Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

New year’s resolutions, who are we fooling?

No one, because the Jewish Tradition is a proper guide to a good life and self-improvement

The Jewish New Year has started, and Yom Kippur is around the corner. What do we mean by promising personal improvements to merit life and prosperity, happiness and health, etc.?

The way to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Classical Christianity takes its critique of Judaism even further: “Jewish Law asks the impossible of mortal humans. It sets goals that can’t be met.” So, it did away with prescripts and advises to love someone who was a superhuman and the only one ever able to reach such perfection.

I wouldn’t be an Orthodox Jew if I hadn’t found solutions to that.

I heard recently from Rabbi Lubin that, first of all, we need to renew our vows once a year. Just like happy couples sometimes do after decades. It was a good journey, but it needs finetuning and renewal. We take upon ourselves all the Commandments anew without any ifs or buts.

But then, we need to be realists. Let’s look at where we are holding in each and every detail the Jewish Tradition prescribes. And on every issue, we should make a tiny improvement. Really small. We need to stay under the radar of the Evil Inclination. Just like the latter says: “What’s one more cigarette?” (twenty times a day), bypassing the Good Inclination, we’ll say: What’s just one time saying the Shema’ in a lifetime? This minute change does two things.

It breaks through stagnation and habit.

And it allows us to make “just one more” minuscule next adjustment for the good.

And then a subsequent one. Etcetera.

But, many improvements we make for the High Holidays we undertake without any promise to maintain them. We may even be certain to abandon them as soon as the Holidays are over.

And, anyway, things will deteriorate. Forget about keeping up with the Jones (or the Cohens). Keeping up with our Good Inclination is already a real job—an impossible job.

And we weren’t ever perfect, so even if we’d stay steady, what credit will we create?

Once a month, we have a small Yom Kippur. Every evening before retiring, we say we’ll do better from now on. And still, we stay flawed all our lives. Are Christians right then?

And then our argument with Classical Christianity comes in. Most of us will never reach perfection, but we’re constantly trying to get there. And trying makes all the difference.

As Rabbi Cardozo said, many years ago, at a Shabbat Shuvah Sermon in Har Nof: Jews could never perpetrate a holocaust. That could only be brought about by people who heard all their lives for dozens of generations that they’re no good, unfit, failures, ungodly.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach says it like this. The whole world is one giant hospital. We’re all here for healing. When you claim to be perfect, you’d better write your last will because the next day you’ll be dead, since the purpose of you being here will have ended.

May all Jews and all of humanity—for whom we pray too—have a fantastic new year.

My friend Rabbi Cardozo’s work can be supported here.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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