What I Believe

I received an email from a man I greatly admire, although I often disagree with him. David Klinghoffer wrote with a suggestion, which I’ll paraphrase: "Why not write a post on what you actually believe rather than simply bitching about every rabbi in the world?" Fair enough. This post will explain my "theology," so to speak. But there will be plenty of bitching involved, because what I complain about has so shaped my worldview that I cannot make my case without mentioning it.

I’m evolving. If you’d asked me three years ago, I would have spouted rhetoric largely indistinguishable from Avi Shafran, but with some carping about nepotism, cronyism and the missed opportunities generated by same added in. But that was then. I’ve seen enough since then to realize that my initial revulsion at the business of the haredi world, suppressed so long ago, was well justified. And I’ve seen that non-haredi Orthodoxy is no better.

I’ve also learned that many if not the vast majority of "facts" presented by the likes of Aish HaTorah, Agudah and Chabad are false, nothing more than slick, often cult-like PR.

Jewish belief is based on a mesora, on tradition handed down from father to son, teacher to pupil, from Mount Sinai until today. But a mesora is based on trust, on the honesty and credibility of the fathers and teachers who pass it down.

The lies of the kiruv movement and the lies and misbehavior of the so-called gedolim, the deification of a false Brooklyn prophet, and all those criminal convictions, indictments, investigations, abuse coverups and the like have real impact – they destroy the mesora, break the links in the chain, so to speak, that once bound us. If today’s rabbis lie to us, why not Rashi? Why Not Moses?

And, indeed, if the findings of archeology, genetics, astronomy, and so many other scientific disciplines are to be believed – and they should be, in part because they independently confirm each other’s work – our forbearers did quite a lot of lying. Either that, or they spoke in the language and style of their day, using myths to teach spiritual truths, never intending those myths to be taken as literal truth, And this, David, is what I believe. Those myths contain some of humankind’s earliest memories, often in fragmentary form, of what came before civilization after the great ice age ended and humans discovered agriculture, built the first cities and began to live for the first time in groups larger than an extended family or band. They tried to make sense of their world and to communicate in a non-literate society important information to their children and grandchildren in ways it would be remembered without writing – through myth.

Our unique contribution to these early myths was to emphasize the power of God over the powers of the demigods, stars and other natural forces. It was to bring God into this world. Most cultures viewed the Creator or Sky God as being too remote, unknowable and unreachable to be dealt with – hence the pantheons of the ancients. Jews returned God to this world where we are commanded to make a home for him, both in our hearts and in our actions. We are also commanded to carry this message to the nations of the world.

But we do neither, instead obsessing over ridiculous minutia in halakha and defining ourselves down in the process. Worse yet are the lies and corruption, the stealing and fraud, the Abramoffs and the Lanners, the Balkanys and the Kolkos, rabbis Lau, Amar and Metzger, Elyashiv and the seemingly endless list of other black hatted and black garbed fools we call leaders.

So there you have it. I no longer believe in the mesora as preached in Orthodoxy. I follow halakha for the most part due to simple inertia. I find little religious inspiration in Judaism. Yet I still believe in God the Creator who many billions of years ago made room for specks of dust like us and started the process that brought us – and brings us – into being.

Think of the words of the marvelous Eric Bazilian song made famous by Joan Osborne:

What if God was one of us / just a slob like one of us / just a stranger on the bus / trying to make his way home…

God is in exile because we put Him there. He’s with those poor children as their rabbi fondles their penises and as other rabbis lie to cover it up. He sits in the fraudulent beit dins and in the special assemblies called to fake non-existent lunch programs. He was there with Abramoff as he stole from poor Indians and gave to rich Jews and He was there when rabbis looked the other way. We, all of us, those who stole and those who lied, those who abused and those who covered up, and those who just closed their eyes and would not see – have turned God into a lonely old man riding a bus, a liar, irrelevant, lost.

I can’t bring God home, but I can stop covering for and associating with those who abuse Him.

That is what I believe.

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41 Comments

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41 responses to “What I Believe

  1. chakira

    Shmarya

    Enough with the hermeneutic of suspicion. Just because you cannot embrace the cosmology of (say) sixteenth century Safed doesnt mean that there is anything wrong with you (youre a post enlightenment dude) or with that cosmology. Moreover, realise that there is no “mesorah”– monophonic. There is a polyglot or novelisitic discursive realm. Many cosmologies competeing for your attention.

    So chill the fuck out

  2. chakira

    Shmarya

    Enough with the hermeneutic of suspicion. Just because you cannot embrace the cosmology of (say) sixteenth century Safed doesnt mean that there is anything wrong with you (youre a post enlightenment dude) or with that cosmology. Moreover, realise that there is no “mesorah”– monophonic. There is a polyglot or novelisitic discursive realm. Many cosmologies competeing for your attention.

