Here We Go Again… (Yes, Yibaneh Ha-Mikdash)

It felt so good to write about different, constructive topics for a while: Chanukah, hashkafah, and a planned article on the Torah’s view of police conduct. It was refreshing. This, plus some new divrei Torah and several halachic articles in other venues, provided a welcome break from previous discussion about concerns within Orthodoxy.

It was thus with shock and regret that I read Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz’ new article, Please, God, Help me to understand why we must pray for a third Temple! It is not that I was so shocked by the article’s content, as Rabbi Yanklowitz has already published plenty of material that does not square with Orthodox thought and practice. The shock, rather, was due to the fact that someone who identifies as an Orthodox rabbi and who has exposed himself to harsh criticism for his previous controversial writings would again, without inhibition, publicly pen something so at odds with Torah theology.

The centrality in Judaism of the Beis Ha-Mikdash, perpetuating the role of the Mishkan as the locus of perceptible and palpably-sensed Hashra’as Ha-Shechinah (Manifestation of the Divine Presence), cannot be overstated. The notion of Hashem residing in our midst, as it were, and our ability to come close to Him in entreaty and sacrifice, are among the most fundamental elements of our theology. Sacrifice on Har Ha-Moriyah (Mount Moriah), where the Beis Ha-Mikdash is stationed, goes back to Adam Ha-Rishon (Adam, the first human), and communing with our Creator at that site, and offering of ourselves to Him as symbolically reflected through korbonos (sacrifices), is at the core of our tradition of Avodas Hashem (Divine Service). To reject these concepts is to reject the most intrinsic components of Judaism and the Jewish approach to communing with God.

Here is my response to Rabbi Yanklowitz’ new article. Let’s hope that there will eventually no longer be cause for more such responses.

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15 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    Rabbi Shmuel Yanklowitz’s article referred to above, reminds me of an experience I had many years ago. Out of sheer curiosity, I attended a Reconstructionist prayer service, just to see what it would be like. The entire event consisted of the so-called Rabbi of their Temple railing on and on about how he just cannot get himself to believe in G-d. I have often thought about that experience. I have nothing against any individual Jew having doubts about G-d’s Existence, but to have the spiritual leader of a synagogue publicly express such doubts in front of an entire congregation of Jews, strikes me as just plain wrong.

    And that is how I feel about Rabbi Yanklowitz’s article referred to above. Like Rabbi Yanklowitz, I also have long found the whole animal sacrificial system of the Torah to be highly objectionable. However, in all honesty, I am a nobody in the Jewish community. What I mean is, I am a Jew with no official Jewish position of any kind, so there is no real harm done in my entertaining such doubts. But for somebody who has the kind of Orthodox Jewish credentials that he has, to go so public that he devotes an entire column to such doubts, strikes me as just plain wrong. While I have no doubt that he knows far more Torah than I do, it just seems to me that he should humble himself just enough, to more carefully and extensively study the classic Jewish sources on that and related subjects, before he decides to publicly go against many thousands of years of Jewish tradition. For to not do so, is to come across as if he thinks he is morally and spiritually superior to our great Torah giants, even if that was not his original intention in writing such an article. And even nothing me, knows that people such as Rashi, the Rambam, and the Ramban, were far more G-dly than I will ever be.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    I once asked my Rav how we as a people could restore our emotional attachment to the sacrifices. He said this transformation would happen as part of the overall final redemption.

    Even if we have questions, we must have emunah and not make a shameful show of skepticism. Open Orthodoxy should not be open to arrogant stupidity.

  3. tzippi says:

    Wow. I’m looking forward to reading this after the comments. I read Rav Hirsch on the korban mussaf, the additional korban, at the end of Parashas Pinchas, and it really animated me. I felt very excited about sacrifices, though I wonder how the process he described of each city connecting to the sacrifice being brought in Jerusalem will play out in a more technological age.

