Meaningless Ritual

The original founders of the “Jewish Friends of Reform,” in Germany of 1843, invited to join them “all who do not accord any authority or obligatory power to the confused and frequently meaningless rabbinical interpretations and injunctions, all who strive for a form of faith whose enlivening principle is pure Mosaism.” They were supposed to place ethics before ritual.

Not even 200 years later, a national news article on the eve of Yom Kippur is devoted — to our shoes. Specifically, what sort of footwear a Jew might wear, because of “ambivalence” about this ritual. Personally, I’m with Howard Sklamberg, who couldn’t conscience the sight of someone driving up to synagogue on Yom Kippur, and getting out wearing sneakers. He just, unfortunately, went the wrong way in resolving this obvious paradox, giving up the sneakers instead of, apparently, his car.

The article neatly juxtaposes two Jewish clergy, which for these purposes the Chabad Rebbetzin certainly is. The Senior Rabbi of a large Reform Temple is quoted as contemplating the non-leather shoes she would like to go out and buy, if she has time, though only “some” of her heels have been synthetic in the past. Meanwhile, the wife of a Chabad shaliach will be wearing Crocs, and “that’s about as much thought as she’s going to give to her footwear… ‘it’s not about the shoes.'”

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5 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    my drasha on YK (in support of Israeli bonds) covered how chazal dealt with the churban and the utter decimation that resulted 65 years later and the Rav ztl’s explanation of why we mention the sins of our father before Ashamnu. In both era there were plenty of sects from essenes, messianics, tziddukim, zealots, etc. (hardly closer to rabbinic Judaism than many a modern day sect) to blame. Chazal did little if anything of the sort; they looked inward at how they/we should behave better.

    on YK, I also read All These Vows, with essays written primarily by reform clergy (with one orthodox faculty member, as well), and saw the glass half full; while a few of the articles reflected reform Judaism of old, in a good number one could see a sincere respect for tradition. If there was ever a time for what rav Kook ztl called ahavat khinom, as is likely practiced by Chabad Rebbitzen, i think that time has come.

  2. DF says:

    Out of all the posters on this site, you are the only one who constatnly feels the need to make fun of Reform Jews. Why is that?
    [PS – There are plenty of things they can make fun of orthodox Jews, too.]

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    Put another way, 100% of the BT contributors who reside in the US talk about Reform. Shira Schmidt started off her “activism” by responding to the Reform-sponsored Women of the Wall, but there’s not much else Reform is doing in Israel these days.

    Many of my loved ones are Reform or less in their observance. I know what’s going on and feel the tragedy of a “Rabbi” talking about the stylish shoes she’d like to get for Yom Kippur. My time is spent working with people educated Reform. This is about millions of Jews being lost in the silent Holocaust, and influencing their opinions before it’s too late. It’s not “fun,” but it is effective. The contrast between that Rabbi and the Chabad Rebbetzin was pretty blatant.

    “There are plenty of things they can make fun of orthodox Jews, too.” Sorry, was that meant to imply that they don’t?

    Rabbi Adlerstein constantly writes about Interfaith affairs, Rabbi Rosenblum constantly writes about charedi Judaism in Israel, and Rabbi Shafran is the most frequent to comment on political matters. This isn’t rocket science…

  4. DF says:

    “Its not fun but its efffective”

    Its effective to make fun of Reform Jews on an orthodox website?

    “Was that meant to imply that they don’t?”

    Correct. They don’t. They have their own agenda, whatever one thinks of it, and they focus on advancing iit. They don’t waste their time on trivial and small-miinded things like mocking the religious instincts of other Jews.

    There are a few rabbis in the US who think they are heroes for constantly attacking modern orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, modern orthodoxy has not suffered, and even the frum crowd don’t really have any respect for these rabbis. Tzu ulimad….

  5. Yaakov Menken says:

    First of all, let’s remember this is the Internet. I’m not “making fun of Reform Jews,” I’m pointing out to Reform Jews that their own rabbis have lost sight of the spiritual goals of Judaism by any definition, in a media which they read. If this were behind an Orthodox-only firewall DF would have a point, but again, welcome to the Internet.

    “Correct. They don’t.”

    That is possibly the most clueless comment we will see on CC in 5772, and the year has barely started.

    By the then-head of the Reform movement, speaking exclusively to Reform Jews at the then-UAHC convention. In an entire essay devoted to the so-called “authenticity” of Reform Judaism, Simeon Maslin himself cannot point to a single thing that Reform does well… only to what Orthodoxy, in his opinion, does not. Even DF would be hard-pressed to find a stereotype about the Orthodox that Maslin doesn’t mention. He cannot even define what Reform Judaism is other than “a movement dedicated to tikkun olam.” Yes, the Reform have made “we’re not Orthodox” their raison d’etre, and they are experiencing the lack DF describes.

    It is not the fact that someone is critical, but the accuracy of the criticism, that makes an opinion respected or not, and whether that’s all the person does with his or her time. Undoubtedly DF didn’t intend to include Rav Aharon Kotler or Rav Yitzchok Hutner zt”l among the “critics of Modern Orthodoxy” not respected, but they were indeed sharp critics. There are, of course, modern Orthodox Rabbis who have built their careers by attacking charedi positions as well, including many DF would call successes.

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