The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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Canfei Nesharim and the Fortressing of Orthodoxy

Canfei Nesharim is the premier organization teaching eco-Torah in the Orthodox community. They also refuse to share any Torah coming from a non-Orthodox source, or even to link to other eco-Torah sites that are not Orthodox. This author (Reb Duvid) has been twice asked to write articles for Canfei Nesharim publications by people who know my work, only to have the offer withdrawn later when someone looked up my gushpanke (which comes from JTS and Reb Zalman).

Does this isolation help Orthodoxy? I can't say. I do know that CN is worried that people will label them treif if they let themselves hold hands with anyone who might be seen as treif. I personally teach in Orthodox settings and love teaching there, though those settings are most often Carlebachian, which may be seen as fringe. But regardless of how close someone is to Orthodoxy, couldn't CN have a section of "views from beyond Orthodoxy"?

In the 25 years since I became frum, I have seen so many more walls put up by the Orthodox world, not only against people who are not Orthodox, but against liberal or Modern Orthodox teachers, against ba'alei t'shuvah who want to hold on to values they grew up with. I am saddened to see the ways that so many Orthodox institutions have cut themselves off from opportunities to renew and learn—though there are luminous exceptions to this. It is absolutely clear that studying and applying ecology to Torah, and Torah to ecology, should be one of the areas where these walls are torn down. If this can't happen, then we, the Jewish people, as well as the earth, are in trouble!

Bottom line: I no longer feel comfortable linking to Canfei Nesharim's website on the links page, even though I think they are doing good work. I'm kind of attached to that kindergarten rule, "Plays nicely with others". If you want to go there, however, here's the url:



Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006