By Dan Illouz
This article first appeared on Tzipiyah.com
Thank God, in the last few decades, the Jewish World has experienced a movement of return (Teshuva) to it’s tradition. This movement has been lead by “Kiruv” movements. I want to explore, through very short thoughtful posts, what authentic Kiruv should be like according to Torah.
There are two types of Kiruv usually mentioned. The most common practiced today is known as “Kiruv Rehokim” – To bring those which are far way closer. However, there is a fundamental problem with such a practice. In order to practice “Kiruv Rehokim”, I need to believe that I hold the truth and the other is very far away, and I am bringing him closer to my truth. The belief that you hold the ultimate truth to which people must be returned is a clear sign of Gaavah (haughtiness).
From the Lubavitcher Rebbe:
“You say you are ‘bringing close those who are distant.’ What gives you the right to call them distant and pretend you are close?”
On top of that, secular Jews which are exposed to such kiruv movements refuse to be connected to them because they believe they are right in their ways of lives. This position often, unfortunately, translates into some people loving their fellow jews only to turn them religious – inviting them over for a shabbat meal only if they believe it will help connect them to Judaism. If at the end he didn’t become connected, inviting him was a bit of a waste of time. Unfortunately, some people, through this position, give no intrinsic value to loving their secular brothers in the way they are, without the need to change them.
On the other hand, there is a concept called “Kiruv Levavot” – Bringing the hearts closer together. Kiruv Levavot comes from an understanding that everyone holds a part of the truth. Yes, even secular Jews hold some part of the truth from which we can learn. Sometimes, this reality is easier to understand retroactively – 100 years ago, the secular world started speaking of communities, nations, universal love. Zionism, the movement which brought Jews back to their land after 2000 years of exile, stemmed from this perspective. At first, religious people thought that everything presented by the secular world had to be rejected. This can explain the initial violent rejection of Zionism by most of the religious world. However, Rav Kook explained that Zionism stemmed from deep and holy ideals which permeated Judaism. Zionism was the holy call of the Jewish nation to become a nation once again, to serve God on it’s land. Rav Kook explained that just as the secular had a lot to learn from the religous, so too, the religious had a lot to learn from the secular – a lot to learn about nation building, sacrificing their lives for klal israel, etc…
Through this perspective, each side realizes that we each hold a part of the truth, and by working together, mixing our perspectives, we will be able to get to the ultimate truth.
Tzipiyah.com reflects the constant yearning of the Jewish People for the past 2000 years for the national renewal of the Jewish People, on their land, with the building of the temple in Jerusalem as a house of prayer for all nations.
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