Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

A Rabbi and a Monkey Walk Into a Bar…

Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

I offer these thoughts in hopes of engaging in a real dialogue with Boulder’s Jews. Please feel free  to comment – I am ready to hear other points of view.

Havdallah is a beautiful ceremony that we do at the end of Shabbat. It is very sensory – we smell, we drink, we gaze at the braided candle, we drink. Beyond the beauty of the ceremony is one of two essential Jewish acts: le’vadil. To distinguish. The other essential Jewish act is to unify – Hear, Israel, G-d is One. Two opposite movements – recognizing unity and making distinction. How do they fit together? How do we know which to do at which time?

The truth is, they are not opposite. We can do both at the same time. We can acknowledge difference and a common source at the same time. Take, for example, the laws of keeping kosher. Pig is not kosher, but pigs are a part of the larger picture just the same (or else, where would we get footballs from?). So we distinguish between kosher and not kosher, and we simultaneously acknowledge that there is a larger picture that contains both.

When we start to blur the lines between these two foundational Jewish gestures, we get in trouble. When we confuse co-existence with sameness, when we can no longer identify different roles for different creatures and creations within a unified, larger picture, then trouble starts to brew. The unkosher kind.

The havdallah blessing lays out some important distinctions that have to be made, starting with the distinction between holy and not-holy. It is essential to note that not-holy is not bad; just that it is… not holy. So what’s holy? Well, Shabbat is holy.

The difference between Shabbat and not-Shabbat is dramatic. On Shabbat, we see that the world is not ours to manipulate (this is the definition of work on Shabbat). And withholding ourselves from work gives us the opportunity to see the gifts we already have, and to express gratitude. It is a time to turn off distractions and get present. It is a time to take a break.

So why would we look for ways to make Shabbat like not-Shabbat? Why, for example, would we look for ways to permit use of more and more electronic devices? To make our lives easier? That may seem to be true in the short term, but what it does is make Shabbat less special, less holy. On Thursday I listen to my iPod, on Saturday I listen to my iPod. On Thursday I answer my phone. On Shabbat I answer my phone. Slowly, the distinction vanishes, and Shabbat becomes like every other day day. What a loss!

How about the distinction between human and animal? The most insulting component of evolution – and I do not reject the theory entirely, but I look at it critically – is that there isn’t really that much difference between humans and monkeys, humans and dolphins, etc. And then we treat dogs like people – (Bark Mitzvah!!!! Really?!???!?!?) – which often leads to treating other people like dogs. Along these lines, we have a guest speaker coming to Boulder to present on his new book, “Crossing the Threshold: God’s Image in the More-than-Human World.” Another essential distinction crumbles., In my opinion, when we have perfected seeing people in the Divine Image, we can move on to animals. Meanwhile, we have a lot of human work to do.

How about the distinction between Jews and not-Jews? Is it special to be a Jew? Not talking about better or worse – I’m talking special. Is it special to be a Jew? Why would we work toward dissolving that distinction? What does it serve – will it make our lives easier? Why must we change liturgy to “who chose us im-with all other nations and gave us the Torah” instead of “who chose us mi-from amongst all other nations and gave us the Torah.” Yes, the issue of chosen-ness needs to be understood. But tossing it out because it is misunderstood and therefore uncomfortable is not the way to go about it. All this does is once again blur the lines.

Here’s another lost distinction: The line between rabbis and not-rabbis is crumbling, too. We are so comfortable saying “I saw Josh/Marc/Gavriel/Tirzah/Nadya/Victor/Jamie at the library the other day.” This dangerous trend is not just about names. It is about attitude. “This person, who spent five or ten years toiling in Torah to refine his/her character and understanding of the world is just like me. S/he has opinions, and so do I. We’re buddies. We disagree.” When the Talmud says “Let your awe of your rabbi be like the awe of heaven,” it wasn’t about a nice parking spot in front of the synagogue. It was about participating in a sacred relationship that can be a conduit for Divine Blessing and insight.

The tikkun olam line has been blurred as well. It used to imply visiting the sick, tending to the needy, spending time with the elderly. Now it’s about recycling and digging wells in Ghana. What happened? What about our elderly?

