Disrespecting God

Rabbi Ysoscher Katz is Yeshivat Chovevei Torah’s Chair of Talmud and Head of its Center for Halakhic Studies.  Rabbi Avi Weiss praises Katz as, "an awesome Talmid Chacham [Torah Scholar]."

In a July 27, 2015 Facebook post, Rabbi Katz (criticizes God in the form of a sarcastic “e-mail” blaming Him for the destruction of the Temple. In it, he refers to God as “sweetheart” and uses explicit sexual metaphors:

Email to God; the day after Tisha b'Av

Subject: Friends?

Sweet Lord,

Oh my, God! (Literally) That was crazy. You really blew off some steam yesterday; dishes were flung, our home destroyed. Now that the dust has settled, hopefully You can listen to me. You were not talking but I think I can infer from Your behavior what You are trying to tell me: the constant intimacy does not work for You. Guess what, Sweetheart, מחמד ליבי, it does not work for me, either. I actually have a wild suggestion: You kicked me out of the house but apparently have no plans of ever giving me a get (Isaiah 50:1), in which case, why not be friends—with benefits! We will be friends with occasional moments of climactic intimacy. Here is how it'll work: You seem to crave intimacy during Shabbat and chagim. I'll try my best to be there for You during those times. In return, I want You to be there for me when I need You. During those occasional moments, when I drop You a note, shed a tear, promise that You will respond! (Isn't that how Your niddah thingy works; long periods of separation with occasional bouts of fiery intimacy?) The rest of the time, feel free to pursue Your other interests. (I am told that there is a huge Livyatan swimming in your fish tank with which You metaphorically play. (Avodah Zara 3:B) In the interim, I will just turn to Your books. Not sure you noticed, but in Your huff to leave You left behind Your library. You always struck me as the bookworm type. That is where I will look for You. Every time I desire Your embrace I'll just open Your books, to inhale Your scent and caress those beautiful, curvy letters. It will be as if we touched. And, by the way, that long and sensuous goodbye kiss You gave me yesterday was really nice. A little embarrassing (Yoma 54A), but really sweet. It penetrated my bones and will sustain me for the duration of our separation.

Your ex
Isru chag Tisha Be'av, 70 ce.

PS. Gotta run. At the Seforim Blog … and … are fighting, while over at Torah Musings … said some bold things about Maimonides. It's one thing to disagree with Rambam (I, too, dislike his theology), but to say that he does not matter is narishkeiten.

Jews are commanded to fear God to the extent that it is prohibited to even mention His name in vain. That Rabbi Katz would refer to God as “sweetheart,” “a bookworm,” and use phrases like “friends with benefits” in reference to the Almighty is astonishing—not to mention in extremely poor taste. That the Department Chair in Talmud at an institution that calls itself a Yeshivah can write in this fashion speaks more loudly than any other words. In addition, this post was “liked” on Facebook by several YCT and Yeshivat Maharat students as well as by Dr. Erin Smokler, Yeshivat Maharat’s Director of Spiritual Development.

*For more examples of Rabbi Katz's troubling views of God, see Chapter 3 of Why Open Orthodoxy Is Not Orthodox.

Dr. Erin Smokler, Yeshivat Maharat’s Director of Spiritual Development, presented her view of the Binding of Isaac:

"…While this was a test for Avraham, there was a learning curve for God as well. So there seems to me in my read that God set out to test, assuming success, but it turned out that God has to learn along the way that there are actual dangers in this kind of universe. So why would God test at all? Maybe it was a sport that God used to be into. It seems to me that God has to learn that it wasn’t the best sport at all. So when you ask the question did Avraham fail the test back there. I think that in a sense you’ll forgive the irreverence here for those who find this blasphemous. I think in a sense it was God who failed the test here…"

She absurdly suggests that God tested Abraham for “sport” and that he has to “learn that it wasn’t the best sport at all.” These views which can only be termed blasphemous elicited no condemnation from Rabbi Dov Linzer, YCT's Rosh Hayeshiva, who was also present.

Criticizing the Torah

While claiming to be Orthodox, Open Orthodox rabbis actually criticize the Torah itself. 

YCT’s Chair of Talmud, Rabbi Ysoscher Katz, has referred to a commandment in the Torah as an “insult.” 

YCT’s Rosh Hayeshiva, Rabbi Dov Linzer, claims that the rabbis erased a commandment in the Torah because of its immoral nature.

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz has taken his teachers’ lessons to heart as he has referred to parts of Torah as “evil.” 

Rabbi Zev Farber refers to Biblical commandments as "ethically problematic."

More examples of Open Orthodox rabbis criticizing the Torah found in Chapter 5 of Why Open Orthodoxy Is Not Orthodox.