For all the different categories and stripes of Jews that exist and have existed throughout history, there are really only two that matter when you boil it all down: those who accept the divine origin of the Torah, the divine wisdom of the Sages, and the binding authority of both; and those who don’t. The rest is commentary,
The measure of our commitment to something is what we are willing to sacrifice for its sake. Throughout Jewish history those who belong to the first camp have made every sacrifice imaginable for the sake of Torah-true Judaism. It is their commitment that made it possible not only for the Jewish people to survive, but to flourish throughout thousands of years of exile and persecution.
The primary reason for the existence of the second camp is an unwillingness to commit to life as a Jew. By this I refer not to heroic commitment under the pain of persecution – those who falter under such trials should not be judged – but those who find even the most basic demands of life as a Jew too onerous to accept.
Very few people have studied the Torah thoroughly, compared it to other religions and ways of life, and decided that Judaism is inferior to any of them. It is virtually impossible for someone to study the Torah thoroughly and need any further convincing that God exists and the Torah is His handiwork. Those who draw other conclusions do so almost entirely out of ignorance and personal convenience, often camouflaged by intellectualism.
They want to be free. They want to be up to date. They want to fit in with society’s norms and expectations. They want to “think for themselves”.
They say the Torah is primitive, outdated, no longer relevant. They say the rabbis were power-hungry conspirators who made things up, or at the very least were simply “interpreting” the Torah as they saw fit, with no divine knowledge or authority. We know better now, they say. We have a better way.
Oh, how these people must be suffering right now! Their world is crashing down around them.
They thought that by casting off the Torah they would find freedom, but they have become prisoners of a cruel society that demands more from them with each passing day. They thought they would find acceptance and love, but they are being rejected by their own comrades. They thought they would be safe, but they face the threat of merciless persecution for any word they say, or don’t say, or said decades ago. They cast off religion and mocked believers, but traded it in for a new religion that demands unswerving obedience, unfailing allegiance, and truly perfect faith.
It is true that the Torah is demanding. It holds everyone to high standards and holds us accountable for our actions – no excuses. You traded it in for an ideology in which anything goes and the most barbaric behaviors can always be excused. Now you are reaping what you have sown. Is it better?
You say the Torah has too many laws; it is too burdensome and intrusive. You traded it in for a society that is lawless, yet invents new, mostly unwritten laws so quickly that no one can keep up.
The Torah’s wisdom is infinite, yet its commandments are finite: 613 to be exact. There are many laws that stem from these 613, but they are all clearly derived through a divine process that has held true for thousands of years. In fact, it is explicitly forbidden for anyone, even a prophet, to create a 614th commandment; this is one of the 613. We have the same 613 commandments our ancestors had from the day they were given. We know there won’t be any new ones. We have a system in place to settle doubts and guide us in all situations, even when we cannot conclusively settle a doubt.
Compare to your new religion. Every day you have new commandments, all of which demand an upheaval of your thinking and lifestyle. What you watched on Netflix today will be declared racist tomorrow, and you will be retroactively guilty. All who came before you are guilty and you must denounce them. You must be ashamed of your ancestors and abhor your elders for being unenlightened.
Your children – if you burden yourself with any and don’t kill them before they are born – will feel the same about you. You will be compelled to teach them that nothing is sacred, that whatever is old is outdated, that they must figure it all out for themselves. Then you are shocked and heartbroken when they scorn you, reject you, rebel against you. If you live long enough to become elderly they will see you as a burden and, if your “quality of life” is not deemed sufficient, facilitate your premature death. You reap what you sow.
In order to appease everyone, you adopted the belief that everything is true, that nothing is true, that people make up their own truths, which must always be respected. This is nothing but a clever way to deny the existence of God, whose seal is Truth, and whose existence mandates objective truth. You thought this would absolve you of the responsibility of seeking objective truth and adhering to it. Instead you must seek endless appeasement of those who make up subjective truths, even when they contradict one another.
