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So many opinions! But the article is about problems Jews face.

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism
in response to reader comment: Even the Orthodox have their problems!

Submitted by Michael A. Shoemaker (United States), Jan 26, 2008 at 03:13

I tried reading all the remarks, but I was distracted by the scantily-clad girls in the advertisements for T-shirts. I think those girls say more about your article, Mr. Pipes, than most of the comments: Jews today, whether irreligious, hareidi or what have you, are being distracted and enticed by a world bent on hedonism, selfishness and ungodliness. Christians face the same problem. This seems to be at the heart of your article, not discussions about Islam, assimilation, the Enlightement, Chabad, etc. The "observant", among whom the haredim seem to be poster children, have set out to practice all 613 mitzvot, to eschew Reformism, Secularism, Christianity and all other "polutants", and to become engrossed in the study ot Torah; but they are human beings, so they fall into sin and disgrace; and many leave the observant life.

Christians have the same problem: There was a Pentecostal church in a city I used to live in, which had a vibrant evangelism program; but, as one of its former members pointed out, "The back door was as wide as the front door", so there was no net increase in members. I wonder if the number of "observant" Jews is actually increasing, when allowance is made for their greater birthrates. And if they are really increasing, does this really matter?

I was in the "Jesus Movement" in the U.S. in the early 1970s, wherein "counterculture"-type people were discovering a "new" form of Christianity -- a form stripped of its externals, and focussing on the lifestyles of people in the Bible. We grew in numbers, and within a few years "Born-Again" Christianity became a national phenomenom: Presidential candidates suddenly became religious, Christian bookstores sprang up everywhere, and the Pentecostalism of rural communes and small store-front churches evolved into middle-class megachurches with "Christian aerobics", "Christian T-shirts", you name it.

So if "observance" really catches on in Judaism, what can we look forwart to? Mega-synagogues, "Jewish aerobics", religious T-shirts? The "Jesus Movement" is headed for shipwreck: Why copy it? I'm all for picking up the Bible, reading it, BELIEVING it, and getting to know God better than I do. Will this make me a better person, a more "observant" person? Probably. Will this mean I won't get divorced, or my children won't get into drugs? Probably, but there's no guarantee. Will this make me Jewish? or Christian? or religious? I don't think God cares much about those things. The bottom line is, we live in a wicked world, and we need God; and amazingly, He wants to fill that need. Filling that need is where we must start, and where must finish. Nothing else matters very much.


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