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    The reality of dissent – B’chukkotai

    Derech EretzB’chukkotai is not all pleasant reading. Many of its verses (in the section called the Tochechah) are frightening in the extreme. They paint a horrific picture of what will happen to those who disobey God’s word. They read the riot act.

    The purpose is to warn us against conduct that will bring curses, and to persuade us to choose the path of blessing.

    In a way, there is a Tochechah heard in Jewish life in many places today. So certain are we that our point of view is correct that we make highly offensive remarks about others and sometimes go totally beyond the bounds of propriety.

    The fact is that ours is a Jewish world in which there is diversity of opinion and commitment. The orthodox Jew deeply regrets that others are not living with the full richness of tradition and yearns to see them discover and reclaim it for themselves.

    But even if this never happens, neither the orthodox nor others achieve anything by mud-slinging and name-calling. Nor does it solve anything for some to repeat the mantra, “unity, unity, unity” and expect all the differences to evaporate.

    The mature way is that of unity in diversity with derech eretz: difference with dignity.

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