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Carnegie Shul Chatter July 6, 2016 Candle lighting time is 5:07 Shabbos services are at 9:20 Elie Wiesel On Saturday, July 2, Elie Wiesel passed away. I don’t have to tell you who Elie Wiesel was, the whole world knows the story of this Nobel Prize winning survivor of the Holocaust. CCaannddllee lliigghhttiinngg ttiim mee iiss 88::3344 ppm m SSaabbbbaatthh sseerrvviicceess ssttaarrtt aatt 99::2200 aam m Orthodox Judaism Well, I have written about Reconstructionist Judaism and Conservative Judaism, so that leaves Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism for me to write about. Or does it? Is Orthodox Judaism a single branch of Judaism or is it several? After all, there are some Orthodox Jews who refer to themselves as Modern Orthodox, but there are others who are Chasids, and Lubavitchers, and Misnogdim. Where do you begin? I remember that as a kid I thought that Orthodox Jews differed from me as a Conservative in that their entire service was in Hebrew while our service included English. Simple, but far from comprehensive. In fact, prior to the rise of the Reform and Conservative movements, the term “Orthodox” wasn’t really needed. It was probably then more appropriate to refer to Jews as either “observant” or “secular.” Observant Jews kept Kosher, were Shomer Shabbas, and tried to follow as many of the 613 mitzvot as possible, while secular Jews fell along a broad spectrum that followed a few or a great many of the mitzvot. As I have in the last two Chatters, I will turn first to about.com and its Orthodox Judaism Judaism expert, Lisa Kaplan, for her commentary on Orthodox Judaism. Then I will turn to two additional sources for a further look at Orthodoxy. The whole world knows of this man, of whom President Obama said, upon learning of his passing, “Elie Wiesel was one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world. Elie was not just the world’s most prominent Holocaust survivor, he was a living memorial. After we walked together among the barbed wire and guard towers of Buchenwald where he was held as a teenager and where his father perished, Elie spoke words I’ve never forgotten – ‘Memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.’” Elie Wiesel dedicated his life to the remembrance of the 6 million Jews who died in the Nazi death camps. “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,” he wrote in his personal Holocaust story, “Night.” I must admit that I have never read “Night,” but it is next on my toread list. Elie Wiesel died on Shabbos. May his eternity be in peace. By Lisa Kaplan Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of divine origin, containing the exact words of God without any human influence. Beliefs Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith are an excellent summary of the core beliefs of Orthodox Judaism. 1. I believe with perfect faith that God is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things. 2. I believe with perfect faith that God is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our God. He was, He is, and He will be. 3. I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all. 4. I believe with perfect faith that God is first and last. 5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to God. One may not pray to anyone or anything else. 6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true. 7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him. 8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses. 9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by God. 10. I believe with perfect faith that God knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does." 11. I believe with perfect faith that God rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him. 12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. How long it takes, I will await His coming every day. 13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen. Practice In terms of practice, Orthodox Jews strictly follow the Written Torah and the Oral Law as interpreted by the Medieval commentators (Rishonim) and codified in the Codices (Rabbi Joseph Karo's Shulhan Arukh and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis's Mapah). From the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night, Orthodox Jews observe God's commandments concerning prayer, dress, food, sex, family relations, social behavior, the Sabbath day, holidays and more. Movement The term "Orthodox" Judaism only emerged as a result of the growth of new branches of Judaism. Orthodox Judaism views itself as the continuation of the beliefs and practices of normative Judaism, as accepted by the Jewish nation at Mt. Sinai and codified in successive generations in an ongoing process that continues to this day. It follows that Orthodox is not a unified movement with a single governing body, but rather many different movements that all strictly observe Judaism. While all Orthodox movements are similar in their beliefs and observance, they differ in the details that are emphasized and in their attitudes toward modern culture and the State of Israel. Modern Orthodox tend to be a bit more liberal and more Zionistic. Ultra-Orthodox, including Yeshivah movements and the Chasidic sect, tend to