The Sabbatical Year circus and its rabbinic clowns

In the Cross-Currents blog and other places we can read an article, Much Ado About Shmittah, by Avi Shafran, that starts, "Those Ultra-Orthodox in Israel are at it again, inventing new stringencies, coercing other Jews, trying to make a dishonest buck and generally making life unlivable for everybody else." Yup you got it right Avi (although he goes on to defend said rabbis as if they were saints who had been wronged by an evil media cabal, the classic Shafran theme).

My POV: If the rabbis came along and said, during our exile of 2000 years we lost count and we don't know when is the biblically enjoined seventh year wherein the land must lie fallow, the shmitta, and so we can't observe it, but we don't want to forget it, so let's do something symbolic to make sure we remember it, then I would stand up and salute.

But to say let's take food out of the mouths of millions of people on the basis of a doubt, and to cause a chillul hashem - a desecration of the religion - in public on account of that, to make Judaism look like a farce, like a circus sideshow where some rabbis eat the produce, some don't, some sell their land to Arabs, some condemn them, some act like Karaites, utter fundamentalists, who pretend that a doubt is a certainty and say, damn you sinners if you don't agree with us, no no no, this is a great chillul hashem berabbim - a desecration of Judaism in public.

HENCE: It's not a media cabal, Avi. To put it in terms that I hope you understand, these antics of the rabbis make us Orthodox Jews look like clowns.

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