Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Community of Hope

When Ezzie asked me to join this blog, I felt privileged to be a part of his group of friends. Friends who live amongst us, who feel the drive, and possess to the urge to impact the community. Of all of my fellow contributors I have met, the feeling of making a difference in the lives of our fellow Jews was there, each in their individual way. Which is why this article in Cross-Currents resonated so strongly with me. I hope it does for you as well.
Here are the parts which struck me:
I think that Rabbi Landesman’s point, however, deals not with antipathy, but deep-seated malaise in other circles, completely within the Torah camp. His essay resonated not only with the usual haredi-haters, but with many card-carrying haredim, who are disappointed, deflated or worse over problems that don’t go away. It would be a major mistake to write off the cynical critics as haters of authentic Torah. To the contrary, I continuously meet up with people living haredi lives (American style), sending their kids to haredi institutions, and having benefited from the best haredi chinuch themselves, who nonetheless are bitter and crushed. Their love for Torah continues unabated. They are disappointed because of that love, not despite it. Knowing what Torah is supposed to do for people and communities, having spent time in the presence of gadlus when they were younger, they resent more than anything else the blemishes and stains on the reputation of HKBH and His Torah. Every chilul Hashem is a blemish; recurring ones are larger blemishes. The largest are the ones that are not accidental, but foreseeable and institutionalized in The System. If anyone will deny such institutionalized failures, including here and there the cover-up of abuse and a tolerance for some kinds of enonomic crimes, I will declare myself on Rabbi Landesman’s side.
 As well as
There is often what to complain about, if not to the point of antipathy. I am tired of listening to the despair of people hurt by entrenched problems in the way we treat parnassah, shidduchim, chinuch. I am tired of listening to the pain of parents whose kids went off because the life style was unnecessarily restrictive or narrow. I am tired of hearing from ba’alei teshuvah who feel betrayed, and in some cases have walked out. They were “sold” on Yiddishkeit with descriptions of a community of personal happiness, marital bliss, and intellectual openness – only to discover that some exaggeration had been involved. I am tired of hearing from young marrieds at the end of their kollel careers who now realize that they have no skills and no reasonable chance bederech hateva to support their families.
If we discuss these things, we will be working b’ezras Hashem, to secure Torah for the future, not to dismantle it. And despite the edge in some of the voices on this blog in the past week, I am proud to be part of a forum that does allow for the airing of divergent views, within a Torah framework, and even criticism from the outside.
I believe the same holds true of our contributors. We are tired of the problems that pervade our community but not to the point of throwing in the towel. There is hope. An overall good structure can always survive necessary maintenance and get rid of its aberrant parts. The Torah doesn't tell us that "Lo Nitnah Torah Le'Malachei HaShareis- The Torah wasn't given to angels" for no reason. It was given to humans to improve our lives and the lives that we touch.

When I was a child I broke my arm, and while waiting in the waiting room for a doctor to see me I noticed a quote which has been stuck in my mind for almost 15 years "With every child's birth, it is proof that G-d hasn't given up on humanity." I do not recall who said it, but I think that everyone can understand the sentiment. We haven't given up even though we may be tired and weary after the centuries in exile. Nor has G-d given up on us.

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