To my dear student,
Just to clarify, I want to say that I agree with you, that what we see today, both in Israel and the Diaspora as “orthodox” Judaism is not what I see in our future. I also hasten to add that I don’t think the vast stretch of progressive Judaism, Conservative/Traditional/Masorati, nor Chassidic/neo-Chassdic will have much relevance in the future, although all will have some voice.
The main shortcoming I find in all of these is that their slavishly devotional to a romanticized past or reject any of the insights Judaism has brought us through the ages.
I’m not saying it as a cop-out that I have no idea what it will be—I think it has to emerge. I think it will be focused on the Land of Israel, not as a matter of turf, but as our native soil where we need to be, in general, to survive in order to carry on our responsibilities. I don’t think our emotional well-being, while quite possible a side product, is a real goal. Likewise, we’ve got enough of our own problems, most self-made, which need to be worked through, not leaving us time to take care of the rest of the world’s religions—I think they each have the capabilities to redeem themselves.
I strongly believe that our duties will be centered around Torah and Mitzvot, even if I have no real idea what that will look like in the future. I am pretty sure that we’ve not been brought into this millennium and century in order to create a replica of 1800’s Eastern Europe, nor eighteenth century North Africa.
I’m vitally excited by the prospect of being open of the searchers and explorers, but have little or no hope that “the truth” will be discovered in my lifetime.
We have been given an amazing set of tools (Torah, integrating Written and Oral) which might be incomplete and which might not have come with a very good beginners guide.
I begin every day meaning “Modeh Ani” with my full heart for the privilege of my front-row seat.
Rabbi Harry Zeitlin