Passover 2013/Pesach 5773: the Lameness of "Reform Judaism"
Our beloved guest for the Passover seder arrived with a magazine and an attitude, based on the magazine. The magazine, "Reform Judaism," Spring 2013, features articles claiming that the Exodus never happened and that the seder is a relatively recent invention and just a pale imitation of the discontinued Temple rite.
We all enjoyed the pesach seder anyway, the ancient feast of unleavened bread, celebrating Jewish freedom and HaShem’s triumph over evil and all the gods of Egypt.
About those articles: two separate pieces by highly respected Reform scholars “prove” the Exodus didn’t happen, based on the [actual] archaeological fact that ancient Cana’anite dinnerware styles didn’t change much after the Israelite invasion. If the Jews had indeed come from Egypt, they say, they would certainly have brought lots of Egyptian-style cups and plates and bowls.
One of the writers, a leading Reform rabbi, tried to console readers: Don’t feel bad that the Exodus is fiction! It’s OK! [So what if the whole Torah and everything that the Hebrew prophets, priests and sages taught is a lie?] Our faith is strong, he says. We Reform Jews still want to spread the truth of universal morality under God! [“Huh?” we said.]
Oddly, he didn’t ask why the Jews would lug along their dishes. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the Israelites in all their weary travels to just eat off woven reeds or leaves and wooden bowls? So, when they got to Cana’an, a new generation that had hardly ever even seen a dish would just kasher/clean and use the crockery it found?
Parenthetically, in digs, archaeologists in Israel report finding household remains of pigs and shellfish, lots of dog carcasses and little idols, then a charred level – evidence of destruction by fire - corresponding to the time of the Israelite invasion. The char is followed by higher levels practically devoid of pig bones and shellfish, with many fewer idols, and no ceremonially slaughtered dogs. In other words, the archaeology of the Holy Land seems, so far, quite like what a devout Bible-reader might expect.
As for the seder, we were shocked by the argument, since it focused only on the Temple rite established by Scripture (Numbers 28) but completely ignored the commandments - binding upon every Israelite – to purge the home of all leaven before celebrating for seven days with a feast and recitals of pesach’s miracles and wonders (Exodus 12). After all, not everybody could make it to the Temple service, a long way away for most Hebrews, while everybody was obligated at home.
We’re thinking, if these supposedly great Reform historians were mechanical engineers, God forbid, would their machines ever work? Apparently, there’s MUCH less to “Reform Judaism” – and to these “scholarly” attacks on Orthodoxy and the larger Torah-system - than the gilded credentials and high social standing of their leaders would suggest.
They’re getting paid, we presume, for the service they perform: making people feel good about not keeping or even reading any Torah. Because why should anyone want to follow the example of Torah-revering people – no matter how wise or successful we might be – when your intellectual leaders keep teaching that our Torah and religion are mere lies, and that we’re hopelessly behind the times, ultra-conservative, and anti-science?
By M.E. Dallen
Courtesy of "Reform Judaism" magazine