Jiminy Cricket and the Jews

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8 Responses

  1. Larry Lennhoff says:

    Another translation for the word ‘sore’ is ‘scab’. When I think of the body of Am Yisrael bleeding from its losses due to persecution and assimilation I think of converts as the scab that comes to cover the wound, stop the bleeding, and begin the healing process, before it is in its turn absorbed into the body.

  2. Henry Frisch says:

    Why defend Fundamentalism? I seriously doubt it was Sullivan who defined the Fundamentalist as anyone with deep religious views. Once again the two friends of this article choose to create a straw man for their own purposes.

    Only if you choose to understand the term as being applicable to a Torah Bal Peh mode of thought would you worry about Fundamentalism. And there is absolutely no reason for those who read this blog to feel tied to the term. Karaites perhaps and any others who are absolutely literal in their understanding of Torah would fit the Fundamentalist frame of reference. We who believe, for example, that Ayin Tachas Ayin means Kesef, are not Fundamentalists.

    Let’s stay away from being in bed with bedfellows our forbears would have been keen to avoid at all cost.

  3. Fern R says:

    Henry–If you’d ever read Andrew Sullivan’s blog then you wouldn’t be accusing the author of this piece as setting up a straw man. Included in Sullivan’s definition of “fundamentalist” is any Jew who thinks Israel has a Biblical claim to land in the West Bank and, for that matter, pretty much any Orthodox interpretation of Judaism. The only authentic form of religion in Sullivan’s mind is one that puts love and charity and social justice before anything else. Even Conservative Judaism might be too fanatical for Andrew Sullivan.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Like it or not, we do have certain fundamental beliefs which are encapsulated in the concepts of Malchuyos, Zicronos and Shofaros. When some masquerade as MO and essentially shunt these concepts to the sidelines in the interest of pluralism, inclusiveness, interdenominalist and ecumenical loveins, we should remember that the Rov Gufei Torah that are included in these basic concepts are non-negotiable under any circumstances.

  5. Avi Shafran says:

    Thanks to Mr. Lennhoff for his interesting suggestion (if the word sapachas can be authoritatively connected to what we call a scab the understanding will certainly be a pithy one).

    And thanks, too, to Mr. Frisch for his criticism. To clarify, though, while there is certainly little in common between, on the one hand, Jews who believe in the divine origin of the Torah and, on the other, those called “Christian fundamentalists” or “Muslim fundamentalists,” (and much difference, for that matter between the latter two groups), Mr. Sullivan and others like him lump together as “fundamentalists” all who dare claim that a religious tradition trumps contemporary sensibilities.

    Far from a straw man of my (or Mr. Klinghoffer’s) making, Sullivan clearly considers, for instance, Catholics who maintain the Church’s attitude toward homosexual expression as fundamentalists, and surely considers Jews with similar counter-contemporary-mores tendencies about that topic (or abortion or any of a number of other moral issues) to be similar primitives. He (and most people today) do not use the word “fundamentalist” to mean “Biblical literalist” but rather to mean “a believer in certain fundamental, unchangeable religious tenets and laws.” Reading him (and others) makes this all too clear.

    So while we must indeed always try to make the important and obvious distinction between ourselves as believing Jews and the (deeply misguided, we feel) “true believers” of other faiths, at the same time, we must expose the intolerance of those who would throw our own baby out with others’s bathwater.

    We may not think of ourselves as “fundamentalists,” and indeed have little if anything in common with others who proudly wear the label. But neither do we subscribe to letting one’s conscience be one’s guide. And all who reject that latter approach are what Sullivan calls the former.

  6. Barry says:

    Ah! The Discovery Institute. I hadn’t realized that Klinghofer earned his living there. I wonder if you ever discussed creation and evolution during your Shabbat dinners.

    To me, someone who rejects modern Dawinianism out of hand is a little odd. An organization of people who not only rejects Darwin but seek to have Creationism taught in public schools as science instead of or an equal scientific basis as Darwin is more than a little dangerous. And if they insist that creation happened exactly as written in the Torah never read last week’s parasha.

  7. Avi Shafran says:

    Dear Barry,

    I don’t recall if the topics were broached back when I had the pleasure of David’s company, but you can rest assured that both he and I are well aware that the Torah is often not literal. If you are interested in my take on evolution, you can check out a previous Cross-Currents post and the comments thereon at


    In a nutshell, while I don’t consider acceptance of a G-d-driven evolution of species to be beyond the realm of possibility, neither do I feel that the faith in species-to-species evolution having occurred countless times, considering our inability to mimic that “random” happening, is anything at present but a blind faith.

    If that skepticism constitutes a rejection of “Darwinianism”, as you put it, and “a little odd” well, then, I suppose you’ll have to consider me (along with the 600 scientists who have signed on to the Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwinism” document) odd fellows.

    Still, though, please try to keep an open mind.

  8. Ahron says:


    The Discovery Institute does not seek to have “Creationism” taught in public schools. Anyone who has done even website browsing on this subject should be well aware that creationism is not even comparable to the framework of Intelligent Design. They are extremely different models. I do not subscribe to ID, but it terribly cheapens this debate when such obvious misinformation is spread about ID and the Discovery Institute.

    ID and the Discovery Institute pay a great deal of attention to scientific data, something that “Creationists” generally do not (except to assert that the data are wrong). ID is more of a judgment, based on mathematical and scientific criteria, of the observed scientific data. It is by no stretch equivalent to creationism.

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