December 13, 2007
Annapolis, Chanukah, Jerusalem, Not So Weird
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Kathy Hallgren
Rob Eshman's revisionist assessment of the Kabbalah Centre asserts that Judaism in its traditional form is elitist and not accessible to American Jews.
Aside from the fact that the commercialization and distortion of complex ideas by the Phillip Berg contingent has created a completely alien hybrid of New Age religion, self-help ego-driven psychology and reductivist versions of Jewish mysticism, this notion that Judaism itself is not enough for American Jews needs to be seriously addressed.
While Orthodoxy has proven to be incompatible with the strictures of modern American life, and the other denominations have eviscerated much of the traditional halacha, there is little discussion about the scholastic traditions of Spain and the Middle East in the debate.
The Sephardic tradition -- bastardized and transformed beyond any rational understanding by this new Kabbalah scam -- has maintained within it the seeds of what my teacher, Rabbi Jose Faur, has called "religious humanism," a blending of the parochially Jewish with the secular sciences and humanities. Such a religious ethos may be found in the writings of Maimonides and his many heirs.
An American representative of this Sephardic tradition was Rabbi Sabato Morais of Philadelphia (1823-1897), a man sadly unknown to young Jews who could use him for a model. With the devaluation of Sephardim from the Jewish dialogue, a figure such as Morais has been set aside.
Rather than looking to the fad of the moment, we should be looking for models within our Jewish tradition that speak to the needs of a generation that has been victimized by New Age scams like the Kabbalah Centre and its ilk.
Center for Sephardic Heritage
'Chanukah and Adult Faith'
Have these "rabbinic" students nothing better to do than to flop out the book of Maccabees to prove how the Hasmoneans were actually war criminals ("Chanukah and Adult Faith," Nov. 30)?
After reading her inaccurate understanding of our history and our holiday of Chanukah, one could only conclude that she would have gladly joined the ranks of the Hellenists, had she lived back then, and then the religion she would need to come to terms with would have ceased to exist.
Perhaps this is the main reason Danya Ruttenberg finds the holiday so troubling. For it is not a holiday that commemorates a victory on the battlefield, nor even a holiday about freedom of religion. The holiday of Chanukah is actually God's practical joke on Ruttenberg and her coreligionists.
How ridiculous she must seem to be lighting a menorah, when she is one step away from assimilation, despite her rabbinic aspirations, and miles from authentic Jewish thought. Indeed, it is revealing how she never questions the Book of Maccabees, but yet our Talmud to her is rife with historical revisions and half-truths.
If she would have been taught that Chanukah is actually an anti-assimilation holiday, about rededicating oneself to our Torah and fulfilling the precepts therein, her confusion may have been remedied. But her knowledge is devoid of this simple fact because she has actually abandoned the Torah, choosing to follow only what she deems right in her eyes. If she ne eds dedication to honesty, surely she could admit this.
Her insights included the dubious idea that the eight-day miracle was invented for purposes of diverting attention from a Jewish victory on the battlefield, so that our new rulers would not feel threatened by another uprising. This ridiculous notion she swallows whole from scholars she neglects to name and spews back at us to further confuse, demoralize and misinform the people she intends to enlighten.
She has turned our beloved sages into liars; no wonder she has no respect for them. In her eyes, our sages have done the near impossible -- convinced an entire people for over two millennia to light candles for eight days to commemorate a miracle that never occurred. These sages are masters of conspiracy, having also convinced everyone to eat matzah for eight days to commemorate another historical fairy tale: the Exodus.
It is sad to think that some day she will be a rabbi, will be teaching a new generation to accept her rendition of history and compel them to take responsibility for the Hasmonean crimes.
I suggest she institute for herself and them a public pelting of themselves with latkes, followed by a three-legged footrace up the hill to claim the moral high ground. Afterward, they can gather by a Chanukah bush to sing carols and relate tales of childhood woe, of having to grow up with nothing to celebrate.
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