Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reformism Is Not Judaism

ט"ז לחודש השני תשע"ג

Times Of Israel: Why the Reform Movement is so Popular in Israel

Michael Boyden, April 23, 2013

It seems only natural to entitle this response with the exact opposite of the title of David Brent’s article in Times of Israel last Tuesday. David tells us that Reform Judaism is unpopular in Israel. Not only is it unpopular, he tells us, but “most Israelis agree that Reform Judaism is bad.”

It is not clear on what basis he reaches that conclusion. All public opinion surveys in recent years have shown precisely the opposite, so one can only assume that his observations are based upon his narrow circle of acquaintances rather than upon any objective assessment. (cont.)

Hmm... Popular, huh? That might very well be true.

First, let's take a look at some of the various strategies philosophies in which the "Reformismists" have manipulated struggled over the last few hundred years:
Rejecting the divine nature of the Torah sheb'al Peh (Oral Torah).
Respecting the historical aspect of the Torah sheb'al Peh, but not "feeling" bound by it.
Taking off their kippoth.
Putting their kippoth back on.
Making Shabbos on Sundays (like the goyim להבדיל)
Talking about spirituality, when that was seen to be attractive.
Talking about "social action" when that was seen to be attractive.
(Where was their "social justice" and "social action" for the sake of European Jews during the Holocaust?)
Refusing to make women "rabbis."
Making women "rabbis."
Refusing to make gays and lesbians "rabbis."
Making gays and lesbians "rabbis." 

Take your pick, depending on who you ask, the "Reform Movement" has tried them all. My main point here has something to do with hashqafah (perspective), but mainly about the hypocrisy involved throughout the history of "Reformism."

I have a theory, one which becomes increasingly more than just a theory, as each day passes.

Sure, the original "Reformismists" wanted to make life in Germany and France easier and more comfortable for Jews. But, in my opinion, that was simply the underlying selling point to it all.

The reality is that not only did they not believe in the unusurpable place which Torah sheb'al Peh holds in Judaism. They did not believe in Torah shebiKhtav (Written Torah) either! Yet, like the Tzadoqim (Sadducees), in my opinion, they knew all too well, just how powerful the Torah is. They knew that they could not attack it head; they had to attack it, a piece at a time.

Everything about the appearance of current day "Reformism" is connected to how to keep Jews stuck in galuth (exile), and duped into thinking that liberal, Western values and sensibilities are synonymous with Jewish values and sensibilities. Even though they are not. Intentional or not, it doesn't matter.

They call their path progressive, but it is anything but progressive. Many Jews are moving backwards, farther and farther away from The Almighty's precious Torah. And we have the "Reformismists" to thank for much of that.

Michael Boyden continues:
That a person should disparage “homosexual female tefillin wearing rabbis” probably says more about such an individual than it does about the rabbi, but that is another matter! (Incidentally, Bruria and Rashi’s daughters among others are reported to have laid tefillin.)
Throw a kippah, tallith, and tefillin on someone, who may or may not be Jewish, it doesn't matter in the least. It doesn't matter if that individual is a homosexual female or a heterosexual male. That individual may even be Jewish! The outward symbols, the accoutrements, do not magically turn that individual wearing them, into someone who leads those following to him, OR HER, down a Jewish path.

I do not even use the word "authentic" here, for that would give "Reformism" wriggle room for legitimacy, albeit minute. No doubt thy would take that ball and run with it.

As far as Rashi's Daughters are concerned, sure they were known to have worn tefillin. But, maybe Michael Boyden should take a look at their motivations for having done so. They were certainly not out to make a political statement about it, unlike certain other women. They were also tzanu'a (modest) about it. They had to be, because they were actually concerned about halakhah (Jewish Law). Whereas tzeni'uth (modesty) is the furthest concern from the minds of certain other women.

Well, so are "Reformismist" leaders are also concerned about halakhah, concerned about breaking it.

But there ARE some "Reformismists" who are concerned about halakhah. Of course, that depends on whom you ask, the day you ask, the year in history you ask, and, of course, his OR HER creative definition of halakhah. EVERYONE needs to have a creative definition of halakah! They're ALL the rage!

Maybe that is why "Reformism" is believed by some, to be so "popular." You get to do what you want, and even make it up as you go along!

There only seems to be one requirement: The acceptance of liberal, or "progressive," Western assimilationist ideology as being inherently Jewish,...even though it is not.

Whether this fills up their synagogues, or not, is irrelevant. Judaism is not a popularity contest; it is the prescribed way of life for a specific people, defined in a very specific manner

Of course, I have no problem whatsoever using the word "synagogue" when talking about "Reformism" places of gathering. Synagogue is, after all, a Greek word, Greek as in Hellenist, Hellenist as in those Jews killed in the battles leading up to one of the most politically-incorrect holidays celebrated in Judaism.

However, we should not think of these poor individuals, duped into believing that "Reformism" is Judaism, in the same way as the Hellenist Jews targeted by the Maccabees 2,176 years ago. It is not their fault. They do not know any better.

