I want to speak nicely about Bill Gates. Through the technologically he helped develop and spread - much Torah, chesed and parnassa has come to the world. Thank you Bill!!! You have helped so many people in so many ways!! He also pledged to give away NINETY FIVE percent of his wealth to tzedaka [don't try that at home unless you own a football team or something]. If he is looking for some more ideas, I have a GREAT one. [C'mon Bill - you can do it!! Five K ביני ובינך מה היא??]
Anyway, Bill has an "eishes chayil" named Rebbetzin Melinda. She is a full partner to his tzedaka commitments. They claim that giving is the most satisfying experience one can have. Why is that? Because we have souls and it satiates our souls to give. Pshita [French for "anyone who has ever given knows that"]!!
She said in a interview that she gives a fortune of money to women in third world countries to purchase birth control such as pills. The interviewer asked her how this squares with her Roman Catholic beliefs. According to Roman Catholicism [I copy from what I found on google] "using contraception is 'intrinsically evil' in itself, regardless of the consequences" [more machmir than us!!].
She answered that most Catholic women in the US are in favor of the use of contraception [that would explain why the average Catholic family has two or three children. They are CLEARLY using a lot of birth control] so it is not a kashya.
A wonder - their religion forbids it but they all not only use it but don't even believe that there is anything wrong with it! Melinda'le puts millions upon millions of dollars into something her own belief system views as "intrinsically evil".
Welcome to Western religion. It is very popular. Loads of people are members of one religious group or another but it is really not binding. Religion is "nice", it gives meaning and structure to life, adds holiday joy, provides ceremonies for meaningful life events such as marriage and death, it creates a social framework etc. etc. But the moment it clashes with what I want or if my brain dictates different beliefs than those taught by the religion - bye bye religion. Religion - and G-d - are here to serve man and not the opposite. THAT is the Western approach - conscious or not.
It is worth remembering that we are products of this culture and our relationship to Torah and Halacha is also often guided by convenience with a lack of obligation, called in our books קבלת עול.
"Are you shomer negiya?"
"Are you CRAZY?"
Other Jews aren't "shomer" לא תגנוב so they steal. With their yarmulke on their heads and tzitzis under their shirts. Someone told me he was driving down a block recently with a friend in a religious neighborhood with loads of schools and yeshivas and his friend was pointing to house after house where the owner either was in jail, is in jail or is going to jail. Lovely!:-) Hey, whattya want? They aren't "shomer gneiva".
Shabbos? Of course frum Jews keep Shabbos. But some make exceptions for important business matters.
Not everybody asks a Rov whether they are allowed to go to a certain place for vacation but will ask when they are sitting shiva about vague minhagim. Odd.
Being involved in machlokes is assur [see this weeks parsha - scarrryyyyyy!] but there are fights EVERYWHERE. A large group of yirei shomayim call themselves הפלג which means those who split off from other Jews. Wonder of wonders. Is this what Hashem wants? I have doubts. [On that note listen to these AMAZING hespedim about HaGaon Rav Shmuel. FIVE MINUTES for "Hashem sfasi tiftach"!! Consistent two hour minchas!! Nine minutes on " ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה"!! Constantly helping widows, even weekly mopping the floor and cleaning the toilet for one and giving another one HALF of the sum he received for the apartment he sold. Pilei plaos!!].
The list goes on.
Anyway, as always we must note - Jews are the holiest. We are the CHOSEN. We do so much good. Tzedaka, chesed, Torah and tefillah. מי כעמך ישראל. Even not frum Jews. We are less than 0.2 of the world population and have won 22 percent of Nobel prizes.
But we must remember that "goyishkeit" infiltrates in an insidious manner. Let us accept the YOKE of shomayim bi-ahava u-bi-simcha!!!