be the least open to change and the most critical of modern society. Chasidism, founded in Europe by the Baal Shem Tov, believes that acts of kindness and prayer could be used to reach God, as opposed to the older view that one could only become a righteous Jew through rigorous learning. The word Chasid describes a person who does chesed (good deeds for others). Chasidic Jews dress distinctively, live separately from modern society, and are dedicated to strict observance of Jewish Law. Orthodox Judaism is the only movement that has preserved the mystical foundations of Jewish theology, referred to as Kabbalah. Orthodox Judaism believes that both the Written and Oral Torah are of divine origin, containing the exact words of God without any human influence. While that is a good beginning, I still want to know more. Here is what it says at myjewishlearning.com: An introduction to the roots and wings of Judaism's most traditional branch By Rabbi Louis Jacobs Rejecting Reform The actual term "Orthodox" is derived from Christian theology and was, at first, a term of reproach hurled against the traditionalists by the early Reformers at the beginning of the nineteenth century, to imply that those who failed to respond to the modernist challenge were hidebound. Eventually, however, the term was used by the traditionalists themselves as a convenient shorthand for the attitude of complete loyalty to the Jewish past, although some traditionalists prefer the term "Torah-true" to describe their religious position. In any event, Orthodoxy came to mean for Jews faithfulness to the practices of Judaism, to the halakhah (Jewish law) in its traditional formulation. Orthodox Judaism rejects the notion introduced by Reform that, in the light of modern thought and life in Western society, Judaism required to be "reformed." Granted that the Torah is of divine origin, as the Orthodox affirm, to attempt to reform is to imply that God can change his mind, to put it somewhat crudely. Orthodoxy also takes issue with Conservative Judaism which, unlike Reform, does accept halakhah but perceives it in a more dynamic fashion, according to which changes are legitimate if they are in the spirit of halakhah. Naturally, the Orthodox disagree with the notion that there is a halakhic spirit, in obedience to which the letter of the law can be set aside where it is considered necessary. Ultimately, the differences between the Orthodox and Conservative approach depend on whether or not there is a human element in the Torah. There are, in fact, a variety of Orthodox approaches, from the ultra-Orthodox to neo-Orthodoxy, and it by no means follows that every Jew who belongs to an Orthodox synagogue is fully Orthodox in theory and practice. Yet all who subscribe, at least nominally, to Orthodoxy have in common that they believe the Torah is unchanging, so that while, here and there, minor changes take place in the wake of new social and economic conditions, for the Orthodox these are not really "changes" at all, but simply the application of traditional law to new situations. To give a simple illustration of how the Orthodox attitude differs from those of Reform and Conservative Judaism, Reform maintains that the conditions of modern life demand a relaxation of the traditional Sabbath laws, Orthodoxy believes that no relaxation is possible, while Conservative Judaism allows those relaxations which can be defended on halakhic grounds if halakhah itself is treated in a more flexible way than it was in the past. A Reform Jew will not usually be bothered by such prohibitions as that of producing light and fire on the Sabbath. A Conservative Jew will accept that the biblical prohibition of lighting a fire on the Sabbath is still binding but will not (necessarily) accept that to switch on an electric light involves lighting a fire. An Orthodox Jew will hold not only that the biblical prohibition still applies but also that it embraces switchingon of electric lights. The Ultra-Orthodox This rather ridiculous term is often used, nowadays, to denote the attitude of strict adherence to all of the details of the traditional law. A term preferred by the "ultra-Orthodox" themselves is Haredim ("those who fear God") based on the verse: "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble [ha-haredim] at his word (Isaiah 66:5)." In the ranks of the Haredim belong all of the Hasidic groups (Hasidism is a pietist movement founded by Israel Ba’al Shem Tov in the first half of the 18th century.); the Yeshiva world; Ashkenazi Jews who try to preserve intact the way of life followed in (pre-modern) eastern Europe; and Oriental and other Sephardi Jews who follow faithfully the pattern of life in the pre-modern communities of the East. The actual pattern of life differs of course, among the Haredim. The Hasidic ideal is different from that of the Yeshiva world, an Oriental Jew hardly resembles a typical Jew of Eastern European background. But all the Haredim have in common a total dedication to Torah in its traditional form and believe that the secular world is best kept at arm’s length. Neo-Orthodoxy The basic difference between neo-Orthodoxy and the Haredim is the attitude taken toward modern culture. The founder of Neo-Orthodoxy, Samson Raphael Hirsch, though