by Rabbi Dov Fischer, The American Spectator
For Ellen of blessed memory
The Jewish New Year 5782 began last week on Monday evening, September 6, 2021. That marked a two-day holy period. Many regard Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) as the holiest day of the Jewish Year. Yom Kippur begins tonight, Wednesday night, September 15, with the three consecutive chantings of “Kol Nidre” and then continues as a 25-hour period of penitence and reflection, a fast when no food is eaten, and even water is forbidden. On Yom Kippur, we do not wear shoes that have any leather, do not use salves or ointments or creams, and refrain from marital intimacy. It is a day of personal reflection. Judaism believes that people can change but that change begins from within oneself. One searches one’s inner self, recognizes traits and deeds that are wrong, regrets them, undertakes not to repeat them, confesses wrong doings orally to G-d, makes restitution as needed and asks forgiveness from anyone whom he or she has wronged, and adjusts to live a worthy life. It is important to do well, but it is even more important to do good.
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Amid this Holy Season for Jews, this is a ten-part series of online articles that, with G-d’s help, I hope to transform into a larger book. It is prompted and inspired by questions I have been asked over the past half-century by my readers and particularly these past five years by non-Jewish political conservatives of Christian background who often love Jews but cannot figure us out. Because most online opinion articles range between 600-3,000 words, this subject cannot be treated properly and completely in one single article or even in a limited series. However, this series marks an ambitious effort to address a perplexing question, one that perplexes America’s one million Orthodox Jews more than it does even non-Jewish conservative Christians.
The purpose of this series is to inform readers authentically as to what Jews believe, to demystify. For those who live by other monotheistic faiths, may you be blessed in your pursuit of justice, kindness, morality, and ethics as you serve the One True Creator according to your understanding and belief. As explained in greater detail in Part 4, Judaism does not permit Jews to proselytize others.
The other installments in this series can be found at these links:
Part One: The Basic Definitions of Jews and Non-Orthodox Jewish Denominations can be found here.
Part Two: The Orthodox can be found here.
Part Three: The Ethnicities can be found here.
Part Four: Non-Jews can be found here.
Part Five: What Jews Who Know Authentic Judaism Believe: The Oral Law and Written Law can be found here.
Part Six: What Jews Who Know Authentic Judaism Believe: The Architecture of Judaism — The Talmud, the Halakhic Codes, and Authoritative Rabbinic Responsa can be found here
Part Seven: The Phenomenon of the Jewish Un-Jew can be found here
Part Eight: The Rise of the Absolutely Ignorant American Jew Who Knows Judaically “from Nothing” can be found here
Part Nine: On Deep Red Conservative Dixiecrats Who Kept Liberal Democrats in Power for a Century and on Jews Just Like Them can be found here
13. EPILOGUE: Wrapping Factors Together: Understanding the Hopeless Disorientation of Knee-Jerk Leftist Jews
To the degree that 33-40 percent — or more — of today’s American “Jews” (See Part 9 of this series) are not even Jews, what are they? They do identify inaccurately and falsely as Jews, and when — in the absence of their living a Torah life or having been born to a Jewish mother — they are pressed to explain what precisely the word “Jewish” means to them, they respond with pablum and nonsense about being committed to “tikkun olam.” The Hebrew words “tikkun olam” translate literally to “repairing the world” (much as “tikkun na’alayim” means “repairing shoes”). Because they are utterly ignorant about things Judaic to the point of a chasm deeper than the Grand Canyon, theirs is a “Wikipedia Judaism” or a “Social Media Judaism” that draws from ignorance to amplify ignorance. In the lingo of the contemporary SJW (in which “Single Jewish Woman” on JDate now has been supplanted by “Social Justice Warrior”), it is assumed by the non-Jewish “Jew” who does not eat kosher, does not observe the Sabbath by its laws, and essentially “knows Judaically from nothing” that “tikkun olam” is some kind of social-justice blandishment, suitable for framing or virtue-signaling, but at least a viable component in Judaic thought. Naturally, that wistfulness draws such non-Jewish leftists in as “Jews” even though they are not the latter.
In truth, “tikkun olam” — their only angle for claiming an entry ticket into the Judaic discussion — is utterly outside any framework of serious Judaic conversation, a two-word term rarely seen in rabbinic or other classic Judaic literature and — on the rare occasion that the term ever has been used by classic rabbinic scholars — it simply means “repairing the world” so that the G-dless and atheist and pantheist and polytheist come some day to know and deferentially to bend the knee to the One True G-d. Thus, it is not the apostates who are the ones whom classic rabbinic understanding sees implementing “tikkun olam” — “repairing the world” as the term actually is meant — but instead it devolves as a daunting challenge on my Orthodox rabbinic colleagues and me to figure out how to repair the world by inducing such Judaic reprobates as George Soros, Bernie Sanders, Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, and their ilk to abandon their alliances with overtly repugnant Jew-haters like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and with apostates like so many of their despicable cohort who associate in knee-jerk leftist Soros-funded “Jewish” groups like J Street or Peter Buffet-funded and Rockefeller Brothers-funded outlier entities like Bend the Arc. Tikkun Olam will be realized only when such utterly apostate and reprobate Jews gather side-by-side with the infinitely larger population of the world’s atheist, pantheist, idolatrous, and otherwise G-dless to “bend the knee” to the One G–d Who created the world (Exodus 6:2-8).