  4. DF says:

    I clicked on the link. As I do not know Rabbi Dr. Shmuli Yankelowitz, I was going to read the letter with an open mind. Then, while scanning it, I happened to notice he signed his letter “Shmuel Micha ben Avraham v’Chana Sarah.” Clearly this rabbi is not orthodox. This is obviously his nod to the way the Conservative movement has appended the Matriarchs to the amidah prayer service. It also strikes me that he could have just signed his letter with a simple “Shmuel Yankelowitz.” But that would have been boring. That he used a deliberately provacative phrase, for no reason, indicates to me he is more motivated by attention-hunting than by genuine interest in Torah or God.

    I didnt bother reading his letter after realizing this.

  5. Nachum says:

    DF: Of all things, I wouldn’t pick on that point. When “writing letters to God” that’s an old practice. I think R’ Levi Yitzchak used both parents’ names when he did things like this, or maybe just his mother’s. We use our mothers’ names in that long tefillah said on the Regalim when we take out the Torah. I’d pick on him on a lot of points (include choice of names, mavin yavin), but not this.

  6. DF says:

    Nachum, certainly there are times when we use only our mothers name. Had the writer done that, החרשתי. But he deliberately chose to use both, A gratuitous move serving no other purpose than to provoke and draw tension to himself. Such people I am not interested in reading, whatever his letter may or may not say.

  7. joe36ct says:

    You know what people I am not interested in reading? People who write “tension” when they mean “attention”.

  8. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    The rabbi is no rabbi and the yeshiva is no yeshiva. If they didn’t fly under a false flag (calling themselves “Orthodox”) no one would pay the slightest attention to Yanklowitz or YCT. The Conservative movement has already been around a long, long time. Been there, done that. Yawn. The Nouveau Conservatives will have the same “success,” as the old ones, attracting Orthodox dropouts, then slowly sailing to oblivion.

    Nowadays if you want to get any attention from the media, it’s not enough to be a feminist, gay, vegan, radical environmentalist, abortionist, bigamist or pro-Palestinian Israeli. That’s all old stuff. You have to identify yourself as a hyphenated Orthodox (Orthodox-gay, Orthodox-feminist, Orthodox-abortionist, Orthodox-bigamist, Orthodox-pro-Palestinian) if you want to create a buzz.

    Just stam an apikores? How dull is that?! Ah, Orthodox-apikores — now you’re something hot! Enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame, losers.

  9. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    I suspect Mr. Yanklowitz signed the piece the way he did in order to capitalize on his previous attention seeking disclosure. Which probably explains why Zev Farber was involved in the IRF.

  10. Tzedek Tirdofe says:

    And I thought that we are required to love all Jews including ones we seriously disagree with. What halacha are people violating when they include their mothers name. If you do not want to hear the mothers included in the shmone esrei don’t go to their shuls. But boy are you as much a sonei yisrael as those who condemn Orthodox practices. I have no understanding why you are celebrating the losses in Conservative Judaism. It is clear that the overwhelming number of their loses are not coming to your shul. I would do everything possible to make them feel welcome to help strengthen them. The existence of Conservative and Reform succesful or not is the lack of attraction of Orthodoxy. Keep up the good work in chasing Jews from Torah just like you have successfully done in Israel. There is no other country other than in Israel where the Jewish population hates our Torah more than in Israel. It pains me to hear so many Israelis who deny today being even Jews or wanting a Jewish state. Israeli yes, but not Jewish. Look on youtube to see how many Israelis are willing to date and even marry non-Jews and it is growing. Keep you heads buried in your talmud, I did for many years. Every time I see a Jew disappear I cry because those of us who believe have no ability to keep the Jewish people growing. Without those Jews who will be around to fight for Eretz Yisrael the goyim with their Christen Agenda. Live in the belief that they will be around when we will need them the most especially since it is the very same people in the US who had relatives who were anti semites in the not so distant past. They did not help much when 6 million went up in smoke. You have nothing to offer am yisrael and there wil be no am yisrael if you alone remain Jews. I have experienced personally a few years ago an active holocaust denier in the Christian midwest. A non Jew liberal who was with me and stood up against let me know how common it was in rural US on the political right. THe denier was not older than 20 years old and did not learned it from Adults not in his high school. Search on Amazon and you will see the active Jewish hatred on the right. Keep chasing the rest of am yisrael away, even those who eat treif, just because they include their mother’s names. Beingin shul saying shmay yisrael is still better than than those who your form of Torah have been chased away and do close to nothing Jewish. I wish they did keep kosher but you have nothing to offer to convince them to do so. Extremists always do more harm than good Sonei Yisrael kamocha. You have chased this former Yeshiva Bucher away.

