Translate

15.9.14

Reform movement of Judaism.

While I was growing up in Beverly Hills my family went to Temple Israel in Hollywood. [note 1]

That is where I had my bar mitzvah. This was basically a very positive experience. [note 2] But I have two areas of criticism that I would like to address to the Reform movement of Judaism. One area is the area of bein adam lechavero between man and his fellow man. The other is between man and God [bein Adam Lemakom].
It is known that Reform has issues with many mitzvot. I am not sure how to deal with that here. But it does seem to me they went a little bit too much in the direction of making things permitted that the Torah forbids.  While I can imagine they would say that the Orthodox have gone too far in making things forbidden that the Torah allows. But here I want to give a critique of the Reform not the Orthodox.

 But there is another area that I think most Reform shuls synagogues would agree that we should improve on: that is Musar. [Musar meaning classical Musar; the books of Jewish ethics written during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.]

The advantage that Musar has for all Jews including Reform Jews is not just in character improvement but in the area of world view. Without Musar it is very difficult to come up with a consistent world view that corresponds to the world view of the Torah. That is you can read the Star of Redemption of Rosenzweig and the Guide for the Perplexed of Maimonides and still the world view of the Torah can be far off. Because world view is not the same as philosophy. It is the exact opposite of philosophy. It philosophy examines ones beliefs. world view is the glasses one wears to see the world .
 Perhaps Reform were too optimist they they would find and understand the basic approach of the Torah without use of dusty Medieval books.  And to some degree you can understand why. Reform is based in the USA and Americans  are by nature optimistic and the 1950s were unique in the history of the USA as being the ear people thought everything was possible. To eradicate all disease and racism and better the lot of all mankind. And when you had  the great Sartre and Freud to understand the nature of Human life who needed medical moralists? Nowadays all that seem incredibly naive but then it was common place

I know some people want to disenfranchise reform Jews completely but that seems to be based on an an approach that assumes that Orthodox Judaism is perfect. I think if I would have to choose between Reform and Orthodox I would go with Reform  simply because they have a lot of the between man and his fellow man part of the Torah in the right order of priorities.   Still I think they need Musar to improve their approach.


[note 1] This had nothing to do with movies. It was just that my Dad's place of work was at TRW which was in commuting distance while he was working on laser communication for the SDI project or Star Wars as it came to be called.]

[note 2] If I would be in Los Angeles I would never go near the Orthodox there because in the world view of Torah the between man and his fellow man comes before rituals. If I would be too far from Temple Israel on Shabat  then I would just have to buy myself a set of the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch and learn at home. But I would not go to any Orthodox place because the Orthodox in Los Angeles are not Kosher.