Friday, March 16, 2007

Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm: Existentialist

Wow, I hadn't realized Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm was such an existentialist.

It's very interesting to me how his paper follows so many of the themes that I've been thinking through this past long while. That it is better to open one's mind to speculative truth even while the danger of falsehood may enter, for it may be worse to close one's mind to everything, thus locking truth out. And that faith-acts, like Halacha, demonstrate a key trust, a 'faith-in', even while substantive cognitive doubts may exist as merely theoretical problems.

Ironically, while all of these ideas help me to understand the most crucial of religious ideas - i.e. metaphysics and the object of faith in itself, they don't help at all when we bring simple historical propositions into the picture. Exodus, revelation, the validity of our mesorah. He glosses over these kinds of concepts at the beginning of his paper but these are not the abstract philosophical issues that can be dealt with by existentialist philosophies. For the Orthodox system they are true out of dogmatic necessity, but how can the skeptical intellectual (I flatter myself) take that as reason enough to believe?

I don't wonder how Rabbi Lamm dealt with those issues, but I wonder how Dr. Lamm does.

30 comments:

Resh Lakish said...

Exodus, revelation, the validity of our mesorah. He glosses over these kinds of concepts at the beginning of his paper but these are not the abstract philosophical issues that can be dealt with by existentialist philosophies . . . . but I wonder how Dr. Lamm does.

I'm afraid (and I don't mean this to sound as harsh as it does) it is by fudging, glossing and changing the subject that he deals with it.

Resh Lakish said...

For instance, the excerpt below us pretty verbiage -- but what does it really mean? And does anybody really think it is true?

Thus, what I propose is that in the cognitive areas of faith, the emunah of emet, doubt may play a positive role not a frozen doubt, but a liquid doubt, one which melts in the encounter with emunah and is absorbed by it and strengthens it in return. Cognitive faith is not an abstract, static acknowledgement of truth; it is a violent struggle in the attainment of emet. I begin by believing despite doubt; I end by believing all the more firmly because of doubt.

Orthoprax said...

RL,

Even if that's how he may deal with critics or external descriptions of his philosophy, he'd still have to accept something to work on in his own mind. After all, this man was the President of YU. I don't believe it was all an act.

Resh Lakish said...

OP,

I don't think it was an "act," and I certainly would never impute dishonesty. However, this, and most other attempts of its kind, very much have the flavor of post hoc rationalizations. I think the Rav was more open about that.

Resh Lakish said...

I also very much like this quote, at footnote 27:
It must be remembered that doubt, ubiquitous as it is in our times, constitutes a threat not only to religious faith, but to all affirmations, even anti-religious ones. Thus, Arnold Brecht, op. cit., p. 466f.: "Doubt has overcome not only many believers, but many atheists as well. It seems to have escaped notice that modern science has also produced a large class of what may be called 'doubting atheists' people who once were atheists pure and simple, and who still today would classify themselves basically as such, but who now admit to .some degree of doubt, because they have come to see the limitations of science. This doubt of atheists is as much a result of modern science as is that of believers, and science sliould receive as much credit for the one as it has attracted blame for the other."

I think it is true. It's notable that, from my limited experience, most the frum skeptic types are not Atheists (at least of the hard Atheist variety), or are unwilling to categorically deny the possibility of any paradigm. Now it could be that this is the vestige of indoctrination, but it could also be because we're skeptical of everything, including skepticism.

Orthoprax said...

RL,

"I begin by believing despite doubt; I end by believing all the more firmly because of doubt."

No, this is something which I actually do understand. Since Dr. Lamm was an existentialist he must have understood the patent absurdity of knowledge claims in the face of absolute uncertainty. So how does one respond to that?

You can go one route and become nihilistic. You can go another route and just be noncommital about anything. Or a third route is to cling to a system of belief - even though it may have its problems - because a firm belief in something is far more productive and life-fulfilling/inspiring than without.

Resh Lakish said...

You can go one route and become nihilistic. You can go another route and just be noncommital about anything. Or a third route is to cling to a system of belief.

That's a good point. Gefilte fish is better than Sartre, I suppose.