    Conservative and Reform Jews may not have the answer but your hatred of other Jews is much worse.

  11. fed up says:

    Perhaps when people stop murdering other people in the name of Hashem or Allah, we can get back to murdering animals. I am so fed up with the empty headed hatred and disgusting behavior of the charedi wrold I live in, I am surprised as few people go otd as they do. This is the behavior of people towards open and honest self reflection, it is a busha on the whole community. The charedi world is build on appearances and suppression of the independent thinker, hence the outrage towards any type of education other than towing the party line. Self defeatist and hopefully will implode within the next generation from lack of funds.

  12. Toby Bulman Katz says:

    To Tzedek Tirdofe:

    When America was doing its best to bring down the Soviet Union (an evil regime that tortured and killed millions of people, including many Jews), the spin in the Soviet press was that America “hated the Russian people.” Of course the opposite was true. Actions against the evil regime benefited the Russian people. What actually happened is that HKB’H, using Ronald Reagan and many other courageous and principled Americans as His shlichim, liberated the Russian people. Even with a rasha like Putin at the head, Russia today is a far more civilized place to live, for Jews and all religious people, than it ever was under the Soviet Communist regime.

    It is a logical fallacy — surprising in one who has studied gemara — to confuse the categories of “Jew” (whom indeed it is a mitzva to love) with “anti-Torah organization that leads Jews astray.” Love the Jew, love his poison?! I don’t think so.

    Let’s give another example. Suppose you love your brother, and your brother loves whiskey — to the point that he is an alcoholic. Are you seriously going to tell me that if you love your brother you should also love his whiskey?!

    A huge number of formerly Conservative and Reform Jews are now observant Orthodox Jews, and in Israel a huge number of formerly hostile secular Jews are now Orthodox as well. As everyone knows — the secular are gnashing their teeth over this — the Orthodox population in Israel, in America and all over the world, is growing rapidly, Baruch Hashem vechen yirbu. The leaders of the heterodox movements of course try to conince their members that Orthodox Jews hate them, but how could someone who was a yeshiva bachur fall for such lies?!

    I share with you a feeling of sorrow and distress over the losses of so many Jews to intermarriage and out the door of Judaism altogether, but to blame those losses on the Orthodox Jews is completely illogical and upside-down. We are the ONLY ones out there every day working to reverse that trend, and B’H with great success!

    The C and R movements are only greasing the skids, “helping” their members slide down the exit chutes from Judaism altogether. Their “success” is the growing number of Jewish children who go to church with Grandma on Xmas day, as well as the growing number of Jewish men who do not have Jewish children at all.

    If you come to Miami or to any city outside of NY you will find that a very large percentage of the people in every Orthodox shul are baalei teshuva. Our success at attracting non-observant Jews to the sweetness of Torah is certainly not the result of any imaginary “hatred” we feel towards our brothers and sisters!

  13. Rafael Araujo says:

    fed up – and what does your rant have to do with increasingly concerning messages coming out of the Open Orthodox camp? This is not independent thinking, unless you consider misconstruing sources and having them align with your political and social agenda is independent thinking. And you want to talk about towing the party line…Yankolowitz’s columns are a perfect example of towing the liberal, feminist, pro-gay, vegetarian, sensitive, relativist agenda, which is reiterated over and over again by many musmachim of YCT.

  14. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    Fed up,

    Hareidim murdering in the name of Hashem? Any other fantastical lies you would like to fabricate?

    Bringing korbonos is “Murdering Animals”?

    Who are you? You sound just like Yanklowitz.

    The reason people are not going off the derech because of this hatred is because it mostly exists in your own fantasies.

    Nebach. I wish you רפואת הנפש.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    Yanklowitz, like many of those involved in OO, combines the worst of both a provacateur and marginalia.

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