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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Change in Rituals Divide Jewish People, Re: Pew Report and The Bible

"Nothing's new..." as King Solomon repeats over and over in Kohelet, Ecclesiastes

Recently the Jewish world has been talking about the Pew Report, which gives a depressing, though not all that surprising report of the American Jewish population. Simply put, the more traditionally observant the stronger the growth and outlook for the future.

This year in the Bible course I'm taking in Matan, taught by Dr. Yael Ziegler, we've been learning about the split in the Jewish Kingdom after the reign of King Solomon,  The southern Judah Kingdom kept Jerusalem as religious capital and was ruled by King Rachavam, while the northern Israel Kingdom was led by King Yiravm (Jeroboam.)  The true split in the Jewish People began when the religion in the north changed from traditional Jewish practice, the Torah.
כז  אִם-יַעֲלֶה הָעָם הַזֶּה, לַעֲשׂוֹת זְבָחִים בְּבֵית-יְהוָה בִּירוּשָׁלִַם, וְשָׁב לֵב הָעָם הַזֶּה אֶל-אֲדֹנֵיהֶם, אֶל-רְחַבְעָם מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה; וַהֲרָגֻנִי, וְשָׁבוּ אֶל-רְחַבְעָם מֶלֶךְ-יְהוּדָה.
27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then will the heart of this people turn back unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me, and return to Rehoboam king of Judah.'

כח  וַיִּוָּעַץ הַמֶּלֶךְ--וַיַּעַשׂ, שְׁנֵי עֶגְלֵי זָהָב; וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם, רַב-לָכֶם מֵעֲלוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִַם--הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלוּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold; and he said unto them: 'Ye have gone up long enough to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.'

כט  וַיָּשֶׂם אֶת-הָאֶחָד, בְּבֵית-אֵל; וְאֶת-הָאֶחָד, נָתַן בְּדָן.
29 And he set the one in Beth-el, and the other put he in Dan.

ל  וַיְהִי הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה, לְחַטָּאת; וַיֵּלְכוּ הָעָם לִפְנֵי הָאֶחָד, עַד-דָּן.
30 And this thing became a sin; for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

לא  וַיַּעַשׂ, אֶת-בֵּית בָּמוֹת; וַיַּעַשׂ כֹּהֲנִים מִקְצוֹת הָעָם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-הָיוּ מִבְּנֵי לֵוִי.
31 And he made houses of high places, and made priests from among all the people, that were not of the sons of Levi.

לב  וַיַּעַשׂ יָרָבְעָם חָג בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁמִינִי בַחֲמִשָּׁה-עָשָׂר יוֹם לַחֹדֶשׁ כֶּחָג אֲשֶׁר בִּיהוּדָה, וַיַּעַל עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ--כֵּן עָשָׂה בְּבֵית-אֵל, לְזַבֵּחַ לָעֲגָלִים אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה; וְהֶעֱמִיד בְּבֵית אֵל, אֶת-כֹּהֲנֵי הַבָּמוֹת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה.
32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he went up unto the altar; so did he in Beth-el, to sacrifice unto the calves that he had made; and he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places that he had made.
Dr. Ziegler always stresses that the Bible is a book  of theology, not history.  These changes in religious worship that were in stated by Yiravam caused irreparable harm in the unity of the Jewish People.

It reminds me of what has been happening to the Jewish People in modern times.  The "newer versions" of Judaism, Reform, Liberal, Conservative, etc. generally don't last too many generations, because the fewer Torah Mitzvot (commandments) a family observes, the statistically quicker their road to assimilation.

Many of these traditions and laws may seem unimportant and pedantic to some, which is why they are "deleted" from modern Jewish practice by many. Individual non-observance has always existed, but the recent institutionalization of it, making it official practice has truly and dangerously split the Jewish People. Today many people think they and their parents and children are Jewish, but they aren't.  This is the result of changing the definition of Jewish lineage from the mother only to from either parent and non-Torah observant conversion.

I have no doubt that many of those who have made these changes have done so with the best of intentions, hoping to hold on to as many Jews as possible, but the results are the opposite.  We lose more Jews than we gain, especially in future generations.


Anonymous said...

Realistically, the spiritual damage to the Jewish people is an even greater threat than the physical. What's happening today in Israel and the assimilation in the galut is destroying more Jewish souls than in the recent past. With the evangelicals infiltrating and trying to missionize and even, chas v'sholom, trying to make 'aliyah' is a horrific prospect. The assimilation in chutz l'aretz is decimating so many Jewish souls. Because of these blatant sins, there is much physical suffering. So many sick and the on-going chaos, murder & mayhem by the philistines in the Land. We never seem to learn from the past nor even what's in front of our eyes. May H' give wisdom to the fools who fall prey and may they do teshuvah, so the geulah can finally come.

Batya Medad said...

amen, amen
Thanks for commenting