Thursday, August 26, 2010

From Rabbi Marc Angel: Kupat Ha’ir is Religious Charlatanism

Several months ago I posted about Rabbi Marc Angel (one of our last best hopes for sanity in Orthodox Judaism) and his denunciation of the Haredi charity organization Kupat Ha'ir. This week, in his newsletter on the Torah portion, (hat tip to Ms. S.) he is back on the topic, arguing that Kupat Ha'ir is an example of religious charlatanism.

I (like so many others) regularly receive glossy pamphlets from an organization asking us to give charity to their cause. This group must be spending a considerable amount of money to produce these glossy advertisements, filled with pictures of "saintly" looking rabbis and sages. The recent brochure tells us on the front page, in bold letters, that if we contribute to their charity, we are ASSURED of blessings. All contributors to their charity "are assured that they will merit a good, sweet year with no distress or serious ailments." The message is that those "sages" who run this charity have a direct line to God, and can give God exact orders as to who to bless and who not to bless--based, of course, on whether people contribute to this charity.  This type of solicitation of funds is a reflection of charlatanism, a profound degradation of Torah.  It astounds me how anyone would want to lend his name to such a solicitation, or would want to contribute to such a group.

 In this week's Torah portion, we read of blessings and curses--that are dispensed by God, and God alone. No human being has the right to presume that he/she knows and can control the eternal and infinite God. 

 Genuine religion rests on a foundation of humility and a sincere striving to come closer to God. It calls on us to take responsibility for our spiritual lives. Charlatanism rests on a foundation of spiritual arrogance i.e. that some few "sages" can manipulate God and guarantee how God will act. Charlatanism tries to reduce us spiritually, and to make us dependent on an inner clique of wonder workers.

So who is with me? I am very serious. Let the RCA take a break from Rabbi Avi Weiss and excommunicate all those behind Kupat Ha'ir as well as any rabbi who allows their name to be used by them. I do not care how big a Torah scholar they are. Spinoza was an up and coming Torah scholar and that did not save him. Personally I think Kupat Ha'ir is far more dangerous to Judaism than anything Spinoza thought up.

1 comment:

S. said...

I know (=think) you're not being entirely serious, but of course excommunication doesn't actually exist (especially for those outside their own sect).

Nevertheless it may not be a bad idea for Modern Orthodox leadership to being proactively critical of certain things, including Kupat Ha'ir.