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Friday, February 02, 2007

Quote of the Week

Rabbi Berel Wein:

The past three centuries, especially in the world of Ashkenazic Jewry, has produced a dazzling variety of movements, ideals and solutions to the age- old “Jewish problem.” The Haskala came to “civilize” us; the Marxists arose to create a utopia for us; the Zionists came to make us secure and cure anti-Semitism once and for all; Reform came to make us acceptable to non-Jewish society and to integrate us with humanistic goals; secularism came to free us from the burdens of tradition and mitzvoth. None of these movements achieved their stated goals.

The Holocaust made mockery of integration in the general humanistic world; Zionism created the State of Israel but has provided it with no sense of security and certainly has only exacerbated the problem of anti-Semitism; Stalin cured us of Marxism; the Haskala apparently did not sufficiently civilize us; and secularism has to constantly attempt to prove that it is not an empty wagon. Thus there is a great feeling of apathy and emptiness in the Jewish world today.

In the realm of traditional Jewry, much of Religious Zionism has lost its steam; Chasidut has pretty much frozen and atrophied and become insular; the yeshiva world has become a place of narrow focus and elitism; the Mussar movement no longer exists; and modern Orthodoxy has not found its voice and parameters.

Therefore we are witness to the end of an era. The old is going and the new has not yet arrived. Hence the apathy and ennui, and the seeming lack of leadership that grips the Jewish world today. It is at such moments in Jewish history that a renewal of faith and idealism has always occurred.

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