Jews: the ties that bind.

By Ted Belman

I have recently began reading up on Manhigut Yehudit and I have been in conversation with Rob Muchnick, who does PR for Moshe Feiglin. I recently wrote to him.

Dear Rob

First, a personal note. My father’s family grew up in Poland and were communist. But his parents were orthodox. They came to Toronto in the late twenties and fought in all the labour movements. My mother’s family were Zionists.

I grew up in a small city near Toronto. we had one shul/community center where everyone went regardless of religiosity.

I went to shul for all the holidays and whenever someone needed a minion.

To the surprise of everyone who new me as irreligious, I married an orthodox woman whose roots were in Mea Shearim. Our household was Shomrai Shabbos and my kids are Shomrai Shabbos today. I remain an atheist.

So for me Judaism has a big tent.

I say to my leftist opponents, if Israel isn’t going to be a Jewish state, why bother. That’s the easy part. What do I mean by Jewish? That’s the hard part.

I see my self as a product of the history of the Jewish people as told by the Torah and as lived down through history. Whatever happened to Jews (as it says in the Hagaddah) happened to me. I suffer when Jews are persecuted and delight when Jews succeed.

I do not want Israel to be divorced from its Jewish roots and essence. What kept us alive for thousands of years will keep us alive in Israel. But we must connect to our history rather than be divorced from it.

Our center must be Torah regardless if it was G-d inspired or not. But Jews can live as close to the center or as far from the center as they wish.

Thus I very much agree Manhigut Yehudit’s articulation

    Jewish Identity

    In truth, the distinction between religious and secular is inapplicable. First, there is no Jew who fulfills every commandment — not even the daily commandments of the Code of Jewish Law. Instead, there are Jews who are more observant or less. Second, there are almost no Jews who succeed in not observing any commandments at all. Most of the Jews who define themselves as secular observe many commandments with no coercion — circumcision, bar/bat mitzvah, Passover seder, Yom Kippur fast and more. Thus, there is no basis for a black and white definition of a Jew’s level of observance. Rather, there are many shades of adherence to commandments on the Jewish observance continuum.

    With this in mind, Manhigut Yehudit suggests a solution to the secular/religious divide based on a concept that goes over and above religious factions. At the foundation of the solution is the factor that unites all Jews — our Jewish identity. When we accept and love every Jew, no matter what his affiliation, we have laid the groundwork for expressing the inner truth in the varying viewpoints, and clarifying their intrinsic good. The positive atmosphere of acceptance created when we recognize our organic unity will motivate all involved to express their Jewish identity in the most authentic way. This is a project that involves all the Jewish People. The dialogue created will likely evolve through many generations

We need the religious or belief based commitment of the religious, to lead the fight to keep all the land. People like me are more likely to compromise when not motivated by God. On the other hand I don’t want another Masada. I don’t feel comfortable with locking the steering wheel. We must be able to exercise choice on accepting less than we want. I remain practical.

But a deal I could accept isn’t remotely in the cards so I remain with you that we must keep all the land. If not for religious reasons, for security and nationalist reasons. You must understand that your case cannot be supported on religious reasons alone. But when based on all three, religion, national and security, our hold on Judea and Samaria will be unassailable. I do not include Gaza as necessary to Israel unless for security reasons.

July 15, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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2 Comments / 2 Comments

  1. Jewish identity for these guys in black (Yeshivish or Chasidish)is a given. The law binds them and thus allows them to live together in a community. The law is learned through childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood and then its study is abandoned or lessened during the family years for the sake of “parnasah” or making a living. In later years many return to intense study for the joy it engenders. That pattern is the essence of freedom, where self-restriction, not imposed by someone who holds a whip in a lawless society or someone who manipulates information to gain adherence in “democracies.” It is a “bottom up” rather than “top down” system. Being Jewish is not only the public manifestation of ritual, but what one does in business, in the family, and when the individual is alone in his bedroom or kitchen. The feeling of “coercion” comes from personal revolt against restriction and always moves in the direction of nihilism or chaos. Only when one reaches the edge of chaos does fear arise as to what one has done to himself and the others around him that good sense reasserts itself. That is called teshuvah (repentance). These are Jewish values, but they also mirror the reality of causing disaster through the absolute law of unintended consequences. Thus, Judaism speaks to the issue of human existence with a relatively unique approach that deserves preservation.

  2. Nicely said…

    At the foundation of the solution is the factor that unites all Jews — our Jewish identity. When we accept and love every Jew, no matter what his affiliation, we have laid the groundwork for expressing the inner truth in the varying viewpoints, and clarifying their intrinsic good.

    This is indeed the key. We Jews have never, ever agreed on peripheral religious matters, so to seek conformity as a religious hierarchy does, is antithetical to Judaism as I see it (and there are no doubt about 14,000,999 of us who don’t or won’t see it this way).

    The alternative to constant flux is stagnation; I do shudder at the guys in fur hats and hose, who insist on living in the nineteenth century – or is it the eighteenth? I see no opportunity for “spiritual” growth in such situations, where the Law is the only thing… and those who believe differently – as dictated by Jewish ayatollahs – are not “real” Jews.

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