How about the 3,500+ year distinction of kohanim – our priests, the models of loving kindness in the tradition of Aharon the Kohen? ”The CJLS accepted a responsum concluding that synagogues are not required to call a Kohen to the first aliyah.” In and of itself, it is not such a big deal. But seen as part of a trend of burying distinctions? Problematic. “Unlike the Klein responsum, which like the Orthodox view regarded kohanim in and offspring of prohibited marriages as disqualified from performing priestly functions or receiving priestly honors and benefits, the Takkanah held that they are to be regarded as Kohanim in good standing.” Kohanim used to be—and feel—special, charged with a higher level of conduct. Now, they are just like everyone else.

It is an honor to be a Jew. It is an honor to be in Shabbat. It is an honor to be a kohen. It is an honor to be human. It is an honor to participate in the distinctly Jewish brand of tikkun olam. Why are we so quick to throw these distinctions away?

About Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder

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  1. Edmund Burke would agree with you. Certain distinctions gain legitimacy by virtue of being ‎around for so long, by virtue of being tradition. But times change, societies progress, and many ‎distinctions that survived for years, or even centuries, need to be dispensed with. The 19th ‎Amendment to the U.S. Constitution eradicated a distinction that had perpetuated since our ‎country’s birth. The civil rights movement dispensed with distinctions that some people killed to ‎preserve. Nevertheless, the eradication of those distinctions is widely regarded today as ‎necessary progress. Your article highlights distinctions that you believe should perpetuate, but it ‎fails to distinguish them from those distinctions that should not. Times change. People change. ‎The song remains the same? Why should certain distinctions be preserved, while others must fall ‎away? That is the real distinction that you need to address. ZDS. ‎

    • Gavriel Goldfeder

      Zach – thanks for writing, first of all. most of these distinction, in my opinion, should remain because they are deeply useful in providing meaning, structure, and access to holiness on a regular basis. Holiness in time, space, and community is dependent on distinction. If everything is holy, nothing is holy. If all time is Shabbat, no time is Shabbat. And if everyone is rabbi, no one is rabbi. What do you think?

    • Your response raises fascinating questions. How do we choose the standards by which we decide that a change is good. I'm not asking which changes are good or bad, I am asking how you decide. I know how I do. But I would like to know the standards you use.

  2. @ Reb Gavriel: If you're going to criticize my work, you should find out more about it! I think you might find it quite interesting and quite different than you imagine. One of the most important eco-rebbes, by the way, is the Alter Rebbe, Shneur Zalman of Liady.

    @ Everyone else: I'll be teaching this Shabbat at Congregation Bonai Shalom. If you're in Boulder, please drop in! Info at: http://www.bonaishalom.org/index.php?id=1108

    @ Reb Gavriel again: I'd be delighted to come give a talk (or lead a discussion) on evolution at your shul. Rav Kook and Maimonides both have amazing things to say relevant to evolution. (Rambam of course never heard of evolution but he rejects the idea that any one species is the "final end" of creation.) Here's a link to an article I wrote about Rambam: http://neohasid.org/torah/rambam/

  3. Rabbi, with respect, building wells to bring people water seems very appropriate in terms of how tikkun olam has been explained to me.

    We have over 7billion people on this planet, many of us are non-Jews. Are you suggesting that only Jews should receive your ministrations? I don't know that supporting other worthy causes is keeping Boulderites from helping their sick and elderly. If it is, perhaps Haver needs to hold a meeting to write some fire and brimstone encouraging congregants to contribute and volunteer to JFS.

    Yes, money is limited and I can see your interest, as the head of a synagogue, to see more of your congregant's money being used for Jewish-specific charities, including your shul, JFS, etc. But why can't a little percentage of that money also be used to build wells and promote a healthy planet through climate change prevention? If the planet gets trashed, we'll all, Jews and non-Jews, be in hot water!

    I also wanted to address your allusions to connection/unity/the bigger picture. Are we not all connected within that bigger picture? What you do or fail to do for a non-Jew, has an effect on a chain of people around that non-Jew that may come back to you, or someone you love, who is a Jew. Therefore, engaging in behaviors and promoting causes that save the environment, protect species of animals and help non-Jews, you are helping the wider world-community, of which all Jews are a part.

