Sunday, December 02, 2007

The More Things Change...

From R. Zvi Dov Kanatopsky's sermon on Shavuos, June 10, 1951, in Rejoice In Your Festivals (link) pp. 108-109:

There is a new trend in the Reform movement to bring back ritual and ceremonials that have long been discarded. There is a definite tendency within the Reform movement to call upon our sacred rituals to save the day.

On the other hand, segments of the Orthodox community that are no less disturbed about the situation find their spiritual leadership clamoring for as many dispensations that the Law can possibly suffer without losing its very essence. It is a strange situation, indeed--what with the Reform clamoring for the renewal of ritual and some Orthodox pleading for dispensation of the legal bonds that have been hallowed by tradition.

I think I can be honest enough to admit that elu ve-elu, both groups, are missing the point. The Reform temples will not be suddenly overflowing with worshippers simply because the tallit is reinstituted into the service. And I do not think that certain Orthodox synagogues will suddenly find that they must seek larger quarters simply because a microphone has been introduced into the synagogue architecture. Neither will the Conservative movement find that their youth are flocking to the synagogues to learn Torah because they may use an automobile on Shabbat...

The problem at the outset is not one of more ritual, as the Reformers seem to imply, or of loosening the bonds of the Law, as some Orthodox leaders appear to assume. The problem is that some of our Jews are not adequately educated to the fact that we are to be a people apart, a holy people, a sacred people. The problem is first to bring from Sinai not a Decalogue but rather another way of thinking. The problem at first is not how much ritual we need to follow. The problem is not how many קולות--how many leniencies and loopholes--we can find. But rather the priority has to be the establishment of the authority of Torah over the household of Israel.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Favorites More