Making God Look Bad To The World

In his fifth lecture on Rabbi Joseph Elijah Henkin (the leading posek in America during the 1940s and 1950s) for Torah in Motion, Rabbi Marc B. Shapiro says:

Rav Henkin says Jews must be careful about how they speak about non-Jews. Non-Jews today are not akum (idol worshipers).

We shouldn’t talk about how non-Jews earn the death penalty for violating the Noahide laws.

People who don’t understand Jewish law shouldn’t write about it and do a terrible chillul HaShem as they do on such websites as Yeshiva World News and Vosizneias. Take a look at these websites. Look at some of the comments. The ignorance. A little knowledge is dangerous, especially on the internet. What people write is unbelievable. It makes Judaism look bad not just to non-Jews but to non-Orthodox Jews. It makes them think that if this is what traditional Judaism is, I don’t want any part of it.

I used to be friends with David Kelsey. He’s a blogger now. All he does is attack Orthodoxy.

You have many others. It’s not Orthodoxy that they are turned off of. They were turned off by a crazy fanatical Haredi type of Orthodoxy and now they are very anti-Orthodox. If they had a different approach, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t be in the fold. For some of them, when they first learn about science, they are turned off.

Almost 100% of the anti-religious [Orthodox] types you see online, Failed Messiah who was Chabad, all these people who have an axe to grind against Orthodoxy, they don’t come out of the Modern Orthodox world. They come out of the extreme Haredi world. Because they were so extreme on one side, they go extreme on the other side.

They’re arguments are all the same. That Judaism was never humane. It was never filled with love. It was all about hatred of non-Jews, hatred of the Modern Orthodoxy, hatred of the other. It was always negative. It was always filled with destruction.

My impression is that most rebels are from the Hasidic groups. Pearl Gluck made a movie about them.

Some of them now have tattoos. They are in biker t-shirts. But you listen to them talk, and they sound like they did when they had payos. Because they grew up speaking Yiddish, they’ll never sound like an ordinary American. They’re not like the Litvishers. If a 20-year old Litvisher guy wants to leave, he’ll at least have some secular education. He’ll have a high school degree.

These are people who’ll never make something of themselves. They have no secular education. Many don’t leave Hasidic Judaism precisely because of that. In the community, they’re given manual labor jobs and that’s accepted. In the wider world, they have no possibilities.

Haredi learning in Israel is not an elite movement. How can you have a society where you tell every man they have to do the same thing?

When a Satmar guy drops out, he goes off the deep end. When a traditional Litvisher guy leaves the Haredi world, they end up in places like Teaneck or West Orange. They become more modern. They don’t reject everything.

Rav Henkin didn’t have students. He had baal habatim (congregants and followers).

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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