Thank you for visiting Windows and Doors. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Truths You Can Use Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!
Today’s Haaretz features an op-ed suggesting that the time has come to shut down Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. The article, written by Yithak Laor is filled with misconceptions about the workings of Jewish jurisprudence e.g. that rabbis don’t feel obliged to rabbis greater than themselves (we do, sometimes to living rabbinic teachers, sometimes to ancient masters and often to both) and even about basics of Jewish history e.g. that the army was not a religious institution (it certainly was in biblical times). That having been said, it is spot on about the damage wrote by state-sponsored religion.
While I loathe some of the behavior of Israel’s religious establishment, and cannot think of any time when state-sponsored religious establishments, especially monopolies, have been in the long-term interests of a democratic state, I have no real anger at the monopolists – they are simply pursuing what they believe IS the best policy for Israel and the Jewish people. The frustration I feel, and share with Laor, is saved for the Israeli majority which is not prepared to end the monopoly.
The reasons for why they refuse to do so are many and complicated. Laor suggests that it has to do with fear of intermarriage. I am not all certain that he is right about that, but he alludes to another issue which lies at the heart of any majority’s decision to cede power to a small minority which doesn’t even serve the majority’s interests. What is that reason? The majority is actually getting exactly what they want.
So, as is often the case in democracies, the citizens get exactly what they want – even if they, or we, don’t want to admit it.
It’s time for Israel’s Jews, and all Jews for that matter, not to mention all people, to admit that when one is fortunate enough to live in a democracy — in any place where the free exercise of faith is assured or the ability to change who has religious power is not a life-endangering task (think Iran), the state of faith in the states where we live is a reflection of who we really are, what we really believe and what we really want.