Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Greatest Threat to Judaism

A while back Jonathan Rosenblum wrote a column dealing with extravagant Pesach vacations at 5 star hotels. It was claimed by one Rav who Jonathan said had much wisdom that this was the single most important issue facing Klal Yisroel.

In a subsequent article after reading some of the many responses to his article Jonathan back-peddled a bit.

I have already commented on it. As did Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, who had his own take on the issue. After thinking about it Rabbi Horowitz has decided to write a series of articles addressing what he believes to be the issues that are the greatest dangers facing Judaism.

I find it difficult to point to a single issue. One of the most important to me is the near de-legitimization of modern Orthodox Judaism by the right wing. The more Klal Yisroel grows and moves to the right the greater chance that there will be permanent irrevocable divisions in Klal Yisroel. Already some on the right are predicting modern Orthodoxy will drift out of Orthodoxy entirely to become yet another heretical movement ala the Conservative movement.

But many issues qualify as dangerous in my view. Poverty among Charedim is one.The lack of a decent secular education - especially in Israel - combined with their exponential growth is another one. Kanaus (extremism) in certain circles is another. The shift to the right - taking on ever more Chumros is another. Sex abuse in the all segments of Orthodoxy is yet another. All of these are issues that are a real danger to our survival.

Others issues might include how we relate to secular Jews or how we present ourselves to the nations of the world. Or how we relate to the State of Israel.

One might also consider the way in which Askanim have taken control in areas here-to-fore untouchable by them - areas that they have no business taking control – manipulating great Torah leaders. Which in turn puts a big question mark on rabbinic leadership in general.

Messainic Lubavitchers, Agunos, personal status issues (Gerus) should all be considered. I’m sure there are a lot more serious issues, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

Personally I cannot choose which issue is the most serious. Obviously sex abuse is the most devastating on a personal level. To those who are victims and their families that is surely the number one issue. It's hard to dispute that this is the singular most important issue of the day. Indeed it affects all of us if even one of us is victimized. And it is more than one.

But as serious as this is it might be argued that even as it affects all of the Klal it is not the most important issue affecting it. The other issues, though not as personally destructive are broader and affect more people in a more immediate way.

Rabbi Horowitz asks what others may think are the most dangerous issues to Judaism. I too wonder what others think.