Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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The Wrong Message for the Day

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

17tamuz

Today is the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day and the beginning of the “3 weeks” – a traditional period of reflection for the disasters of the past which the Jewish people have faced.

The typical response to this period of time is calls for personal reflection and improving in one’s religious observance and Torah study.  And there is little doubt we can always do better in both.

Somehow as we focus on these, we continually seem to MISS THE POINT.  This focus is on Mitzvot Bain Adom L’Makom – the mitzvot or observances between man and G-d.  Yet we are taught the reason for the disasters during this period of time was Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred or hatred for our fellow.  We are similarly taught during the period after Passover, when the students of Rabbi Akiva died from a plague, the reason was improper respect and appreciation for their fellow scholar’s positions.

In other words, the focus SHOULD BE upon the Mitzvot Bain Adom L’Chavero, the Jewish religious observances between man and man, neighbor and neighbor, community and community.

Loving our fellow, doing good in our community, tolerating and even appreciating those who’s practices differ but remain kosher. 

Tolerance AND appreciation.

Rabbi Ariel bar Tzadok of KosherTorah.com put it this way…

Close to two thousand years ago, zealot extremists in the Judean religious camps entrenched themselves in delusional beliefs, and convinced that G-d was on their side, declared war against the world. 

It was not enough for these suicidal fanatics to declare war against the Roman government, these self-same sanctimonious fundamentalists also declared war on their own people, on all other members of their religion who did not embrace their narrow, extremist interpretations.

History recorded the results. There was a holocaust. The (Holy Jewish) Temple, Jerusalem, and most of the land of Israel was destroyed. Casualties were over a million. All this tragedy came about because of fanatical religious extremism. All blame for what happened must be laid fully at the feet of the delusional zealots, those that supported them, and equally upon those who could have spoken out against them, but were silenced by fear or apathy…

The extremist, fundamentalist and zealot all look into their religion to seek out and embrace every element within it that can be twisted to justify narcissism, elitism, separatism, racism and the disregard, disrespect, and outright hatred on anyone outside their own isolated extremist camp.

Since Biblical times, the Torah path (the kosher Jewish path) has expressed an almost libertarian sense of tolerance towards variant religious beliefs and practices. One can simply look into the earliest of Rabbinic literature to see recorded how different religious opinions are mentioned side by side. Very often, even the most divergent of opinions are hotly debated, often without any resolution. Yet, this is considered totally acceptable.

There is a very famous Rabbinic statement, "Elu v'Elu Divrei Elokim Hayim, these and these are the words of the living God." It has always been the way of the Torah Sages to be embracing and tolerant of the many different opinions of others. One can see this mentality expressed on every page of the Babylonian Talmud.

The Sages existing in the times of the Temple saw firsthand the devastating influence of extremist fundamentalism. One of the leading Sages of the day was Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai. He was caught in Jerusalem at the time when the extremists took control of it, thus provoking war with Rome.

The assaulting Romans did not know or understand Torah. In Roman eyes, the extremists were no different from all other Torah faithful. Rabbi Yohanan had to take the chance to try convince the Roman authorities that this was not so. Rabbi Yohanan was desperate to ensure that the Torah itself would survive this war with Rome.

In order to reach the Roman authorities, Rabbi Yohanan had to fake his own death in order to sneak out of zealot controlled Jerusalem. Once free from the extremist, fundamentalist oppressors, Rabbi Yohanan went directly to the head of the Roman forces to plead his cause.

The Roman general was not unsympathetic. He granted Rabbi Yohanan's wish that a town be established for Torah scholars, who would be devoted to their religion, instead of being involved with extremism, fundamentalism, and politics. This town was Yavneh, and it is because of Yavneh that Torah traditions have survived to this day.

Following in the proper Torah path that tradition states began with Aharon, Moses' brother, Rabbi Yohanan was pliant and tolerant. Therefore, he survived. The extremist, fundamentalist zealots, were intolerant and inflexibly rigid. Therefore, they died, and they did not die alone, they brought down in flames over a million along with them.

We see from this that the way of the extremist, fundamentalist zealot is not the way of life, rather it is the way of death. Torah commands us to chose a path that brings us towards life and its abundances. On the contrary, the extremist zealot was/is the opposite of Torah, choosing separatism and elitism as their excuses in embracing a path that is destroying their communities from within. Their zealot revival in the present day is a direct slap in the face to the all the great Torah Sages throughout the generations.

…Torah is about righteousness and shining the light of morals and ethics. Anything contradicting this is not Torah. Anyone contradicting this is not walking the path of Torah, even when they describe themselves as Torah zealots.

The path of this day, the lesson of this day, is Ahavas Yisroel – Tolerance – Acceptance – even Appreciation for our fellow and his path.  Standing silent as the zealots put forth intolerance which eventually turns to violence is to be complicit.  Sinat Chinam must not be allowed to stand.

4 comments:

Neshama said...

I'm in agreement with you.

Is it possible that these extremists are the Erev Zeir? On one side we have the Erev Rav that fight Jewish Religious practice, and on the opposite pole are the Erev Zeir (Siccari)?

Efraim said...

This birrur is a matter of utmost priority , but the generalizations of the accusations, without specific references and detailed analysis of the problem, not only doesn't help, but provides justification to our enemies and weakens our hands , I am afraid.

Anonymous said...

Are secularists also not zealots to their cause?

The good Rabbi seems to be implying that only the Haredim are zealots.

This is both incorrect and very unfair!!!

The truth is that the secularist fanatics make the most zealous religious people look moderate!!!

Shiloh said...

Read the Dead Sea Scrolls. Read the works by Prof Robert Eiseman who is the most knowledgable in that time period of factual history, not talmudic redactions and tales. Funny how the 'rabbi's' of that time period invited in the romans in order to solidify their control over the Jews. The lies just continue on. They even have everyone convinced to whom they point to as the erev rav, when it is themselves. It is these same rabbi's who will hinder the geulah. Wake up people, wake up.

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