Friday, July 14, 2017


Jews are very opinionated. That is because, among other reasons, we are generally very smart and smart people think and develop strongly held opinions. We are also very idealistic and idealistic people care deeply and therefore have strong opinions. 

So anybody who has ever been on the "net" knows that a lot of people express a lot of variegated [cool word:-). Full disclosure - I enjoy language. I actually speak and understand 3 languages (English, Hebrew and Yiddish) very poorly] opinions on a whole spectrum of issues in the Jewish world. Feminism, pictures of women in magazines, homosexuality, abortion, Reform and Conservative conversions etc. etc. and yet more etc.

I have one question that nags me when I read this stuff: 

מהיכי תיתי??? [Actually Aramiac is a fourth langauge I have little mastery over. My kids strangely call me by my Aramiac name - "אבא". Better than my Muslim name "Ali". If I were black and dead and my first name were Muhammed then I would be a famous former boxer. I wouldn't want to be dead, have the name Muhammed or box. Why would I want to punch people in the face?? Such an odd sport. But I wouldn't mind being black. Then I would feel that my life matters because "BLACK LIVES MATTER"!!! And if I were black then as a child I would have been this strange anomaly of a sun-blond haired black kid. Cool.].

How do you know your opinion is correct? What is your authority?? You are a housewife or accountant or computer programmer and you are presenting your self as a true "maven" on a whole host of issues. 

So people answer "This is my opinion".  So then I ask "Why is this your opinion? Why do you think this way? What makes you think that your opinion is more valid than anybody elses?"

The answer of course is that people's "authority" stems from the fact that they have a keyboard, fingers and an Internet connection. 

Does this make them deep, profound and scholarly??


But since we live in a world of moral relativism, anything goes and a housewife and nursery teacher in Beit Shemesh can argue with Rav Eliashiv. 

So my point is - let us come from a place of absolute values and try to present our understanding of how G-D views any given issue. One is not obligated to be the gadol ha-dor in order to present his or her take on how to understand an issue. One is allowed to respectfully ask questions and propose answers and solutions while being well aware of his [or her], academic, intellectual and scholarly limitations. 

We must be SATURATED with humility knowing that what we don't know and don't understand is FAAARRR MORE than what we do know and understand. Life is a process of constantly expanding our base of knowledge and perspective, never closing ourselves off from differing viewpoints while at the same time negating the vast majority of noise that comes from op-ed pages and twitter accounts. When you read an opinion piece in the New York Times and the writer has at the same time a beard and a husband you know at the outset that his viewpoint is colored by his preferences and will in no way reflect any Divine truth which he in all likelihood will deny its very existence [if there was a grammatical problem with that or any other sentence, please contact my editor "Ali" - a black skinned, formerly blond haired, Charedi boxer from Manhattan]. 

In summation: Humility, recognition of limitations, not being swayed by the moral relativism that rules the day, appreciation of authority etc. etc. are all the order of the day. 

That being said I will now click "save shiur" on a delicious offering on the topic of birkas hamazon which the Master of The Universe allowed me to deliver to tens of millions of potential listeners and wrote this piece as it was uploading. Called in non-halachic literature "multi-tasking".