Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Why is Judaism so conservative? Where did G^d order us to imitate our ancestors?

A new idea about an old idea

We address at the top of our daily prayers “the G^d of Abraham, the G^d of Isaac, and the G^d of Jacob.” Of course, there is only one G^d. It must mean they each saw and served G^d, Who helped them, in their own way.

But the Codifiers of Jewish Law mostly prescribe by describing what our ancestors did. Why?

Let me suggest it’s an attempt to protect the unique Jewish way, against assimilation. Judaism promotes taking in converts with character traits we could use, but it’s not a melting pot of the world’s ideas. The beleaguered minority we are, our Judaism would be watered down in no time.

But what if we already took in foreign ideas and are handing them down?

Look at his joke. Someone goes to a monastery to see what monks’ lives are like. He’s friendly received and shown around. What do you do all day? Well, we mainly copy the texts of yesterday that were texts we copied the day before. The visitor wants to know: Why don’t you copy every day from the oldest text? If you copy yesterday’s text only, a mistake made once stays in the texts forever. They think this is a great idea. They send a monk to the cellar to find the oldest text. But he doesn’t return. They send a second one, and he also doesn’t return. Then they all went to look for them and found them sobbing at the bottom of the stairs. What’s going on? They explain. It says here celebrate, not celibate.

The Jewish G^d is Not Scary

One of the things that seems to have crept into Judaism and is copied every generation now is the idea of a frightful G^d.

Surely, the Rabbis point out that G^d is at least thousands of times more loving than stern. That, the sole reason for G^d to create the universe and us is to profit us, to reward us. That, when things happen that seem bad, that’s because we don’t fully understand, not because of a bad god (devil) or He hates us, Heaven forbid. Yet, that all seems a dead letter after all.

In Islam, G^d is not your Friend. In Christianity, G^d is so stern that they hardly dare to pray but via mediators: Jesus, Maria, etc. In Paganism, gods need to be pacified all the time. That fear may have crept into Judaism.

G^d doesn’t need our prayers or obedience. We do. He wants us to obey for our good. Because He loves us.

Human death is always terrible, even from ripe old age. But now, so many suffer from being the sandwich generation, having to take care of their elderly, hardly able to take proper care of their youngsters, now we see that death too has been for the best—until we figure out how to stop all illness, repair or compensate all handicaps, and prevent all aging.

Divine punishment is not to say: you deserve it. It means to say: I put you in an imperfect world to cooperate with me to finish the work so that you will feel very good about yourself. Yet, in an imperfect world, people get hurt so that others may help or understand bad consequences of bad actions. But it’s not Divine anger, revenge, punishment, or lust to inflict pain. G^d forbid! It’s the very opposite! It means: Don’t lose hope when things don’t go your way immediately. I never promised you a rose garden. I promised you the Garden of Eden—eventually. Don’t walk away when things are hard. Look for hints in the bad for improvements you could make. Don’t feel rejected, unseen, unloved. As He tells us literally: “But despite all the [bad], while you are on the land of your enemies, I am not revolted by you nor will I reject you or exterminate you, breaking my Covenant with you, while I, your G^d caused this.” (Leviticus 26:44)

Not for a second, G^d stops supporting us. While on October 7, Jew-haters were massacring the finest of the finest people, He was saving over 90% of the innocent and powerless. We cannot ever forget the murdered, the maimed, and the wounded, including the wounded family and friends. But neither must we forget His love to save so many from genocide. We should never forget the Six Million, but also not the 12M Jews who stayed alive and how the Gentile world (too) slowly came into action to save us.

G^d’s message to the world is: G^d loves all of us. Now, we need to love all people. That means to feel for all people and to stop people who don’t yet.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates 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. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), 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), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers 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. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. 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 holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. 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 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. 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 an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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