The disagreements among Jews on almost everything is not something new – it has been always an important feature of Jewish character. From the very beginning, various Jewish groups were competing with each other for a “right way” of following the God’s guidance (codified in the Torah) in always challenging and changing life circumstances. During the Moses’ times: enter or not to enter the Promised Land? During the Roman times: fight the Roman political rule or not to fight? And nowadays: should an individual define himself whether he/she is a Jew or somebody else should tell him/her who he/she is?
From the very beginning, the Jews were split on how to define “a right way” of following the God’s guidance that is codified in the Torah.
If an individual Jew believes he/she is made indeed in the image and likeness of God, he or she is searching individually for “a right way”. The Jews, who have found similar “right ways”, form a collective to compete, hopefully peacefully, with other Jewish collectives. In the past, they were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots and Sicarii; nowadays the Jews are split between various Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Atheist movements.
However, many rabbis believe that a simple Jew is not able to search for “a right way” individually – a rabbi has to tell him or her what is right and what is wrong. It looks like those rabbis believe only they are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore are capable to search and find God’s “right way”.
From the news media by Dr. Afshine Emrani:
I’m a proud Jew who loves to shine the Jewish light onto the nations. But today, the Israeli Chief rabbinate rejection of this remarkable woman, Ivanka Trump, makes me put my head down in shame. Rabbi Lookstein who performed the conversion is a former Rabbi of one of the leading Orthodox synagogues in Manhattan and former principal of one of the preeminent Modern Orthodox schools, the Ramaz School. The decision of the Israeli religious court to reject Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism by this highly qualified and well respected Rabbi is a slap in the face to all Jews. This action is nothing short of religious dictatorship. I lived in Iran, I know. I recall how the Mullahs ruled. It’s the scream to stay in absolute power. It’s the tyrannical desire to rule the masses. It’s about the power to twist text into financial gains.
Thus, Ivanka Trump, who was not Jewish by birth, and a Jew by birth Jared Kushner have decided to build a Jewish family making this decision themselves, as human individuals made in the image and likeness of God, and Orthodox rabbi Lookstein taught them how to build a true Torah-guided Jewish family. Suddenly, the Orthodox rabbinic establishment of Israel got irritated by this new Jewish family and by their rabbi-teacher and declared only they have the authority to make a family Jewish. In other words, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment declared that a new Jewish family have to be in an image of God this establishment has created for a Jewish family – not in an image of God a Jewish family creates for itself individually.
From the news media by Rabbi Baruch Efrati:
The secular world and the observant world live side by side. The non-observant … are open to tikkun because of the light spilling over from the religious world existing beside them and their sacrifices for the Jewish people. The secular Jewish world does not want to take over the religious world from a theological point of view, but to live beside it – hence, the possibility of influencing that world, listening to its hearts’ desires, elevating its holy sparks to their heavenly source. The secular are actually non-observant Orthodox, they do not present an alternative organized religion that turns transgressions into an ideology intended to take the place of the Torah. … In contrast, the Reform Movement has a “progressive” ideology that wishes to exchange the Oral Law’s G-d-given message. It does not wish to ask questions about the Torah but to create a religious empire of its own. It has an organized theology that grants legitimacy to transgressions and turns them into religion. There is no possibility of living side by side, but a theological battle over who will lead the nation. Our dialogue is thus one between enemies, not lovers. It is either we or them, the holy or the ritually impure and their ideological rebellion against the Oral Law.
Thus, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment believes the non-religious, secular Jews are OK but the non-Orthodox religious people are … close to devilish ones. Both the non-religious secular and non-orthodox religious Jews have defined their God-guided Jewish way of life based on their own individual interpretation of the image of God codified in the Torah. However, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment want all Jews to be modeled in their own rabbinic image of God – not in the true image of God in the great variety of possible images a “Chosen” Jew can chose for him/her-self to create his/her own Jewish way of life that reflects an individual life circumstance.
In my last post “Spiritually Jewish and non-Jewish Globalization”, I wrote:
The current blacks-against-whites rebellion in the USA is the result of this “non-Jewish” internal US globalization: the mighty US government is forcing some citizens who are happened to be racially black to follow “globalization rules” which are foreign to them. This rebellion has nothing to do with race relations. Those blacks who are guided in their lives by American-type Judeo-Christian moral rules, and there are many of them, live happily in America. The rebels are those, and there are many of them as well, who hate the American-type Judeo-Christian moral rules. Unfortunately, politically correct politicians are afraid of recognizing this, or using this to their advantage.
