Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Holy Rabbis Can Be Wrong" says Rabbi Wein

I received a great deal of comment about my last week’s article on the mental and social regression of a large section if Israeli society. Most of the comments were neither complimentary nor critical but were rather requests for more specifics about the need for change in the mindset of much of Orthodox Jewry here in Israel and in the Diaspora as well.
Still under the influence of Purim and therefore perhaps a little too foolhardy, I will attempt to explain my position more specifically in this article. I think that we can all agree that the two main events in the Jewish world of the past century were the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. These two cataclysmic events changed the present Jewish society radically if not even permanently. Yet much of Orthodoxy inexplicably ignores these two events as though they never happened.
They occupy no space or time in many Orthodox schools and days of commemoration of these events are absent on school calendars. Instead there is a mindset that hunkers back to an idyllic Eastern European world of fantasy that is portrayed falsely in fictional stories, hagiographic biographies and omissions of uncomfortable facts and doctored photographs – to a world that never was
An entire talented and vital society is doomed to live in the imagined past and disregard present realities. And if the view of the present is unfortunately shaped by historical and social disconnect and denial then certainly the longer and equally vitally important view of the future will be distorted and skewed. Sooner or later, reality must sink in and when it does the pain, anger and frustration over past distortions and failures will become very difficult to bear.
The great struggle of most of Orthodoxy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries against Zionism influenced all Orthodox thought and behavior. As late as 1937, with German Jewry already prostrate before Hitler's madness and Germany already threatening Poland, the mainstream Orthodox rabbinate in Poland publicly objected to the formation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel on the grounds that the heads of that state would undoubtedly be secular if not even anti-religious.
They were correct in that assessment but, since the Holocaust was then an unimaginable event in their worldview, they continued in their opposition to Jews leaving Poland to settle either in the United States or in Israel. Because of this past mindset, the Holocaust is more unsettling – theologically, at least – to Orthodoxy, then perhaps to any other group in the Jewish world.
Much of Orthodoxy chooses to ignore the issue or to contrive very lame excuses and causes for this catastrophe. In my opinion, there is no human answer to the event itself but the event cannot be ignored. One of the consequences of confronting it is naturally an admission that 
great and holy men can be wrong in their assessment of current events and future occurrences. Much of Orthodoxy is so hagiographic about its present and past leaders that it cannot bring itself to admit that. As such, the past cannot truly help to assess the present. A false past is almost as dangerous as having no past at all.
Dealing with the State of Israel is an even more vexing issue for much of Orthodoxy. The creation of the Jewish state, mainly by secular and nonobservant Jews, and by political and military means was not part of the traditional Jewish view of how the Land of Israel would again fall under Jewish rule.
Since it occurred in the “wrong” way and was being led by the “wrong” people it again shook the mindset of much of Orthodoxy. 
One of the great and holy leaders of Orthodox society in Israel stated in 1950 that the state could not last more than fifteen years. Well, it is obvious that in that assessment he was mistaken. But again it is too painful to admit that he was mistaken and therefore the whole attitude of much of the Orthodox world is one of denial of the present fact that the state exists, prospers and is the largest supporter of Torah and Jewish traditional religious lifestyle in the world.
It is again too painful to admit that our past mindset regarding the State of Israel is no longer relevant. 
As long as large sections of Orthodoxy continue to live in an imaginary past and denies the realities of the present, such issues as army or national service, core curriculums of essential general knowledge for all religious schools, entering the workforce and decreasing the debilitating poverty and dysfunction of so many families, will never be able to be addressed properly.
The solutions are difficult and they cannot be dictated or legislated no matter how popular such steps may appear to be. But the change of mindset to the present must certainly and eventually occur. The Jewish people have always been up to this task and I am confident that we will be able to do so now as well.
Shabat shalom


Anonymous said...

The problem, Rabbi Wein, is that our side is doing very little PR in terms of educating the public. The other side has hijacked the conversation, has flooded the Internet with their propaganda alongside the radical Muslims and self-hating Jewish-Israeli radical leftists. I have a list someplace with names of rabbonim in pre-war Europe who supported Zionism, some more fervently than others, but supported it nevertheless. The point is that off the top of my head I can give you about 6( Rabbis ...Kalischer, Kook, Guttmacher, Nissenbaum,Mohiliver, Y.L. Diskin, Reines), but why shouldn't everybody know about them? A great many orthodox ordinary amche Yidden including Chassidishe were for the new State but were either shouted down or couldn't escape the Infern in any case. Why isn't this information passed around?

We are afraid of the filthy , angry backlash, that's why.We're concerned about being called vile names including the latest, or haven't you heard? Haman, Amalek---Rachman Litzlon. When, Rabbi Wein, have Jews called other Jews by these names? The sin of the Meraglim unfortunately haunts us to this day. I interpret the " B'chiyah L'dorot" as meaning that in every generation there will be leaders who cry.... cry over the fact that Eretz Yisroel is in face.... How horrible is that??
Mind you, these are talmidei chachamim. They can produce a gemorrah, midrash , a rav in an instant to try to prove their disgusting point of view, their apikorsishe point of view. A view that openly and defiantly refuses to see nissim in a holy land that even a child can see. Uch and Vay to us.... A nightmare!!!

The frum Litvish-Yeshivish/ anti-Israeli Chassidish crowd has been brainwashed by their leaders and won't listen to the facts, their minds having been stubbornly made up.
We need to fight the orthodox apathy vis-a-vis Israel. It's frightening how many frum Jews don't give a thought about Israel, and if they do , it's in a negative light. They overemphasize the negative and either ignore or distort the positive. What a disgrace!
Hopefully, this post will serve notice.... ! Notice that we're not going to take this lashon harah of EY sitting down anymore.
May Hashem forgive all my sins but I don't want to stand in a Heavenly Court one day and being asked " What have you done to intercept false Toirelech, to protest, to tell people about the miraculous events , about the unbelievable return from the exile? What was your reaction ?" I can confidentally stand proudly and say that yes, I've protested, I tried to show the beauty of Hashem's land (and hopefully would've made Aliyah at that point).I was not a Meragel ! I didn't use the Torah, Hashem, to denigrate these unbelievable events. I spoke out. I speak out wherever I can every day.
So why am I anonymous here, you ask? Because I don't trust the mental state of some viewers. Enough said.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"Instead there is a mindset that hunkers back to an idyllic Eastern European world of fantasy that is portrayed falsely in fictional stories, hagiographic biographies and omissions of uncomfortable facts and doctored photographs – to a world that never was.."
You mean of coarse the Yiddish -language newspapers in addition to Yated, Hamodia and ArtScroll.
According to Hamodia, Yated and newest trendy bandwagoneer in town- The Flatbush Jewish Journal, a woman does not exist. Let's start with that insanity and move on to doctored photos, out-of-context quotes, etc. etc.
Again--- Midvar Sheker Tirchak is a D'Oiraeisa that the orthodox community doesn't abide by.

Anonymous said...

The poster above is correct, we need more good PR. To Rabbi Wein I say, you've written interesting Jewish history books, so why don't you write a book on religious Zionism? This one column isn't enough, we need a book. That you take tourists and silly , giggling yentas and their hen-pecked husbands on Pesach trips to find Jewish history in Majorca, Ho-Hocus,Tombstone Montana , Antarctica and the 3rd ring on Saturn isn't enough. Please write a book. A book, not a column or suitcase-shlepping , non-gebrochtz- only voyage. I thank you in advance.