|From "Broadening the World of Torah."* Click to enlarge.|
This particular excerpt makes the point that "there can be no compromise" in observance and in the Torah. Salomon goes on to say that:
At the same time, becoming observant requires drastic changes in a person’s life, and in many if not most cases, it must be accomplished gradually, step by step.*That sounds reasonable. The fact that Salomon recognizes that becoming orthodox is a drastic change is good. However, he continues on to say the following:
But you must make it clear to the people that halfway measures are not acceptable as a permanent state. They are no more than intermediate stages on the way to full observance. There is no rush, no pressure. They can take their time and progress at their own comfortable pace. But they must recognize that the goal is full and complete observance of the entire Torah.*Did you find yourself reading that twice? Rabbi Salomon recognizes that becoming orthodox is drastic and "there is no rush, no pressure." Well, that's good. Except that he is also telling readers that while "they can take their time and progress at their own comfortable pace," "they must recognize that the goal is full and complete observance of the entire Torah."*
Back up a second.
It sounds like Salomon is saying becoming observant is drastic but do it at your own pace, and oh, we expect you to become orthodox.
Project Inspire is proudly run by Aish HaTorah, a major outreach/kiruv organization. Their goal is to make you orthodox. When Aish and Project Inspire-affiliated rabbis and rebbetzins are running programs on your college campus or in your neighborhood, and taking you on highly-subsidized trips to Israel and other venues, keep in mind that this is their goal. And supposedly, they should be letting you know this as well. Whether or not they actually tell this to their students is another story.
The question is, do their non-orthodox supporters know that they are supporting Jewish missionary work that is out there specifically to make non-orthodox Jews orthodox? Here is what Steven Spielberg, Shimon Peres, and Benjamin Netanyahu said about Aish HaTorah programs. Based on their statements, it sounds as if they were given a greatly watered-down version of what Aish is about.
Steven Spielberg - "Thank you Aish HaTorah for the good work you do, and the message you put out. I could have used you in my life about 25 years ago."If Spielberg, Peres, and Netanyahu read Aish's history on their website, it's understandable how they wouldn't realize the organization's true goals. Aish states that:
Shimon Peres, President of Israel - "I want to acknowledge the Jerusalem Fellowships of Aish HaTorah for the outstanding job it does in bringing Jewish youth to Israel to learn about their history and heritage."
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel - "Aish HaTorah enables young Jews to visit their heritage, to become immersed in it, to understand the inspiration that drives Jewish History, to become better Jews, prouder Jews and more secure Jews. I congratulate Aish HaTorah for what they're doing where they're doing it and for whom they're doing it."**
Aish is famous for reaching unaffiliated young Jews and awakening them to a profound pride in their heritage.... With most Jewish communities facing dwindling affiliation, Aish's efforts bring thousands of committed Jews back into the communal sphere. By increasing people's affiliation with the Jewish community, and by teaching the importance of tzedakah, Aish is creating a stronger support base for every Jewish cause.**While Project Inspire is mentioned, Aish HaTorah's history page makes it sound very innocent:
Aish founded Project Inspire, a grassroots movement whose goal is to empower and encourage all Jews to share the beauty and wisdom of Judaism with their fellow Jews. Project inspire provides easy and inspiring ways to reach out as well as the tools and understanding on how to reach out. This branch of Aish has made already made a big impact on mobilizing the frum world.**But they've left out a very important piece of information. They neglected to tell people that:
[Kiruv professionals] must make it clear to the people that halfway measures are not acceptable as a permanent state.... They must recognize that the goal is full and complete observance of the entire Torah.*I agree. People need to recognize that the goal of Project Inspire and Aish HaTorah is to make people orthodox--before they get involved.