The Orthodox criticism of Reform Judaism is misplaced. Honestly, the Reform “rabbis” can be accused of a single thing, atheism. They mold Judaism in their own image to suit their preconceived political and social views—and they don’t believe that there is God above to punish them for the perversion. The God of punishment and revenge, they don’t believe in him. Perhaps they believe in a Santa Claus who forgives them for the lack of faith.

But Orthodox rabbis are in no position to criticize the reforms. The pharisaic rabbis instituted major changes in Judaism, compared to which the Reform’s reforms pale. Let us not argue here about the Oral Law, which is apparently unknown to the Temple priests. Even if Mishna is of divine origin, transmitted orally through centuries, the Gemara is unquestionably a product of learned discourse, and the subsequent halacha is a heap of man-made restrictions. Maybe one in a thousand of the Orthodox halachic rules is directly traceable to the Oral Law.

Orthodox Judaism abrogated the central pillar of our religion, sacrifices. The rabbis deliberately viewed them as insignificant because the Pharisees lacked access to the Temple where the Zadducean priests officiated. Unable to officiate the sacrifice, the rabbis denigrated them. Contrary to the facts, they also denigrated the priests, proclaiming them Hashmoneans, the descendants of Maccabees rather than the priestly family of Zadok. Never mind that the Maccabees were of Zadokite descent. If the high priests’ descent could be questionable, the clergy was doubtlessly kohanim.

The rabbinical skepticism won incidentally when the Temple was destroyed. Before then, they were popular as any anti-establishment clergy, but far from dominant. The Temple’s destruction left the Zadducean priests without business and income, and the Pharisaic rabbis triumphed. In subsequent centuries, they shaped a Temple-less Judaism. On one hand, they preserved Judaism in some form. On the other hand, they quenched Jewish demands for rebuilding the Temple. As Emperor Julian’s example demonstrates, the Jews could have rebuilt the Temple if they were persistent enough.

Given good relations with our Muslim occupiers, we could plausibly have built a Temple long ago. That, however, would have spelled the end of rabbinism. When the Temple stands, synagogues—the extraneous houses of worship—will unquestionably be banned, and scores of rabbis will be unemployed. Jewish donations would flow to the Temple rather than to the yeshivas. The priests would take the rabbis’ halachic jurisdiction. Most rabbis, therefore, oppose the Temple construction much more forcefully than any Arab.

But look, we can strike a middle ground between the Torah and the rabbis. For a long time, Jews brought sacrifices without a Temple. Even when the Tabernacle stood, Jews sacrificed in the open, as Samson’s father did habitually at a stranger’s suggestion. The rabbis’ appeal to Hosea’s statement, “I desired zealousness and not an offering,” is mistaken: the “offering” refers to unauthorized sacrifices on mountaintop altars (Hosea 4:13) rather than proper sacrifices. A prophetic pronouncement cannot justify abrogation of the clear law on sacrifices; note that the Temple priests rejected the prophecies altogether, regarding them as folk tales. The rabbinical position was never wholehearted, as they symbolically interpret the Shabbat table as an altar of offerings. If God does not desire sacrifices, certainly much less he desires gefilte fish.

What’s the big deal about sacrifices? They stop leftism like nothing else. Sacrifices run against the basis of leftist ideology—reforming societies, ostensibly for the better. Returning to the ancient practice of sacrifices, unquestioning and savage, is the best barrier to liberal views. And the liberals are not so liberal: they resent sacrifices but love steaks. They kill animals for food; we would kill for a better reason—and eat the cake, too. Sacrifices develop a different kind of person: the priest who smears his fingers and ears with sacrificial blood is not your typical leader, but a cruel and relatively fearless Jew.

It is a small step from sacrificing the animals to killing our enemies, which is a commandment, too.