I still think that the core reason of cleaving to the OJ system has more to do with an a priori commitment to the halachic system and then a concomitant avowal of the faith system, rather than the other way round (look what R' Lamm says about doubt as to cognitive faith being ok, but not doubt as to "functional faith" [i.e. halacha]).

Baal Habos said...

OP, I really like tike the beginning of the article, and I marvel at this whole world of "doubt" which existed while I was growing up in my cocooned existense.

Yet, I find he rally offers nothing of substance other than some abracadabra statements.

I guess he was an Orthprax.

David Guttmann said...

At some point I was obsessed with the historicity issue. I read a lot of scholarly work in that area. The wide range of conjectures and opinions is mindboggling and shows how little we know. With time I came to the conclusion that it is irrelevant. It is a matter of acceptance. The Torah tells us that our commitment to certain mitzvot is based on our slavery in Egypt. The fact that we were slaves has no meaning anymore other than the resulting obligation.

When we celebrate Yetziat Mitzraym, what we are really saying is that we are interpreting all that happens to us in context of God and his providence as that event taught us. Isn't that the meaning of Chayav adam lire'ot atzmo ke'ilu hu atzmo yatza mimitzraym?

I did not read the paper you refer to, but I agree with the general idea. Without doubt there can be no knowledge.

Orthoprax said...

RL,

"I still think that the core reason of cleaving to the OJ system has more to do with an a priori commitment to the halachic system and then a concomitant avowal of the faith system, rather than the other way round"

Well, I suppose that's true. But then why couldn't R' Lamm have become more orthoprax? Or is he in fact orthoprax and was only trotting out Orthodox theology when it became a 'necessary belief' for the system to continue?


DG,

Are you saying it's ok to 'accept' the stories in Tanach without believing them? In what way is that Orthodox? What does that even mean?

I can perhaps see a sense that we just have to accept that the stories are true 'for all functional intents and purposes' without taking them literally. If Genesis can be taken wholly metaphorically then why not Exodus?

Resh Lakish said...

Well, I suppose that's true. But then why couldn't R' Lamm have become more orthoprax?

Perhaps because certain aspects of being orthoprax suck, and people desire consistency. And maybe our will plays a greater role in forming our belief systems than some of us credit it.

David Guttmann said...

>Are you saying it's ok to 'accept' the stories in Tanach without believing them? In what way is that Orthodox? What does that even mean?

What it means is that the historical event is not the reason we do things, it is the interpretation of the event. I have a problem with the terms and designation "Orthiodox" "conservative" etc... Judaism is about searching for, and I mean searching not finding, God. Finding in whatever form, (a discussion on its own)is a gift that we receive at the end of the search if we do it with all our heart. Torah is a tool that we have to use in that process. it is composed of Mitzvot which have no meaning other then to keep us focussed on the search and theological concepts that teach us how to interpret events that confront us - Ma'asseh avot siman lebanim. The latter is done through the stories in the Torah. They are not a transmission of historical events in a purely scientific way, but the ontological interpretation of an event. That being the case the search for the historical fact, unless it sheds light on the ontological interpretation, has no value other than as a curiosity. That realization several years ago made me lose interest in the purely historical analyses and discussions. (that might explain my frustration and dismissive comments on Frum Skeptics a while back, of which I am not proud of)

One of these days I will write something on this on my blog.

I enjoy your continuous search and admire how thoughtfully you handle your struggle with the thology ypou inherited. The only thing I can advise you is to put more efforts into reading the Rishonim, Saadyah Gaon, Yehudah Halevi, Rambam, Ramban, the schools they spawned. They were into finding the truth and they have a lot to teach of how we should approach it in our times, especially the scientifically inclined and trained like yourself.

I am getting too verbose in my old age.

Baal Habos said...

OP, I say your comment on BJ and I'm not sure you'll get back to it, so I posted it here.

OP,
>I only offer this brief religious reconstruction with the possibility that you may find it meaningful or helpful in whatever way. Far be it from me to say that this is definitely the way it is, but I believe it is a useful and meaningful way to think about living Halachically that doesn't impose on you beliefs that you'd find untenable.

