Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hakol Kol Yaakov V’Hayidayim…

Agudas Israel is indeed a very strange organization. Whenever you throw politics into the religious equation, lies, deceit and corruption inevitably follow. Corruption doesn’t necessarily have to revolve around sex of financial impropriety. It can also be associated with “geneivat dat”, deception.

Deception apparently runs deep in Agudas Israel. Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of Public affairs of Agudas Israel was instrumental in having a text book published by Scholastic Inc. recalled and republished. The original version of the book suggested that orthodox Jews deny the Jewishness of conservative and reform Jews. Shafran wrote that

“no orthodox Jew of any stripe considers anyone born of a Jewish mother of halachically converted, regardless of her affiliation or beliefs to be anything other than Jewish.”

Hakol Kol Yaakov, V’haidayim Yidei Esau- what incredible deception. A Conservative conversion, while totally halachic, isn’t regarded by Agudah as acceptable or recognized. Those converted by any of the movements other than those of the Orthodox aren’t considered Jewish. An Orthodox Rabbi would not perform the marriage between a Jew by birth and one converted through the conservative movement. The State of Israel won’t recognize the conversion either. Agudah won’t allow a Conservative rabbi to sit on the beis din as a participating member for the witnessing of the conversion. Thus the original statement made by Scholastic Inc. was correct. Hakol Kol Yaakov, their deception knows no limits when they wish to appear before the progressive world in an ingratiating manner promoting themselves as tolerant and embracing. Hayadayim Yidei Esau – we know how deceptive you are.

Agudah, for a long time has been trying to position itself within the political power structure in order to gain more influence and benefits on behalf of its members. In Israel they have been on a different track since there it is a political party and have been instrumental in manipulating the system for its own benefit. In the United States they serve more as lobby, greasing the machine and sucking up to the power brokers. It is sort of creepy to think of them hanging out with congressman and senators, telling them whatever they want to hear , smiling, handshaking, but knowing all the while that in truth they are tolerated for as long as they can be of service to Agudah. Hakol Kol Yaakov, V’hayidayim Yidei Esau.

Agudah, like every other lobbying group couldn’t give a hoot about anything other than what concerns them directly. The National Rifle Association couldn’t really give a darn about all the violence due to a lack of good gun control. Agudah doesn’t care about our environment or global warming as long as they get a few bucks for their programs.

Recently Agudah issued a press release in support of the war in Iraq. How nice, how patriotic. Not only do Agudah members in Israel not serve in the IDF in any proportionate numbers, but how many of them serve in the U.S. Forces? Not only don’t they serve, they aren’t encouraged to serve their nation in defense against terrorism. Let the goyim spill their own blood and we’ll encourage them to do so!

Truth be told, Agudah could care less about the welfare of America or the war in Iraq. For them it is only a tool to achieve their own goals, alignment with the conservative America and differentiating themselves from Reform Judaism:

“We feel compelled to express our views at his time because the Union For Reform Judaism, purporting to have arrived at its position through an application of halachic norms? And Jewish values? Has publicly proclaimed its opposition to the presidents policy…but the position…nor reflects authentic Jewish values…”

This isn’t the first time Agudah has used the term “authentic Jewish values” nor will it be the last time. What are authentic Jewish values? Why does Agudah assume that their spin is more authentic than the other movements? Who gave Agudah the right to define authentic values? By what right have they usurped the right to speak for all of us. What about the values espoused by other Orthodox groups or for that matter Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative or Renewal movements? And who designated Agudah as the last word regarding authentic Jewish Values?

It would appear that before Agudah presumes the presumptive right to speak on behalf of authentic Judaism they need to learn that the concept of Hakol Kol Yaakov V’hayidayim Yedei Esau has no place within authentic Judaism.