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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Rabbi Reinman

I heard Rabbi Reinman, co-author of the book One People, Two Worlds, speak this weekend at my shul, Shomrei Emunah. From the book, I didn't especially like Rabbi Reinman's viewpoint. Hearing him speak, I really liked him a lot more. He spoke about how the idea for the book came about and then about the controversy that has surrounded the book since the publication. He made the conflict sound much less striking than the Jewish media has made it out to be (big surprise there). What I found interesting is the fact that in writing the e-mails that went into the book, Rabbi Reinman had several people to whom he showed each posting. These people would go over each detail and word to make sure that they were sound points and accurately reflected Orthodox thought. He says that the Reform rabbi who co-authored the book, Ammiel Hirsch, claims he did not use this same type of screening. I found this interesting because as reading the book, I found Rabbi Reinman to present a very right-wing perspective on the world. In hearing him speak, and from hearing comments from Rabbi Gottlieb, who spent the weekend with Rabbi Reinman, it sounds like he really has a much wider view, with very diverse interests and knowledge. Something Rabbi Reinman said that I found extremely interesting was in response to a comment that his co-author made to him. (Please forgive me for paraphrasing slightly, I don't remember the exact wording.) He said that Ammiel Hirsch made a comment to him about not being the typical close-minded Ultra-Orthodox Jew. Rabbi Reinman's response was that it was because he was the one that Rabbi Hirsch knows. Rabbi Reinman went on to point out that there are close-minded and open-minded people throughout every group of people you look at. I agree with this and it was something that I really needed to hear. There are extremely close-minded Orthodox Jews, there are extremely close-minded Reform Jews. There are close-minded Non-Jews. There are also open-minded people in each of these groups. I have been frustrated lately with the close-mindedness of the people in my community, but I have not really been looking at the fact that there are close-minded people everywhere, not just in Orthodox Judaism. It is easier for me to see it in the Orthodox Jewish world, because that is the one I know the best. Because I know it the best, it is also the easiest for me to find fault with, especially if I am looking for it. I think from now on, I am going to try (and I know that I will not always succeed) to focus on those who are the open-minded of the community rather than those whose opinions I don't agree with. I think an outlook like this will lead to being happier with this life that I have chosen to be a part of. Update: For a more complete summary of Rabbi Reinman's weekend in Baltimore, check out Presence.


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