Monday, December 26, 2005

Derech Eretz - good for those who have it

The following is a true story:

A bit more than one week ago, in a Jewish community in a nice European city, a group of about 18-19 years old religious Jewish girls decided to go to have fun on motzei shabbos by going to an ice rink. It was almost a week left till Saturday, so they made their plans. They talked about it several times during the week again. So after Havdala they prepared and set out to have fun on the ice... only to discover the ice rink was closed for Xmas.

This is completely serious. The city is not Antwerpen. The girls are pursuing a secular education at university. And they're not aware of a major public holiday, which also happens to be a religious holiday for the majority of their city's population. Within a week's advance they didn't notice it.

Isolationism is a serious danger to Judaism. Going back to the ghetto shouldn't be our future. Throughout centuries, millennia even, we have managed to practise Judaism in the respective epoques, we shouldn't amishize now.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Evolution - just wondering

It seems like many fundamentalists of diverse religions seem to insist on the idea of "Intelligent Design". Isn't this strange? Why would an omnipotent, omnipresent deity have to "intelligently design" each species individually? Wouldn't it be more appropriate for such a deity to establish them through a sophisticated random process? Something like... evolution?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Antisemitism: Miss France

Shown on this picture is Alexandra Rosenfeld, Miss France 2006, who was elected sunday evening in a TV show.

As reported by , a Jewish news website, soon after her election, websites appeared, insulting her with antisemitic remarks, including "sale youpine", "sale" meaning "dirty" and "youpin/e" being a cuss word for Jew/ess.

Whereas the web hosts have deleted the websites and forum messages by now (some are still available via Google cache), none of the non-Jewish media mentioned the incident. Antisemitism has become normal in France.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Why I am not a Religious Zionist (dati leumi)

Dear Friends,

This is my first post on this blog, and also the first one in a series on Zionism.

1. What is Religious Zionism?

As a reaction to secular Zionism, which was basically the Jewish version of 19th century nationalism, Religious Zionism emerged. The essential idea is to find religious justifications for secular nationalism. By reclaiming the Holy Land as defined by the Torah. The state to be created would by run on Halacha, Jewish religious law, or rather the Religious Zionists' understanding thereof. Through all this, the coming of Moshiach would be hastened.

2. Practical Implications

The forethinker of Religious Zionism, R. Kook, wanted his state to have male vote only, forbid or limit the right to land ownership and even the mere presence of non-Jews. If any of my dear readers wonders what this kind of state would be like, I recommend them to visit the Islamic "Republic" of Iran. There you have the state inforce things like religious dress rules for women. You also risk penal sanctions for playing music with female voices in it.

3. Criticism

Human rights come first and must absolutely be respected. If any extremists are reading this blog and disagree with my statement, let me cite the Talmud: "Kavod haBrios doche lo saasei she beTorah". Considering this, what about a state based on Torah law, with the limitation that it would respct human rights? Well, sorry, but that's antithetical to the Jewish concept of free choice. Even if the state enforces only laws that don't limit one's human rights, it takes away your free choice. And it would, at least in the RZ view of Halacha, create permanent inequality between citizens. One more fundamental point is yet to be mentioned: How do we know that state would bring Moshiach? We don't. It's just a claim they make. Can we predict future? I don't think so.

4. Religious Zionism today

Apart from Meimad, a small Avoda-aligned movement which sees the state as divine grace, but agrees with disengagement and doesn't want to force religion on people, most movements that have roots in Religious Zionism or who consider themselves to be Religious Zionists, joined the "Orange" movement against disengagement from the occupied Gaza area. They ignored that one should always do what saves Jewish lives (pikuach nefesh), except if that would mean to commit murder, idolatry or incest. For them, the country seems to be so important that they're willing to continue having Jews die because there is no peace, in spite of Torah. Some of the most extreme Religious Zionists have even gone as far as murdering, Yigar Amir y'sh killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin z''l and Eden Natan Zada y''sh murdered some Arabs during the recent disengagement from Gaza. Some individuals I talked to couldn't find anything wrong with these murders, and almost all Religious Zionists I asked favor ethnic cleansing, the forced deportation of Arabs from the Israel and occupied territories to Arab countries such as Jordan.