OP, I think I'm finally over the "shock" of all my skepticism so I can finally pay attention to what you've been saying. It is somewhat intriguing. However, it only explains Positive ritual and even in that, it only takes you so far. How would you explain Negatives, such as Shaatnes, don't open lights on Shabbos, etc. And even positive rituals, praying for hours a day, sitting in shul listening to Chazoras Hashatz, etc. It's all overkill. In other words, it's good and nice, but had can Halacha, in all it's myriad detail, be binding? How can you pray in Shul on Yom Kippur "forgive me for my sins" and enumerate all sorts of trivialities? How can you even pray for a good year, which IIRC you believe in pre-determinism? An d the list goes on and on.

Baal Habos said...

DG,

First you said:
>With time I came to the conclusion that it is irrelevant.

And then you said:

>What it means is that the historical event is not the reason we do things, it is the interpretation of the event.


David, your seconds statement assumes that the history is accurate, but the event itself has deeper signifigance. I could agree with that. But, I can only accept that if I know the event is historical. If it's not, then who are we kidding?

Orthoprax said...

David,

I find it difficult to just accept that fantastic events occurred in history without supporting evidence. I think that in many cases a reasonable reconstruction of the event is possible, but usually that's with all the most fantastic details sidelined.

See, I can imagine a rather logical Christian giving a similar argument as yours in that one simply has to accept the resurrection of Jesus. I'm sorry, but I just can't do that while retaining my integrity.

A way which I can imagine approaching the issue is the one that I hinted at before. We can acknowledge that great events occurred in our history - personally I have little difficulty believing that an exodus and even a Mt. Sinai event occurred - but that the greatness of those events have been built upon since that time. They have become more than just events but legends in their own right with eternal intrinsic meanings that matter not in their precise levels of historicity.

What truly matters is what we take out of those tales for modern living and not necessarily what went into those tales. For all functional intents and purposes we can take them as history even while recognizing, intellectually, that it is a legendary history, which's true natures may be lost to us forever. Functionally the stories are true even while the details may not all be.

"I enjoy your continuous search and admire how thoughtfully you handle your struggle with the thology ypou inherited. The only thing I can advise you is to put more efforts into reading the Rishonim, Saadyah Gaon, Yehudah Halevi, Rambam, Ramban, the schools they spawned."

I appreciate the appreciation. ;-) I tried reading a bunch on the rishonim in the past, but I found many of their ideas simply outdated or based on foundations which I didn't accept - though I did appreciate their spread and wealth of ideas overall. Maybe I'll give 'em another shot.

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

"I think I'm finally over the "shock" of all my skepticism so I can finally pay attention to what you've been saying. It is somewhat intriguing."

Thanks, and I should say that it's a big step to get past the emotional stage where you realize that things aren't as they were told to you to where you can appreciate Judaism in your own way.

"However, it only explains Positive ritual and even in that, it only takes you so far."

Well, this whole thing is a work in progress so I think even that much is worth recognizing. ;-)


"How would you explain Negatives, such as Shaatnes, don't open lights on Shabbos, etc."

I would say that they are all part and parcel of the same lifestyle package. Halachic Judaism cannot just be a personal lifestyle, but one organized around a community - at the very least. Not doing something is as much a meaningful statement as doing something can be if understood under the right light.

I understand shatnez as the very ancient understanding of how the world is organized and a charge against mixing things in 'unnatural' ways. The relevance of shatnez for normal modern life is virtually insignificant, but it is a lesson in order and preserving the natural organization from artificial 're-organization.'

Not turning on the lights on Shabbos is simply the other side of observing Shabbos. It isn't meaningful in itself, but it sets a mood for the day.

"And even positive rituals, praying for hours a day, sitting in shul listening to Chazoras Hashatz, etc. It's all overkill. In other words, it's good and nice, but had can Halacha, in all it's myriad detail, be binding?"

The more pious will take upon themselves more obligations while the less pious will take fewer. As a society we must accept that some things are binding which affect us all, but whether you come to shul late or skip out for kiddush club during the haftorah - that's your business.