    I appreciate your concerns and I'm sure they come from a good place, but I think the way they are presented opens a dark, dangerous door. I don't like to think about the obvious flipside to isolationism (Jews should only help Jews), because I think we've already see enough of that in this world.

    My apologies if I have offended or misunderstood what you are saying. As tomorrow is Friday, I will wish you a Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Goldfeder.

    • Gavriel Goldfeder

      Did I mention money? I am referring more to a sense that our work is done because we have dug wells and we compost. Frankly, I'd rather you give your money to AJWS and your time to a local org that is benefiting, yes, the Jewish community. Family first.

  4. Just in response to two comments…and this is a younger,teen perspective.

    In terms, of first name basis with your Rabbi, I don't mean to offend, but I think you are creating a bit of an elitist based relationship by asking your conregants to what? Revere you? Aren't rabbis supposed to be the people we come to because we feel close and connected to? As a teenager, isn't important that I can speak to my rabbi knowing that I have a relationship that moves beyond the puplit. If you look at the great religious leaders, not only Jewish, they are people. And that's fundamentally important. They were not so distant a figure that one felt intimidated to speak to. If you want to connect with kids of my generation, you're going to have to confront some "attitude" and learn to be comfortable in informal settings.

    • Gavriel Goldfeder

      Ariel – thanks for caring and writing. I agree that, as a teen, that relationship is important. But I do not believe that requires informality and a dissolution of boundaries. I have many students who are early teens, and they call me rabbi. And I know them well, and they trust me, and we speak deeply.
      But there are many that agree with you, and I wouldn't argue the point too strongly. But I refer more to the "adult" world, where the relationship often loses its archetypal capacity. This is not about revering me. I know my own faults enough to know that I ought not be revered. But it is about revering the institution, the sacred relationship, the special role rabbis have played for so long. Rabbi is an important title, especially at a time when so many formerly sacred institutions have fallen. 50 years ago no one would have dreamed of saying things about a standing president that are said today. Shall we let the rabbinate fall as well?

  5. Additionally, as someone who spent the last summer in Ghana volunteering, I ask as respectfully as I can. Who are you to define what tikkun olam is? Or what is most important in terms of charitable acts? Does this return to the fact that you spent five years of your life studying torah so your perception of what "world repair" is, is more enlightened then mine? I am just one person Rabbi Goldfeder, but I volunteer for a city board in Boulder, am an American Jewish World Service Volunteer and I walk weekly with an elderly Jewish woman.

    All my best,
    Ariel Amaru

  6. Gavriel Goldfeder

    I am not empowered to determine what world repair is, but I am certainly empowered to guide a discussion of what the Torah says about it. (And empowered to be corrected as well.) Your questions are intelligent and, in my opinion, a bit dangerous. Do you ask a doctor why right he has to determine what illness is? Do you ask a policewoman what right she has to determine the law? Or do you reserve such critique only for this realm? Communities empower leaders in all realms. They do not replace our responsibility to think but, in many cases, they represent someone to listen to.

    • Gavriel,

      There is no such thing as a "dangerous" question. It is only when the question, or rather the answer, threatens the current authority. You have created a straw man in your response.

      First, police DO NOT determine law. They enforce it. And, it can be asked why a policewoman can enforce it, and what gives her the right. These are very real questions which have been asked and answered in different ways in different societies around the world. In fact the authority of police is still challenged in court from time to time.

      Doctors CAN be asked what constitues illness, and the definitions and understandings of medicine ARE CHANGING! Doctors (and scientists, and even lay people if they so choose) do challenge medical knowledge on a constant basis. It is through these challenges that a true understanding is reached.

      Critique, critical thought, and skepticism is applicable in ALL realms. Always has been, always will be. As a final thought, I would like to point out that there is a very real difference between a leader and an authority.

