Tag Archives: Jews

Rabbis are guides not dictators!!

I respect my rabbi. I respect the KoD’s rabbi. Until we move, we have two separate rabbis. My rabbi has been my spiritual leader for most of the past 13 years. If I have questions he is the competent local orthodox rabbi that I consult. I don’t believe in rabbi shopping. I ask all my questions to one rabbi. I don’t seek out the rabbi that will be the laxest.  I don’t believe in that. However, when it is KoD that will be doing the asking, he will ask his own rabbi. When we move, the KoD’s rav will be mine.

What I really don’t believe in is running to the rabbi or spiritual leader to ask about every single thing in your life. I live a religious life. I keep as many mitzvoth as I can. I know what it means to live as an Orthodox Jew. Occasionally questions come up – and when I am not sure about halacha I will consult the rabbi. I will not ask him whether the time is right for me to buy a new house, or if my son should be allowed to check his email, or if I should blog about how my husband loves my hair. I will not ask him when I am sick if I should take the medication or pray instead to get better. I won’t ask him if I can go to the movies Saturday night or if it’s ok for me to talk to my friend’s husband on the phone.

Why not? Firstly – because I don’t need rabbinical approval for every single thing I do in this life. I have my own moral compass. I have a brain. I can think things through, discuss with others, and am ok with the majority of my decisions. Not everything we do in life has to have the seal of rabbinical authority. Secondly, do I really think the rabbi wants to be bothered with the minutiae of all of his congregants’ lives? Does he care what brand of Kleenex you use, or whether your laundry detergent sat in a shopping cart where ham sat before? So much of what I hear people have asked their rabbi is narishkeit – nothingness, silliness.

A rabbi is there to teach us, to help us learn and grow. He is not there to control our lives. He is there to celebrate and commemorate with us – hatches, matches and dispatches (births, marriages and deaths); to visit the sick; to pay shiva visits; to help lift us up when we need it; to provide advice and counsel when warranted; to inspire us to be better servants of God. As far as I know, when a man is studying for his smicha, there isn’t a class on “how to control your congregants 101”. Being a rabbi is about encouraging the community to be better people, to be better Jews and to help them get there.

We can think for ourselves. I don’t need a rabbi thinking for me. And I highly doubt he wants to be the one to decide on everything in a congregant’s life.

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Help Me Out Here

What is the way to define the differences between a Chareidi Jew and a Chassidic Jew? (I am not talking mode of dress) Are there any differences? Are Chassidim just Chareidim who have a rabbi that they run to for every little thing? How would you define Misnagid vs Chassid to the uninitiated? I get a little confused sometimes with these terms, to be honest.

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of graffiti and terrorism

Today I came across an interesting new wall decoration in the stairwell near our apartment. It showed a Star of David – a six pointed star, a plus sign, then a five pointed star, an equals sign and the word PEACE. I guess the interpretation is up to the reader. I have interpreted it as “Jews and Arabs should be able to live together in Peace”. To me, the mere idea is preposterous. I would love, more than anything, to know that peace would be possible in our time. However, I know that I will never see peace in Israel between the Jews and the Arabs in my lifetime.

Ten days ago a lone gunman went into a school and murdered 8 young men in cold blood. I read that sentence, and it seems like another tragic school shooting in North America. One tells oneself that the shooter was probably teased and bullied until he was pushed over the edge. Unfortunately we have become slightly blasé about these shootings as they have sadly become more frequent. Let’s add some more words to that sentence, and it changes the meaning.

Ten days ago a lone Palestinian gunman went into a Jewish school in Jerusalem, Israel, and murdered 8 young men in cold blood. No longer does one think of a kid who snapped. The sentence is automatically redirected to the part of the brain that interprets this as a terrorist attack. These 8 young men who were cold bloodedly murdered were killed just because they existed. This “person” who took their lives, who stole their futures, did so because in his opinion a Jew is not fit to walk this earth.

