Moved to Tears

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2 Responses

  1. Caliban Darklock says:

    There are elements of each major movement of Judaism that appeal to me. There are also elements of each major movement that disturb and repel me.

    The Orthodox have a deep passion and belief that I find to be the fundamental difference between Judaism and other religions. However, they often don’t ask a lot of questions; they do what they do because that is what they do, and when you ask why, they point to the Torah. When you ask why it’s in the Torah, they stare at you like some sort of unusual insect… because the law is, and it is what it is, and that is all.

    The Conservative have a critical nature that I consider important in any spiritual pursuit. Unfortunately, they are – as the poster rightly observes – largely dispassionate about their criticism. I agree that critique should be dispassionate, but when your critique is done, you should rejoice in your beliefs and be passionate about them. Somewhere along the line, Conservatives seem to have forgotten that part, and invest all of their time and effort in critique and criticism.

    The Reform have a social connection that is truly enjoyable, and which I believe every congregation ought to have. Unfortunately, they frequently have little understanding of Torah, and therefore do things I find offensive – one Reform “synagogue” I tried to attend actually met in the Sunday-school room of a christian church, thereby surrounding the congregation with children’s artwork about Jesus. I found this too hideously inappropriate for words.

    The Reconstructionist have a fundamental belief that “traditional” does not equal “correct” and that new discoveries and knowledge should influence interpretation of the Torah. Unfortunately, this too often translates into “throw out the tradition” before anyone really examines the tradition on its own merits.

    If anyone could combine all four of the good points while omitting all four of the bad points, I would be happy there. I am not particularly hopeful about that in a state with one of the lowest Jewish populations in the nation, and an area of that state quite distant from the Jewish population centers. Besides, it is one thing to find a congregation which believes as you do, and quite another for that congregation to accept you as a part of it.

  2. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Caliban, it’s almost impossible to separate what you like and what you dislike about Orthodoxy. Both the passion for learning Torah and the refusal to question the Torah’s laws come from the belief that it is the word of G-d.

    In theory, one could say G-d gave the Torah (written and oral) on Har Sinai, but that what we have is not a perfect copy. Then, one would learn the Torah to as G-d’s words, but be willing to question the laws because some of them may have been modified during fifteen centuries of oral transmittion (for the oral Torah).

    However, in practice it would be very hard for a person to devoutly learn something one moment and dispassionately dissect it the next.

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