  7. Let's face it folks. Rabbi Gavriel is a genius with a unique perspective to challenge our own world view. Take some time to delve into these concepts deeper and see how they can enrich your lives. Just taking offense and reacting without becoming curious is a shame. Sticking with the standard Boulder philosophy is cute, but are you really growing? I would be interested in hearing some of Rabbi Gavriel's responses to your responses.

    • Just because someone disagrees with the Rabbi does not mean that s/he has not listened. I actually had a discussion with someone about the calling your Rabbi by his/her first name after reading the article. A real discussion, not a bitch session.
      Boulder does, by and large, tend to lean left and condemn any ideas that come from the right and I find it highly annoying when those same lefties trumpet how "open-minded" they are. However, I think that some of these responses have good honest thought behind them.
      I appreciate Rabbi Goldfeder taking the time to respond to so many of the comments. Isn't debate supposed to be important in Jewish learning?
      I tend to travel along the bumpy middle road, but I still think that there is great value in ministering to the world community. Our individual actions can have a ripple effect, especially when taken cumulatively.

      • Gavriel Goldfeder

        Shed – i am so glad my comments led to a conversation beyond this forum. what did you and your learning partner conclude?

  8. shalom everybody–
    great discussion- way to go R Gavriel for opening up some serious issues, that as the comments show are a great question in our days…
    i just wanted to write about one thing here- where does tikun olam belong. especially in response to Ariel's points… I was just learning about laws of tzedaka- where the Sages have this principle that comes up in the question of where/ who to give to. "your poor comes first." this means my tzedaka goes first to a family member, then community member, then my city so forth- expanding circles of compassion. (Ariel- i really liked your circles-)
    One of the other great principles in tzedaka, is knowing how to give. anyone who's tried to help someone knows it isn't always easy- to receive, to give the right thing and many other considerations.

  9. When i was in college i had the merit of learning from a great man- Majid Rahnema, (check his amazing book "The Post-Development Reader, Zed Books" ) who spent years working in the development world- watching the 1st world fail to help the 3rd world.
    I think one embedded aspect of the wisdom of our Sages in prescribing our close ones first is in our ability to be more sensitive to their needs.
    It was a longer conversation- but after learning and studying with Majid- I came to the real conclusion that programs that take us far away to do our service are very complicated and need a lot of consideration (especially if we don't speak the local language. ( i ended up deciding that israel is the place where i should make my service to, and ended up staying.)

  10. maybe R Gavriel was getting at this same point when he quoted the Sages original descriptinos of tikun olam. the fact that times have changed and clearly our impact is now well beyond our village walls these days drives our sense of where we should help farther and farther abroad. but there is normally plenty of problems we have greater agency/ impact in within our home communities. Maybe a compromise is for Aish kodesh/boulder community to instigate more chesed programs at home- or have a learning group about what were the principles of Tikun Olam in the sages, so we can assess it from today…

  11. AJWS is very proud of the thoughtful remarks from Ariel Amaru, a young woman who has given of herself with a group in Ghana that built a community center AND spent time every day studying Jewish text, looking at the many discussions and debates between and among our rabbis and sages as to when and whether we are to help non-Jews, as to how to define our circles of obligation. When young people engage in these debates and find ancient and new, long standing and different ways to meet their Jewish obligations and live their Jewish values we can be certain that the Jewish leaders of the next generation are at work determining their roles in a world–Jewish, local, national and global–that needs their time, their energy and their best thinking. Check out http://www.wheredoyougive.org.