    So chill the fuck out

  3. S.

    >If today’s rabbis lie to us, why not Rashi?

    Rashi’s warmth and humility, as well as his wide-eyes search for truth are apparent in his works. I know you just gave Rashi as an example–not every rabbi who made the canon seems so stellar–but the truth is that this was a terrible example. Not every leader we’ve had were scoundrels; not every scoundrel today will be loved and remembered in a thousand years.

  4. S –

    Trues, but today’s rabbis make Rashi look bad – very bad. And we have no way to know if the spin patrol doctored Rashi’s resume or not, if you know what I mean. Broken mesorah is broken mesorah.

  5. S.

    I disagree. Today’s rabbis don’t change who Rashi was, nor should he be suspected of being a trickster because of their example. Notice that I don’t deny that some who are part of the canon don’t come off looking that great if you honestly look at their biography. But I think an honest assessment of our heritage shows that our history produced quite a collection of brilliance.

    It’s like saying that the garish, dark-wood-and-silver things which pass for Judaica in Brooklyn today retroactively impugn Jewish artistic genius. A badly designed Artscroll book doesn’t retrospectively make the Aleppo Codex or exemplars of fine Jewish printing tacky.

    As for your point about broken mesorah, as Chakira said the trouble is basically that you are adopting a chareidi maximalist position as equivalent with the traditional positionS and then rejecting that maximalist position as untenable.

    But when I look out our literature I find comparative linguistics, I find the willingness to make chiddushim, to assert the right of contemporaries to have opinions–and I see that they didn’t necessarily need permission for the past from these things. I never noticed the Rambam mention that he can say those things because he is the Rambam but no one else can. Frankly, the lesson from these things is that even if there ISN’T precedent and there isn’t permission it is okay to keep our eyes open and be honest truth-seekers. That’s somewhat of a paradox, because given that it would almost be better if one didn’t have that precedent!

  6. S.

    >And we have no way to know if the spin patrol doctored Rashi’s resume or not, if you know what I mean.

    By the way, I’m not talking about evaluating Rashi through legends. Just read his commentaries; a personality emerges. When you read a blowhard you know you’re reading a blowhard. When you read an elitist you know it . And so forth.

  7. chakira

    enough angst
    chillax

  8. S –

    The issue is not whether there were ever good, honest rabbis and Jewish leaders. Of course there were. The point is the mesora is broken, and the preponderance of evidence is that it always was.

  9. S.

    I never indicated otherwise.

  10. Anonymous

    if your rabbis in yeshiva would have just found you a shiduch all those years ago, you wouldnt be such a bitter jerk.

  11. Avraham

    “But there will be plenty of bitching involved, because what I complain about has so shaped my worldview that I cannot make my case without mentioning it.”

    Yes sit in your chair bitching until the cows come home while everyone else goes on with their life you poor victim.

    “I’m evolving.”

    No you are REVOLVING. Same thing, same kvell, day after day.

    “I’ve also learned that many if not the vast majority of “facts” presented by the likes of Aish HaTorah, Agudah and Chabad are false, nothing more than slick, often cult-like PR.”

    Vast Majority of Facts??? What facts would those be??? Did they say the earth is flat or the moon is made of green cheese, or is it just your opinion which is not fact either?

    “The lies of the kiruv movement and the lies “and misbehavior of the so-called gedolim, the deification of a false Brooklyn prophet, and all those criminal convictions, indictments, investigations, abuse coverups and the like have real impact – they destroy the mesora, break the links in the chain, so to speak, that once bound us. If today’s rabbis lie to us, why not Rashi? Why Not Moses?”

    Why not your out of touch with humanity and people in general? The Torah is full of scumbags like Ahab and Jezebel, Datan and Aviran, prophets who marry harlots,rabbis who visited prostitutes etc. Where the hell you been??? Some have to courage to go on regardless and we will go on, observant or not without whiners like you.

    “And, indeed, if the findings of archeology, genetics, astronomy, ….yada yada clipped for brevity.”

    So now your a full professor who has read so much on all these subjects you are practically qualified to practice medicine.?

    “But we do neither, instead obsessing over ridiculous minutia in halakha and defining ourselves down in the process. Worse yet are the lies and corruption, the stealing and fraud, the Abramoffs and the Lanners, the Balkanys and the Kolkos, rabbis Lau, Amar and Metzger, Elyashiv and the seemingly endless list of other black hatted and black garbed fools we call leaders.”

    You dont do anything but bitch and whine. For a brief time you tried to become religous and because somebody didnt say anything for Ethiopian Jewry you had to run away like a little boy whose momma didnt buy him the toy he saw. What the hell have YOU done for Ethiopian Jewry??? I will tell you, NADA!, NOTHING!. For all your loud talk you aint no better then the people you point fingers at.