"How can you pray in Shul on Yom Kippur "forgive me for my sins" and enumerate all sorts of trivialities?"

Well, now you're getting into little details and issues with the liturgy. I was only trying to describe an overall philosophical approach, not a detail by detail problem solver. But, be that as it may, I believe we can salvage much of the spirit of Yom Kippur.

For one thing, I believe that Yom Kippur ought to be used as an especially apt time for self-reflection and to work on oneself for self-improvement. We can measure ourselves against what we wish to be and even imagine how some perfectly objective source might judge us. Most times, I think, we will realize that the objective judge would not be much impressed. Using that conceptual approach to measure ourselves we would be inspired to repent of our misdeeds and become better people.

I don't think it makes much sense to consider a lack of ritual observance as a moral failing, but it is a failing inasmuch as you are not keeping the obligations which you have taken upon yourself. It is a day to heighten one's perception of ritual observance and to perhaps work on oneself to perfect one's goals in that respect.

"How can you even pray for a good year, which IIRC you believe in pre-determinism?"

Again, this is a liturgical issue, but not a serious one. I don't believe in personal pre-determinism, by the way - though I do flirt with some causation-bound issues, but that's neither here nor there. The point is that I believe prayers are meant for oneself and should not be intended as petitions for divine intercession. When we pray for a good year, we are announcing a hope that may either inspire in us a sense of confidence in the future or may drive us to create the world that we want to see.

So what do you think?

Baal Habos said...

OP,

>Thanks, and I should say that it's a big step to get past the emotional stage where you realize that things aren't as they were told to you to where you can appreciate Judaism in your own way.


It certainly took me long enough.

> Not doing something is as much a meaningful statement as doing something can be if understood under the right light.

But not if it's made "Binding". For example take someone whose lifestyle does not include going to Restaurants. That doesn't mean he'd never go. It means he's not in the habit of going. You must also realize, that generally speaking you and I are probably talking about two very different types of communites.



>I understand shatnez ......from artificial 're-organization.'

Big stretch.

>Not turning on the lights on Shabbos is simply the other side of observing Shabbos. It isn't meaningful in itself, but it sets a mood for the day.

That is just co-incidental. And having to run down the block after dark on a cold Friday night looking for a "Goyeta" to turn off the little bulb in the fridge doesn't set the mood for me.

>The more pious will take upon themselves more obligations while the less pious will take fewer. As a society we must accept that some things are binding which affect us all, but whether you come to shul late or skip out for kiddush club during the haftorah - that's your business.

I wish. I can't change my lifestyle externally in such a fashion. I'm an on-timer, non talking, tallis over the head shul goer. (Kiddush club, in my neighborhood?)


> But, be that as it may, I believe we can salvage much of the spirit of Yom Kippur.

>For one thing, I believe that Yom Kippur ought.. misdeeds and become better people.

I can go with a lot of that.

>I don't think it makes much sense to consider a lack of ritual observance as a moral failing, but it is a failing inasmuch as you are not keeping the obligations which you have taken upon yourself. It is a day to heighten one's perception of ritual observance

Makes no sense to me for reasons stated above.



> The point is that I believe prayers are meant for oneself and should not be intended as petitions for divine intercession. When we pray for a good year, we are announcing a hope that may either inspire in us a sense of confidence in the future or may drive us to create the world that we want to see.

It's a stretch.

>So what do you think? Certainly to do so on a daily basis.

Truthfully, I'm not looking at this concept as a noble undertaking on my part. I'm looking at it to help me cope with the circumstance of my life. In that sense, going to shul and learning is usually bearable. But I still find it hard to get any meaning out of any of it.

The only real meaning I see is in making Brachos before eating and I appreciate how good I have it in life compared to others.

But thanks. I'll be paying attention.

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

"But not if it's made "Binding". For example take someone whose lifestyle does not include going to Restaurants. That doesn't mean he'd never go. It means he's not in the habit of going."

I don't really understand your objection. Something cannot be meaningful if it's considered binding? I also don't agree with Halacha being considered merely habit. It is a dedication to a way of life, not something one should casually assume without thought.

