I took my previous post down because, while filled with some real humor, I realized that it was Lashon Hora. I stand corrected and will certainly avoid such entries again.
Nevertheless, I do want to blog about my experience at Rabbi Lapin's house on Saturday night. I left the evening feeling both enlightened and uncomfortable. This discomfort remains with me.
There is a disturbing trend in America, where people allow the more selfish aspects of capitalism to intersect with strong religious belief. With this mix, you get a slate of baby boomers who led self-indulgent lives in their youth, now "saved" by whatever religion and claiming to be working on G-d's behalf when voting on any particular social cause.
I do not accuse Rabbi Lapin of this, particularly. However, I do take issue with how he takes his personal views on issues and uses Torah to justify them. For example, he equated recycling with idolatry, explaning that people leading non-religious lives offer the separation of their garbage as their "sacrifice" or "offering." He then went on to quote one article claiming that all garbage and recycling go to the same place. Recycling and environmentalism, to Rabbi Lapin, have become the new secular religion and it achieves nothing.
While there is plenty of legitemate criticisms of environmentalism and recycling, Rabbi Lapin went beyond that scope. He simply used Torah to justify choosing not reuse and recycle. Even if a quarter of what we recycle is reused, isn't that enough of a reason to do it? Does Torah not teach that we are the stewards of the Earth? Rabi Lapin would have us believe we need not recycle, because Hashem will provide everything we need.
I feel this same discomfort from any religious figure, whether you are justifying the war or celebrating the 2006 election as a gift from G-d. But, the conservative end of the spectrum has certainly allowed Capitalism to influence how and why it is religious.
Another bothersome point brought up was his interpretation of "my cup runneth over." He taught last night that our cup needs to be full first, so that whatever runs over we share with others. Well, what is the definition of "full" and what is the "run over?" I have read some of his teachings before, and he has said many times that G-d wants us all to be rich and this is something to strive for.
Good Grief. This is so antithetical to anything I've been taught or believe; I just don't know what to do with it. Most unfortunate was that I found a lot of his teaching uplifting and enlightening, but I could not completely buy into him because of these other aspects.