- Historian View of Judaism as Fossil
- Jews Adopting the The Fossil View of Judaism
- Wait – Why Are Reform There Making a Stink, Anyway?
- The Living, Breathing Nation of Jews
- Why Aren’t Torah Observant Jews Accepting of Other Forms of Jewish Practice?
- Addendum – Conversation with a Woman of the Wall Supporter
- Further Reading
- Please comment
In the past, I wrote about why Torah observant Jews give no credence to groups like ‘Women of the Wall’. This is an addendum to that post, as much new salient information and ways of debunking their motives have surfaced.
Though partially retracted later, after a debate with Dr. Yaakov Herzog, Arnold J. Toynbee, famous British historian, in the 1930s argued in his 12 volume A Study of History that:
“There remains the case where victims of religious discrimination represent an extinct society which only survives as a fossil. …. by far the most notable is one of the fossil remnants of the Syriac Society, the Jews.”
Mark Avrum Ehrlich, tells us similarly about Immanuel Kant, the famous 1700s German philosopher in Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture, Volume 1 (2008):
More sympathetic enlighteners thought Jews could enter civilized society by wholly abandoning what had long become a fossil religion: thus, Immanuel Kant wrote: “The euthanasia of Judaism is the religion of pure morality. Hence, once theological barriers had fallen, the complete surrender of Judaism might admit Jews to enlightened European society.
At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, the philosophy of “enlightening” others who are arcane, archaic, and fossilized to be more of the newer society has been one of the greatest challenges, physically and spiritually, to Jews over the last three hundred years. It speaks of the feeling that you know that, based on your own intuition, your way is right and the others are wrong and must be “helped” for their own good. A little modesty and tolerance is in order, but as hurtful as the words of Kant, and Toynbee are to anyone with a broader view of the world, it is typical of the far left who are little different from the far right, in my opinion. The difference is the one on the right knows he’s a hater.
The far left “intellectual elite” which continues just the same today tend to profess that their own knowledge and understanding is paramount, but see through a myopic view a world – myopic in timeline (see results of Kant in Germany and results of Marx in Russia, as examples), and myopic in depth and meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Unfortunately, the masses of Jews in Germany adopted the philosophy of the prevalent German philosophies of the time hook, line and sinker (emphasis on ‘sinker’). This is the essence of the Reform movement – they say Judaism is a lie, and it’s time to move on. In some cases, it’s preached to keep just the “ethical teachings” (well, some of them, sometimes) and in other cases, to give up even that little bit and find whatever is the “in” belief of the time – Christianity, Communism, or Atheism depending on the century. The Reform movement (of which the author was raised in), which brought us church organs in synagogues and declared Berlin to be their new Jerusalem, has this to say even today:
“one should not consider the Western Wall as possessing any sanctity” – Reform Movement, 1988 (Source: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2013/05/10/provocation-not-welcome/)
To this day, the holy city holds no special merit for the reform movement, except as the fossil of Toynbee:
Hoffman [executive director of an arm of the Reform movement said] . . . take down the partition that separates men and women and offer access to everyone for six hours each day as “an open national monument.” (Source: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-04-19/news/fl-women-wall-2-20130418_1_western-wall-israel-religious-action-center-men-and-women)
It gets worse – Kant’s euthanizing of anything spiritual about Judaism is taken up by Hoffman in full form:
. For six hours a day the Wall will be a national monument, open to others but not to Orthodox men.
She is, of course, proposing plain and simple discrimination against people based on their gender and religious beliefs. Living in “enlightened” Germany, this mentality was acceptable, but this is a) totally unacceptable in today’s society, and b) not the case at the Western Wall today, where Reform are free to gather for prayers but are asked to have some sensitivity to the place that, for the rest of us, we believe, has a degree of sanctity.
We should back up a second, while we are at it – why on earth, does she want to pray there, anyway? According to the Reform movement, it has no sanctity, and no specialness. Further, to quote one of the Women of the Wall members, Shulamit Magnus, Judaism is “archaic, arcane, and repulsive.” Want to know something? Toynbee and Kant agree with you, but you wouldn’t find him coming to a Jewish holy site to pray. At least, as far as I know, they were consistent in their beliefs.
Anat Hoffman has said that she views traditional Jewish prayer as a “men-only” activity. Well, on her last visit to the Kotel (which, by the way, is only once a month), with all the political nonsense and headlines in the secular newspapers, and after 25 years of her theatrics disguised as some new form of Judaism, she was able to muster up a few dozen to come with her. There has to be this combination of emotional connection to what was important to your grandparents, but being a total non-believer to be in this camp. This illogical middle falls away in the next generation or two and most Jews today either a) couldn’t care less, or b) are Torah observant (or at least, believing that if they’re going to do something Jewish, it should be in accordance with 3,300+ years of Jewish practice).
