Culture, Mishegas, Religion

Something Tells Me That Yehuda Berg Won't Be On It This Time

R. Michael Lerner sent out this response to being included in that Newsweek list of the top 50 rabbis. Kind of interesting:

When asked by media to comment on his selection a few days ago by Newsweek as the 28th most important rabbi in America (there are over 5,000 rabbis in the US), Rabbi Lerner issued the following statement:
“Pleased as I am by this attention, I’d feel much more honored if the list had been constructed around which rabbis are most true to God and God’s message of love, generosity, kindness, peace and justice and caring for the earth. So I want to invite people around the U.S. to nominate such rabbis, and we will announce the 50 most faithful-to-God’s-message in a future issue of Tikkun magazine.”
So, yes, Tikkun will have this contest for the God-intoxicated and God-serving rabbis. The criteria: tell us what your nominee is doing to advance the message (and the reality in the world) of love, caring, kindness, generosity, peace, justice, ecological sanity, and awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of creation. Tell us how that extends not only to members of the Jewish community but to all of humanity, to the Other as well as to the Jew, and to the rest of the creation. Tell us why you think that person is actually having an impact in spreading this kind of message and how we could determine that. Tell us her/his denomination, if any, current work position if any, and ways that s/he pushes the boundaries, challenges the existing community limits on who is to be loved and cherished, who is to be the recipient of respect and generosity, beyond the confines of the Jewish people. Send that to [email protected].
And since we are doing this for the Jewish world, we thought we’d also be happy to accept nominations of spiritual leaders in other religious or spiritual communities as well–so tell us who you would nominate if you are part of any community with a leader who deserves this kind of recognition for embodying, teaching and spreading the message of love, peace, and generosity.

Send in your votes if you like. I confess that I’ll be happy when this whole listmania dies down, though. I’m not convinced that ranking people like this is the most productive or healthiest use of our time.

7 thoughts on “Something Tells Me That Yehuda Berg Won't Be On It This Time

  1. I’m glad you questioned the wisdom of the “Top Ten Lists” mania. This seems a clear waste of time. In fact, why not create another new release and see if Coubert or Stewart will riff on this.
    I grew up reading TIKKUN and like that Lerner is trying to reorient the debate. But it seems a better use of our limitted time and energy to work on repairing the world in our scarce free time, then self-congratulating ourselves and others.

  2. For starters, we really aren’t going to get anywhere through my-rabbi-can-beat-up-your-rabbi contests.
    But to make it all worse, how seriously is anyone really going to take a list about faithfulness to the fundamental spirit of Judaism when it appears in a magazine like Tikkun? I like Tikkun. I read Tikkun. But the essentially political, leftist character of the mag makes it tough to appear objective in evaluating a given rabbi’s impact on the advancement of God’s message. The specifics of that message aren’t something we all agree on — that’s why we have different movements. I can imagine that Lerner’s liberal politics (like mine) are an outgrowth of faith and spiritual identity, but there are plenty of Jews further right on the political scale who just think we’re taking secular, goyishe ideas and popping them into a Jewish box.
    That means that when you do a poll like this, you’re unlikely to get a diverse sample. Plus, you risk re-opening old wounds, furthering division, and do little to advance “God’s message of love, generosity, kindness, peace and justice and caring for the earth.”

  3. All this list making is antithetical to the question of who is doing God’s work – the key to the lamed-vav-nik drash is that the 36 do what they do without being recognized that they are the ones holding the world together. We all know who the lamed vav-nik-im in our lives are. Keeping it a secret from their egos is the real mitzvah.

  4. Top 10 reasons lists will never go out of style:
    #10 Even people who master the written word stand in fear and awe of numbers
    #9 Sefirot. Attributes of God. Principles of Faith. Who are we to mess with tradition?
    #8 And then there’s this: An opportunity to eschew the use of annoying transitional phrases, clauses and sentences.
    #7 Potential for education. The 10 rabbis I had never heard of on the Newsweek list are now on my radar.
    #6 Great space filler. Note how blank lines here pad this post.
    #5 Inherent meaninglessness of objective rankings of subjective concepts guarantees debate, which equals publicity, which rewards the listmaker.
    #4 There’s always room for one more.
    #3 Numerology covers a multitude of sins, as gematria fans long ago discovered.
    #2 Entries #2-50 encouraged to try harder, anticipate next year’s results.
    #1 By the time you get to the end of a lengthy list, you have forgotten the premise, whether it be silly (“Best” rabbi) or monumentally offensive (“God’s favorite” rabbi).

  5. what a pile of shite – lists of rabbis – can anyone really count more than a handful of really good rabbis that they have met in their entire lives? I’m not ever sure if my list is a list?
    Mobi – i hope this matza shtick is coming down after passover!?

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