A rabbi friend reproached me for not putting on the tfillin regularly. I retorted with Rashbam’s opinion that the words of the Torah should be inscribed figuratively on the heart rather than literally on the tfillin’s parchment, and in turn accused him of preaching non-violence during the Gush Katif eviction. His answer was honest, “But we cannot live by biblical standards today.”

Perhaps. Why, then, be Jewish? The Americans do not care about assimilation, intermarriage, or foreign cultural borrowings. They live comfortable lives unburdened by rituals and prohibitions. The problems of atheism and sectarianism do not exist for them. Why should the Jews be different?

Israeli society offers two reasons. The left suggest building an Israeli nation, melting Jews, Arabs, and whoever else happened to live in Israel. The rabbinical establishment defines Jewishness through superficial rites. Neither approach is sustainable. With Arabs already constituting more than 30 percent in the youngest age group, Israel will cease to be culturally Jewish in twenty years. There is no distinctive Jewish culture, such as specifically Jewish food, music, dance, or poetry. Jewish culture, like Catholic culture, is largely religious, and has no place in the leftist worldview. Bizarrely, the rabbis have also abandoned that Jewish culture.

Modern Jews won’t adhere to the myriad of silly rites which the establishment rabbis try to sell them as Judaism. At least, not when the rites are divorced from substance. Unwilling to counter the government and demand Jewish values, the rabbis are content with technical observance. Jews on the whole are less hypocritical, and do not follow. If the rabbinical establishment does not insist on transferring the Arabs out of Israel, or stand up against the government giveaway of Jewish land to Arabs, what is the rabbis’ credibility on issues of observance? Should we abstain from turning on the lights during Shabbat when the land of Israel is being slaughtered to appease the Muslim enemy? Should we put on the tfillin, and proclaim our God one, and swear to accept the yoke of the commandments, and ask for redemption—and then to go on violating those very same precepts? We were offered the redemption. After two thousand years, the land was given back to us. Back from the Diaspora and the incessant pogroms, we could live in safety, in our own contentious society. But the Jews listen to everyone—yellow press, Muslim dictators, the American left, you name it—instead of listening to our own prayers. The things we have prayed for are fulfilled, but the Jews don’t want them anymore.