Be strong and of good courage, chevra. Posted by Yosef Kanefsky

To my dear friends and fellow-travelers:

Whenever the waters get a little choppy, as they have this week, we need to remember only one thing. And that is, that we are serving God, and God alone. We are accountable only to God, and to our own souls and consciences. We believe – down deep in our spiritual core – in a vision of Orthodoxy that never throws up its hands in the face of human suffering, one whose eyes and heart are open to the friendship and thoughts and struggles of all Jews. A vision of Orthodoxy in which success is defined by the promise that “through you all the families of the world will be blessed”, and one in which Torah and Mitzvot are opportunities to be shared, not privileges to be protected. We believe – genuinely and unalterably – that this is what God has told us is good, and that it is this which He requires of us. We are accountable only to God. To God, to the people that we serve, and to ourselves.

Pursuing the path of God involves being open to advice and to constructive criticism. How else could we engage in the critical processes of introspection and self-improvement? But no less important than listening to friends who advise and criticize, is refusing to be distracted by the static of public attack. The public attackers are also sincere, and genuine in their words. But what they are asking is that we forsake God, and instead serve them.

In the end, we will succeed because we will create communities for whom Torah is the Tree of Life, the Mitzvot are sweeter than honey, and Halacha is the tradition with which we engage the human condition and dignify all those created in the Image. We have no energy to spare, or time to waste. The day is short, the work is great, and the Master expects much of us.

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4 Responses to Be strong and of good courage, chevra. Posted by Yosef Kanefsky

  1. Shlomo says:

    “But what they are asking is that we forsake God, and instead serve them.”

    Really?

    That’s what you think they want?

    If so, why would you listen to someone who’s expecting you to engage in idolatry?

  2. Atheodox Jew says:

    A simple message, but one that is very important to remember. Take others’ words to heart, be better informed by them, but don’t let them sway you from the path, from doing what you believe to be right. Too true.

    I would also add: 1) Take comfort in the fact that *whatever* you do, there will always be detractors out there, people who find fault with you (as in, “You can please some of the people some of the time…”), and 2) if you have people who need what you have to offer, are nourished by it, inspired by it, you really don’t need much more justification than that.

    Chazak ve’ematz

  3. Tuvia says:

    “In the end, we will succeed because we will create communities for whom Torah is the Tree of Life, the Mitzvot are sweeter than honey, and Halacha is the tradition with which we engage the human condition and dignify all those created in the Image. We have no energy to spare, or time to waste. The day is short, the work is great, and the Master expects much of us. ”

    Reading the essay again, this part strikes me as written in the style of a member of the community party in Russia. Inspiring words comrade! That kind of thing.

    Sort of grandiose claims assuming so much.

    Why are orthodox Jews drawn to this kind of writing style? The commitment to a grand mission — is it just that the idea of a grand mission is inherently seductive?

    I’ve heard neo-Aryans say “democracy is decadent, we need strong leaders.” This part of the essay feels like the author has a similar needs for a strong mission in life — a false clarity over the messy reality.

    Why don’t orthodox Jews see that this kind of commitment is psychologically fulfilling, but not actually real? This part of some humans is why people join religions, cults, nationalist movements.

    I just would like to see this kind of thing acknowledged a bit by Jews. The grand passion we seek, we build it ourselves, and it feels so right. Why do some people seek this out, and others are satisfied with a less grandiose idea?

    Why are some people soviet style communists — where citizens could never travel abroad to see if communism really was “obviously superior and the truth” — and others are communists with a small “c” who spend a summer (or a lifetime) on a kibbutz?

    Why are we so mesmerized by the grand vision/mission that we cannot even see our own psychological need for it, and the damage such missions bring?

    Tuvia

  4. Mr. Cohen says:

    Yosef Kanefsky said:
    A vision of Orthodoxy in which success is defined
    by the promise that “through you all the families
    of the world will be blessed”,

    Considering that Tanach contains many dozens of prophecies,
    why should that one prophecy be selected above all the rest
    as the definition of success for Orthodox Judaism?

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