Three hundred and forty — count ’em — Reform and Conservative rabbis have signed an open letter to the United States Congress, asking the members to vote to confirm the deal negotiated between John Kerry and the government of Iran. They are taking whatever moral, ethical, spiritual, and religious chips they have and trying to cash them in for political capital.
Interestingly, the number of three hundred and forty, when converted into Hebrew letters (the sh sound has a value of three hundred and the m sound equals forty) can spell either ‘sham’ or ‘shame.’ Both of these fit nicely here, as we have sham rabbis whose behavior brings shame upon them and upon the religion they presume to espouse.
Although this is terribly disappointing, it is hardly surprising. These so-called clerics have long since abandoned any moral link to Judaism as a guide to proper behavior and character.
Reform and Conservative call themselves “denominations” of Judaism, and at one time that was true in the sense that a ten dollar bill is no less of a denomination than a hundred dollar bill. So if Reform was only practicing ten percent of Biblically prescribed conduct and Conservative was doing thirty, they could still fairly be described as players on the Jewish team of Divine morality. They were engaged in the practice of the same religion as the Orthodox Jew, they were just doing “less” of it.
I recall back in 1981 inviting a professor friend of mine to hear the Book of Esther being read on the holiday of Purim, at the Orthodox synagogue I attended. Afterwards, he thanked me effusively, because it was the first time he heard the entire book read. He explained that his Conservative temple only read selected excerpts from the text. I was scratching my head, trying to fathom why you would take the book written to describe the events being celebrated on that day, and abridge the epic into a verbal movie trailer.
But at least that abbreviated performance had the virtue of being an authentic segment of the original. They did not rewrite the material; they simply trumpeted the high points of the narrative and let the congregants decide if they wanted to finish reading the rest of the story.
Most of the observances and rituals have been shrunk or eliminated now. The answer they offer is simple. There is a limit to what can be asked of people. The modern world leaves us less time for the demands of faith. We are forced to prioritize. We have to look at the Bible and the Talmud and the tradition and decide what matters most. If God knew He could only get one piece of the tapestry He bequeathed us, what would He prefer? The answer is: social justice.
And so they threw out all the bathwater. The dietary laws, the sexual limits, the special garments, and the detailed rituals for weekday and holiday prayer. They were careful to protect the baby. There he is, a picture of pink-cheeked health, swaddled in his blankets and snuggled in his crib, still fresh and clean from the days we had bathwater.
Except that here too they copped out and they sold out. The Torah’s brand of social justice was not popular. It involved going into battle on behalf of the unborn child, preserving God’s Creation in its incipiency, in its potentiality, in its emergence. It involved taking up the cause of precious souls near the end of life, protecting them from being unplugged from their last moments upon this Earth. It involved standing against the corruption of human sexuality and for the mystic bond of matrimony as a Divine gift to teach us to love the other, the opposite.
All this would put them at odds with the Democrat party. It would bring them to heresy against the New York Times editorial page. The cocktail parties of Manhattan and Beverly Hills and Georgetown would be closed to them. They would be labeled fundamentalists and fanatics.
And so they sold out the one part of the Torah they swore to cherish. They practice social justice as a fig leaf for protecting the abortionist and killing the child, protecting the euthanist and killing the helpless. They collude in the term ‘marriage’ being applied to those who sexualize sameness and abandon the voyage of seeking love in unifying opposites.
Is it a surprise that these same “leaders” are prepared to sell out the heroic citizens of Israel? That they put their loyalty to the Democrat party and the New York Timesahead of their obligations to God and His People and the ancestors who dedicated their lives to the truth of Torah? Disappointing yes, surprising no. The sham rabbis have earned their shame. It is high time for their congregants to reject them as quislings and find their way back to reclaim their noble patrimony.
As for non-Jews, they need not assign their respect for Judaism to these practitioners of Democrat partyism. There are enough solid honest Jews out there, in various shades of religious observance, who recognize truth when they see it and who do not recast their obligations to match their shortcomings. Those Jews, along with their non-Jewish compatriots, can read the entire Book of Esther and learn how to stand up to Persians plotting to annihilate the Jewish People.