Israel has a similar – Arabs-against-Jews – rebellion. However, Israel is much more successful in managing the danger of the rebellion since Israel has correctly diagnosed the roots of the danger while the USA politically correct establishment is scared of recognizing them.
From the news media:
The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile join the ongoing, devastating list of black men, women and children killed by police who did not have to take their lives. … These deaths, like the ones that came before them, communicate to black and brown people that their lives can be taken at whim by officers who have shown that they will not hesitate to do so … This systemic injustice and institutional violence should horrify everyone.
The news media repeats the politically correct but factually wrong diagnosis of the roots of the rebellion – they say that is a rebellion against white police racial brutality committed against innocent black people. That is an opinion of the politically correct establishment, which is far away from the true roots of the rebellion proclaimed by the rebels themselves.
Here how members of “Black Lives Matter” describe the goal of their movement:
We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement. We have a Black Radical Tradition to build on. Our tradition of militant fight back has been anchored in five ideological tendencies that are most often woven together in the thought and practice of any given individual, organization, or movement. These are: Black liberation theology, Pan-Africanism, Nationalism, Feminism, and Socialism.
The message is clear: we the rebels who happened to be mostly black have spiritually nothing in common with you the majority of US citizens who happened to be mostly white. We do not want to join you and have our lives governed and restricted by your American-style Judeo-Christian rules. We want to be independent within your country living under the rules of Black liberation theology, Pan-Africanism and Nationalism.
The same message is coming from the Arabs in Palestine concerning the State of Israel and Jews. Here is how the Hamas Charter is outlining the movement founding identity, stand, and aims:
The struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. Renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion of Islam.
The Hamas Covenant follows the ideology of the Palestinian National Charter, which says:
The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions, which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.
Here the message is clear as well: we the Arabs of Palestine have spiritually nothing in common with you the Jews of Palestine in the state of Israel. We do not want to join you and have our lives governed and restricted by your Jewish rules. We want to live without you the Jews under the Muslim rules of Sharia.
Thus in Israel and USA there are groups of people who are fighting for the right to be guided in their lives by their own rules, which are incompatible with the rules of the country great majority – in Israel, the rules of Judaism; in USA, the American-style Judeo-Christian rules. There is no way to force them to respect and follow the law of the countries where they reside.
It looks like now there is no solution that can satisfy both sides – the Jewish majority in Israel and its Arab rebels, and Judeo-Christian majority in USA and its Black rebels. If it is so, we, the majority in Israel and USA, have to wait patiently until an acceptable solution is born. What to do now?
Israel has developed a successful “waiting strategy”, which is to crash immediately any rebellion action, to prevent any hope that rebellion actions may work – with no time limits on the waiting. That is no negotiations with the rebels – let them first realize their rebellion has no chance to succeed and then to accept a limited internal independence suggested by Israel.
The US political establishment has not been able to acknowledge that all their actions for the last six decades to make various black rebellious movements respect and follow the American-style Judeo-Christian way of life, such as the affirmative actions, numerous welfare programs, “Obama’s money and phones”, and harsh police punishment for presumed harsh treatment of black law offenders, have failed. The rebellion mood in anti-American black movements (fortunately, many blacks are not in those movements) is growing. America has to pay attention to the Israel’s way to deal with internal rebellious groups and to elect a new government capable to learn and act.
Is the globalization a Jewish Torah-guided idea? The answer is YES or NO depending on how the very idea of globalization is defined.
The answer is YES if the very idea of globalization is to let each participant in a globalization union enhance its unique way of life using advanced achievements of the others in the union. In a globalization union, countries with different historic traditions and political systems peacefully compete with each other – based on a set of mutually accepted rules of engagement that allows each competing country to preserve its own way of life. Such globalization creates favorable conditions for the Jewish people to demonstrate, in cooperation with the Judeo-Christian communities, great spiritual and material benefits of the Torah/Bible-guided way of building a better world for everybody. Such globalization is spiritually Jewish.
Contemporary examples of the spiritually Jewish globalization are a young USA, a young UN, and a young EU. A young USA was globalizing by imposing the US global-federal rules on all US states-participants. Those rules were minimal and did not inhibit each state in the union from preserving and enhancing its unique way of life. The leadership of a young UN and a young EU did not impose on their states-participants any severe rules, which might suppress their unique ways of life as well.
