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Thought for the Day: Those Who Deny the Oral Law are Not Benign

I am not by nature a squeamish person.  As one example, as an undergraduate decided on my own to work learn about the skeletal system by removing the skeleton from a rabbit and mounting it.  My grandfather (who, interestingly enough was quite squeamish) had gotten me a book detailing the project (he really loved me; I really miss him).  The project took a few weeks and the college gave me space to keep my things and work on it.  That's not the proof I am not squeamish.  The spot I had was in the room where they prepared cadavers for the human anatomy class and the only time I had to work on the project was during lunch.  That's the proof.

I have seen many films depicting the horrors of the holocaust.  They are, of course, awful and sad; but only one gave me chills and was difficult to watch.  It was a short home movie that had been taken of Adolf Hitler, yimach sh'mo v'zichrono, spending some downtime with his family (siblings and their children) at the Berghof.  What was so chilling was watching Herr Hitler gaily playing with his nieces and nephews.  The scene I remember most was him dancing and them laughing.  If one didn't know better, they would think they were looking at a normal, decent, even nice, human being.

The truth is, I think that is precisely what he was; a nice guy, essentially normal and decent.  He had some crazy ideas about what was good and bad, but they were ideas that were part of the general Weltanschung (world view) that was extant at the time.  He certainly had many, many supporters; among them businessmen, university students, and scholars from all fields.

I know it doesn't make me popular to compare the leaders of those religions who deny the Torah sh'B'al Peh to the Nazis, but the comparisons are chillingly accurate.  Except, of course, that the Nazis were bent on destroying us physically, while those deniers are bent our destroying us spiritually.  At this point I shall just note without further comment that a Jew who has his body destroyed can still experience that for which he was created, Olam haBah, while one whose neshama is damaged is in for eternal suffering.

I have oft been told that I just don't understand the non-frum mindset.  I find that to be an odd charge.  I actually grew up attending Temples of the Reform Jewish Religion.  I attended their Sunday schools, observed my mother's conversion to that religion, and went to social events.  When I was about 10 my father had an argument with the rabbi, so we moved to a Synagogue of the Conservative Jewish Religion.  I attended their sunday school, after-school program for bar mitzvah training, regularly attended both Friday night and Saturday morning services, and ultimately had my bar mitzvah there.  I later taught sunday school in a Temple that housed both Conservative and Reform Jewish congregations.

I am afraid that I understand what is on the minds of those leaders all too well.


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