Having been given the greatest opportunity in many generations, we’ve surely made a big mess of it. However close we once might have been to the millennia-longed-for ultimate Redemption (Geula), we now have a tremendous amount of work to do, cleaning up the damage and getting back on track before this chance expires.
We have de facto possession of the Land and Jewish sovereignty, as well (if only we take the courage to declare it on lands we control)! We’re at, or at least approaching the point of Kibbutz Galiyot (the ingathering of the exiles, defined by more than half the world’s Jews living on the Land, under Jewish sovereignty), a state-change/new-consciousness for the entire universe!
And we’re just about ready to blow the whole thing out of the water by presuming we know better than God. The frum are convinced that all the non-haredim are, at best, challenges to make frum and much of the non-haredi population are half-way out the door, saying that if Judaism is limited to the haredi, backwards-facing definition we want nothing to do with it.
Of course, we could entertain the thought that He created us in all our diverse uniquenesses, because each of us, just as we are (which, and this is vital, includes within each of us the capability to grown, to learn, to self-correct, in other words, Tshuvah) are absolutely necessary partners in the enterprise–meaning that the universe cannot achieve perfection; “tikkun olam” is not possible to achieve, absent the contribution that only each of our unique neshamot can offer. We, of course, in our monumentally “superior knowledge” are sure that there is only a single, narrow, restrictive and restricted Way that we each must, in perfect clockwork conformity, proceed. Of course, that means the way I’m already doing it, so get on board and do it my way….
Dogmatism is not the exclusive turf of the Left or the Right, the Orthodox, the Ultra-Orthodox, the Secular, the Ashkenazi, the Sephardi, the New Age or the Reform. Every formulation of this dogma, that only my way is kosher and all others treif, is based on and perpetuates one of the saddest and most corrosive heresies there is. We proclaim, even though we profess to believe that The Creator is Omniscient and Omnipotent, that He isn’t a very clever fellow at all, creating myriad upon myriad of misdirected Jews. Why oh why didn’t he make us identical (which usually means “just like me”?0
Of course, it’s human nature to feel that each generation, each subset of each generation (those of us who “got it”), building on the knowledge of the past, mixed with our superior insight and brilliance, is the true Crown of Creation. All other opinions are, at best, worthless.
The only escape from total breakdown and disaster, it seems to me, if for each of us to realize, or try to teach ourselves, each of us, as we are (meaning the Haredim, as Haredim, the Chilonim, remaining as Chilonim, Zionist, Secular, Baseball fans, soccer fans, men, women, children and adults….but in every case retaining the capacity and the desire to change/grow/learn
As each of us, with increasing fervor, rejects everyone else (as they, simultaneously, reject us), we’re faced with a fundamental theological challenge. Why did God create more than just one Adam? If there is only the one true path, it seems that the Infallible Creator was an overwhelming failure, with billions of mistakes and only one Adam created who knows exactly what he (and by extension, everyone) must do at every moment.
On top of this, the system of Reality that He created to operate the world in general terms, dictates that you can never stand still–either you’re moving forward or falling behind!
This seems to explain the tragic and, frankly, sickening phenomenon of just about every denomination (as well as every “non-denomination” to lash out at all the other. Each jockeys for more political power, predicated on their way being not merely accepted but approved by all the others.
Eventually, it seems to me, we’ll have to come to terms that The Creator Knew/Knows exactly what he’s doing. אמת, Truth, requires the insights of our Chassidic masters, the discipline and analytics of our Halachacists, the wild poetry of our Kabbalists, the morality of our Mussar teachers, the simple empathy and mutual care of everyday Jews, the secular insights into science and technology which come, as often or not, from the completely non-observant. It doesn’t matter what comes before the hyphen, we’re all Jews together.
And, remember, just like God is a living God and Judaism is eternally evolving and changing, as the situations we face often bear no resemblance to those of our fathers, our Halachot, laws, our Minhagim, customs and our rituals need to constantly evolve to answer each new moment that God has created. Zeh HaYom Asa HaShem, Nagila v’Nism’cha Bo, “This is the day God created, Let us shout with joy and celebrate it!” (Tehillim 118:24, included in Hallel). Each and every day, each an every minute, God requires our newest, most positive and joy-creating response.