Monday, January 18, 2010

892. Status

This essay in Haaretz caught my eye:

Why rabbis sin

The author writes, in part:

" ... Across the Jewish world, one scandal followed another: corrupt and criminal activity among kosher slaughterers and kashrut supervisors, drug smuggling, theft and other illegal financial practices, racial discrimination, sexual abuse, some rabbis recorded demanding sex for conversions and others taking drugs and employing prostitutes. One after another, the headlines have reiterated a sad litany of corruption among Orthodox Jews, in many cases among their rabbinical leaders.

None of this is new ... I am tired of making excuses. Once I would argue that 2,000 years of oppression, hatred and exclusion had taught the Jews to do whatever they needed to survive. Or, I would note that much of Orthodox Jewry nowadays is barely a generation removed from life in an Eastern Europe where the state was an enemy and everyone had to break the rules in order to evade the discriminatory regimes. ... It may be true that every religion has a similar problem, but that's no excuse. I don't deny the goodness, charity and spirituality that do exist within Orthodoxy, but I am concerned about so many who let the side down, and an automatic tendency of authority to blame the messenger.

All closed groups behave this way, not only Orthodox Jews ..."

Yes. I read the article thinking not of Orthodoxy, his focus, but many aspects of the Jewish world at large. It doesn't matter how we choose to pray or observe; once we start to feel comfortable with our status—whether at the top of the heap, or righteously oppressed—we run the risk of becoming complacent, no longer fighting to change our own lives but rather trying to change everyone else's to fit neatly into ours. Life is one big Catch-22. You finally get where you want to be and discover that you're someone else, often someone not very nice, once you're there.

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