‘How many Orthodox rabbis does it take to change a lightbulb?’ ‘Change?!’
Some people assume that Jewish Law never changes. That’s only half-true.
One of the great values of Jewish Law is that it can’t be made to fit what’s most convenient or in vogue. Its foundation is built on eternal, unalterable, Wisdom of the (S)ages, Truth, Justice, and Virtue.
Yet, we live in a dynamic world. You can’t just give old legal answers if they don’t fit modern questions. The Framework of Jewish Law doesn’t change but the Reality we see through its window does.
A known example. It says in the old Books that women are exempt from counting the ‘Omer because generally, they’re weak in math. That’s clearly not true of the average Jewish woman anymore. So, the Law changed. Now we say that, based on our Tradition, women should count the ‘Omer in the morrow so that clearly, they do so without saying a Blessing over it.
Grounds for change. There are several ways that G^d talks to us, also now we have no Prophets around anymore. (You don’t need to be a prophet to know why some people today claim that G^d talks to them.)
- When the Torah is read, we hear G^d’s Word.
- When we pray from the bottom of our hearts, we think His response.
- When Jews argue about Jewish Law, we argue with Him.
- When Reality shouts us in the face, G^d talks to us in real-time.
Religious Jews mustn’t leave problems to G^d. ‘When you see a problem, it is your task to solve it.’ (It doesn’t say we should go it alone or will see success in our generation. But we should take leadership or support a leader already truly dedicated to rectification of the ill.) Examples:
When people are starving, we need to get them food. When people suffer from cold or heat or rain, we must find them comfortable shelter. When people are sick, we send for a physician. When people are lonely, we befriend them. When people are poor, we try to give them a paying job or interest-free loan. When people are in danger, we try to bring them (to) safety. When people are down, we try to cheer them up after listening to them at length. We don’t stay passive claiming G^d willed it like that. He willed our action in the face of evil, that’s what He willed.
Climate change 101. In the Northern part of Planet Earth lies a gigantic area that is permanently frozen. And, it is defrosting. That is extremely bad news. Locked in the permafrost is more CO2 than in all of the world’s air. When that gets out, we’re all dead meat. There is no solution yet. We live on the brink of extinction. Getting hopeless is as unhelpful as living in denial. When G^d demands action, we act. In addition, we must pray that our actions will succeed. But we don’t pray instead of saving our souls.
Our leading rabbis must learn physics and biochemistry fast so that they can tell us that we have to go green (small carbon footprint) in months rather than years, must become green activists, and force our politicians.
They must also order all Jews new to Science and activism to listen with much respect and learn fast and deeply from people long in the know.
Success isn’t ruled out, but we’ve no time to lose. We need drastic action.
Like: Advise not to vote for politicians unless they promise to make public transportation (but not planes) immediately completely free of charge.
Like: Advise to reduce meat consumption to a minimum. This food is too expensive, too unhealthy, but mostly too dangerous for the planet. When meat is obligatory for religious reasons (for those who like the taste), in an emergency, the required amount is just 18 cm3/gram per person per meal.
Like: Advise to vacation and shop locally as much as your budget allows. When local is more expensive, the difference you can consider charity.
Like: That climate-change deniers are like malsheeneem, Jews who falsely complain to Antisemitic authorities which could get us all killed.