    “So there you have it. I no longer believe in the mesora as preached in Orthodoxy. I follow halakha for the most part due to simple inertia. I find little religious inspiration in Judaism.”

    Well dont let the door hit you on the way out. I trust you will stop commenting on a way of life that you have no need for and do something for yourself for once. But you have bitched about your dissapoint and you dont want anything to do with it. Now you will bitch about how you have nothing to do with something you already bitched about that brought you to this state.

    Get Help.

  12. TM

    Or rather, instead of getting help, just go to your nearest non-Orthodox synagogue, I recommend Conservative, and find a nice woman. Sheesh, it’s not that complicated.

  13. Chaim G.

    Shmarya,

    I am not responding to this post but to a comment you made over at BeyondBT today. I’m not sure why the administrators there deleted it. Here goes:

    Shmarya (12)

    “talking about it hurts people and screws up lives”

    How so? What do you mean?

    “would pay a lot of money to bring down that Breslov site – more than they would pay to bring down mine.”

    Why? Is it site specific or just generic anti-Breslov Bias?

  14. fred

    Dude, you just dont want to be jewish and religious. it is a burden. it is a pain in the ass. It is not for you. It is not for 99.9% of humanity. Just please do not act as if you spurn it because some rabbi put his hands on some dude’s penis. guess what, judaism was not for him either. But that is free will. Yours takes you away and makes you hate the players – you really hate the game.

    I will say this, try living without torah or anything for a good long time. see how that works for you.

  15. Chaim G-

    It makes men who have strong sex drives incredibly guilty, and causes many of them to become depressed and even mentally ill. Ask any rabbi who supervises men’s ba’al teshuva yeshivot.

    Breslov: both.

  16. Bye Bye Shmarya

    Or rather, instead of getting help, just go to your nearest non-Orthodox synagogue, I recommend Conservative, and find a nice woman. Sheesh, it’s not that complicated.

    I agree. You have failed Torah Judaism by allowing people who claim to profess Torah Judaism to fail you. Best to do the honest thing and leave it behind rather than tilting at windmills. It is clear you no longer believe, and you’d be best served elsewhere.

  17. ElishaBenAvuya

    Shmarya, don’t listen to these people who want you to drop all torah observance just so they can feel better about their own choices in life. Do whatever you want. Just remember that the torah described the entire history of the Jewish people before it occurred, and as many problems as you present with modern day Orthodoxy, I have yet to hear a plausible explanation of how the Jewish people have survived and accomplished all that they have, while being persecuted and hated the entire time. We are the most unique people ever to have lived in so many different respects, and thats not something so easy to give up.

  18. Yos

    “if your rabbis in yeshiva would have just found you a shiduch all those years ago, you wouldnt be such a bitter jerk.”

    Nothing like having your soul crushed by a shrew to keep you from asking awkward questions about religion or infrastructure.

  19. Yochanan Lavie

    What if God was one of us / just a slob like one of us / just a stranger on the bus / trying to make his way home…

    Aren’t we all trying to make our way home?

    I agree the mesorah is corrupted, but the ultimate question for me is not “WHY?” but “Why bother?” If I thought the Torah didn’t express the will of God (even if parts of its narrative are allegory rather than literal truth) I’d say to hell with it, too.

    (For example, if Tehran nuked Israel, I’d become a Zen Buddhist. one Shoah is enough).

    Shmarya: let’s hope we, along with God, come out of the exile.

    As Bob said: “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery/None but ourselves can free our mind/Have no fear from Atomic energy/’cause none of them can stop the time/How long will they kill our prophets/while we just stand around and look/ Some say it’s just a part of it/We’ve got to fulfill the book”

  20. TM

    Who wants Shmarya to give up torah observance? He’s the one who brought up the failure of his faith and his belief of the invalidation of the masorah. People here are responding to his views (although you do seem to have made some enemies, Shmarya).

    Suggesting he go Conservative was actually a positive solution because some of the baggage that so bothers him plays a far less significant role in the lives of most Conservative Jews while the beauty of traditions is played up. Doubts about the Torah and halacha are alleviated by the idea that the Torah is divinely inspired as opposed to divinely written and given to us. Conservative rabbis rarely get caught molesting children, although a bunch have been caught (and fired) for fooling around with women in their congregation. 🙂

  21. Neo-Conservaguy

    No Jew committed to the faith would be making suggestions for someone else on the basis of the writings on a blog. Jews have more responsibility than that – especially to other Jews. One general safe piece of advice might be to consider the relationship of location to the availability of various choices in the approach to collectively worshiping haShem as Jews. There’s no such thing as a community of one; that reason is a big part of why I often daven at a local Conservative shul, despite my misgivings about certain aspects of the experience (to be fair, there is plenty of good too).

