Barukh Goldstein's memory lives on. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leader of the rightwing settlers, said that while Barukh Goldstein was a tzadik, he shouldn't have killed all those Arabs without first getting the permission of the Oomah. Now, the Hebrew word, in the sense he gives to it, is taken from the German, i.e., das Volk. (Actually, the word was originally from the medieval Arabic ummah, but the term in medieval times simply meant "religious community." It took German romanticism to turn Das Volk into a metaphysical concept that, when merged with racism, culminated in Nazism.) The modern use of the Hebrew term in Zionist ideologues comes from German romantic nationalism. It is one of the not-so-subtle ironies of history that the only people who still use these volkish metaphysical notions that were discredited by Nazism, are Jews like Aviner. You see, he is a disciple of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, who managed to imbibe the volkish concepts of his father, Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, a mediocre and confused thinker, who is considered profound by other mediocre and confused thinkers.
Aviner's hiddush was not his praise of Goldstein but his criticism of him, i.e., of his "unlicensed" action. (In Aviner's community, nobody criticizes the tzaddik Goldstein.) And what Aviner seems to be saying is that had Goldstein been a soldier sent by the IDF (the army of the oomah) he would have been justified in murdering innocents.
Silverstein writes me that it's people like Aviner that keep him (and presumably others) from being orthodox. That is one way of coping with it. But I prefer my way. I consider him to be a deeply sick man (He used to impersonate a young girl named Yael in his parsha column, until he was apparently warned to stop, and he has been accused of sexual harrassment), and if there are many people who agree with him, then they are sick too, or brainwashed by an idolatrous, i.e., immoral ideology. But while I won't daven with Aviner (his Judaism is suspect, in my opinion, because he is cruel), that doesn't mean I will cease observing commandments because of him. The two of us have this is common – we think that the other is a tinok she-nishbah, a captive child raised among the idolaters. Where we disagree is what constitutes idolatry. For Aviner it is Western liberalism and culture; for me, it is the Judaism of Gush Emunim. Among my culture heroes are the German rabbis of the nineteenth century whom he despises for their diaspora mentality. Why should I cede my Judaism to him?
Forget about the Oomah. Let's talk about Uman. Like Pharoah, Rabbi Aviner is disturbed by masses of Jews leaving the country to worship their god in the wilderness, only for him, country is Israel and the wilderness is in the Ukraine. Now, I must admit, that I, too, don't like the cult of Rabbi Nahman of Braslav's grave. The sort of avodah zarah that goes on in Uman is enough to make a Maimonidean scream. Still, there are three good things about it: first, it pumps money into the Ukrainian economy, which sorely needs it; second, if the Braslav crazies are there, then they do less mischief in Israel; and third, it upsets religious Zionists like Aviner. After all, how dare all those frum moonies leave the Land of Israel for the Ukraine, just because a tzaddik is buried there.
So there you have his character -- upset that orthodox Jews leave Israel to go to Uman for the holidays but content that, had Goldstein received permission from the Volk, he could have slaughtered all those innocents.
I love orthodox Judaism too much to let it be profaned by the likes of Aviner.