I am working on or at least thinking about two posts. The first is my “Why are you Jewish” and the second is the self indulgent happy blogiversary post that I want/need to write. In between I decided to touch upon both of these with a comment or two about some things that are going on.
Or should I say that I am sort of revisiting topics that never really go away. There is an ongoing struggle within Judaism for control of the future of the religion. It is a battle that is not limited to Judaism, it is something that you see in all religions.
I’ll apologize in advance for not providing a glossary or explanation of all the ideas and thoughts here, I am pressed for time.
From a Judaic standpoint you can boil it down to whether Torah is Min ha-shamayim or not. Did Hashem give Moshe the Torah or was it divinely inspired. There are significant differences in interpretation and that makes all the difference.
Some of you may remember a show from the late 70’s/’80s or so called The Greatest American Hero. I like using it to try and explain some of my thoughts on this. Here is the YouTube description of the show:
A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control, after losing the instruction manual. He is aided by a Government Agent. Along with his lawyer girlfriend, together they figure out not only how to control the suit, but to right wrongs.
The hero, Ralph has this incredible suit, but only the foggiest idea how to use it. So he has to learn by undergoing a trial and error learning process. At times it is painful, flying is hard and his landings are painful. Gradually he figures it out and in time comes to be fairly proficient at using it.
That is similar to one explanation I heard many years ago about Torah. Granted it doesn’t touch upon the Oral Law, which I think is a mistake.
A better explanation would be to tie it into the concept of Originalism as it applies to the U.S. Constitution. Given the current nominee for the court you might enjoy reading through it.
Anyhoo, the idea if you are not familiar with it is that the founding fathers wrote the document and we should follow the intent without any sort of deviation. That is opposed by the idea of a living Constitution. That allows for a more flexible interpretation of the law.
To me the latter makes far more sense. Life is not what it was two hundred years ago, let alone 2,500 years. We moved from believing that slavery was ok, that some people were worth less because of their skin color. We understand now that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth and that the earth is not flat.
So it makes sense that we explore and consider what we are doing and why. If you cannot engage in self examination there is a problem. If you dare not challenge your beliefs then maybe you haven’t got enough of a foundation to support it.
All that being said faith is a central component of it all. I challenge much, but at the same time there are things that I just accept based upon faith alone. It is not always logical or rational, but in general it works for me.
Here is an old joke that I have shared on the blog before:
A modern Orthodox Jewish couple, preparing for a religious wedding, meets the rabbi who is supposed to perform the ceremony. The rabbi asks if they have any last questions before they leave.
The man asks, “Rabbi, we realize it’s tradition for men to dance with men, and women to dance with women. But, we’d like your permission to dance together.”
The rabbi answers, “No way! “Men and women always dance separately!”
The man then asks, “So after the ceremony you mean I can’t even dance with my own wife?”
The rabbi replies, “It’s forbidden!”
The man asks, “Can we finally have sex?”
The rabbi replies, “Of course! Sex is a mitzvah within marriage, to have many children!”
“What about different positions?” asked the man?
“No problem,” says the rabbi, “It’s a mitzvah!”
“Well then, how about a woman on top?” the man asks.
Rabbi replies, “It’s mitzvah!”
“How about Doggy Style?”
“On the kitchen table?”
“Can we do it on rubber sheets with a bottle of hot oil, a couple of vibrators, a leather harness, a bucket of honey and a porno film?”
“It’s all a mitzvah!”
“Can we do it standing up?”
“NO, NO, NO!” cries the rabbi.
“Well, why not?” asks the man.
Rabbi answers, “Could lead to dancing!”
And here are some posts that are somewhat related to this topic. I need to pick it up again at a later date and get an earlier start on it.
As an FYI, some of these posts were written quite some time ago. I need to review them and determine if I still agree with everything I wrote. In any case, I’ll put them here so that I can find them.
Who is A Jew
Robbing The Bride and Groom
Jews- The Interdenominational Melee
Prayer In School
Second Guessing Ourselves- Elul Times Two
The Future of Judaism
Orthodox Versus Jewry- Or My Blood is More Jewish
My Brother- A Lesson in Simple Physics