At the same time, these are the Jews who have grown up knowing nothing Judaically, the children of equally empty parents who know absolutely nothing Judaically substantive, and who have no Judaic anchors alive any more, now that their grandparents who fled the Tsar from 1881-1914 are dead. They are the third- and fourth-generation American Jewish children who do not know anything but family lore about how their families came here fleeing the right-wing fascist tsars and kaisers and were saved by the Democrats waiting for them at Ellis Island to walk them through the immigration process and to the voting booths while Republican “white shoe country club” tycoons and wannabes rejected them, kept them from being hired to good-paying jobs and employment-advancement opportunities, barred them from practicing at major law firms or medical centers, and even kept their university numbers diminished by imposing anti-Jewish admissions quotas at schools like the Ivy Leagues where legacy families like the Bushes and Gores always could get in. Their grandparents’ American experiences did not contradict the Fable of Liberalism. In Ellis Island, Democrat operatives identically welcomed the newcomers from Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Germany no less than they did the Jews from Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Austria. They gave them cash, helped them settle in, connected them with local Democrat operatives, and registered them as Democrats. Republicans both literally and figuratively missed the boat.
For a century and more, these Jews and their ancestors have been voting Democrat — just as socially, religiously, culturally, politically right-wing deeply conservative White Protestant Southerners voted mindlessly for 125 years for Democrats (see Part 9 of this series) simply because, in the gorgeous melody and phrasing of the fabulous country band “Alabama,” well . . . sing it:
Song, song of the South:
Sweet potato pie, and I shut my mouth.
Gone, gone with the wind:
There ain’t nobody looking back again.
Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch,
We all picked the cotton but we never got rich.
Daddy was a veteran, a Southern Democrat.
They oughta get a rich man to vote like that.
Today’s Knee-Jerk Leftist Jews carry within themselves no family history or personal encounters with people who could tell them, line by line, instance by instance, how communism on the Left was and is every bit as nightmarish as fascism on the Right, how Stalin and Mao were every bit as murderous as Hitler, and how Stalin had similar end plans for Jews as Hitler did, with a record proven during the 1930s Ukrainian Holodomor that he could and would murder millions of his own people without a thought. Mao simply did not have Jews on hand to butcher and could not reach them in America at their non-kosher Chinese restaurants on Christmas eve. However, he murdered millions of his own countrymen, too — exactly as had Stalin. So at Passover time, when such Judaically ignorant knee-jerk leftist Jews and their families congregate for a seder that has no Judaic meaning, they mourn whomever Ilhan Omar mourns in Somalia, whoever fell at the hands of right-wing fascist dictators in Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, Somoza’s Nicaragua, and apartheid South Africa. Perhaps they place a navel orange on the table in honor of women’s rights. Perhaps they recite tales of the plight of Yasser Arafat’s followers whom Arabs themselves mercilessly have driven of Jordan and out of Lebanon and out of Tunisia and out of every other Arab Muslim country the “Palestinians” have tried to destabilize. Perhaps they pull out a Ben & Jerry’s pint, though not kosher for Passover, and declare “BDS” to boycott Israel and to virtue-signal their stand with the people of Gaza who freely and democratically elected the terrorist Hamas international outlaws to lead them in endless losing wars against an Israel that withdrew from the area in August 2005 and gave them complete authority over their region. At some point, the discussion at the seder table, unguided by the actual Haggadah nor by the Judaic traditions of more than 2,000 years, turns to “Did I ever tell you the story of how Uncle Seymour met Bugsy Siegel?” (Yes, every year) and “Did I ever tell you the story of how Bess Myerson (the first Jew who won a “Miss America” pageant) once asked your grandmother for her beauty tips?” (Yes, every year.)
Meanwhile, elsewhere that night, 15-20 percent of American Jews — and by far the fastest-growing segment of the American Jewish population — are celebrating a different Seder, marked by eating proper amounts of matzo, from cartons purchased not typically off supermarket shelves but from special sellers who offer matzo that has been guarded from moisture from the time the wheat first was cut in Nebraska. They are drinking four cups of wine through the night, each while leaning physically to the side as required by Jewish tradition. They wash their hands at two intervals, reciting a blessing at one and remaining silent afterwards each time until eating the prescribed seder food — be it the assigned matzo or a parsley sprig or celery bit dipped in salt water. They recite the story of the five rabbis who were awake all night in Bnei Brak, tell of the four sons to whom the rabbis of the Talmud saw allusions in the Torah, and contemplate that, even if G-d had not taken us out of Egypt, even if He had not split the Sea of Reeds, even if He had not fed us forty years in the Sinai Desert with the mahn (manna) that He rained down from heaven — all “even if” — it still would have been kindness enough if He had done no more than give us the Torah.
The next time someone tells you, with his knee jerking uncontrollably to the left, that he is a “proud Jew” who supports defunding the police, an unguarded American southern border, critical race theory, non-binary transgenderism, and abortion on demand, just ask him or her these questions:
1. How many hours do you wait after a meat meal before eating dairy, and why the wait?
2. I understand that there are 39 forbidden forms of activity on the Sabbath and another 10 or 20 more derivative prohibitions. Can you kindly tell me about some of those 50-plus forms of non-Sabbath activity — and whether you observe the Sabbath in the manner that one million or so Orthodox Jews in America do?
3. What is Sh’mini Atzeret?
4. What does “Olam” mean?
5. If Chanukah celebrates religious freedom, why did the Maccabees launch their revolt by first targeting a Jew who publicly ate pork?
Everyone is entitled to a brain freeze on even a basic question. (E.g., Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?) However, if they cannot answer any two or three of the five, you see what you are dealing with. And once they start mumbling about “tikkun olam,” invite them to bend the knee to the One True G-d.
Thank you very gratefully for reading through this ten-part series. I hope it proved worth the time you invested.