  12. I find it odd that at a time when much of the Jewish world and to some extent the Non-Jewish world's attention is focused on the hyper-distinguishing capacities (sic) of Orthodox Jews but for one example in the city of Bet Shemesh i.e. on spitting on an 8 year old girl who was not deemed dressed modest enough (despite wearing a skirt & shirt down to elbows etc.) that an Orthodox Rabbi deems it wise and prudent to call out various ways he feels distinctions are not being properly honored and preserved in all places but of Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately, Orthodoxy is sadly reflective of taking distinctions and distorting these. So, there is a halakhic distinction between Jew and Gentile yet those who are familiar with Orthodoxy are all too aware that there is a disgust and hatred for Gentiles that has developed in some quarters that contradicts rabbinic values such as "Loving God's Creatures and bringing them close to the Torah." As well a Rabbinic values such as, "Human Dignity". It would be much wiser for Orthodox Judaism and its rabbis to fix their own house of which there is need for many pressing repairs before they start questioning the reinterpretation and expansion of classical rabbinic values, halakhic decisions and translations of other Jewish denominations and their lay people. While each one of the rabbis points is worthy of discussion unfortunately the lack of tact is more present for some of Boulder's Jews that his specifics at least as far as I can tell from what people are talking about in synagogue. One does not need to be a rabbi to understand the wisdom of the saying,"People in glass houses should not throw stones." I would appreciate the rabbis analysis of what distinctions and the distortions thereof he feels Orthodoxy is in need of addressing and in light of these whether the distinctions he has called out aref of greater or lesser moral importance and urgency.

  13. Gavriel Goldfeder

    Yiddishe – I don't feel a need to address the ills of Orthodoxy in this forum. While that would be an enjoyable distraction for some of us, it is not the point. The question was, and is, how do we maintain the distinctions that provide the opportunity to contact the Holy? If Shabbat/rabbis/jewish/Torah/etc. are not maintained as unique access points to holiness, then what is?

  14. Rabbi Goldfeder let's address your points then on their own terms:

    Sabbath- You express concern over the permitting of unspecified electronic devices on the Sabbath by an unspecified group putting the ambiguity of your references aside surely you must be aware that Orthodoxy in part has permitted all kinds of electronic and mechanical devices. Why do you not complain about the use of Shabbat elevators, ovens or microphones. Does using a a fridge make the Sabbath less sacred? How are we to evaluate the "distinction" between what Orthodoxy has permitted and the halakhic logic and values behind it and what we can only presume you express concern over what the Conservative movement has permitted? Is it possible that the Sacredness of the Sabbath can be respected even in contexts where the permission of specific electronic devices is deemed useful or necessary? Judging by Orthodoxy's own precedents it would seem that the answer is yes.

    Rabbis- you express concern over rabbis being referred to by their congregants by their first name as somehow devaluing the sacred relationship possible or somehow intimating that the rabbi and congregant are regarded by the congregant as equal. Since the advent of modernity one of the values that moderns have developed and cherished is autonomy. In addition, the level of the rabbinate has significantly declined in terms of what training in rabbinic scholarship and what level of personal observance is necessary to be a rabbi. Adding to this is the desire of rabbis to understandably connect with their congregants as people as a bridge building measure and their at times to desire to be humble and it starts to become clear. I still find it odd that as an Orthodox rabbi you chose to bring this point up as surely you must be aware that Orthodoxy in large part does fundamentally recognize any of the rabbis you mentioned as rabbis and nor does it give them the respect that rabbis deserve yet you as a representative of Orthodoxy are saying that these rabbis should be given more respect for the titles and roles they have assumed. Perhaps if your colleagues treated Rabbi's: Rose, Gross, Firestone Soloway etc.. with more respect this would assist in our reverence for them. In the end as the sages have said, "The Children of Israel if they are not prophets they are the children of prophets." I sense that each rabbi gets the respect they deserve just like people get the leader they deserve.

    Jewish Priests (Kohanim)-You express dismay over a Kohen not necessarily having to be given the first aliyah as somehow devaluing their specialness. You did not explain why Kohanim were given the first aliyah? It is my understanding that this is to assuage the ego of the Kohanim who hold themselves special (Darchie Shalom) is this a value that is truly necessary to defend in the modern world and in Boulder? Does not the rabbinic tradition tell us that, "That a bastard who is a Torah Scholar takes precedence before an ignoramous who is a High Priest"? Is it not possible that the rabbis are expressing more fluidity in terms of the honor due a Kohen and it is conceivable that this kernel of a value can then be applied in other contexts and situations? Are there not halakhic opinions that allow in some cases for a Kohen not to be called first to the Torah? Your other reference to children of Prohibited Marriages as being in need of not being given the respect due a proper Kohen does not address the significant complexity of the issue that these situations i..e Prohibited Marriages present for the Modern world, Jew and Rabbi. You criticize the Conservative movements developing position on this without providing any context. According to your Halakha you would never consent to the marriage of a Kohen to either a convert or divorcee nor would you permit the marriage of a Kohen to a Jewish woman who had even one act of sex with a Gentile or was molested say by an immediate family member. You do not address the tragedy or difficulties this can involve nor do you address any explanation of why these laws whether Biblical or Rabbinic require upholding yet you criticize other rabbis for their distinction disolving. Does not the rabbinic tradition teach, "If there is no knowledge – distinction from where?"


