Recently, Yahnatan came across this blog post which talks about how observant this particular family is willing to become and the reasons why.
Per our usual online habit he sent it to me with one word: "Thoughts?"
My first thought was another blog post that I read recently: A La Carte Observance.
Towards the end of the post (which you should read in its entirety), Rabbi Schiffman touches on the issue of Kashrut (keeping kosher):
"When I am home, I maintain one level of Kashrut, and when I am outside the home, I maintain a different level. On the surface this looks like what so many people I knew growing up did; having a kosher home but going out for roast pork at Chinese restaurants, or for shellfish if you live in Maryland. That’s not really what I do. I will avoid forbidden animals when out in public, but maintain a higher standard in my home, since my home reflects my most deeply held values. It means I can eat beef or chicken in restaurants or in people’s homes even if the meat was not from a kosher butcher. It means I place table fellowship with people more important than food.* Some people will find fault with this approach, but I’m not doing it to please them, impress them, or antagonize them. " (* emphasis mine)
This, to me, is the heart of our observance. The love of people should guide us not to separate ourselves from other peoples' journeys. To put it differently, our love for God and His law should guide us to interact and interface with people. Ultimately, I believe this puts us in a position to converse with and (perhaps, G-d willing) to instruct those who we would otherwise have shut out due to our practice.Could I make the arguement that our following G-d's instruction to the best of our ability IS a sign of love for mankind and that to "compromise" would be to show disregard for mankind? Probably. Historically, I just don't see it working though. Those who shut themselves off to the many will only ever find a few.
Lest you read me wrong, I am not advocating that we throw Torah practice out the window so that we can embrace "the people of the world" and therefore repeat the mistake of Esau (Genesis 25: 29-34). G-d forbid! What I AM advocating is a deliberate, pragmatic engagement of our practice and how it can further or limit the Light we are here to represent.
Are we looking to make people come after us? Or are we about going and seeking after them? The parable of the good shepherd comes to mind.
To sum it up: Yeshua said that the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2:27). Not the other way around. Doesn't this apply to the whole of Torah as well?