To begin, this a piece I have begun working. It’s very parochial, but who knows who’s out there reading this anyway! It’s unfinished.

The Last Revolution: For What Else Is There Left To Do?
The prison of ghetto Torah and the redemption of the Day After Tomorrow.

We Jewish People have seen it all and we’ve done it all. We’ve been slaves and we’ve been free people. We’ve been sovereign in our Land and we’ve been exiles among the nations. We’ve been free people through of our association with the Creator, the Torah and the unbroken chain of 4000 year of history from Abraham, while living in exile, poverty and oppression. And we’ve been slaves, having adopted and mastered the forms and functions of foreign societies, by seeking and attaining wealth and compromised power.

We are a fulfilled prophecy, having returned to our Land, Jews governing Jews, but yet still sad, still fearful, still unsafe, still in conflict from within and without. And we are unfulfilled prophesy living in exile amongst the nations, copying their ways and holding back – holding back from being the paradigm Light Unto The Nations. We are today indeed the embodiment of all the contradictions of our history – both our glories and our tragedies.

Hakol Kol Yaakov, HaYadaim Yedey Esav

We have the voice of Jacob/Israel, proclaiming that All is One and Liberty to All, but invest our efforts and energies in mastering and utilizing the hands of Esau with the concomitant distortions, confusions and necessary distractions. Many amongst us feel like slaves despite the political freedom in our Land while others feel free while still in exile distant from our Land. We are wealthier, more powerful and influential then anytime before in our history but yet divided amongst ourselves, lacking a common vocabulary that would overcome our impotence in uniting with common vision and destiny enabling us to make the transcendent, manifest.

We have conferences and symposiums, conventions and convocations, seminars and workshops all designed to explain ourselves to each other, still yet trying to define who we are, where we’ve come from, how we arrived at this place and time, what are our ills and strengths, what must we fix and how, and all of this leading to what? We produce research papers, articles and books. We film, record and document everything. We are supremely sophisticated in utilizing technology and invest an immense amount of resources and energy in gathering and disseminating all this. And yet inside Israel the majority of the people are startingly and tragically ignorant of the most basic aspects of our history, our traditions and native wisdom and ways. And outside the Land the vast majority remain bored and uninterested in even asking, why be a Jew.

After all this time and effort, how can this be? What is missing? What is left to do? And what are we waiting for?

“First-Principles”

On May5th, The Forward, left-leaning weekly Jewish newspaper in New York, published a scholarly opinion piece by Pulitzer-Prize winner, David Mamet. Entitled “On the Inevitable Decay Of Governments,” Mamet traces the journey from the original uniting of individuals in common cause to the eventual distortion of ‘first-principles’ that time and the impetus towards self-preservation, produces. And he makes clear that the process to insure such preservation embodies the nutrients of its own destruction. He was writing from the perspective of one examining the United States and concluding that the rot has set in, suggesting an end to the American experiment that can be foreseen.

Meditating on the distortion that is both the political system of government and worse, its manifestation, he could have been speaking of Israel. But there is a critical difference between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ White people landed on the shores of the ‘New World’ 514 years ago. Abraham arrived in the Land 4,000 years ago. America as a nation was born 230 years ago; the Jewish People 3,400 years ago. America’s ‘First-Principles” are the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the freedom to pursue happiness and the Constitution, a body of amendable laws of man designed to govern a society where each individual is free to pursue his vision of happiness.

The Jewish People’s ‘First-Principles’ are also two. The first is Abraham’s announcement that the only reality is that there is One Creator of All and that that reality requires us to be humble, generous, courageous and just and kind to all. The second is the Torah, a Revelation from a Source beyond the mind of man, of what to do, how to do it and how to be the one’s to do it, all in service of and in the Name of the One and Only God.

And so one could say that our ‘First-Principles’ are the first of all principles and that that being first invests them with an endurance whose stamina and resilience command a certain surrender.

It is the contention here that a critical mass of the Jewish People need to reconnect, relearn and reaffirm our “First-Principles’ to know and understand all that defines us, all that confuses us, all that unites us and all that confuses us. With the wisdom gained from such effort and the works that follow, we shall arrive at the moment of universal purpose: “V’Ne’emar: v’Haya HaShem, l’Melech Ahl Kol Ha’aretz: BaYom HaHu, YeHiye HaShem Echad, u’Shmo Echd” And thus He said: The Name will be King over all the Earth. And on that Great Day, He will be One and His Name will be One. Bringing us all the way back to Abraham. And therein lies the crux of our problems, ills, confusion and strife.