"You must also realize, that generally speaking you and I are probably talking about two very different types of communites."

Apparently. You should go more modern. Or is that in itself too much heresy? ;-)

"Big stretch."

In regards to shatnez, yes and no. I really do believe that shatnez was founded on a principle of nature's 'categories' and that kilayim was a wrongful mixture of them. So how does that become relevant today? The relevance of what are considered chukim are issues even in normative Orthodoxy.

In some respects it is simply part of the system and in order for the system to remain soluble then shatnez has to remain a part of it. In any case, the question of shatnez is so peripheral that it has never played any practical part in my life. There are many little drashim I can think of - and have heard of - which relate these ancient practices to modern life, but it's virtually entirely a theoretical issue anyway. So if you don't like that drasha, take another, or don't take any.

"That is just co-incidental. And having to run down the block after dark on a cold Friday night looking for a "Goyeta" to turn off the little bulb in the fridge doesn't set the mood for me."

I think making sure things are set just right before Shabbos is an important part of the weekly experience. I don't know what it means or matters that it is 'coincidental' - it is the way Shabbos is observed.

I don't think you need to go crazy over a fridge's light bulb, but it's true that turning that bulb hurts the Shabbos experience. Best to ensure beforehand that you don't get stuck in that trap.

"I can't change my lifestyle externally in such a fashion. I'm an on-timer, non talking, tallis over the head shul goer. (Kiddush club, in my neighborhood?)"

Where do you live exactly? Maybe it's too much but I'm thinking you'd really appreciate a move to a more modern community. Is that out of the question for you?

"It's a stretch."

Again, they're just liturgy and I was coming up with that last part off the top of my head. Ideally religious services could be, in a Maimonidean sense, just a timely reflection on God, but we have received this liturgy from past ages and it is currently how Jews, as a community, worship together. I think it's worth having a congregation for the cost of liturgy which we're not thrilled with.

Better for you to consider ways to make it meaningful for yourself than for me to guess ways that will work for you. Personally, the idea of praying for a good year is so low down on my list of issues to be dealt with.

Baal Habos said...

OP,
Before I get back to our converstaion, which I hope to do tomorrow (I'm still thinking about), I wanted to comment on this you said above to DG.

>See, I can imagine a rather logical Christian giving a similar argument as yours in that one simply has to accept the resurrection of Jesus. I'm sorry, but I just can't do that while retaining my integrity.
A way which I can imagine approaching the issue is the one that I hinted at before. We can acknowledge that great events occurred in our history - personally I have little difficulty believing that an exodus and even a Mt. Sinai event occurred - but that the greatness of those events have been built upon since that time. They have become more than just events but legends in their own right with eternal intrinsic meanings that matter not in their precise levels of historicity.
What truly matters is what we take out of those tales for modern living and not necessarily what went into those tales. For all functional intents and purposes we can take them as history even while recognizing, intellectually, that it is a legendary history, which's true natures may be lost to us forever. Functionally the stories are true even while the details may not all be


It occured to me that just as you reject the fantastic tales of Judaism (and rightly so because if not then you might as well accept Christian fantastic tales), by the same token, when you accept the morals and lessons of Judaism on the basis of "something happened, if not a great miracle", then using the same logic you can deny Jesus ressurection but still say something great happened and accept the Christian lessons that the tale offers. Think about it.

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

"then using the same logic you can deny Jesus ressurection but still say something great happened and accept the Christian lessons that the tale offers. Think about it."

Of course and I have. And if I were raised a Christian then I just might have taken that approach. But I wasn't and I find Christianity offensive to Judaism.

It all has a lot to do with being brought up in a religious tradition. Christian terms and symbols offend my religious mindset while in Jewish ideas I find great meaning.

Further, one is a Jew from birth while a Christian is so only by belief. Judaism enthralls me as the religious and philosophical work of my people while Christianity would have no such pull even had I been raised as a Christian.

Baal Habos said...

