The disagreements among Jews on almost everything is not something new – it has been always an important feature of Jewish character. From the very beginning, various Jewish groups were competing with each other for a “right way” of following the God’s guidance (codified in the Torah) in always challenging and changing life circumstances. During the Moses’ times: enter or not to enter the Promised Land? During the Roman times: fight the Roman political rule or not to fight? And nowadays: should an individual define himself whether he/she is a Jew or somebody else should tell him/her who he/she is?
From the very beginning, the Jews were split on how to define “a right way” of following the God’s guidance that is codified in the Torah.
If an individual Jew believes he/she is made indeed in the image and likeness of God, he or she is searching individually for “a right way”. The Jews, who have found similar “right ways”, form a collective to compete, hopefully peacefully, with other Jewish collectives. In the past, they were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots and Sicarii; nowadays the Jews are split between various Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Atheist movements.
However, many rabbis believe that a simple Jew is not able to search for “a right way” individually – a rabbi has to tell him or her what is right and what is wrong. It looks like those rabbis believe only they are made in the image and likeness of God and therefore are capable to search and find God’s “right way”.
From the news media by Dr. Afshine Emrani:
I’m a proud Jew who loves to shine the Jewish light onto the nations. But today, the Israeli Chief rabbinate rejection of this remarkable woman, Ivanka Trump, makes me put my head down in shame. Rabbi Lookstein who performed the conversion is a former Rabbi of one of the leading Orthodox synagogues in Manhattan and former principal of one of the preeminent Modern Orthodox schools, the Ramaz School. The decision of the Israeli religious court to reject Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism by this highly qualified and well respected Rabbi is a slap in the face to all Jews. This action is nothing short of religious dictatorship. I lived in Iran, I know. I recall how the Mullahs ruled. It’s the scream to stay in absolute power. It’s the tyrannical desire to rule the masses. It’s about the power to twist text into financial gains.
Thus, Ivanka Trump, who was not Jewish by birth, and a Jew by birth Jared Kushner have decided to build a Jewish family making this decision themselves, as human individuals made in the image and likeness of God, and Orthodox rabbi Lookstein taught them how to build a true Torah-guided Jewish family. Suddenly, the Orthodox rabbinic establishment of Israel got irritated by this new Jewish family and by their rabbi-teacher and declared only they have the authority to make a family Jewish. In other words, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment declared that a new Jewish family have to be in an image of God this establishment has created for a Jewish family – not in an image of God a Jewish family creates for itself individually.
From the news media by Rabbi Baruch Efrati:
The secular world and the observant world live side by side. The non-observant … are open to tikkun because of the light spilling over from the religious world existing beside them and their sacrifices for the Jewish people. The secular Jewish world does not want to take over the religious world from a theological point of view, but to live beside it – hence, the possibility of influencing that world, listening to its hearts’ desires, elevating its holy sparks to their heavenly source. The secular are actually non-observant Orthodox, they do not present an alternative organized religion that turns transgressions into an ideology intended to take the place of the Torah. … In contrast, the Reform Movement has a “progressive” ideology that wishes to exchange the Oral Law’s G-d-given message. It does not wish to ask questions about the Torah but to create a religious empire of its own. It has an organized theology that grants legitimacy to transgressions and turns them into religion. There is no possibility of living side by side, but a theological battle over who will lead the nation. Our dialogue is thus one between enemies, not lovers. It is either we or them, the holy or the ritually impure and their ideological rebellion against the Oral Law.
Thus, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment believes the non-religious, secular Jews are OK but the non-Orthodox religious people are … close to devilish ones. Both the non-religious secular and non-orthodox religious Jews have defined their God-guided Jewish way of life based on their own individual interpretation of the image of God codified in the Torah. However, the Jewish Orthodox rabbinic establishment want all Jews to be modeled in their own rabbinic image of God – not in the true image of God in the great variety of possible images a “Chosen” Jew can chose for him/her-self to create his/her own Jewish way of life that reflects an individual life circumstance.