Talking About God

We Jewish People were given the job of being living witnesses that there is One Creator of All, that all answers lie in what is hidden within the number One and that there is a Great Day Coming to which all the nations of the planet are invited; that salvation of the individual is only complete when all are saved and that we have been endowed and invested with the capacity to make it so.

We Jewish People, who have been given this task of bringing the knowledge of One God, hate speaking of God. All our divisions and conflicts can be identified by and traced through the decay of our relationship to our ‘First-Principles.” Beyond the secular/religious divide, within the religious world, the view of God is different for a Jew living in the Land versus one still amongst the Nations. Here, one is evermore conscious of God active in history than one who’s imperatives emerge from and defined by engagement with Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood and Harvard.

Those whose loyalties are expressed through uncompromising commitment to Torah Law, own a ‘God-view’ so different from the halachically liberal movements that, aside from some common vocabulary, an objective observer might be inclined to think they were unrelated religions. The Conservative Jew would argue that which distinguishes his view from the voluntary Reform view that allows for the question of whether there even is a God. No less, the Chassid with his Rebbe would testify that his path is truly God-conscious and directed, versus the Yeshiva-world Jew and his Rav do not even contend with God Himself, just His Laws.

What’s In A Name? Stepping Back A Step

Who’s ‘we?’ Upon reading these words, most will identify themselves as part of the ‘us’ to whom this is directed; as if it was written to him or herself. But who is ‘us?’ In this age of post-modern, moral relativism, there are almost as many different visions, assumptions and understandings of ‘who is a Jew’ and what it means to be a Jew.

This fact alone is in and of itself the best argument that everyone is wrong. And everyone is right. Because everyone can’t be right and everyone can’t be wrong! The position of the Charedi Posek HaDor (ultra-Orthodox acknowledged ruler of the generation) in this question is simply incompatible with that of a Reform rabbi who does not require a belief in G-d as he himself does not fully believe, who rejects the idea that Moshe Kibayl Torah m’Sinay – Moses received the Torah directly from G-d on Mt. Sinai, and rejects the presumption that the Orthodox world is even the authentic link the unbroken chain of Torah and Halachic development and therefore have any binding authority. Furthermore, there are dramatic differences in basic definitions of the who, what where why and how of ‘the Jewish People.’ Which we shall later explore in greater depth.

There is a teaching given over by Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt”l in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, that “when Eliyahu HaNavi – Elijah the Prophet comes to announce the immanence of the arrival of the one who will be anointed King of Israel, he will come to all this with machlokes, al those with conflict and say, ‘You are right and you are right.’ But when Mashiach come, he will say, ‘You are wrong and you are wrong.’ And we all know it says in the Talmud, “Aylu v’aylu divrei Elokim chayim” – These understandings, positions and rulings and thes understandings, psitons and rulings, are the words of the Living G-d.

So what does a spiritually, intellectually and psychologically honest individual do when faced with the dilemma that everyone is right and everyone is wrong, while at the same time, everyone can’t be right and everyone can’t be wrong? If there was ever an essential conundrum, unsolvable Gordian Knot, despairing and defeating contradiction, what does one do, to where does one turn and where does the hope lay?

We have to do two things. First, we each individually have to take whatever it is we believe, think and feel and so-to-speak, put them in our back pockets and with humbleness of spirit, open hearts and open minds (they function like parachutes; only when they’re open), a need to end strife and a hunger for truth – whatever the truth may be – as long as it is the truth, and return to the place before there was a ‘we’ and ‘us’ and ‘me’ and ‘I.’

There is connective tissue that binds Jews together, consciously or not, willingly or not if. One needs no more proof than that we find ourselves caring enough about all this to passionately argue and fight over it and be enormously offended when another Jew disputes our identity, as opposed to simply opting out. As if we can’t. As if there is some force beyond us, outside of us, yet inside of us, that compels us.

It is true that this is not the first generation in Jewish history to struggle over these issues. In recent times the Zionist enterprise has been a manifestation of this struggle. And we can go back 2500 years to the time of Ezra and Nechemya and see how ‘who is a Jew’ was the critical issue of the day and how it was dealt with. But there is a phenomena lurking in the shadows that reveal’s mah nishtana ha’zman hazeh – what is critically unique about these times about this time! This phenomena of uncounted and unknown tens of thousands of young American Jews who simply don’t give a damn. It’s just not an issue. Being Jewish is so irrelevant to them that they don’t know or care that there is a ‘we’ who are arguing over who ‘they’ are. This is another humbling reality that compels us not to be so attached to what we need things to be.

So we go finally arrive at addressing the question of approaching the dilemma in a way that gives hope to resolution. What’s in a

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