Boy, I'll bet that last sentence sure bruised a lot of egos, and switched on a lot of defense mechanisms. But, hopefully those individuals, some of them even Jews, will give themselves a break, and take the time to look into what Judaism really is. Leave a comment below, with your general location below, if you would like some help.

I have made few allusions to those who are "even" Jewish, or whom might be Jewish, throughout this post. That is due to those Jews who are told that they are "converting to Judaism," when in fact they are receiving nothing more than a sham conversion. Well, actually, it is something more than a sham conversion; it is a denigration of the Torah.*

Then there are those who are told that that they do not have to "convert," because they have a Jewish father.

It depends on which "Reformism" leader you ask. Maybe the time of day also makes a difference. I am not sure.

Oh, just one more thing, a suggestion for the Times Of Israel website. The subsequent times the word "rabbi" is applied to the likes of Michael Boyden, use these:

I am sure that I will not be able to convince you not allow the use of the word "rabbi." The number of your readers would certainly take a nose dive, and you would not be able to reach Jews who need to be reached.

I can understand that.

But, if you use quotation marks, them you would be doing the Jewish community, in Israel and abroad a great service.

Unlike Haredi and Settler bashing HaAretz, Ma'ariv, Yediot Aharonoth, Haredi and the certain Settler-bashing Jerusalem Post, and even Settler-friendly Arutz 7, you would at least be making a move the direction of publishing the truth. Thus, you would be aiding those poor, duped individuals, those blindly following the "Reformismists," those following the "Reformismists" for saying what they want to hear, and even those who were fooled into thinking that they are Jewish, wake up from their numbed out state of assimilation and exile.

Tell them them the truth. Tell them that "Reformism" is not Judaism.


*I am sure that there are a handful of "Reformism" spiritual guides who mean well. Unfortunately, the damage has been done.


Ticonderoga said...

Fascinating,cogent,ineluctably true.Needed to be said most desperately. I would love to read more, as I just,fortuitously,came upon it. Would you please , if you have not already done so, address in like fashion the so-called “Reconstruction “ movement?
I humbly request that I be granted a subscription,if such exists, to your writings.
I can be reached by e-mail as follows. Or,

With best regards, Dr. Morton Winner

Chanah said...

Is that so? I find this opinion very limited in scope, because it is purely discussing Ashkenazi Judaism and says nothing about Sephardim. In Sephardic Judaism, the traditions come from Spain and Greece and Jewish communities from other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations. There are no levels in Sephardic tradition, but members can be found who hold to halachah from liberal to very observant. In one shul you may have all kinds of halachah, but the rule I was told is that in public, in shul gatherings, the highest level held by members is the level observed. To my eye, after attending such a shul for about a year, there was mostly respect for everyone. One lady came in jeans and no one said anything to her. Yet all food served was kosher, and the gatherings looked very Orthodox, though they didn't use this label. Everyone seemed to feel welcome, and those of lower halachah were said to be "in process". The attitude was respect and those who were strictest were willing to teach those who were "processing upwards". Certainly no one was told they weren't Jewish because they turned on lights on Shabbat or something like that. In a community where we are losing out to assimilation, the Sephardim are doing more to grow our numbers than are the clique-ish superior attitude holding Jews like the voice of this report.

Esser Agaroth said...

Thank you.

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Esser Agaroth said...

Chana, There is only one Judaism.

I have no idea why you think I was discussing the Reform based solely on Ashkenazi practices, especially since I, myself, am not Ashkenazi. Perhaps this was because the Reform is mainly Ashkenzazi elite, who seem to think that the word Sepharadi means "non-Ashkenazi." It does not.

You are giving examples of behaviour and not of belief. It very well could be that the communities you describe are employing a qiruv strategy, based on what you state:

"Everyone seemed to feel welcome, and those of lower halachah were said to be "in process". The attitude was respect and those who were strictest were willing to teach those who were "processing upwards". Certainly no one was told they weren't Jewish because they turned on lights on Shabbat or something like that. In a community where we are losing out to assimilation,"

In my opinion, it can be a good strategy. It in no way indicates that they approve of such things leKhathillah. If they did, they would not be considered terribly Torah observant.

Donny said...

"As far as Rashi's Daughters are concerned, sure they were known to have worn tefillin"

I have not seen any documentation prior to the 20th century that stated that Rashi's daughters actually wore teffilin. Every time I hear a feminist or liberal Rabbi make that comment I ask them for such documentation, and they cannot answer me.

The author of the historical fiction "Rashi's Daughters", where she writes about how the daughters wore teffilin, freely admits that there is no documentation to support this theory. She just feels that it is something that they would have done.

A woman wearing teffilin in the time of Rashi was certainly something out of the ordinary. Surely, their father would have written about it, or their famous children would have written about this.

So I will ask you, respectfully, what documentation do you have about Rashi's daughters wearing teffilin?

Esser Agaroth said...

Donny, you're right. I was referring to those who do hold that Rashi's daughters [probably?] wore tefillin. Those who believe they did wear tefillin, believe they did so properly.