Thursday, December 5, 2019

VaYetze, Holy Self Criticism

VaYetzeHoly Self Criticism:
Leah was mistreated by Jacob. And more than that, by Jewish tradition. And even by our own Conservative Movement who in the official version of the imahot addition includes her after Rachel even though she married Jacob first and the order is seemingly first to last.

And while we’re at it, I believe Laban and Jacob treated each other poorly. Laban more so than Jacob, but all the same, neither man comes away looking all that great.

And fundamentally I take issue with the fact that Jacob could be the husband, or master, really, to four women – two wives and two concubines. And I believe that the Takkannah of Rebbenu Gershom in 1000 CE was correct to ban the reprehensible practice in Judaism though the Torah most clearly allows it.

And it’s my belief that just about all of you will agree with me that Jacob has his warts showing in the Torah’s depiction of him, that Leah did likely have a sad existence and that polygamy is bad.

All things that we can all agree are wrong with our religion, or at least wrong with our religious texts. None of us would deny that there are issues with Judaism when it comes to these things.

And when Jews have committed crimes here in the States or anywhere for that matter, we should speak out strongly against such attacks and criticize ourselves that such hatred or evil, such wrongdoing could exist in our midst.

It might be the subject of jokes – such “Jewish guilt” but it is also a source of great strength within Judaism as well. We are even taught in Leviticus 19:17 to chastise our fellow Jews who seeks to do wrong.

For we are a family, a team, as it were, and that the whole team helps or hurts in the success or failure of the greater whole.

It is perhaps in this way that we are meant to be an or lagoyim, “a light unto the nations.” Not by having the most Nobel Prize winners or best comedians but rather because we have lifted up self-reflection, self-assessment, and self-criticism to be religious ideals.

No comments:

Post a Comment