Sunday, January 29, 2012

"I Never Thought 'Baseless Hatred' was Inherent" by Rich Dweck

          I am in a Rabbinic Thought class. It is about Judaism in a historical context of how, why and where Rabbinic Judaism started.

          Something we learned last week was very troubling. I know that the Jews were involved in many wars through the ages, but never knew that Jews killed Jews because they had different views on Judaism. I know that I should have known this and was probably taught this as a child. Maybe I was just to naive to think that the Jews would never resort to killing one another, no matter what! This was around 135BCE. Some Jews wanted some of what Greek life had to offer and others were opposed to any assimilation of any kind. (cont. below)
            I think both sides have a point. This is the famous difference in philosophies among Jews over the years. How much should any community that is trying to hold to tradition allow outside influences? The answer to this is much more difficult than one might think.

          We can look at the Jewish world and see the many, many factions within each sect. We have the Orthodox, Conservative and the largest is Reform. These are the major three. Within Orthodoxy we have many, many Hasidic sects, a range within Modern Orthodox, a range within Ultra-Orthodox and many other factions that would not put themselves under any of these titles. Within the Conservative movement, we have a broad range that call themselves Conservadox to the edges of Reform. The Reform movement is no different. So what is the issue with having such diversity within Judaism?

          Diversity is what makes God great. God did not create carbon copies, rather he created a world rich in diversity that is proof to his greatness. We are very lucky to live in such a world, to have the opportunity to learn from one another. At the same time, how can one be tolerant and allow outside influences to creep in and manage to keep themselves rich in tradition and law? If you are looking for an answer here, you are in the wrong place. I do not think anyone but God knows the answer to this age old question.

          The issue I have is with "Sinat Chinam" (baseless hatred). When people are willing to kill one another because of  their religious beliefs, it has gone too far! We look at major religions that have different beliefs and as a result kill one another. 

         We see people within many religious movements that do not agree and wage war with one another. This is true between the Muslims and Hindus in India. The Sunni's and Shiite's in Iraq and many other countries. The Ultra Orthodox Jews vs. Jews. The Pentecostals and other factions. Catholicism and Christianity. Some might argue with one another. Some might spit and call others names. Some might even kill each other. This is deeply disturbing. Do people think this is what God wants from his creations? Are we all not born in the image of God? Are we all not God's children?

          We have some religious "Hasidic" sects that believe Jews should not have the land of Israel until the "Messiah" comes. These Anti-Zionist leaders have went to meet with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to ally with him against the State of Israel. In this YouTube video, they stand up, kiss and hug him as if he was their Messiah. They are willing to back an anti-semitic and anti-zionistic leader that publicly proclaimed his desire to eradicate the world of all Jews. You can watch the video on YouTube at .

          In some Orthodox Jewish communities, rabbis will not even perform a wedding with a rabbi they do not agree with. Some might spit on others for not be dressed conservative enough and call them "whores". Some might tell female Israeli soldiers that they need to sit in the back of the bus, like the blacks had to until Rosa Parks came along. 

          Some will not allow prestigious, conservatively dressed women to receive an award in the presence of men. Some might not allow a woman to speak at a funeral, public gathering or anything of the sort, because they feel that it is not appropriate. Some of these things might make a man have impure thoughts. In England, they had a conference for the entire rabbinate of England to speak about issues plaguing their communities. The Orthodox rabbis were not present. Why? Because they do not want to be associated with the Reform and Conservative within Judaism. We have a huge lack of tolerance within Judaism that is unbearable!

          Why do some think it is alright to disrespect one another. Another question one might ask is, why are we blaming this on the Orthodox and moreover the ultra-Orthodox? Well the answer is much simpler than one might think. The more right wing or stricter a group is, the more they have to put down the others in order to make the case that they are the only valid ones.

          Some might say these types of issues are just a part of our human makeup. This happens from political parties and religions to children playing sports. Maybe competition and rivalry are simply a part of one's nature. The topics and questions I have brought up in this article are of sensitive nature and do not have any clear answers. The point is to provoke thought, questions and allow people to ask, ask and ask!

           Rich Dweck


  1. Two things, first it's Catholicism vs the Protestants, not Catholicism vs Christianity. Second I think you should include something about how the "open minded" left wing Jews like some Reform and some Conservative are actually just as closed minded and rejectionist than their more religious counterparts. I have had multiple experiences with people from these religious groups claim I'm the one who is so closed minded simply because I am following a tradition that spans several millennia. They say that Judaism has moved on and that by rejecting their view I am being "old fashioned" and "closed minded". But it only occurred to me afterward that these people are being just as closed minded as me as they were refusing to see my side of the story. I think there are merits for both sides, and I listen to all sides, but when someone who is more liberal than me and is claiming more open minded, but then ignoring everything I say, I can't help but call that hypocrisy.

  2. On Jan 30, 2012, at 10:24 AM, Phoebe Raileanu wrote:

    I would like to share some of my thoughts with you. I am not sure if you know, but every year around the high holidays (specifically between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) there is a fast called Tzom Gadaliah. In this fast, we the Jews are mourning the fact that a Jew Killed another Jew. However, when I was old enough I looked into the story, and after reviewing it, I decided not to fast anymore because this man that was killed was actually a horrible person who was leading countless Jews to their death in the Roman era.
    We Musn't fight hatred with hatred.
    Personally, I am constantly in a struggle with my Jewish identity. I grew up very modern orthodox, but orthodox none-the less, and now I would definitely define myself as more on the conservative side. I personally have been on the receiving end of judgement coming from very orthodox Jews, but I am able to see beyond that because I have been judged way more harshly and rudely by reform Jews in my life.
    The fact is, just as we cannot make wide statements about race and sexuality, we cannot do that about Jews, especially being Jewish ourselves. the Jewish People have been persecuted throughout time unlike almost any other people. Our children have been burned in gas chambers and our grandparents tortured and ridiculed in the Spanish inquisition. There are plenty of people lining up to hate and kill and blame the Jews. If we are not strong from the inside out, then we are not strong at all.
    I do not agree with everything the Ultra orthodox Jews do, but I also don't agree with EVERYTHING ANYONE does. I have been fed when I was hungry, welcomed into warm homes, and received tzedakah from more Orthodox Jews than I can count. Two of my uncles live in Israel and are Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis who have helped my family personally, and other people on countless occasions.

    I like to Judge people on an individual basis, not as a whole and not automatically based on their level of observance of the Jewish Halacha.

    Please do not send me any further articles or Blog posts or information that paints any kind of Jew, no matter the sect or affiliation, in a negative light.

    Kol Israel Aravim ze la ze,
    Thank you



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