From my archives. First posted 6/13/14.
I love being Jewish. Judaism becomes real when its ideals are lived. I have been privileged to see some real gedolim, living sifrei torah, whose conduct perfectly demonstrated the ideals of Judaism. Personally, they were anavim (modest people) but they were strong, very strong, when it came to fighting for what was right. Some were lay people, others, rabbis or professionals. Their writings, and utterances were clear and rooted in the truth, as best they could know it.
My love of Judaism includes an appreciation for the deep investigation of the Talmud, the analytic clarity of Maimonides, the aching beauty of Yehudah Halevi’s poetery, the wittiness of Reb Yoelish (Satmar Rebbe, Joel Teitelbaum), the moral clarion calls of R. Michoel Ber Weissmandl, the grandeur of Abraham Isaac Kook’s vision, the staunch philosophical integrity and rabbinic brilliance of the Rav, Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, and of course, the many and varied beauties of the tanach (Hebrew biblical scriptures).
A new vulgar barbarism has invaded the Jewish community in which greed and the hunger for power with its flashing lights, has displaced the sparks of spirit. The old ideal of erlichkeit (decency and integrity) has receded. Frumkeit (ritual observance) has turned into a spade in a competitive battle to out-frum the other guy. Torah has also become a spade with which to bury opponents.
Almost all human beings are selfish and self-centered to some degree but our new vulgarians go way too far. We are all entitled to mistakes, but they abuse the privilege.
Because I love being a Jew I will keep on challenging people who cloak themselves in my Judaism to lord it over others and cover up hideous crimes and dysfunction.