Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau
Photo: Debbie Cooper
Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau has called on the national-religious public to reduce its dependence on rabbis and become "free". According to Lau, the blind obedience which has infiltrated the Zionist-religious society in recent years is an inappropriate phenomenon stemming from a "paralysis of fear".
The rabbi spoke during a symposium held recently by the Sha'arei Mishpat College.
"There are some who are so fearful of laicization that they strive to a world of obedience and search for a person who will guide their ways," Rabbi Lau argued. "We willingly give up on freedom to reach a safe haven."
He implied that criticism against religion, even if it causes some people to leave, is not as serious as blind obedience: "The crisis of those who make themselves a rabbi and hope to avoid doubt is seven times bigger than that of a person who made choices and didn’t find his way.
"Whoever educates his son to ask questions should be ready to receive alternative answers. Educating a person to ask questions is raising a person with internal strength, which creates him as a free man.
"The children want to fly to South America and get a bit confused there. Most of them say wholeheartedly, 'We want to search, let us! We may become disoriented, and you may have to send a helicopter to rescue us, but we need this search.'"
'Open gates, ears and hearts'
According to Dr. Lau, not every former religious person in a family undermines his parents' security and leads to attempts to "protect" the other children from "the raging wind outside." This fear, he said, claims a price and makes them search for spiritual teachers in order to obey them – a phenomenon he defines as "a huge missed opportunity".
"We stop wanting to be free and become slaves of spiritual trends," he said. "The world isn't static. The fantasy that there is only one word of God which is the pure truth and which we must follow is shattered time and again when we discover that the king is naked."
So how does one deal with a child that has given up on religion? According to Rabbi Lau, the way to treat a child who picks a different way is to "create a conversation, open a gate, ears and mainly hearts.
"You can kick respect, you can argue with dignity – and then we have a chance to find all our children at home. There's a heavy price in locking gates and a 'huge profit' in listening and holding a dialogue."
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