OP,

>I don't really understand your objection. Something cannot be meaningful if it's considered binding? I also don't agree with Halacha being considered merely habit. It is a dedication to a way of life, not something one should casually assume without thought.


Sure, but if it only represents a principle & is done to be part of the Tsibbur, why *must* it be absolutely binding to be meaningful. Furthermore, why not choose to be Conservaprax? You would achieve your objectives.

>"You must also realize, that generally speaking you and I are probably talking about two very different types of communites."

I'll say.

>Apparently. You should go more modern. Or is that in itself too much heresy? ;-)

Of course.



"Big stretch."

>In regards to shatnez, yes and no.... The relevance of what are considered chukim are issues even in normative Orthodoxy.


Resorting to Chok undermines the objective.


> In any case, the question of shatnez is so peripheral that it has never played any practical part in my life.

Sure, it's only an example.

> There are many little drashim I can think of - and have heard of - which relate these ancient practices to modern life, but it's virtually entirely a theoretical issue anyway. So if you don't like that drasha, take another, or don't take any.


Sounds like a retrofit.

>I think making sure things are set just right before Shabbos is an important part of the weekly experience.

Yes, but things happen.

>I don't know what it means or matters that it is 'coincidental' - it is the way Shabbos is observed.

You state that refraining from use of electricity sets the mood. It it only sets the mood because you find it peaceful. No pagers, cell phone, TV, etc. But it just turns out that way. I don't know if that was the intent. Let's compare Fire of 300 years ago in Poland to Electricty today. Do you think they found it peaceful not being able to kindle a fire on a freezing day? or not wiping a stain off of a garment on Shabbos because of Libun? And back to today, not wheeling a baby carriage on Shabbos (assume no Eiruv)? And an elderly man who can't walk far is homebound?


>I don't think you need to go crazy over a fridge's light bulb, but it's true that turning that bulb hurts the Shabbos experience.

That's because you have been conditioned to think that way. It's not innate. When I tell the Gentiles at work what the Sabbath entails, they don't think "gee how wonderful". Except for the Chulent ;)

>"I can't change my lifestyle externally in such a fashion. I'm an on-timer, non talking, tallis over the head shul goer. (Kiddush club, in my neighborhood?)"

>Maybe it's too much but I'm thinking you'd really appreciate a move to a more modern community.

Absolutely.

>Is that out of the question for you?

Absolutely.


>Better for you to consider ways to make it meaningful for yourself than for me to guess ways that will work for you.

It all points back to the fact, that we are bound to a 2000 year old mind-set.

Not that there is not beauty & wisdom there, but it is not progress to just perpetuate things that have no real meaning.

It seems to me, that you are seeking to making it work not necessarily because you believe in it, but because you want to make it work. That's not a bad thing, of course..

Baal Habos said...

OP,
>Of course and I have. And if I were raised a Christian then I just might have taken that approach. But I wasn't and I find Christianity offensive to Judaism.

You mean because of it's history of violence or because of it's doctrine?


>It all has a lot to do with being brought up in a religious tradition. Christian terms and symbols offend my religious mindset while in Jewish ideas I find great meaning.

Of coures, me too. Ant that's because we're conditioned that way. and I'm in no means trying to push Christianity, but I imagine if we studied it, we might feel differently.

>Further, one is a Jew from birth while a Christian is so only by belief.

(Devil's advocate coming here )- but *something happened* there at the supposed ressurection. And, to use your words now, " They have become more than just events but legends in their own right with eternal intrinsic meanings that matter not in their precise levels of historicity.

What truly matters is what we take out of those tales for modern living and not necessarily what went into those tales."



We should be taking the lessons of Christian love and Bris Chaddashah as the way's to live meaningful lives without burdened by meaningless ritual - I think they call it "Justification by the faith."

Ok, Ahd Kahn Devil's Advocate.

See what I'm getting at here? Without historicity and the nhe absolute belief that this is what God wants, I find it hard to justify.

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

"Sure, but if it only represents a principle & is done to be part of the Tsibbur, why *must* it be absolutely binding to be meaningful. Furthermore, why not choose to be Conservaprax? You would achieve your objectives."

