Monday, July 19, 2010

932. Sinat hinam

As a lifelong New Yorker, I take for granted that no one cares that I'm a liberal Jewish woman who chants Torah and leads services. Any kind of religious practice is tolerated in this city, as long as it doesn't involve murder or riding the subway completely naked (partially naked would be OK).

So events like these, below, make me not just angry, but incredulous. I love Israel, and respect her right to have a Church-managed State, but that's no excuse to turn religious principles into a parody of themselves. What halakha justifies pushing a woman down a flight of stairs at our holiest site? Or forcibly wrestling a sefer Torah out of the arms of a peaceful, praying Jew because you don't approve of her style of prayer?

Anat Hoffman Arrested for Carrying Torah

Or giving a small and provably corrupt group of Israeli rabbis the power to legislate who can be called a Jew, instantly alienating most of those throughout the world who have, both spiritually and financially, supported Israel for decades? (My mother would have called it "cutting off your nose to spite your face.")

The Diaspora Need Not Apply

Hillel said "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." (Shabbat 31a). I guess the rabbis at the Kotel would disagree. On second thought, Hillel was clearly misguided. Writes Alana Newhouse:

"It will do little good, too, to point out that it is well outside the consensus established by Hillel — arguably the greatest rabbi in all of rabbinic Judaism and whom, as Joseph Telushkin argues in a forthcoming book, was willing to convert a pagan on the spot, simply because he’d asked."

What was he thinking?

As we approach Tisha be-Av this evening, I pray that all the genuine goodness in the world, and there is an awful lot of it, may be a stronger force than the sinat hinam, the baseless hatred.

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