Dealing with the Religious Public
Question: Why do you invest your energy in writing for the religious public, and not, at the same time, for the non-religious newspapers, in order to bring our brothers who are not so meticulous in mitzvoth, closer to Torah and Judaism? What’s the advantage of writing in the newspaper “Basheva” and to convince those already convinced? Our goal is to convince those who have distanced themselves and unite with them, for if we don’t, a separation is created between the religious and non-religious public, whose results are severe and painful for us and all of Israel, as has happened in Gush Katif.
Answer: Indeed, it is very important to explain the Torah and nationalist positions to the public at large, and we do have good claims which are accepted favorably by a portion of the public. However, this is not a true solution to problems that face us. The problems are deeper. Important foundations have still not been clarified appropriately.
There are fundamental contradictions and issues in the framework of our daily lives which require clarification – the relation between Torah and science, between faith and making an effort, between career and family, between innovation and conservatism, between openness and education, the status of man and woman; halacha, state, and army, the mitzvah of settling the land, the aspiration for peace and security, our relationship towards different nations and religions. As long as these issues are not properly clarified amongst ourselves and implemented in our daily lives, even if we hire the greatest public relations people, and learn how to market our positions effectively to the public at large – the difficulties will overcome us, and the short-term light which radiates from the Torah will not suffice.
The Main Problem
The world has greatly changed and developed in the last few generations, placing at our doorsteps tremendous challenges. In order to meet these challenges, we must deepen the clarification of the fundamentals of the Torah and the paths of fulfilling its visions for life.
The most deep-rooted problem is the common perception that there is a seeming contradiction between faith in God and one’s self-realization. According to this perception, the stronger one’s faith in God becomes, the more his personality diminishes; the less one believes in God, the more room he has to be creative and develop the world. Thus, in the past generations, it seemed that precisely those people who severed ties with faith in God and religion, are in the forefront of all of the important developments in the world, for they are able to express their talents more successfully.
This perception, common amongst both the non-religious and the religious, has its roots in that religiosity of the Diaspora – which is still common amongst us, and which also influenced Christianity and Islam – indeed stands in contradiction with natural life. As Rabbi Kook, of blessed memory, wrote (Orot HaTechiya 28), the holiness which is revealed in the Diaspora is a holiness which contradicts nature, whereas the holiness revealed in the Land of Israel is revealed within nature.
Since the world is still use to the perception of the Diaspora, according to which faith and religion stand in contradiction to natural life, it can be found that precisely amongst the people who are talented and brave, many of them prefer to minimize their expression of faith and religiousness in their lives, in order to leave more room for self-expression.
Faith and Making an Effort in One’s Livelihood
This problem gains expression, for example, concerning the relation between faith and making an effort in one’s livelihood. Many religious people believe that a person who has God-fearing faith should learn Torah for as many years as possible, and only when he can’t make end’s meet from his ‘kollel’ stipend, should he go out and look for some insubstantial job. “You are not expected to complete the work” for God provides nourishment to all His creatures, and no matter whether he makes a great effort or just the minimum, his financial situation will be according to what he has been allotted from Heaven. Therefore, it’s enough for him to wash a few floors, and pray to God. If God desires – he’ll get rich from such work. If he remains poor – it’s a sign that that’s what God wants, and he must accept His decree lovingly.
Conversely, the natural outlook says that the more effort one makes to learn a promising profession and find a good job, the richer he will be. However, the majority of people who do this seem to be weaker in their faith because they have spent less years studying in yeshiva. Does it have to be this way? If not – how should one decide what is the proper relation between the amount of time one invests in Torah study as opposed to time spent studying for a profession and work? These issues have still not been clarified properly amongst ourselves, not according to ‘halacha’, nor practically, and the frustration amidst many people is growing.
(To be continued)