You didn’t want rabbis – those supposedly evil, self-centered, power-hungry, racist, sexist, elitist rabbis – telling you what to do. Instead you have truly evil, self-centered, power-hungry, racist, sexist, elitist atheists telling you what to do. Unlike the rabbis, these people have no objective Torah sources on which to base their beliefs. Unlike the rabbis, you cannot question or challenge the legitimacy of their opinions, for there is no basis on which to debate them. Unlike the rabbis, you have no recourse but to blindly accept their authority and obey. Rabbis can teach you, their goal is to make you wiser. The leaders of your new religion have nothing to teach; they can only make demands.
Rabbis consult other scholars and analyze clear legal precedents before issuing rulings. This knowledge is available to everyone, and specious rulings will quickly be challenged by the community. What process did you trade this for in your religion of progress? Activists and social engineers make the rules, in conjunction with the media. There is no debate, no questioning, no analysis of the pros and cons, no comparisons to precedents – and no dissenting opinions. You see which way the wind is blowing, and you follow. Or else.
How open-minded and progressive.
The most devout among us are quiet, private, unassuming, humble, and sacrifice for others. The most devout among your “progressive” religion are loud, brash, arrogant, self-righteous, and only make demands of others.
You must align yourself with extremely bad and scary people if your religion of progress demands it. You must always look the other way and submit in the name of progress.
This just in. It’s not just that Netflix show that now renders you a racist. It’s the Lego set, the joke you told in high school, the children’s show, the movie you watched as a child with your grandparents, the doll you bought for your child, the costume you wore. You protested too much when you were called a racist, or you didn’t protest enough, or you protested too loudly when it was not your place, or you didn’t say anything at all. You thought you understood how someone else felt, or you didn’t try hard enough to understand. Guilty!
You claimed that the Torah is primitive because it has sacrifices, but your new religion has sacrifices, too. Human ones. Constantly. Your mob of moral police hungers for new sacrifices, hoping their frenzied rituals of destroying someone and his family will protect them and their own.
You are horrified by the concept of a death penalty, yet you execute people in so many ways, without even a trial. Do you have trouble sleeping?
You know deep down that one day they will come for you. You are bound to slip eventually, or be turned in by someone seeking approval for finding a villain, or be found retroactively guilty for a sin that has yet to be invented. You must even pay for the crimes of others as if you committed them yourself. You are guilty, always guilty, if not today then tomorrow.
There is no concept of repentance in your “progressive” religion. You will cry, and grovel, and plead for another chance. You will disgrace yourself. No one will have pity on you and no one will come to your defense – the accused stands alone, for he spreads guilt like a virus to all who come near.
The religion you abandoned reaches out to the lowest sinner, embraces him, and raises him up with love. The religion you abandoned does not expect perfect results, only a sincere effort. Look around at your tolerant, loving, slogan-chanting friends, as they look for something and someone to destroy in the name of progress. Will they respect your sincere effort if you stumble? Will they love you when you unwittingly, inevitably sin?
You reap what you sow.
The religion you abandoned will accept you back even now, with true love, despite all the sins you have committed. Your people will embrace you and admire your efforts. They will encourage you when you falter, as inevitably you will, because they have faltered as well in their own way and it’s okay not to be perfect. They will expect great things from you, not because you are fighting for the cause of the day, but because you are fighting for your own greatness.
Your elders know a lot more than you gave them credit for. They have what you need. Knowledge. Wisdom. Character. Morals. Peace. Godliness. Truth. A link to the past and a guide for the future.
Maybe it’s time you humbled yourself, truly opened your mind, listened, and learned.
When you stumble, your repentance will be personal and private. Your dignity is precious to you and to others. What a truly progressive idea.
We won’t get you fired and we won’t boycott your business.
of life you embraced has shown you how empty and sinister it is. The religion you abandoned is what you were seeking all along.
It’s time to come home.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org