Comments on: A call to support the Orthodox majority opposing extremism Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:00:16 +0000 hourly 1 By: Shlomo Thu, 26 Jan 2012 00:03:34 +0000 The absence of any alternative to Orthodoxy is a big part of the problem. He would have a much harder time saying “Judaism” should replace democracy if “Judaism” were understood to not be only the Orthodox variety. He doesn’t speak for all Orthodox Jews (or even a majority), but it would help if there were more religious diversity within Judaism.

By: Richard Witty Fri, 20 Jan 2012 17:14:49 +0000 Relative to messianic sequence, or the pejorative of the author “messianic wing”, my own impression is that it is unknown.

Noone can know if the presence of Israel the state or Israel the prospective halachic state is in conformity with God’s will, or not.

One cannot say that the in-gathering of half the world’s Jews to Israel is not an act of God, as one cannot say that it is.

The guidance that I’ve found most useful relative to the messianic period, is to do good in the world.

Thats it.

If by saturating the world with good, we cannot tell the wonderful pre-messianic world from the wonderful messianic world, thats a good thing.

By: Mik Fri, 20 Jan 2012 04:24:13 +0000 Respectfully, I am very interested to find out how the author of this blog post comes to the conclusion that there is a silent majority. Are there some hidden statistics?
And perhaps it is opposite- maybe it is very easy today to be a modern orthodox Jew because you can view that Israel is becoming un-democratic and be really happy that you are leading the way.
Can you really prove anything by seeing 200 women dancing in a flash mob? Do we even know if these women think Israel should be a democracy? I am sure, btw, that Benny Katzover hates Haradei extremism as much as the author of this post does, so why purposely mix up the two?

By: Vicky Thu, 19 Jan 2012 23:18:35 +0000 R’ Yitzchak,
I’m currently taking an MA in Jewish Studies with a dissertation on Jewish theological responses to the Nakba and ongoing Palestinian dispossession. I’m trying to interview as many people as possible across the spectrum of Jewish observance. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to ask you some questions on it by e-mail – your comment raises some pertinent points. If you wouldn’t mind helping, I can be reached at vickyinpalestine at gmail dot com.
Sorry to be off-topic, everyone else. :)

By: Omri Dotan Thu, 19 Jan 2012 21:07:40 +0000 Raanan and Richard

Controversy, interpretation and dialogue, with respect to and of each other, are welcome in and are pillars of Judaism.

I say this with the utmost respect to your rights for opinion and your privileged freedom of speech: you can say what you have to say, even though you say nothing related to Rachel’s write up. You have the right to say it because of democracy, because of freedom of thoughts and speech given to mankind as inalienable rights, men and women.

You would do well, and earn more respect, if rather than using this right to rant about peace and land, and holocaust, etc., you would address the matter Rachel wrote so skilfully about; namely:
1. Are there orthodox extremists that are pushing to create an halachic state where the religious laws rule and democracy has no place (in Islam they call it Sharia law, in Judaism they call it halachic law)? And,

2. Are their politicians in our democratic Knesset that work hard to saw the branch they are sitting on by supporting such beliefs? And,

3. Should we show our support for the wonderful Jewish religion in all its currents be it orthodoxy, conservatism, old and modern, which strives to preserve the Jewish beliefs and values yet cherishes and promotes democracy in “coexistence” with these religious beliefs?

Be respectful, raise the intellect and integrity levels of your rants, address the issue of the debate, and let’s have a discussion about how Jews of all creed can stand up to fight for preserving democracy and finding the balance and equilibrium between faith and democracy.

Shabat Shalom

By: Yitzchak Thu, 19 Jan 2012 20:26:29 +0000 Hanan,

You say that Orthodox Judaism values its rabbinical interpretation over anything, yet you quote the Bible in a way that no Rabbinical Interpretation would practice. While the Bible says that a rapist must marry his victim, the Rabbinical interpretation is that this only applies if the woman wants to marry him (not so likely). He is forced to marry her only if she wants to but he cannot if she does not want to. The Torah requires two kosher witnesses with exact warning to execute anyone for any capital offense. The Rabbis say in the mishnah that if a court administered capital punishment once in seventy year they were a destructive court. It was extremely rare for anyone to be executed for Sabbath violation unless they were basically martyring themselves to make a point (like the one story recorded in the Bible, that the Rabbis maintained that the man did so only to make the point, but this may have been the only time a Rabbinical court executed someone for Sabbath violation), it was basically suicide by court. Ever since the Romans took over Palestine over 2000 years ago, the Rabbis have abolished the death penalty.

I feel that anyone who recognizes Jewish identity in a secular sense is a racist. Judaism is a religion. One can be Israeli without being Jewish, true, and one can be called Jewish by the Jewish faith without believing himself in the faith. However, for someone to identify themselves as Jewish without some religious connotation (whether it be Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, etc.), then they are a racist, as one can only convert to a religion but one cannot convert to a race. If one denies the religious aspect of Judaism, then their Jewish identity is pure racism.