  15. Continued from Previous post

    Choseness-You criticize the rewording of who chose us from among the nations to who chose us with the nations as again being a distinction disolving problem. Surely you must be aware that 20th century fascism has been responsible for more deaths of our people than any other ideology or religion. It is not surprising then that modern Judaism's have sought to mute elements of the Jewish tradition that come across (and often really are) as chauvanistic, elitist and religiously fascist. The translation does not negate Jewish chosenness it simply affirms that other nations are chosen as well for their own destinies. This should be applauded for its inclusionary element and is not intended to negate the role of the Jewish people as chosen to learn and live the Torah. Again, you attack others but do not mention nor defend your movements own distinctions that we can only presume you defend. Distinctions also found in the prayer book such as: Thank you God for not making me a woman! Which I trust you say every day or Thank You God for not making me a Gentile! Are these distinctions languaged in a manner that you truly feel comfortable with? I encourage you to study Maimonides position on the matter of the distinction or lack thereof between Jew and Gentile as pertaining to the afterlife in contrast to more particularistic views. Influenced by Aristotle he seemed to imply that the real distinction is between those who have attained true opinions and developed their intellect and those who have not. What are we to do with the distinction of the founder of Chabad Hassidism who posits that there is a Divine Soul that only a Jew has?

    Tikkun Olam. You criticize how people enact what they term Tikkun Olam is as somehow being too universalist and neglecting our own people. Firstly, you fail to cite any rabbinic precedent of what Tikkun Olam is without again reference to even one rabbinic source. The cases you do mention seem more like acts of Kindness not Tikkun Olam but please let's get some bonafide rabbinic sources as befitting a rabbi and the public debate you seem to want to encourage. The essence of Tikkun Olam as I understand it is protecting Jewish society for various ills whether they be political, social or economic. Is it really so problematic that Tikkun Olam in the 21st century at at time when we live in a global village and our more aware of what happens outside of the Jewish Ghetto and we are blessed financially as an ethnicity and nation that we assist others nations who are impoverished or suffering? The premise that a value or norm in this case loses its authenticity when it gets expanded or takes in new direction or meaning equally relevant to the times is specious. Should Jews living in Boulder help out those Ultra Orthodox poor who live in self- created poverty by avoiding by and large the army and working for a living? It is religiously healthy for the Jewish people to care about other human beings and not wrap itself in a religious and ethnic narcissism.

    Rabbi Goldfeder if you are going to encourage public debate about Judaism then please write in a manner that is respectful of the subject and provide sources and context. I am sure like in any rabbinic debate there are at least two sides however your manner of presentation is so superficial, ambiguous and religiously partial that it does not serve you nor the Boulder Jewish community and indeed this is reflected in many of the comments you have received.

    • Gavriel Goldfeder

      Because, as you have demonstrated, you are not so interested in sources like Torah, Talmud, and Shulchan Aruch. Your "arguments" come off as a patchwork of free association based upon your own experiences, New York Times editorials, and strong prejudices against what you call "orthodoxy" combined with hearsay, projection, and faulty logic. Mix them all together with what seems to me like a huge amount of emotion, and voila!

      The coin of the realm is distinction. At this point in the discussion, are you really interested in the difference between a cell phone and an elevator?

  16. Yiddishe,

    You are a torah scholar in the truest sense. It is a shame that men such as Gavriel should also get such a title.

