Are You Allowed To Make Up Your Own Mind?
"Judaism is all about asking questions!" Whenever somebody says that - and when the context indicates that they are not talking about questions such as "What happens if the fleishig spoon falls into the milchig sink?", but rather theological questions of a more fundamental nature - it's a fair guess that they are returnees to Judaism who came to observance via a particular outreach organization. This organization knows that critical thinking and independent decision-making are greatly valued in modern society, and so it tells people that Judaism is all about that.
But is that really true? In the yeshivah that I went to Manchester, when one student praised another for asking a lot of theological questions, the rebbe got up and thundered, "A Yiddishe bochur doesn't ask why!"
Of course, it's difficult to say anything about what "Judaism is," since there are so many different forms of Judaism - rationalist, mystic, charedi, Zionist, chassidic, chabad, modern Orthodox, etc. Still, the main problem with the claim commonly issued by this outreach organization is that the particular form of Judaism to which they are trying to attract people - i.e., charedi Judaism - is most certainly not into asking theological questions.
I was reminded of this in the current Bet Shemesh elections - which, thankfully, are over today. This week's edition of weekly newspaper that was started by the mayor's spokesman, Chadash - yes, the one of Holocaust-imagery infamy - contained over one hundred pages of Abutbul propaganda. The English section was introduced with the following announcement:
WARNING: This pamphlet is intended for people who are capable of thinking on their own. If you believe that you are not that kind of person, please pass it to a friend who is. He may thank you profusely one day.
So, we are told, the Abutbol campaign wants people to think on their own! It wants people who will make up their own minds, not people who blindly follow others like sheep.
The problem is, much of the rest of the 100 pages of the propaganda is about how you absolutely must not make your own decision. There is pronouncement after pronouncement about how everyone is obligated to follow the voting directives of the Charedi Gedolim and how it is forbidden to separate oneself from the (charedi) community. And Rav Kornfeld even gave an interview to HaModia about how Anglos need to be educated to know that they do not have the right to make their own decision on whom to vote for.
I'm not so bothered by a society that believes that people are not allowed to make their own decisions. I'm much more bothered by a society which has that belief, and yet attempts to deceive people and pretend otherwise.