize respect for the Tzelem Elokim in each person. And we have lost confidence in the ability of the torah to inspire, and so have resorted to contempt for others to fight assimilation and intermarriage.

  5. David N. Friedman says:

    Regarding two points:
    1) should Jews take it upon themselves to share our mission with humanity?
    2) is there meaning in a “covenant of hope”?

    Please witness the lives of the Chabad Rabbi, his wife and others who died in the recent horror in India for evidence. Beautiful people take it upon themselves to go the far reaches of the world to be kind and they are the subject of ultimate cruelty. They were correct to do as they did despite their gruesome murder at the hands of Islamic savages. Regarding interfaith dialogue and a “covenant of hope” as expressed by Rabbi Sacks in light of the same episode, it seems there is no lack of dialogue between humanity and the beasts and “respecting others” cannot include those in the Islamic world that wish is death. I do not believe Rabbi Sacks had such compassion in mind when he was speaking of hope. Nonetheless I cringe over “hope” used in such a manner, it is easily exploited by people such as Mr. Obama– and if respect is the operative term here, it seems to me the judicious use of force is what commands respect in the eyes of the murderers.

    Chabad is a sterling model for sharing “it” with the world–we should not be deterred by this tragedy.

  6. Ori says:

    LOberstein: The way to keep America safe for Jews is to be Americans.

    Ori: Definitely.

    LOberstein: Thus, many of my friends cannot understand why so many orthodox Jews have political and social views so at odds with the Torah’s commands for tzedek and chesed. Why do some frum Jews feel only contempt for the less fortunate and the other aliens, how can a Jew be a supporter of the politics that is so at odds with our heritage?

    Ori: I know people who perform acts of chesed on both sides of the political spectrum. If I understand your allusion correctly, it’s not about whether people should do chesed, but whether the government should engage in it. In other words, whether it is OK for the government to require some people to pay taxes so it can provide chesed to others.

    My Jewish education is sadly lacking, but is this enforced chesed part of our heritage? Is it more so than values supported by the other side, such as restricting abortions(1) or keeping the man-woman definition of marriage?

    Note: I’m responding to what I think you meant, not what you actually said. If I misunderstood you, I ask for forgiveness but I’d appreciate it if you clarified your comment.

    (1) I don’t know for sure that abortion on demand is not a Jewish value, but I know the religious parties in Israel are the ones trying to restrict it, so I assume that’s the case.

  7. tzippi says:

    The question is almost moot, after last week. The Chabad spokesmen and press releases I’ve heard and read have been eloquent, moving, and steadfast in the determination to maintain humanity and a connection to G-d (which may not be two completely separate things). So the world’s got quite a taste of what we stand for the last few days.

  8. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    “Many frum Jews have a hard time conceiving of what it is exactly that we could share with the rest of the world if we were to decide that this should be our policy. We wouldn’t teach about Shabbos, or kashrus, or the current Daf Yomi? What else is there?”

    This is a good question. Some answer it with universal ethics, others with generalized theology. But nothing along these lines will be an expression of our unique Jewishness. None of the above will be something that could not be expressed by any other member of an interfaith dialogue.
    I think there is a universal message in all the particulars which is something we can share. Shabbos is an expression of creation and the limits of being a workoholic as well as the concept of the human being as a partner in creation. Kashrus generalized relates to the difference between the way we benefit from the physical as spiritual human beings as opposed to smarter animals. The Daf Yomi is about how G-d reveals Himself through the Torah and the original and uniquely Jewish way in which the Jew reads Scripture. In short, everything written in the Torah to be taken by the Jew in a strictly legal fashion and for ourselves only is also to be read as metaphor for all of humanity. I could add justice and family life and many more areas down to relatively small details. If we had true communication and dialogue we could take away the fear of those details which it seems that no one could ever fulfill and replace it with an awareness that they are the instruments of the love of a loving Creator. But to do that we need to strive to be better Jews and better human beings. Let’s get to work on both.

  9. LOberstein says:

    specific issues like abortion and gay rights are not the essense of a political world view.They are only two of many issues that occur today because of a changing view of society’s role in the private lives of its citizens.many people believe that they should have the freedom to live by their religion’s code of behavior and not impose that code on followers of other religions. In a secular society we risk the freedom of all when we impose our strictures on others. However, the above can lead to a slippery slope where nothing is forbidden. It takes a wise soicety and great leaders to navigate these waters.

  10. Ori says:

    LOberstein, I agree with you that abortion and gay marriage are just two political issues out of many. I mentioned them to explain why Orthodox Jews can decide to vote for conservative candidates.

    Both conservative and liberal politicians are going to hold views that contradict the Torah. I think it’s up to each individual to decide which contradicts it less – but neither side “owns” the Jewish vote.

  11. Dovid Kornreich says:

    I agree with this:
    Chabad is a sterling model for sharing “it” with the world–we should not be deterred by this tragedy.

    Comment by David N. Friedman — November 30, 2008 @ 12:24 pm

    And I think it is significant that the Jewish pop music artist Matisyahu, embarked on his mission to be a moral and spiritual voice within pop culture as a Lubavicher chassid.

  12. Toby Katz says:

    “specific issues like abortion and gay rights are not the essense of a political world view. They are only two of many issues that occur today because of a changing view of society’s role in the private lives of its citizens.many people believe that they should have the freedom to live by their religion’s code of behavior and not impose that code on followers of other religions. In a secular society we risk the freedom of all when we impose our strictures on others.”

    Comment by LOberstein — December 1, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

    —–
    It is not a matter of imposing our strictures, but if we are going to be a light unto the nations we have to state clearly what basic morality requires. We can legitimately disagree as to whether abortion should be slightly restricted or completely unrestricted, for example, but it is a chillul Hashem that people believe that Judaism is in favor of abortion on demand. Because of expediency and an exaggerated fear of the “slippery slope” we have muted our moral voice. In reality, Jews who advocate abortion on demand as a legal position for reasons of expediency should nevertheless make it clear that even if they are pro-choice politically, there is still a moral choice and an immoral choice, and both choices are NOT equal in G-d’s eyes.

    With regard to tzedaka, Jews on both ends of the political spectrum — those who favor increased government spending and those who do not — should make it clear that a truly moral attitude towards the poor is for people to reach into their /own/ pockets and give some of their /own/ money to charitable causes — and that merely voting for somebody /else/ to pay higher taxes and be forced to give /his/ money to the poor is NOT true charity!

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