From the Archives of Tradition

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tradition-cabinetby R. Yitzchak Blau

Modernity presents a unique challenge to traditional Jewry in that most of the Jewish people are not observant.   How should shomrei mitzvot relate to contemporary secular Jews?  R. Yehuda Amital, founding Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, offers an important perspective in the Summer 1988 issue of Tradition.   R. Amital notes how halakha is often harsher in theory than in practice (death penalties, an eye for an eye).  He cites many of the standard arguments for a more moderate approach. 1) Hating the sinner must be accompanied by love for the sinner.  2) We have no right to hate the sinner since we are incapable of giving adequate rebuke.  3) A doubting skeptic is not the same as a heretic.  4)  Contemporary secularists have the status of a tinok she’nishba.  He also adds a few novel points.  5) If acharonim in the early parts of the twentieth century wrote with understanding about the struggle to maintain faith in modernity, how much more so after the Shoah.   6) Now that anti-Semitism has changed from religious persecution to racial hatred, our corresponding ahavat yisrael should be directed towards every Jew.   7) The blessing of the Jewish state depends upon cordial relations between all sectors of the nation.

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About Yitzchak Blau

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau is Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshivat Orayta and also teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum. He is the author of Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada and an Associate Editor of Tradition.

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