Please forgive me if I sound a bit upset. I just read an article on the Internet from an Orthodox rabbi from a giant congregation in the US whom I don’t follow and don’t know. And it says such nonsense.
It actually sounds just like Christianity. Not that sounding like a Christian is something bad — for a Christian. But an Orthodox rabbi writing like that?
If I understood him well, he wants us to love G^d. G^d doesn’t need us to follow Jewish Law because He only gave the Commandments to help us love Him. Who needs Christian missionaries with a rabbi like that?
No! G^d doesn’t need our love either. Is that hard to grasp? But if the choice is between us following Jewish Law and loving G^d, G^d wants the former. The Sages (Midrash Lamentations Rabbah on Jeremiah 16:11) explain that G^d opines: “I wish they would leave Me but keep My Torah” (הלואי אותי עזבו ותורתי שמרו). (The opposites of what Christians do.)
Jewish Law gives us a good life and a good afterlife. How G^d, Who loves us, could not want us to have those, is beyond me. I’m baffled how a dati rabbi could reduce Judaism to: just give your heart to Jesus oops G^d.
Orthodox Judaism has a whole range of opinions and as a Dutch person I have no trouble being tolerant to opinions different from mine. Yet, some things just got to be outside of the pale of Judaism.
The rabbi also mentions that G^d is not the punishing Type. He loves us.
Well, the Rabbis teach us that G^d is thousands of times more loving than strict. But Divine Punishment is a must too (Maimonides’ 13 Principles).
Fear of Heaven doesn’t mean that one should be terrified of G^d — He loves us. But we don’t do away with Awe of G^d altogether either. Fear of Heaven is like a safety belt. It should not stop you from breathing but it should stop you from getting into trouble in a rash moment.
This modification too sounds like the old anti-Judaism as if Christians pray to a G^d of love and Jews should stop worshipping their bloodthirsty god.
(Echoes of which I detect in the headline of a news report yesterday that falsely claimed that PM Netanyahu said that if the rockets keep coming, we’ll hit back ‘with no mercy.’ This, while actually the random rockets at our population are a war crime and a crime against humanity and the IDF is extremely careful to cause as little collateral damage as possible.)
I’m not a rabbi but I love Jews too. Please don’t follow such things or such rabbis until they come to their (Jewish) senses again. If he is a wonderful human being, please distinguish between that and any warped philosophy.
I tried to track down this rabbi. I found a long YouTube clip entitled “Judaism on Christianity with Rabbi Efrem Goldberg” but that has nothing of the above article. It is almost boring how traditional, common, and good this is. Though it seems removed from his synagogue’s website. I reached out to the rabbi for comments but even in several days, he didn’t respond. This could very well be another rabbi by the same, popular, rabbinic name.