Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Halachik state, Saudia Arabia, and the Taliban

What is the common thread between all 3? All 3 would be theocracies where violations of religious laws (such as shabbos, avoda zara, etc.) are penalized with the death penalty. When I put it that way it sounds scary. As Westerners, most of us probably agree with the media that the Taliban were a bunch of crazy fundamentalists. I still remember the uproar when they destroyed some ancient idols. And yet, a Halachik state would have to do the same. R' Shachter writes in Nefesh Harav that someone asked the Rav how can Israel be a member of the UN, some of the states in the UN worship Avoda Zara? The Rav answered that it is good that no one asked us.

The fact is that a Halachik state would be considered in the eyes of the West as something akin to the Taliban or Saudia Arabia. The problem is that most of you reading this post in many ways agree with that. We were all raised on democracy and live and let live, freedom of speech, etc. However, the Torah doesn't agree with that at all. The Torah proscribes a certain way of life which is not compatible with current Western thinking. Someone who is מחלל שבת on purpose gets killed.

You might say so what? The problem is that this colors our thinking and perverts our view and understanding of Torah, we try to view Torah through the prism if western culture when we should really be doing the opposite, viewing Western culture through the prism of Torah. This is where I think the "modern orthodox" have failed.

I close with the following question. Who can you relate to better? Your American middle class colleague at work, who watches the same tv shows as you, roots for the same (or different) sports teams, in short someone who shares the same American culture, or a Reb Arele (Satmar, Belzer, doesn't really matter) chasid who lives in Meah Shearim. In theory we should relate to the Chasid much better, after all we are both Torah observant Jews keeping the same mitzvos learning the same Torah. Yes, we have some hashkafic disputes but these should be relatively minor in the scheme of things. I would venture to say that most of the readers if they are honest would feel closer to the American גוי then the Chasid, you can draw your own conclusions.

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