Yoni Goldstein wrote an article “Modern Orthodoxy and the ‘i’ generation” in Haaretz.
In this article Goldstein blames Rabbi Sacks in rolling into fanaticism for saying ‘When you’re an individualist, egocentric culture and you only care about ‘i,’ you don’t do terribly well’.
Yoni Goldstein outlined two main thoughts in the article:
1. Freedom of choice is the main basis for the term Modern.
2. Steve Jobs and Apple are “the heart of modernity”
I cannot agree with both of these definitions.
1. Freedom of choice appeared not in the 20th century, but on the 1st of Tishrei 5752 years ago, when Adam and Chava broke the first and the only one obligation, they got from G-d. A Man declared that he is a Human being, but not an animal. New way of living turned to be not that nice, as it was in Gan Eden. And a Man tries to come back all the time. According to Erich Fromm, this is normal psychological behaviour – a Man trying to find the comfort he lost after the birth. Expulsion from the Heavenly Garden is paraphrase of a Man’s birth. So, a Man tries to find his own Gan Eden all the time.
Lot of polytheistic religions tried to give a comfort and relax a Man. And only old-fashioned Orthodox Judaism and in some cases Buddhism (due to the reason, that it is more philosophical movement) gave an opportunity to grow the society into the society of Human being with freedom of choice. 20th century brought another aspect into comforting of a Man – variety of non-religious movements, which offered future Heaven on the Earth if a person would believe in the object they provided. Socialism believed in the power of a Man, National-Socialism – in a power of a Man of certain nation, Communism believed in the power of certainly structured society, Science believes in itself and so on and so forth.
Due to the reason, that in the period after the second World War there appeared a big gap in the market of beliefs, Consumerism filled it. Consumerism has nothing to do with freedom of choice. It makes a Man to consume what it proposed. A Man becomes a small part of big Economical machine – first help to produce and then consume what the Economics produces. But if a person refuses to consume, then he is marginalized. “You don’t have the latest iPhone – you’re a looser”.
2. If Yoni Goldstein considers Steve Jobs as a heart of modernity, I don’t want to do anything with this kind of modern society. Because everything what I wrote before about Consumerism, was turned by Apple into a new religion. Aldous Huxley in his “Brave New World” foresaw such scenario of society development and it was about 100 years ago. All the values, provided by Judaism will be outlawed by this kind of society, where Apple leads us.
I work with Apple products as well on my everyday job. So, I know, that there is no much freedom of choice in these products as well. A Customer of iPhone/iPad is obliged to deal only with products, distributed via Apple store. So, I truly do not understand what kind of freedom Yoni Goldstein is talking about.
In conclusion, I’d like to express my support and best wishes to Rabbi Sacks, who raised such an important aspect not only for modern Jews, but for all modern Humanity. Consumerism will not lead us to the future full of freedom of choice and Humanity. The only consumerist future I see is slavery to the Economics, but we were already “slaves in Egypt” and we should be free people.