  17. Fascinating discussion. Disclaimer: I live in Denver but have attended many events where Boulder's rabbinate, or members thereof, have presided on panels and have also attended services at a few of the congregations. As for the rabbi-congregant relationship being a conduit to the sacred, and for being in awe of one's rabbi…when I lived on the East Coast, and was about to spend a few months in Israel, I asked my (married) Renewal rabbi if he had any suggestions for my trip. I'm fairly independent and normally don't seek travel advice but I felt I should be courteous and open to what he might have to say, to respect his role and knowledge of Israel's holy sites. A piece of his guidance? "Have a fling." I was not expecting such disrespect. Alas, I later learned that some female congregants had participated in a not-so "sacred" relationship with him. There is something to be said for developing a direct connection with the divine, either in nature, with hitbodedut, or other practices. I respect the years of study required for ordination but, sadly, not all rabbis live up to the title.

  18. This is what I hear Rabbi Gavriel asking …

    If there exists a channel to holiness
    How do I find it, preserve it and pass it on to others ?

    And the question is still available to all those who want to grow.


    I'm not one who's got it all in place
    Telling you what you should do
    No I'm just one old hungry beggar
    Showing you where I found food
    ~ John Fischer

  19. @ "David" To call Yiddishe a true Torah scholar, you are forgetting the main idea of Torah, which is to be respectful and to Love your neighbor like you love yourself. For "Yiddishe" to conceal the use of his real name and to be so disrespectful of a community Rabbi is terrible. (The concealment seems to give the writer a way to be mean and not be responsible for his words or tone). Rabbi Goldfeder starts his article with the welcoming of other's ideas. Weather you agree with Rabbi Goldfeder or not, is not my concern. But the venom and harshness of "Yiddishe"'s tone and the disrespect of his last paragraph is by no means a "Torah Cup" at all and should not be respected. You are free to think of Rabbi Goldfeder in whatever regard you wish, but weather you like it or not he is a Rabbi, and has done nothing to you or "Yiddishe Cup" to get this kind of treatment. He simply has stated his OWN opinion.

    • @Shan- with all due respect many people myself included feel that Rabbi Goldfeder has been very disrespectful in his piece and its not surprising that he is soliciting intense and at times disrespectful remarks not just from Yiddishe but even more so from others who have called him everything from an enemy to not deserving of being a rabbi. Yiddishe just seems upset over the quality and presentation of the rabbi's remarks and always regards him as a rabbi. Whoever Yiddishe is he or she does not claim to be a true Torah scholar or rabbi and I do not believe David has the power to elect them as such. When you survey all the comments however Yiddishe's remarks are the only systematic rebuttal of Rabbi Goldfeder's post. Rabbi Goldfeder has stated he wanted to spark debate why has Rabbi Goldfeder not responded? Personally, when I read Yiddishe I see a powerful statement and defense of liberal Judaism and await to see what Orthodoxy has to say for itself. Rabbi Goldfeder has often impressed me as a thoughtful rabbi but I think in this case he bit off more than he could chew and did not chose his words or battles wisely.

  20. @Ann: It truly saddens me that Rav Gavriel's words have offended people. However taking into consideration his passed thoughfulness, willingness to see many view points, and being an open minded person isnt it possible that some people are reading the article and misunderstanding? I agree that purhaps Rav Gavriel could have been clearer. Maybe this could have all been avoided. As a community Rabbi (especially an Orthodox one), I think historically Rav Gavriel has done a great job of bringing Jews of all denominations closer together…without judgement. I think that history needs to be taken into consideration this time. But even your words and feelings are portrayed in a nice way even if you dont agree with me. You are even willing to see that this case feels different from the past. I truly believe that if anyone was hurt from the article, it was simply unintentional. I can not speak for the Rabbi, I just know he is not that type of person (and seemingly so do you). My concern here remains the tone and disrespect of both "yiddishe" and "David". Sometimes people are unclear or make mistakes or assume things, but to hide behind a fake name in order to be mean without having to be responsible for his actions, is what gets me. It is clear from Yiddishe and Davids responses that they were meant to be hurtful and disrespectful.

  21. Our differences and distinction continue to give non-Jews fuel for their hatred of us.

    It's ok for them to be different but it's not ok for Jews to be different, even though the bible states that G-d told us how to act toward all peoples.

    Majority rules seems to be the continuation of anti-Semitism still taught.