Loving It, Hating It
While some of the posts here deal with the philosophy of rationalist Judaism, others deal with contemporary Orthodox society, from the perspective of rationalist Judaism as I understand it. The disparity in the reactions to these posts is quite extraordinary. It's even more amazing in that radically different reactions come from people who are in all other respects extremely similar, and even davven in the same shuls!
On the one hand, one person wrote as follows...
Rav Slifkin - Thank you so much for your bold and comprehensive contributions to this very unfortunate conflict that has broken out amongst Torah-observant Jews. As someone who became religious in University in Southern California in the 1970's, I thought Torah was beautiful and meaningful and the Jewish revival in Eretz Israel coming as a result of the Zionism movement was an inspiring fulfillment of the visions of the prophets. As the years passed it was unpleasant to see how things that seemed so obvious to me were not to large parts of the religious communities and how this lead to tragic discord. I really appreciate your invaluable contributions which allow us to get to a full understanding of the issues involved and I hope you will continue in this vein.
But someone else wrote to me:
You’ve established yourself as a fanatic. You’ve moved yourself out of the fold. You are not a mentsch. You are spreading hate and darkness.
Meanwhile, another person says:
Thank you Rabbi Slifkin for restoring honesty, real fear of G-d, compassion for our fellow man and sanity to the dialogue Klal Yisroel is having about what it means to be a Torah Jew. Without people like you, I would find it very challenging to maintain my faith in the Yeshiva-educated Orthodox community as being able to support an intelligent and moral way of life. You are mekadesh Shem Shamayim by restoring my faith and the faith of so many others in the great moral clarity and decency of rabbinical teachers such as yourself.
But someone else says:
I understand you may have your differences with the chareidi community but the ongoing attempt to smear this community is sort of hurtful to many and probably falls under the Issur of talking lashon harah about an entire community. Now you probably will not listen to me but I truly think you should stick to this subtitle and stop consistently bashing a very large segment of the Jewish population.
Yet another person feels differently:
I know some people comment that you should stick to the main subject of this blog (rationalist judaism), but I think you perform a valuable service with posts like this. If nothing else, you show that a person can study for years in yeshiva and still have enough common sense, decency, and empathy to see this army issue for what it is. This gives chizuk to those, such as myself, who hear the constant whining and arrogance that comes from the so-called "Torah world", and wonder if there is something about all of this Torah study that turns these people deaf to the basic unfairness of the blanket deferment they are so desperate to maintain.
Such different reactions! The post earlier this week, The Angst of Anglo Charedi Converts, is a potent example of this. One person commented that they particularly appreciated it:
Rav Natan, I really enjoyed this post. I found it to be qualitatively different from your other posts which are usually more centered around a Torah point. This was sociologically astute and full of very precise and sharp observations. I flirted in the past with many of the emotions and processes described here. Thanks!
But someone very near and dear to me did not like it at all:
What was the point of that post? I hated it.
Yet a rabbi heading a very important organization took a different view:
The Anglo Charedi post is perhaps one of the most important ever. Perhaps we should print it and distribute.
Thus, very similar people - all of them good people - can have radically different views as to what kind of material they like to read. So if you don't like what I write here, you don't need to read it, but please realize that other people may find it very helpful!
On a different note - time is running out for the opportunity to sign up for the vacation of a lifetime! This summer, I will be guiding an adventure in Africa, visiting South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. The luxurious and fully kosher trip includes not only game drives in a private reserve, but also a visit to Victoria Falls, a riverboat safari, a visit to a penguin colony, and much more! Plus, you'll learn about fascinating Torah perspectives on the animal kingdom. Please see the Torah in Motion website for an itinerary and sign-up details. Signup will be closing soon, so book now!