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Thursday, 3 May 2007

Reform Bashing-Again - Rabbi Dow Marmur

*Reform Bashing-Again *Written by Rabbi Dow Marmur

Link to article

Thursday, 19 April 2007

People who in the guise of piety will tell you what's in God's mind are
a nuisance to God and to God's creatures. The Book of Job illustrates it
amply when it describes the offensive and futile efforts by the friends
of Job to explain his suffering. Since the days of Job there have been
countless self-appointed and misguided advocates of God who, in their
ostensible effort to enhance God, have, in fact, discredited the divine.

The latest recorded attempt of this kind has just hit the headlines in
Israel. Its author is Mordechai Eliahu, a former Sephardi Chief Rabbi.
In a radio interview on the eve of Yom Hasho'a, Eliahu asserted that the
majority of the six million who perished were innocent, "but Reform
started in Germany." He continued: "Those reformers of religion started
in Germany, and it is said that because the wrath of God does not
distinguish between the righteous and the evil ones - this was done."

Eliahu spoke like many ultra-Orthodox Jews who seek to vindicate God.
Those who aren't Zionists blame the Holocaust on Zionism. In the same
way as Eliahu justifies the Holocaust by implying that as both Reform
and Nazism started in Germany, the former is the cause of the latter,
the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews assert that as Herzl, the founder of
Zionism, was born in the Austro-Hungarian empire and worked in its
capital Vienna, and as Hitler, too, was born in Austria, we have both
cause and effect.

Neither explanation puts any blame on the Nazis and their collaborators.
They were only hapless tools in God's scheme, which Eliahu and others
have been privileged to fathom. He deserves a medal from every neo-Nazi
party in the world for doing their work.

To try to respond to this kind of "theology" would be to accord it a
status that it doesn't deserve. The only reason why we must note it and
express our disgust is in order to show what criminal lies can be
perpetrated in the name of religion and in the guise of piety. As some
of those who have reacted with disgust at Eliahu's words put it, they're
of the same ilk as Holocaust denial and should be treated with the same
contempt.

Though it would be grossly unfair to describe all, or even most, of
Orthodox Judaism as being of the same ilk, we must nevertheless note,
first, that Mordechai Eliahu still plays an important role in many
Orthodox circles in Israel and abroad and, second, that to date no
responsible Orthodox body has been quoted as condemning his
pronouncement. It seems that even though many Orthodox Jews may disagree
with Eliahu, a spot of Reform bashing doesn't come amiss in many of
their circles.

The Reform movement in Israel has reacted by demanding a criminal
investigation of this act of incitement. Of course, the politicians will
make sure that nothing comes of it, for they don't want to upset
potential ultra-Orthodox voters. It's also possible that they themselves
enjoy a spot of Reform bashing, especially when someone else takes the
blame for it, and they won't have to defend themselves in front of their
American Reform benefactors. Though the sport of Reform bashing has been
largely discontinued in Israel, when an opportunity such as this arises,
some ostensibly liberal-minded people in high places, may enjoy it, if
only for old-times' sake.

Next time you get too romantic about the sincerity and passion of the
ultra-Orthodox please remember its dark side, which Mordechai Eliahu
epitomizes.

/Jerusalem// 19.4.07/

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