If you have a lawn it likely drives you crazy. You can either invest too-much time and and too-much money toward keeping it healthy and weed-free, or you can relax your standards and watch the dandelions, plantain and sorrel crowd out your grass.
Did our forefathers have the same struggles? Probably not.
In its natural state, a lawn has weeds; our ancestors probably knew this; also they lived before mass media. In 1915s, you weren't bombarded with images of perfect lawns and guilt-inducing promotional messages. If your lawn had weeds, so what? You could be chilled about it. Perfect green, weed-free lawns weren't on anyone's radar and no one drove themselves crazy over lawn care.
Now, imagine Orthodox Judaism as a lawn. One hundred years ago, we were willing to tolerate "weeds." Every O Jewish child didn't have to get rammed into the same, square hole. Every O Jewish man didn't have to dress the same(1), and think the same (2) and talk the same (3). Every O Jewish woman didn't have to drive herself mad over skirt lengths. We were chilled about all of these identity markers. We allowed more variety in thought and deed. We didn't see diversity as a moral threat.
(1) Try going to shul in your blue shirt and brown shoes.
(2) See yesterday's post about midrashim
(3) I've been yelled at for calling a siddur a "book" Because, its a sefer, you dummy, and that's something completely different.
Note: Obviously, this phenomenon gets worse as you move to the right, but I won't be tolerating any MO claims about how none of this goes on in their neighborhoods. For starts, the ordinary MO Jew can stomach exactly one position on Israel, viz., that everything Israel does it always perfect and right and moral and just, and you can dissent at your own peril.
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