Saturday, January 22, 2005


The name of my blog is Orthoprax. A natural question to ask is why? What does that mean? There's the "ortho-" from Greek loanwords meaning "straight," "right," or "correct." You might recognize it from the word orthodox which essentially means "right or correct beliefs." Prax is a shortened form from "praxis" another Greek word which means "practice" or "action." So putting it all together, orthoprax means "right or correct practice."

Now why is this meaningful? Well, in many religions there is a side that is concerned with faith, be it believing Jesus is your Lord and Savior in Christianity or that Mohammed is the greatest of all prophets in Islam or that God spoke to the Israelites at Sinai in grand revelation in Judaism or any other religions and their various beliefs.

There is another aspect of many religions that is concerned with the actions, be they moral or ritual, of the adherents. This is true for a religion like, say Catholicism, where people go to mass and eat some crackers. But I'm more concerned with Judaism and its numerous ritual procedures - which I follow.

You see, from the outside I look and act like a normal Modern Orthodox Jew. Though perhaps a bit of a lax one. But as far as my beliefs about the world lie, they are as far from regular Jewish faith as one might get. I don't think the oral law is divine nor is the written law. Miracles do not happen and Tanach is significantly composed from myth. I don't even believe in God in any meaningful sense of the word.

So what am I? I'm the orthopractic Jew. I live the life of the orthodox. I keep shabbos, I wear tzitzis, I only eat kosher. But I don't believe the metaphysical foundations for these actions. Why do I do it then? For one, because I am Jewish. Even if the metaphysics are not true, I still retain my ethnic and cultural heritage as a Jew. And I can express this by living traditionally. Second, my family is all orthodox and I know that my "coming out" would severely stress my very good relationship with them. And that relationship is important to me.

It's not always easy and it is often taxing to live with this secret, but I do it. I am Orthoprax.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At the young age of about 23 (about 30 years ago) I rejected oj at great emotional,family and financial cost. I did independent research in libraries so it was hard to find information. I could not live a lie. The religion itself seemed barbaric and even racist to me. It evolved out of the ancient cults. OJ basicaly rejects any academic discipline findings that refute OJ or if cornered changes plain text of torah or finds some Rabbi whose opinion can be contrived to resolve. Since there are so many opinions almost anything goes.

I think you are doing importamt work to expose the nonsense that is OJ. But how do we save all those delusional jews ?