Ok, I have no inherent issue with that. I just think that being lazy sets a poor example for your children. If you're going to live a way of life then live a way of life consistently.

"Resorting to Chok undermines the objective."

What exactly do you believe the objective is? If you want to understand the meaning of a chok from a very modern perspective then I can direct you to Yeshayahu Leibowitz. He says that in order for a religious act to be fully meaningful religiously then it cannot have any pragmatic reasoning behind it. The whole purpose is to be a worshipful act before God.

If you require some additional meaning then all you are looking for is a drasha. Some may resonate with you, others may not. But the point is that if you've already chosen to live a way of life and the majority of things makes good sense to you then stuff like shatnez is peripheral and unimportant.

"Sounds like a retrofit."

More like a reconstruction.

"You state that refraining from use of electricity sets the mood. It it only sets the mood because you find it peaceful. ...or not wiping a stain off of a garment on Shabbos because of Libun?"

I don't get it. So? Shabbos is great. That it may have been less great in the past may be true but it's of academic interest only. It is a living ritual and way of life.

"And back to today, not wheeling a baby carriage on Shabbos (assume no Eiruv)? And an elderly man who can't walk far is homebound?"

Small price to pay in my view.

"That's because you have been conditioned to think that way. It's not innate. When I tell the Gentiles at work what the Sabbath entails, they don't think "gee how wonderful". Except for the Chulent ;)"

Maybe that's because you focus on the work and not the gain. I genuinely love shabbos and I don't think it is a matter of conditioning. That others see it as undesirable is their loss as far as I'm concerned.

It's no coincidence that it's shabbos meals which kiruv organizations want people to go to so badly.

"It all points back to the fact, that we are bound to a 2000 year old mind-set.
Not that there is not beauty & wisdom there, but it is not progress to just perpetuate things that have no real meaning."

No, you see, it isn't a matter of a 2000 year old mindset, but a 2000+ year old tradition. It is the value of such a longstanding tradition through which these acts gain a sense of sanctity. The meanings for many acts are many and various as you look through the different philosophical schools of Judaism, but it is the acts which have remained stable. Do you think kabbalah would make any sense to Maimonides - or vice versa?

The acts inspire us to find meaning.

"It seems to me, that you are seeking to making it work not necessarily because you believe in it, but because you want to make it work. That's not a bad thing, of course.."

I'm a Jew. I like the lifestyle. I like tradition. And I believe in God. Wow, lo and hehold, we have this pre-made system that incorporates all of what I like but does include some that I do not like. It's not perfect but it's pretty good.

Btw, why is MO so out of the question for you?


"You mean because of it's history of violence or because of it's doctrine?"

Both.

"Of coures, me too. Ant that's because we're conditioned that way. and I'm in no means trying to push Christianity, but I imagine if we studied it, we might feel differently."

What's with you and conditioning? It's a normal Jewish perspective. Socializing a child in this world always carries along with it ideas from the culture in which the child is raised. It is inevitable. If you know Jewish history, it makes it difficult to look at Christianity in a very accepting way.

"We should be taking the lessons of Christian love and Bris Chaddashah as the way's to live meaningful lives without burdened by meaningless ritual - I think they call it "Justification by the faith.""

If you're inclined to do so, then go ahead.

My whole point regarding this whole construct is that loyalty to Judaism and Jewish tradition comes first and that it is _not_ based on miraculous historical claims at all. We can accept the traditional Jewish claims of history based on our fidelity to Judaism as a whole. It's part of the package.

But it makes no sense to simply go ahead and accept whatever other religious tradition for no reason. In fact, it simply demonstrates a lack of fidelity to Judaism - which is why I don't think Messianic Judaism should be accepted as a valid form of Judaism.

"See what I'm getting at here? Without historicity and the nhe absolute belief that this is what God wants, I find it hard to justify."

I'm not proposing Orthodox Judaism, Baal. If it's either OJ or nothing then I can't help you.

Baal Habos said...

OP, I'll think about it (over Shabbos) and get back to you.

Anonymous said...

what kinda wife would you be looking for, would she have to believe in the same system as you? would you want her to cover her hair, which is part of the orthodox practice?