The answer is NO if the very idea of globalization is a political arrangement aimed at forcing countries and peoples with different historic traditions and political systems to follow one set of rules imposed on them by the rulers of a “globalization empire”. If that is the case, the Jewish people and the State of Israel would suffer since the Jews would be forced to follow the globalization rules – not their tradition. Globalization defined this way is not spiritually Jewish.
The recent history has had many examples of spiritually non-Jewish globalization.
Hitler tried to globalize Europe by imposing on the countries of Europe the dictatorship of Nazi ideology. The Jews suffered enormously with the six millions slaughtered in Holocaust.
Stalin tried to globalize Europe and the world by imposing on many countries of Europe and the world the dictatorship of Communist ideology. Although some Jews were among the enforcers of this dictatorship, the Jewish people suffered enormously because their religion, spirituality and tradition were considered hostile to the regime and therefore suppressed.
Unfortunately, a nowadays USA, a nowadays UN, and a nowadays EU are examples of globalization that suppresses the unique traditions of their countries-participants.
This suppression is justified by nice-sounding politically correct slogans, which are conveying one basic message:
You, who are the majority in your country and who have created your own unique spiritual realm in your country for your people, have to reduce your spiritual realm to create a spiritual space for not your and may be hostile to your spirituality. We the Government (of the USA, of UN, of EU) are going to move into this space the people of not-your spirituality and traditions. We the Government understand that you may feel uncomfortable and even depressed because of many things such as increased crime and poverty, more hostile traditions around you, and less respect for your Judeo-Christian tradition. However, and that is what we the Government are not going to tell you, we need all that to get more political and financial power for us the Government – at the cost of your way of life.
That is what is going on these days in Europe and America, and we have to be prepared to vote this year for those who understand our profound concerns and ready to defend our Jewish, Christian and Judeo-Christian spiritual realm.
By the way, the current blacks-against-whites rebellion in the USA is the result of this “non-Jewish” internal US globalization: the mighty US government is forcing some citizens who are happened to be racially black to follow “globalization rules” which are foreign to them. This rebellion has nothing to do with race relations. Those blacks who are guided in their lives by American-type Judeo-Christian moral rules, and there are many of them, live happily in America. The rebels are those, and there are many of them as well, who hate the American-type Judeo-Christian moral rules. Unfortunately, politically correct politicians are afraid of recognizing this, or using this to their advantage.
The concept of Supreme Power over us the humans called God is vital for our human wellbeing. It is vital even for those who call themselves atheists. It is vital mainly not for the purpose of praying to God and asking for guidance and favors but most importantly for accepting God as the unchallenged source of our moral rules, which cannot be changed by us the humans.
That is why it is difficult for me to understand the reason for an orthodox rabbi Donniel Hartman to dethrone God from the first to the second place in Judaism.
From the news media:
Donniel Hartman, the head of an orthodox educational powerhouse, Shalom Hartman Institute, argues that the great monotheistic religions are fatally flawed — by an obsessive focus on God that overwhelms what should be our prime imperative, to live decent, moral lives.
Donniel Hartman insists his resonant call to put God second is not some superficial provocation. Rather, it is issued out of a conviction that “the more we put ethics first, the more I am a religious person” and the less that God is “a destructive force in our lives.”
The rabbi Hartman’s innovations are what indeed we need in Judaism and in other religions, for Jews and Gentiles, namely – to teach how to live decent, moral lives and how and why to put the ethics first. That is indeed necessary and long overdue – to bring back the true meaning of the duties of the Chosen, which are to build a better world for everybody with everybody – the world where the complete majority can live decent, moral lives along the lines of Torah/Bible guidance. However, to do all that we need to have God at the first place in our lives.
In order to decide whether we live decent, moral lives we have to define common basic characteristics of decency and morality. Those characteristics have to be alike for Jews and Christians of different spiritual streams from the ultra-Orthodox to the ultra-Atheists. In the Judeo-Christian world, without One God at the first place with His Torah/Bible-codified rules for decent, moral behavior, it is impossible to have decent, moral lives. The current rules for “decent, moral behavior” are different for many Jewish communities as well as for many Christian communities.
