Judaism: Today’s Different?

Whenever we speak of, well, Judaism, ostensibly loyal Jews object.

Learning Tanach, self-defense, the Temple, the gold standard, restoring ancient Jewish wisdom, Techeiles, Chinuch, Chazal’s wisdom, the Davidic monarchy, etc. etc. no longer apply. (I’m not bothering adding links.)

The tired claim is variously phrased: It’s a weak generation, we’re not in charge, we’re not on that high a spiritual level, Yeridas Hadoros, they’re “Tinokos Shenishbu”, we don’t have that kind of Bitachon, we don’t know enough Torah, Hashem doesn’t desire Korbanos now, not enough funding, no one will come, ad nauseam. “For better or worse”, blah blah.

The amazing part is this is what we are taught the original Reformers\Neologists said, as well. Times are different, so we can’t keep the whole Torah as-is, at least for now. “Nishtanu Ha’ittim” (נשתנו העתים).
The Chasam Sofer is known to have answered those claims:

“אל תאמרו נשתנו העיתים. יש לנו אב זקן שלא השתנה ולא ישתנה!”

The untrained observer might even think Charedism and Reform differ not in kind but in degree (Rabbi Mordechai Noygershal never tires of saying the Conservative are literally “retarded” Reform).

Most bizarre, the “differentists” use this an all-purpose magic charm; no detail (or little detail) necessary.

But different how, precisely? And with what solid proof?

I’ll describe my personal experience in these sorts of discussions:

I mention one of the numerous forgotten Chazals\Gemaros\halachos and lean back to watch the same-old-same-old. Honestly, I don’t always know enough about the subject, but I could get away with knowing far less, too.

Have the times changed? Fine! I’ll bite. But take the two sides of your own newly-coined coin into account. Coins have two sides, and “Tzvei Dinim” has two cases, too.

Think, think, THINK of the age the statement was originally made and made for! But no. They vaguely picture “different” circumstances”, unlike those coloring books which have Moshe and Aaron with white socks or fedoras. But their ignorance is “holy“.

What and how things were is not for them to know. They stringently declare that cannot be surmised or guessed without treife university/university books/internet. My learned fellow Jew churns out the same timeless tune our deceased forefathers pulled out of their pileus hats when questioned as to their own indiscretions. So it’s really just an Illusory Correlation or selective perception and/or memory.

When challenged to find a concrete bearing of the demonstrable passing of time, they act annoyed and impatient and condescending. OK, I mean even more so…
I wheedlingly try to anchor the discussion, by helping them arrive at possibly good answers, but they would rather not concede the principle by descending from rarified Hashkafa into Gemara and pilpul sevara (the real kind). All of a sudden, they have a pressing engagement elsewhere.
In other words, I show theoretical “differences” were unknown to halachic decisors with similar conditions.
My cleverer interlocutors, vaguely aware something’s wrong, now remark, their frightened eyes now aimed mostly at the audience, I obstinately refuse to have compassion or understanding for the “generation’s needs and challenges”.
Well, aren’t they proving too much? If “today is different” is so true, then the Reform are right after all! No, I don’t say it quite like that.
By now even Asperger’s Me catches the pulsing vein and changing skin shades through the scholar’s beard, and tearfully adheres to “Venishmartem me’od lenafshoseichem”. Even they would agree that one still holds fast.
You really need good Emuna to not get discouraged (or worse) at times like these. That’s what Rabbi Arush is for (insert appropriate emoticon here).

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