January 6, 2009

The Diaspora might not end in aliyah

Throughout our history, Jews several times largely abandoned Judaism. From the golden calf to widespread paganism of the era of Judges to movie star worship of our days, Jews often lapsed from the religious high stand. Many Jews welcomed the Antiochus’ Hellenistic reforms; Jews of the Roman world’ Diaspora intermingled with pagans enough that the donors’ lists of unearthed synagogues include pagans; the modern assimilationist reformist movement is not unique. Judaism was changed drastically throughout the history: from the liberal worship at home altars – to the First Temple Judaism; an Ark-less worship in the Temple devoid of the Divine Presence; ending the line of prophets and closure of the direct link to God; the polluted Second Temple, violated by pagan brutes such as Pompeus; the Temple-less rabbinical Judaism; the Shulchan Aruch religion of a “wall around the wall around the law.” But there is a critical difference: at every other turn, Jews honestly re-shaped Judaism to serve God in the changing circumstances, but modern reformists created a pagan ethics movement which uses emasculated Jewish terms. The reformism is related to Judaism in the same way as the Russian jail slang, full of Hebrew words, is related to the Biblical Hebrew. Rabbinical Judaism allowed the Temple-less Jews to live Jewish; modern reformism allows them to assimilate American.

The voluntary devastation of the Jewish population is not historically unique. Most Jews refused to leave Egypt during the Exodus, Babylonia with Ezra, or America – for Israel. In Nehemiah’s time, Jews intermarried prodigiously. Today, too, we see some positive trends: many conservative Jews reject the reform’s leanings and embrace Orthodoxy; religious Jewish populations in Israel and the West are growing. But the proportions today are totally different.

For all the exaggerations of ancient historians, Jews constituted a respectable percentage of the civilized world then. Jewish presence was considerable in Europe just seventy years ago. A century ago, the number of Jews and Arabs in the world was about equal, around twenty million each. Today, the Arabs at 300 million are twenty times the number of Jews. Such disparities are not realistically recoverable. Moreover, globalization, mobility, and open societies threaten the Jewish survival. In the earlier times, assimilation was slow: some Jews baptized, some gentiles married into the Jewish people. The trends were slow, giving the Jews enough time to adapt and react, to re-group and restructure our Jewishness. Today, we cannot keep pace with assimilation: the entire American Jewry perished in two generations only; the intermarriage rate among the young atheists hits 90%.

So the divine plan for Jews is either to perish as a people, or to be left only in Israel. The messianic scenario involves substantially all Jews moving to the Land of Israel. The Bible recognizes King Cyrus a messiah even though most Jews refused returning to Israel; messiah need not return everyone. There are two ways to assure that almost all Jews return: make everyone return, or make those who don’t return, perish. Jews refused the first option, so we may be witnessing the second one unfolding.

No comments:

Post a Comment