Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

The Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem got it all wrong

Don’t get me wrong. They must be very intelligent and holy, knowledgeable and wise. But apparently one can be all of that and still wrong.

They want Jerusalemites to push back on Shabbat violations. That should happen by closing all entertainment that happens on Shabbat (so that non-religious will flee the city), no spending any money in stores that are open on Shabbat (so that they must start toeing the line) and broadcasts of the Shabbat candle lighting times (for those who don’t know what the weekly siren means?). How could that be wrong? I’ll tell you.

If G^d wanted us to keep Shabbat, He would have forced us. But He didn’t. He commanded us and that’s it. He wants us to choose Shabbat. Free Will – heard of it?

If the Chief Rabbis want to play G^d, they should make Shabbat keeping something worthwhile. They should spread teaching the value of Shabbat. But better still: increase the experience of Shabbat.

They should call upon the religious Jerusalemites to invite non-religious Jews for a Shabbat meal. There is no learning like that from practice.

But that’s not all. Instead of preaching to guests, the hosts should learn to respect their guests. That means listening to them, supporting them, loving them and trying to learn from them. If they think they’re superior, they will not succeed teaching the Jewish way. And they will miss out on learning Jewish ways that the non-religious specialize in!

Of course, this is all not so simple. But that is what G^d wants: that we earn our merit by the sweat of our brow, instead of lazily claiming that we’re OK and that we should just be trying to enforce compliance.

We Jews are commanded to love all Jews – not just the ones who look like us, do like us and think like us. The Chief Rabbis warn against political trends to commercialize Jerusalem 7/24. What they propose is the same: politics, going by profit and numbers for their narrow goals. Yet, they should stop playing the sole representatives of the religious.

* * *

There are only three options to get more Shabbat observance:

1. To make laws to protect workers rights. Yet, the Jewish way is to strengthen the responsibilities of all, not the rights. The end result of all people having rights or all people acting responsibly is the same, but it’s far more superior to get everyone to put in their fair share than to have everyone fight for receiving their fair share (also in married life).

2. To enforce and coerce Shabbat adherence. However, as I explained above, that’s against G-d’s plan too.

3. In the free marketplace of ideas, to compete fairly with our ideas. May the best win. That’s the Jewish way. Stop playing politics with Jerusalem.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), 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 vegan for 8 years now. 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 lehavdiel 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, GLBTQAI, 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 quit 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 500st blog post with the ToI. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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