This is what I think terrorism is about. It’s elitism. “I am better than you, therefore I have the right to kill you and claim your property, your land, as my own. I kill you, I show you that I have power over you.” In my eyes it’s not powerful to take a life in such a way. It’s cowardly. If your beliefs are so strong, if you truly believe that what you stand for is right and just, there are the proper channels to go through. A coward takes the life of an innocent. It takes a real man to stand up for his beliefs, to be proud of who he is, to fight for what he sees as right and just.

In the olden days battles were set up and fought on the battlefield, between armies, soldier against soldier, hand to hand combat. Lives were lost, yes, but they were the lives of those who signed up to fight. They knew what was at stake and were prepared to pay the ultimate price. When did it become ok to kill civilians, children, innocents who have nothing whatsoever to do with the conflict? Who decided it was ok to hate someone merely because of the colour of his skin, the shape of his eyes, or the place of his birth?

This person who murdered these boys was himself killed, and probably knew that his actions would lead to his death, and perhaps was comforted by the idea that there would be 72 virgins waiting for him in paradise. How many religions condone murder and suicide? Not only condone it, but promise a reward for such barbaric behaviour? (not that their Koran even mentions such rewards – it does not) How did it come to pass that some so-called religious people bring up their children with the idea that suicide is ok so long as you kill some “infidels” at the same time?

As a mother, I try every day to teach my children right from wrong, to have compassion for every person that walks on this earth as we are all G-d’s creations. It is for Him and Him alone to judge us, at the time that He deems our Judgement Day. I teach my children to tolerate all peoples, all religions, all ethnic groups, not to label anyone as bad or less-than, or better-than. However, when I hear that many Palestinians are taught at home, by mothers and fathers, and at school by their teachers, that they should hate all Jews – I find that a bitter pill to swallow. By this Palestinian logic my adorable 5 year old son should be hated by a Palestinian child of the same age. If they were both in public school in Podunk, North Dakota, they would be playing cars together and giggling over lunch.

We do not bring up our children to hate Palestinians. We do not teach them that the only good Arab is a dead Arab. We teach tolerance and acceptance. Yet how do we explain to our tolerant children why this man hated those boys so much? How do we explain to them that it was not a personal attack against these specific boys, that it was in essence an attack against the very core of our religion? How would you explain that to children who are taught the importance of living in harmony? How does one explain that when as an adult we cannot understand nor accept this painful truth?

How on earth can there even be a hope of peace when these people, those people who fund the terrorists organizations such as Hamas, hate us for the simple fact that we exist. How can you make peace with someone who rejects your right to live? How can we shake hands with our enemy, knowing full well that as soon as our back is turned they will shoot us, that while negotiations are in full swing, their compatriots are firing rockets and missiles at our schools and homes?

I think it is highly admirable to want peace. I question Israel’s leaders agenda in this whole process. What message does it give to the terrorists, when after we have buried our eight newest martyrs who were killed in such an horrific fashion, that Israel is still prepared to continue peace negotiations? “You killed our sons, the future of our country, but hey, that’s ok, we’ll forgive you this time, just promise not to do it again” – what are they thinking? Where is their loyalty to their people? Every single time, after every single terrorist attack in Israel, the politicians release a statement that these events will not derail the peace process. One has to wonder what will it take for the leaders of Israel to take a step back and say “Whoa, this has gone too far”? How many lives need to be lost before they wake up and realize the damage they have done?

I know that it is very easy for me to tell people what to do, to tell the politicians how to run Israel when I live safely in North America. When I send my kids to school knowing full well that they are much safer than their cousins in Israel. Yes, it is easy. But it is also difficult watching MY people suffer, their pain is my pain, I feel their frustration. I may not physically be there with my brothers and sisters, but spiritually I share their soul.

In Israel today there are no winners. In this latest attack, 8 Jewish sons were buried, one Arab son was buried too. Parents mourn their loss. The bond between parent and child transcends race, religion or creed. No parent wishes for their child to die. However, the gulf between those 8 sets of parents, and the one, could not be further apart.

I pray that there will be an end to this bloodshed. I pray that G-d in His infinite wisdom will help us to make sense of this awesome loss. May the memories of these innocent souls be blessed. May their families take comfort in the fact that G-d holds their boys so close to His heart, and that eventually we will be able to see in the bigger picture that their deaths were not in vain.