strictly observant, held that Western culture and other details of Western society should not be embraced solely in order to earn a living and the like, but welcomed as good in themselves. Neo-Orthodoxy, or Modern Orthodoxy as it is called in the US, is represented in the majority of Orthodox synagogues in the US and England, with its major institutions for the training of Modern Orthodox rabbis being Yeshiva University in New York and Jews’ College in London. Orthodox Self-Definition Orthodoxy is less an organized movement than a reaction to other groups. There is much internecine feuding, for example, among the Orthodox, and there is nothing like any official world organization for Orthodox Judaism. It is probably true to say that, for most of its adherents, Orthodoxy means simply that one’s own true religious traditions are followed, whether Hasidic or Mitnagdic (that of opponents of Hasidism in the eighteenth century and beyond), Ashkenazi or Sephardi. The real issue on the level of practice between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox is whether the tradition needs to be revised in some respects. The Orthodox rightly claim that theirs is the Judaism of tradition as followed in the pre-modern era. But this is precisely the question. Is the pre-modern tradition true to the tradition as it is now required to be interpreted? To what extent, in other words, is "traditional" Judaism traditional? Okay, but what about the Lubavitchers, the Chabad? I first discovered Chabad 20 years or so ago when I got a booklet in the mail explaining how to observe Peasach. Later, I got another one about Chanukah. I liked these mailings. They were well done, easy to follow, and very informative. Later, when I moved to Mt. Lebanon 11 years ago, I attended a few Chabad services, met the Rabbi, attended some Jewish Learning Institute classes, and gained a lot of respect for the movement. I go to services at Chabad occassionally, but I must admit that I prefer sitting with my wife at services and that is not permitted at Chabad. And I am very happy here at the Carnegie Shul, so I prefer to remain a happy member of Ahavath Achim. But here, from chabad.org, is an explanation of Chabad-Lubavitch: The Philosophy Chabad-Lubavitch is a philosophy, a movement, and an organization. It is considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today. Lubavitch appropriately means the “city of brotherly love.” The word “Chabad” is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of chochmah—wisdom, binah—comprehension and da’at—knowledge. The movement’s system of Jewish religious philosophy, the deepest dimension of G-d’s Torah, teaches understanding and recognition of the Creator, the role and purpose of creation, and the importance and unique mission of each creature. This philosophy guides a person to refine and govern his or her every act and feeling through wisdom, comprehension and knowledge. The word “Lubavitch” is the name of the town in White Russia where the movement was based for more than a century. Appropriately, the word Lubavitch in Russian means the “city of brotherly love.” The name Lubavitch conveys the essence of the responsibility and love engendered by the Chabad philosophy toward every single Jew. The Movement Following its inception 250 years ago, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement—a branch of Hasidism—swept through Russia and spread in surrounding countries as well. It provided scholars with answers that eluded them, and simple farmers with a love that had been denied them. Eventually the philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch and its adherents reached almost every corner of the world and affected almost every facet of Jewish life. The Leadership No person or detail was too small or insignificant for their love and dedication. The movement is guided by the teachings of its seven leaders (“Rebbes”), beginning with Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi of righteous memory (1745–1812). These leaders expounded upon the most refined and delicate aspects of Jewish mysticism, creating a corpus of study thousands of books strong. They personified the age-old Biblical qualities of piety and leadership. And they concerned themselves not only with Chabad-Lubavitch, but with the totality of Jewish life, spiritual and physical. No person or detail was too small or insignificant for their love and dedication. In our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of righteous memory (1902–1994), known simply as “the Rebbe,” guided post-holocaust Jewry to safety from the ravages of that devastation. The Organization The origins of today’s Chabad-Lubavitch organization can be traced to the early 1940s, when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of righteous memory (1880–1950), appointed his son-in-law and later successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, to head the newly founded educational and social service arms of the movement. Today 4,000 full-time emissary families direct more than 3,300 institutions. Motivated by his profound love for every Jew and spurred by his boundless optimism and self-sacrifice, the Rebbe set into motion a dazzling array of programs, services and institutions to serve every Jew.