Archive for July, 2009

July 30, 2009

Free Love?

The Talmudic tradition cites “Sinat Chinam”, “senseless hate”, as the cause of the destruction of the Temple. Every year when this season rolls around I hear people pushing for the corrective movement of Ahavat Chinam, which literally translates believe it or not as “free love”.

“Free Love” comes cheap, and is worth little in my book.  I prefer “Ahavat Emet” – True Love – as the corrective stance. The world will be built on our ability to assign value and connect our Love to things that stand true, and people who stand true. The challenge is to find truth even in those who you would not naturally love, this is a supreme effort, it is anything but free. It is the most valuable thing to be found.

July 28, 2009

“Women in Shul” from the Tzohar Conference

For those of you who don’t know what Tzohar is – it is closest the “Dati Leumi” Rabbis in Israel come to a professional organization of there own. Every year I come to the annual conference, which is torture to my ADD side, but provides me with an important window in to the world of my peers. (I also wonder why they always call it for the nine days, who wants to be packed into a room with rabbis who have not showered in days?).

The first session which I joined was a discussion on the role of women in the synagogue. Immediately a few of us pointed out was that while the conference is open to women who comprise at least half the participants, this particular session was a closed session for Rabbi’s, in other words no Women were present. The other thing which was very apparent to me was the fact that the Rabbi’s who were present were speaking under the illusion that they have control over the social reality out there, and they were not in touch with the shift which our younger chevre have taken away from rabbinic authority.

Both of these issues are obviously connected to one another and they both come from being stuck in a patriarchal mind set which revolves around a hierarchical authority based model, a masculine model. What I see evolving in the field is very different. There is an autonomous voice emerging in the world, the voice of individuals who do not depend on the agency of a rabbi to access the sources, and who are engaged in a direct dialogue with the traditional definitions of Halacha. The challenge to rabbi’s is to recast themselves in the role of process facilitators, not dictators of law. We will be sought out for our ability to guide this process, and bring a measure of depth and maturity to the independent seeker and thinker. This is a shift to a more feminine model of leadership, and will meet much resistance in the Men’s club.

So while I was surprised to hear a relatively broad range of opinions that were given voice and legitimacy, I could not help but feel that this meeting of minds was a bit out of sync with reality.