Tuesday, September 07, 2010

the end of the covenant

God's Covenant, Judaism and Interfaith Marriage by Paul Golin starts off as a pretty unsurprising review of Jewish views on inter-religious marriage on the occasion of the Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky nuptuals. But I was definitely surprised by the second half the article which started to swim in much deeper waters:

In the 1970s, when radical modern-Orthodox thinker Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg grappled with the full implications of the Holocaust, he concluded that God's withdrawal from earthly affairs and failure to protect His chosen people meant, quite dramatically, that "the covenant was broken." However, Rabbi Greenberg suggested that "the Jewish people was so in love with the dream of redemption that it volunteered to carry on with its mission." And in fact those who took up the "voluntary covenant," as he called it, were even greater than those who acted "only out of command."

Personally I found the above intriguing for a number of reasons. First, while many (but not necessarily all) Christians, Muslims, Bahais, etc. might readily admit that God's covenant with the Jewish people is no longer in effect, it seems unusual (perhaps even contradictory) to find an Orthodox Jew making that claim.

Secondly, as horrible as the Holocaust was it really more theologically significant than other great tragedies in Jewish history like the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Captivity, or the destruction of the Second Temple and the subsequent diaspora?

Thirdly, the quote serves as a cautionary "tale", the article makes me wonder if Muslims attitudes towards the sharia will ever become comparable to Jewish attitudes towards the halakhah?

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