Here are just a few examples. Some believe in the decency of socialism-inspired redistribution of wealth with the “helping hand” of the government while the others support free-market capitalist system with the mitzvah/charity helping hands. Some believe in the absolute morality of “do not do to the others what I do not want to be done to me” while the others consider to be just the severe punishment of devilish people. Some believe that only a family of man-woman-children is decent and moral while the others do not see anything wrong with a gay family. Some believe the decency demands considering a person to be Jewish if he himself believe so while the others trust in a rabbi’s decision on the Jewishness.
Thus, what principles are decent and moral enough to be used for building a better world for everybody, even for everybody inside the Jewish nation? I do not see any other approach but – in the course of competitive spiritual and peaceful discussions – to find it in the guidance of God at the first place.
The history tried to do it without God as was done for example in Stalin’s Russia, in Hitler’s Germany and in Mao’s China and the result was millions and millions of murdered people.
From the news media:
An Israeli rabbinical court did not accept a conversion by an Orthodox rabbi who also helped Ivanka Trump become Jewish.
In the latest case exemplifying the tension between Israel’s rabbinate and Orthodox groups in the Diaspora, a religious court prevented the marriage of an Israeli man and an American woman, who converted under a well-respected New York rabbi, Haskel Lookstein.
And in an unusual twist, which has brought the case into the limelight, Lookstein is also the rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump and officiated at her wedding to Jewish real-estate scion Jared Kushner, an advisor for presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
That is one more example of bad moral rabbinical prescripts as the result of removing God from finding proper Torah/Bible-guided decisions.
At Mount Sinai, some human tribe had become Jewish since it decided to follow the God’s prescriptions on “decent, moral lives”. If somebody decides now to follow these prescriptions, this person is Jewish by God’s definition, and no human rabbinical court can change it.
The true meaning of Brexit is simple and powerful: that is a spiritual separation from the others to preserve and strengthen the own identity and moral foundation (own spirituality). For the nation of UK, it is like the Exodus for the Jews that let the Jewish nation solidify and further develop the Jewish unique identity and moral foundation.
The entity we call the humanity consists of spiritually competing nations. A spiritually competing nation should not hate the others – it should peacefully compete with the others to become “the light for the others”, or should peacefully change itself if it sees something more attractive in the life of the others, or should peacefully isolate itself from the others if it cannot change or compete.
In the political realm – not in the religious one, the first known Brexit was done by the Jewish nation with the Exodus from Egypt and then at the Mount of Sinai. There the Jews decided to split from the others to preserve and strengthen their own identity based on the God’s Torah-guided rules of behavior that distinguished the Jews from the others, and the new spirituality/identity of this nation was codified under the name of Judaism. In the religious terms, this Jewish identity was to obey the God’s commandments presented in the Torah – in the political terms, that was to strengthen the true individual freedoms – in the image and likeness of God, translated in the contemporary world into a free market economic/social system of government.
Just 68 years ago, the Jewish nation made another Brexit from the others and formed the state of Israel, where the Jewish nation can practice its spirituality on its own without overwhelming influence of the others.
The Brexit of UK from the EU dictatorship is of the same “Jewish” spiritual nature – to get rid of the evil of all-powerful EU government, which is forcing the people of UK to surrender its national identity to the newly invented, politically correct “humanity” identity.
Now, the same kind of revolt in making could be observed in other countries of EU such as Hungary or Greece for example.
America made its first Brexit at the end of 18th century by splitting from the authoritarian UK monarchy to preserve and further develop a newly created Judeo-Christian Bible-based identity with a free market economic/social system and strictly limited government that was codified in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. At such system of governing, the government was helping the people enhance their Judeo-Christian spirituality with the free-market and social freedoms.
However, in the course of the last about one hundred years the US government has been increasing its power – slowly, in small steps – and by now it has more power than the people have. With the changes in the small steps, it was difficult to understand that those small steps were creating a new political and social reality where the politicians were using the system for their own spiritual and financial empowerment and enrichment at the cost of the people.
The new Brexit-type movement in the USA, which some call “Trump-ism” (Donald Trump is just a messenger of this movement) is a revolt of the Judeo-Christian majority against the all-powerful US government of any party affiliation. That is a sort of American Exodus to make “America great again” – great in the Judeo-Christian identity and spirituality.
The Exodus/Brexit supporters do not hate anybody, they are not racists or anti-immigration bigots – they respect all immigrants of different races, nations or religions assuming those immigrants support the Judeo-Christian identity of an Exodus/Brexit country where they reside, and ready to be assimilated. However, the Exodus/Brexit supporters believe those who are unable to adjust to the Judeo-Christian identity should live happily in the countries of their own identities.