Yes, unfortunately the ordinary Jews are disconnected from the rabbinical community. A lot of statistical data obtained in the last few decades support this statement. For example, as analyzed in
most Jews are not religious – only 16 percent of Jews go to synagogue once a month or more often – only a half of Jews believe in God.
The paper asserts that the chief reason why most contemporary Jews are irreligious, given that the Jews gave the world the Bible and introduced humanity to the God of monotheism, is that the traditional Judaism was unable to keep most Jews religious once Jews were free to leave the ghettos and shtetls (small Jewish towns or villages throughout Eastern Europe) in which most Jews lived.
So the majority of the Jews are nor religious – they are disconnected from the rabbis and synagogues. A disconnect from the rabbis and synagogues weakens the true Torah-guidance and therefore the core of being Jewish. Why it is so, how did it happen?
About two hundred years ago, the great majority of Jews belonged to the synagogues, and the rabbis were the only spiritual decision makers. Everywhere in the Nation of Israel, the word of a rabbi was undisputable on what the Jews as the Chosen have to believe and on how to follow the beliefs in the real life, and the real life was in the confinement of small isolated Jewish communities.
About two hundred years ago everything had begun to change.
The change was forced upon by new life conditions of the Nation of Israel. Those new life conditions were shaped by the decision of most Christian European countries to allow the Jews get out of physical and spiritual isolation and openly compete with Gentiles in most spheres of the real life. And the Jews were ready to compete, believing that their Jewish Torah-based spirituality let them overcome all historic impediments and win. As always was in the Jewish history, the rabbis were supposed to Torah-guide the Jews through the new exiting life challenges.
Unfortunately it didn’t happen – the traditional, Orthodox rabbis were unable to tailor Halachic concepts to new life conditions of the Nation of Israel. The rabbinical community believed the Jews should continue to be the Chosen inside the gates of our Jewish communities – the outside Gentile world was considered to be a hostile one, trying to eliminate the Jews – now not physically but rather spiritually.
What happened was the creation of different non-traditional Jewish spiritual movements guided by new Jewish leaders who were inspired less by the Torah and more by the secular ideas. They were Jewish spiritual movements such as Reform, Humanistic, Cultural, Atheist, Zionist, and even Communist.
In those new spiritual movements, it looked like the Jews began to fulfill their mission of the Chosen, most probably instinctively, among the Gentiles of Judeo-Christian world, working together with the Gentiles on building a better, Torah-guided world for everybody. The majority of them began to fulfill their mission of the Chosen in the completely new life conditions disengaged from their rabbis. And such disengagement continues now.
I have discussed this challenge with many rabbis, and their response was nor encouraging.
A typical reaction of an Orthodox rabbi
This rabbi believes that the mission of the Chosen that God assigned to the Jews is fulfilled by performing prayers and going 613 mitzvoth and that God Himself will take care of the non-Jewish world where the Jews reside now. This rabbi acts not as a teacher but rather as an authoritarian who believes that any Torah-based discussion should be conducted with rabbis of his stature – any discussions with others denigrate the Torah itself and a rabbi who gets involved in it. This rabbi thinks the rabbi’s work on preserving the clarity of the Torah guidance in his interpretation is of utmost importance; if the Jewish majority doesn’t understand his interpretation of the Torah guidance, it is the problem of those who don’t understand him – not his failure as a teacher.
A typical reaction of a Reform rabbi
Of course, the Torah mentioned the Jews as the Chosen. But that is history. In our free democratic society people of all religions are equal – we cannot pretend we are better as the Chosen, and therefore it better not to discuss it at all.
A reaction of a Torah-wise concerned rabbi
Yes, indeed we the Jews are the Chosen, and we were chosen by God to help the others learn the Torah guidance for the entire world. However, we have so many unresolved problems with maintaining our synagogues and membership that we have no time to do something else.
The dwindling number of the truly Torah-obeying Jews is nor a consequence of the desire to stop being Jewish-wise Chosen – rather it is the absence of rabbis’ Torah-based guidance on how to be Jewish-wise Chosen in contemporary Judeo-Christian world outside the confinement of Jewish communities. We need a new type of rabbis who can Torah-guide the Jews as the Chosen in creating a Torah-based better Judeo-Christian world.