As an anti-Zionist Jew, I am offended by Zionist groups such as Chabad calling themselves Ultra-Orthodox. They are rather right-wing modern orthodox, as ultra-orthodoxy rejects Zionism. True Haredim oppose the entire concept of a Jewish state, whether secular OR religious. A true Haredi Jew cannot want to impose Halachah as the laws of the State of Israel, as this is the job of the Messiah and cannot be forced by political means.

As an anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodox Jew, I wish to see the One-State solution, which would mean the end of a Jewish State. I hope that Israel would become a state with true freedom of religion like the USA and that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel be either privatized (like the Haredi Courts) or disolved. Religion and politics should not be mixed. It is not my job to force other people to be religious through political means. I have enough on my plate handling my own observance without forcing my ways on others. If others want to learn about Torah, I am happy to teach. Violence is also against the Torah, and none of these people who spat on a little girl could truly be Haredi. They are either mentally ill or perhaps decoys sent by anti-religious individuals just to stir up trouble between various groups.

I only seek peace and friendship with everyone. I live my life, imperfect as I am, but with my beliefs in Torah. I love to share Torah with others, but I do not seek to impose my ways on others. If more people embrace Judaism, I am happy, but I see this in G-d’s Hand. If I can be a tool in His Hand, it is a blessing, but ultimately it is up to Him. Anyone who seeks to impose religion through political means lacks faith in G-d. We were sent into exile by G-d, when He decides that it is time to restore the Kingdom, He will do it Himself. Until then, we have to work on our relationship with Him through Torah and Halachah. If we improve our own relationship, it will bring blessings to others as well. Political or violent force will not help this goal.

Rabbi Yitzchak Kolakowski

By: Anthony Thu, 19 Jan 2012 08:47:01 +0000 Hanan,
This article is all about how there are divisions within Orthodoxy and we should be supporting the moderates.
Your gripes aren’t with Orthodox Judaism – which is not a monolithic thing – but with particular interpretations of Judaism found within Orthodoxy.
I share your concerns but lumping together all Orthodox Jews as being from the stone ages is really counterproductive (and vaguely racist) – interpretation is key in religion and changes over time and between people.

By: Greg Pollock Thu, 19 Jan 2012 04:19:11 +0000 My faith has, as one premise, that the world (or even very tiny slices of it) will never be like me. Glad of that. Silent majorities don’t matter. Voices do. So you start.

By: aristeides Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:26:05 +0000 “Extreme” isn’t a strong enough term to characterize Raanan. “Delusional” might do, but I think it lacks force.

By: Hanan Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:18:54 +0000 Dear Raanan,

1. If you really love this land so much, what are you doing in New York? Last time I checked that was NOT a part of Israel.

2. Orthodox Judaism does not consider women and men to be equal. It does not consider people of other faith equal. Orthodox Judaism seeks to limit freedom of speech and of press. It considers “divine law” in its rabbinical interpretation more important than a democratic decision. These and many more elements make it UNdemocratic by default.

3. Quote “Who ever heard of 2 countries making peace and then the other side moves its armies up to the now peaceful border? What if Canada would tomorrow put tanks and station troops on the American border?” Unquote
Wait a moment…are you Pro-Israeli or Anti-Israeli? Because of all parties involved in peace deals over here, only the Israelis have a large amount of troops and tanks stationed in the border region…

4. I see you hate the word “peace”. But instead of hiding behind “Jewish safety” – why don’t you just openly declare what your vision for “Judea and Samaria” is. What should the Israeli government do? Annex the territory? Deport the Arabs? Do nothing until this mess blows up? (I “love” the American habit of telling people here what to do without intending to face the consequences)

5. Quote: “As even the name: “the Land of Israel” proves it is a Jewish land.” Unquote Israel is a nation, not a religion. That’s Judaism. Believe it or not: You can be an Israeli AND secular. Or Muslim. Or Christian. Shocking, eh?

6. “The foundation for which is Jewish law. As such, people advocating for Jewish law to be the law of the land is actually the highest form of Democracy!”
Jewish law is not democratic by default. And it will never be. Besides: In its details, it is barbaric. If you advocate Jewish law, you advocate the penalty of stoning for people that break the Shabbat and you adocate ridiculous stuff like this: If someone rapes a virgin, he has to marry her and can never divorce (a woman is clearly treated as a “thing” here. You break it, you buy it? That’s the law you want?).

Jewish law is stone age style tribal law. Imposing it on everybody over here would turn this country into a nightmare, worse than Iran. And it would destroy Israel within a very short while. Because all the people that run the economy (the secular and moderate religious) will leave. And whose taxes are going to feed the Haredi sector then? Who is going to defend this country? You, Raanan?