Orthoprax said...

Baal,

See, Shabbos is great - it's a very opportune time to consider such matters. :-)


Anon,

I'm pretty open. I'd want a wife who would at least be able to tolerate my philosophical thinking - and at best be willing to participate in a sophisticated discussion. As long as that is alright then I don't have any serious conditions for her beliefs as long as they exist somewhere along the Jewish spectrum.

I'd like her to observe at least the basic fundamentals of Jewish practice and set a good example for the kids. But I come from a pretty modern background so more than that is fairly flexible. My mother doesn't cover her hair.

Baal Habos said...

OP,

>Ok, I have no inherent issue with that. I just think that being lazy sets a poor example for your children.

Why is Conservaprax "lazy"? Time is precious,, resources are precious. I see it as "different". Mabe you should be Chareidi-prax?

>>>"Resorting to Chok undermines the objective."

>What exactly do you believe the objective is?

To inject meaning into the system, while acknowledging that it's not divine, that we really have no idea what God what of us.

>If you want to understand the meaning of a chok from a very modern perspective then I can direct..

That presupposes divinity.



>>"And back to today, not wheeling a baby carriage on Shabbos (assume no Eiruv)? And an elderly man who can't walk far is homebound?"

>Small price to pay in my view.

Small price?


>Maybe that's because you focus on the work and not the gain.

Please.

> I genuinely love shabbos and I don't think it is a matter of conditioning. That others see it as undesirable is their loss as far as I'm concerned.

Yes, there are parts of Shabbos that are beautiful, Kabbolas Shabbos, for E.G., formal meals with family and friends.

But that is not the totality of it. My station in life and my new mindset are not compatible. I'm glad you have a good fit. So sure, you can tout the beauty of it. What happens when there is collision between what Shabbos demands and your career? You might find it difficult to sustain Orthopraxy without the Dox.

>It's no coincidence that it's shabbos meals which kiruv organizations want people to go to so badly.

Of course.

>No, you see, it isn't a matter of a 2000 year old mindset, but a 2000+ year old tradition.

You're in a different community than me.


>I'm a Jew. I like the lifestyle. I like tradition. And I believe in God.

More importantly, do you believe in TMS?

>Wow, lo and hehold, we have this pre-made system that incorporates all of what I like but does include some that I do not like. It's not perfect but it's pretty good.

What happens if you begin to see it as "not good"?



>Btw, why is MO so out of the question for you?

Truthfully, I think it would be a good fit. But it's a little too late for that for me. I'll be posting about this, hopefully soon.



>What's with you and conditioning? It's a normal Jewish perspective....


>If you're inclined to do so, then go ahead.

LOL, not really. I'm not advocating Christianity, I'm just probing.


>I'm not proposing Orthodox Judaism, Baal. If it's either OJ or nothing then I can't help you.


Yes, it it exactly what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a way to continue living my Chareidi-lite life without being resentful.


Thanks for your thoughts.

You are not too far off the mark for me. The problem is my situation is too far from the mark.

I appreciate your thoughts. Have a meaningful Pesach.

happywithhislot said...

hey i missed a great discussion here.

op, you talk about the beuty of halacha.

if you go away to a city, where the only kosher rest. is over an hour away.
do you see the beauty when you need to shell out dollars for the cab, get your food cold, and pay through the nose for that privilige?

happywithhislot said...

bhb
re shabbos, i agree that lights shouldnt be an issue or make shabbos any less.
ortho is completely fine with a shabbos clock, which in reality should of been assur, but people started using it before it could be banned.

how wonderful would shabbos be without shabbos clocks on a hot summer day?

you talk about preparing before shabbos, but if that ac doesnt turn on, because you messed up the shabbos clock, you will be pissed.

Orthoprax said...

Happy,

It's not always beautiful and it's not a perfect system. But it is a good system.

I don't think it's a big deal if once in awhile you break the rules a little, but officially (as if I'm an official) I wouldn't condone it. If the rules can be crossed at whim then the rules become irrelevant and the system becomes defunct.