Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Is Kiruv Education?

On Muqata blog there is a discussion about Christian missionaries in Modi'in. Jameel complains about the response of some of the "uber-liberals" in Modiin. The uber liberal in question wrote:
Btw. I know from personal experience that there are orthodox Jewish movements who are actively working on bringing secular Jews (back) to a religious lifestyle or trying to convince gentiles married to Jews to consider conversion to Judaism, but that wouldn't be considered missionary activity, right?
 To which Jameel responds sarcastically
Because after all, living in the Jewish State, educating people about Judaism should be outlawed (in Modi'in). (Stress Added)

Is Kiruv just Jewish education? Just teaching people about Judaism?

What rubbish. Kiruv is not just education for two reasons:

1. Kiruv only teaches Judaism as a means to get people to observe Orthodox Judaism. The primary goal of Kiruv movements is not to provide information but to use information to convince people to change their lives.

2. Certain Kiruv organizations provide false information that can hardly be called "education" but rather "manipulative indoctrination".

I doubt any Jew would be complaining about Christians teaching informative classes about Christianity in a university. The reason people don't like Christian missionaries is because they're not just teaching people who Jesus was for the hell of it but because they are actively trying to convince you to worship Jesus. Similarly if Aish HaTorah delivers a class on Gemara, I couldn't care less, however they don't just teach Gemara - but are selective in what they teach and try to use the teaching of  Jewish scriptures as part of a larger program of getting you to don a black hat, abandon your parents and become a mindless Orthodox sheep.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

The Extremism Paradox

It is interesting that two opposite extremes often agree on the interpretations of things.

Following up on the last post... I basically said that the only difference between "mitzvah-killing" in Judaism and "mitzvah-killing" in Islam, from an Orthodox perspective, is our Torah is right and their Quran is wrong.

My goal was to shatter the illusion that Orthodox Judaism is somehow more humane or moderate than other religions.

Ironically what seems to be an extremist on the other side of the spectrum basically agrees with me on a comment on one of Rabbi Slikfin's recent posts

TorahJew said...

Rabbi Slifkin, I'm not sure I understand your discussion here. If one believes that the Torah is God given, then there is no question -- it's actually a simple argument. God gave us the Torah. The Torah tells us to wipe out the nation of Amalek. End of story. The reason why terrorists have no moral basis is that the Koran (which they use to justify the killing of non-Muslims) was not given MiSinai. Am I missing something here? Or there is some issue with the idea of Torah MiSinai? (emphasis mine) 
Both of us are trying to show that flaws of "justifying" the Torah but for different reasons. 

TorahJew because to him moderation is not a "Torah True" virtue and the only virtuous thing in the world is complete and unquestioning dedication to God without any other standard of morality. Trying to justify killing Amalek is extraneous and comparing divinely inspired Judaism to foolish Islam is ridiculous. 

I because of my dedication to moderation and a non-theocentric morality - and my claim that Orthodox Judaism does no represent that ideal.

It's interesting is we are both doing the same exact thing but for different ends! Claiming that the Torah does not represent any sort of humanistic or moderate ideal.

Historically a similar "alliance" happened when it came to the interpretation of the Rambam's Moreh Nevuchim in the Middle Ages. The conservative zealots and the extreme rationalists, joined hands in a sense, both imputing to the Rambam very radical super-rationalistic ideas. The zealots to show what a shocking guy the Rambam really was, and the extreme rationalists in order to show that the Rambam was an extreme rationalist like them!

Just thought it was interesting ...

Sunday, 11 September 2011

God said it was ok...

Rabbi Slifkin posted this

Which got me thinking...

The only reason people accuse terrorists of being wrong is not because of their actions. Everyone, Radical Jihadist Muslims included agree that killing people is basically wrong. However, Jihadists believe that for the greater good and because, and this is important, Allah wants it - that an exceptions must be made.

Our disagreement boils down to contesting that very assumption i.e. that Allah wants it

Jews, Christians and other theists disagree because Muhammad and the Quran do not accurately represent the will of God.

Atheists disagree because they believe there is no God.

But I think most would agree that given that there is a benevolent and all knowing God, and given that this God wants you to kill some people, that that would be ok. Any moral offense you might personally feel to this directive stems from your short-sightedness. How can a puny mortal questions GOD's morality?

That being said killing Amalek is exactly the same as Jihad. The only difference is targets. The Orthodox Jew thinks that Biblical Jews knew who God really wanted killed and Muslims just happen to have got the wrong people. It follows that the act of religious killing itself is not the problem, the problem is one needs to make sure you got the right guy.

For an Orthodox Jew, I don't think you can object to religious killing per se, unless you deny God or literal word for word revelation. Since these are both tenets of Orthodox faith - I think it's time for Orthodox Jews out there to either rethink themsevles or rethink their visceral repulsion to Muslim terrorism.

Nebach! The poor terrorists are just trying to do Hashem's will, but unfortunately they just made a mistake when they ascribed divinity to the wrong prophet thus killing the wrong people...