Friday, February 24, 2006

Catering to the Masses

A perennial dilemma in Jewish communal planning is whether the institutions and attitudes should be geared to the elite or the average. Teachers will certainly be familiar with this problem -- whether to teach to the brightest in the class or to the average student -- but it impacts much broader issues as well. The following is one scholar's approach. R. Nachum L. Rabinovitch, "All Jews are Responsible for One Another" in The Orthodox Forum: Jewish Tradition and the Nontraditional Jew,p. 197:

When the standardized prayers and blessings were first instituted, there were undoubtedly a few Jews who had previously been able to reach great heights in their private worship and who were now constrained by the newly imposed formal nature of the prayers and blessings made incumbent upon all Jews, rendering their personal prayers more routine and less inspired. Nevertheless, the benefit of the group at large was determinative, even at the expense of these elite few.

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