Yisrael Motzen

An Open Letter to Jewish Bloggers

Dear Jewish Blogger,

I envy you. I really do.

When the latest scandal, controversy, or news item comes up in my newsfeed, I need to have not only the details, but opinions as well, and you, the Jewish Blogger have them for me. You think so quickly that to many of us you are the news. You’re the one breaking the latest happenings in the Jewish world. Not only do you think quickly, but you write in a way that captures my undivided attention. That’s not an easy feat in this day and age and I admire your ability to write in such a candid and captivating fashion. You are sophisticated, worldly, passionate and heartfelt. My mind and heart are captive to your words.

You are also in a league of your own. The Jewish world is blessed with many great speakers but there is a very limited pool of quality Jewish Bloggers. In time, I am sure things will change, but for now there are a few of you who have a monopoly on my generation’s ideologies.

I am truly envious of your incredible talents and the impact you have.

What I don’t envy is the pressure you must feel. Every week, regardless of your mood or whether you have had time to digest the complexities of the issue, I and countless others are waiting for you to enlighten us. That must be some pressure.

And so before I go further I just want to sincerely thank you for providing for us in a way that no one else can. Most of you do this without any remuneration and that’s truly commendable. I want to let you know that although the many comments you receive are not always complimentary, at the bottom of our heart we love the venue that you’ve created, giving us the opportunity to share our own thoughts in response. That venue for intellectual exchange only exists because you’re brave enough to go first.

There’s only one thing that’s been bothering me and I wanted to ask you about it. In truth, it’s a question I should ask the many pulpit rabbis, speakers, and writers who share their ideas with others. I’m asking you though because your influence, at least in my opinion, is so much greater. The question is simple, almost simplistic – what’s the objective of your writings? You are making a terrific impression on all of us but what are you trying to accomplish with your blogs?

There are times that you share with me your insecurities and weaknesses. I admire the courage you have to do so. But what am I supposed to learn from them unless you teach me how you are trying to overcome them? If I know that you, an intelligent individual, struggle with your faith and I get the impression that you are comfortable with that, I sometimes feel like the bar for my own religiosity gets lowered in the process. I don’t think that’s your goal and that’s why I wonder.

There are times you share with me your thoughts about segments of the Jewish community other than your own. You usually write with the utmost respect and I commend you for that. What is the outcome of those social critiques? Often times your many readers use your statements as a rallying cry against those segments of the population that they already dislike. Your insightful observation is then [mis]used to further the divide that exists among our people.

In short, I agree with so much of what you say and feel. I imagine I’m not the only one and that’s why you’re so popular. However, there are times when I read your insights and ask myself, did this blog post just benefit the Jewish People or did we just take one more step backward?

With much admiration and respect and waiting excitedly for your next post,

Yisrael Motzen

Yisrael Motzen is the spiritual leader of Ner Tamid, a Modern Orthdox congregation in Baltimore, MD. He authors a weekly blog on Jewish thought and delivers weekly classes in the Sixth and I Synagogue in Washington, DC. 


About the Author
Yisrael Motzen, a native of Montreal, Canada, serves as rabbi of Ner Tamid Greenspring Valley Synagogue in Baltimore, MD. He is a graduate of Ner Israel Rabbinical College and holds an M.A. in Clinical Community Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.