A new start-up, Women for the Wall (the Trademark Attorney in me shutters at the confusingly similar name) managed to muster about 10,000 people at 6:30am, mostly women, to counter the protestations (pun intended) of our Kantist brethren. In a clear showing that if you’re going to make rules at a religious site, it should be in accordance with those who hold the religion and the place with sanctity, huge numbers of women showed that they are active participants in a living, breathing system that we’ve continued, without interruption, since Yitzchok [Isaac] was put on the altar by his father, Abraham next to the very spot where the women prayed. Tolerance is needed for the living, breathing participants, and further, anyone who thinks Judaism is a “fossil” or “monument” is completely wrong. More so, this video demonstrates to those who think Jewish woman aren’t part of traditional Jewish ritual . . . well, have a look:
Still, numbers do not matter so much as effort and importance ascribed. A population of 600,000 Jews beat a population of 46 million of the countries attacking. The Jews won, if also for other reasons, because the Jews wanted it more. (The Zohar says there is nothing in this world, but desire.) Torah observant Jews are a minority of Jews who are a minority of the world, and while at the Tel Aviv stock exchange, surely the secular Jew, on average, “wants it” more, at a religious site, it’s going to the be the religious who want it more. Thousands of Torah observant Jews pray at the Kotel every single day, compared to the reform who are casual visitors of what is some sort of “monument” of which, at least when I was one, I little understood.
Putting it on context, courtesy of Women for the Wall, that little red circle, once a month, is what Women of the Wall looks like:
It is true that I ask for tolerance of Torah observant Judaism, especially at a Jewish holy site. Why not the tolerance in return? Paraphrasing Rabbi Sapirman who has excellent free CDs on a rational basis for believing in the authenticity of the Torah, if you come home one day and someone is in your house, eating your food, and claiming to be you, and won’t let you in your own home, what do you do? After a sanity check to confirm that that you are really you, you aren’t going to be “tolerant” of him. This is not someone you want in your home, claiming to be you. He may be ignorant, he may be non-sensical, he may be any number of things, but you don’t go and tell him that yes, he really is you and he can have your home just because that is the “tolerant” thing to do.
Similarly, if someone tells you “Mohammed was a liar and the Koran is nothing but a forgery by a group of men” it’s a pretty safe bet that he’s not speaking in the name of Islam. Now if someone believes that Moses, or what was written about him, is a lie, do we say they speak in the name of Judaism? No more so than Kant or Toynbee speak in the name of Judaism! Sure, we can be tolerant in the way we speak with him, deal with him, do business with him, and even invite him into our home to come eat with us . . . but tolerant than he is us? Tolerant that the man in our house claiming to be me, is really me, and I am not? Surely not.
As an addendum, I asked someone who was there with Women of the Wall why she was there. After we got through the “but I was hit in the head” emotional arguments, we got down to business. (it is despicable that a dozen or so crazies on the right counteracted the crazies on the left with their own abonomizing of Judaism by pretending to be religious but acting quite to the contrary.). Here’s the exchange:
Me: By the way, if Wow accepted Sharansky’s compromise [making a place at the Wall for ‘egalitarian’ prayer], then on Rosh Chodesh Sivan why did they still go to the “Orthodox” part of the Kotel and do something which she knew would offend lots and lots of people? She got what is supposed to be acceptable to her, so why make a machlokos [dispute] for worldwide media?
WoW attendee: some of the WOW are Orthodox and don’t feel comfortable praying in an egalitarian section (they felt deeply uncomfortable that Friday’s prayers ended with no mechitza because there was no room for them to pray in the women’s section. Of course, egalitarian Jews will welcome the new section, and perhaps a part of that section could be reserved for women’s only tefilla groups, but it will take up to 2 years to build. In the meantime, and until the law changes, WOW have a legal right to pray at the Kotel in prayer shawls and tefillin.
Me: I accept the rationale, but if her intentions are sincere (which I don’t believe) I don’t understand why continue to make a provocation and get the macklokos [dispute] in the media. Daven [pray] at the section set aside for this, and get the construction sped up as much as possible. Doing so has nothing to do with religion per se, and is just a matter of menschlikite [being a decent person towards others].
Me: I’ll grant that not everyone who prays ‘egalitarian’ is like Hoffman and some actually do hold that the Kotel has spiritual significance and is beyond a “monument”, but even for these people you’re saying even three sections isn’t good enough because some women want egalitarian with mechitzah means that to accommodate these people, we’d now need four sections. Where does it end? Everyone has their own opinion.
… and still no response.
Holiness needs a container for rules (see “what is Holy?” and “Mastering a Discipline“), as so too, does any functioning society. We make choices every day and ascribe importance to them. Whatever the rule, there will always be someone to say “I don’t like it.” Entropy and destruction, however, has no rules. It just wants to destroy what others have built.