    As for “Torah Jews”, I’m sorry be the one to break a news flash to you, but your approach to the religion died out in the rubble of the temple cult. This is Rabbinic Judaism (Release 2.17): it’s built upon the ruble of the first release, but it differs in many new and exciting ways. It has a built in process for allowing necessary changes to occur according to certain guidelines – even though the wheels have needed a little oil for the past 500 years. And don’t be fooled by those with black hats and long beards that believe otherwise: their Judaism if straight from Fiddler on the Roof.

    Hang in there, though: it’s about the best thing out there when practiced properly with love for both haShem and other people and with humility. It not only accepts, but requires, faith balanced by fearless intelligent exploration of its history and current practices, as long as one doesn’t pull a Korach and reason oneself right off the playing field.

  22. Anonymous

    Shmarya, you’re much too negative. The Torah is d’var Hashem, and it is perfect. The Jews aren’t. Isn’t that enough?

    A man complained that the Jews of a certain town were all sinners, and therefore, their religion must be false. The rabbi answered him that the Torah can be compared to soap. If the people don’t use the soap, they become dirty. Who do you blame for that, the soap or the people?

    OK, you don’t like the minutae. This is a valid criticism, and its been made before. So stay away from it, that’s all. Many rabbis say that baalei teshuva should not take on any chumras. I assume that one reason is that becoming frum requires such a major adjustment, that taking on chumras would cause excessive personal disruption.

    I’m a BT also, and I’m also dismayed at what I see. Yet, I find great joy in my wife and children, Shabbos, learning, and friendships with other Jewish men in shul and the neighborhood. I am thankful for my own health, and my loved ones, thank G-d. I hate to judge you, but based on this essay, you’re inviting it. You seem much too demanding. Sameach b’chelko is what guides me.

    I also think of how fortunate I am compared to the six million kedoshim, and their families; the survivors and their families; the approximate 20,000 plus who have died in Israeli wars and their families; all of the Israeli injured and their families; all of the Israeli poor and their families. I have a job, a roof over my head, and I am free to practice my religion, here in America. Baruch Hashem.

    Why don’t you contact Elliot Pasik’s new group, the Yeshiva Parents Association? They’re trying to do something about our current matsav. Right now, you’re just a blogger, sounding off, a damn good blogger, but that’s it. I’m sure there are things you can do for them. They are challenging the powers that be.

    Good luck, my friend. You’re very smart, but you should start taking the high road.

  23. Avrohom

    Thank you for trying to ber honest and candid.

    This exposes you for not being a person who has ANY real BELEIF IN THE G-D OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE, IN THE MEANING OF OBSERVANCE OF LAWS THAT ARE DO NOT HAVE THE (FALSE IDOLATRY) “HUMANISTIC” VALUES that you perceive are what brings “G-d in this world”.

    It would rather appear that your abhor those who clind to a beleif system where there is a G-d that is higher than the understandings and feelings that human can grasp. You abhor the fact that they wear tallis and tefillin, and things that they observe meticulously for thousands of years even in face of today’s “revelations” of science etc.

    IT is this abhorence that drives you portrary all of the clergy men as corrupt and immoral people so that it legitimizes your world view.

    I can assure you that after all is said and done (and you DO raise many shmutz and coverups in the haredi community) that there is LEss corruption in these areas than in the high echelons of ALL systems in your SECULAR IDOLATROUS WORLD. There is more violent crimes amongst your holy gods than in the haredi world. There is much more wife cheating in your world than in haredi world etc.

    At the end it would be eneficial for you and everyone else that you adopt your beelif system and you will discover in the REAL life THAT ALL YOUR false beleifs are worth nothing.

    In the meantime for yuor personal marital life maybe you should choose to marry a falsh mure.

  24. Paul Freedman

    You should study more theology. You should try doing some science–try studying math. You should also realize that science has some severe methodological limitations and that its ontological understanding of causality is incomplete–that is you should read some philosophy and philosophy of science. You should understand also that currently there is NO self-consistent and transparent “scientific” theory or explanation or hypothesis of first causes–it is at a temporary dead-end in crucial areas, most notably explaining the mass of the universe, and failure to derive a mathematics of gravity and the other physically observable forces that has discrete and necessary constants, a critical problem.

    Why reinvent the wheel.

  25. Paul Freedman

    Your first goal is to make God at home since you are already home in Him. I don’t know that you ever were exposed to what used to be Chassidus’ teachings on what “immanence” is, maybe Chabad just was too far into other areas of interest by the time you joined. A pity.

    My parting recommendation would be to recommend an institutional home in Modern Orthodox. My suspicion is that MO is more flexible at the periphery and there might be something for you to hook up in, notwithstanding reimportation of Chabad formulas in this or that volume of Orthodox scientists. People espoused Judaism over the centuries because people experienced the religion, the faith, and God’s influence in positive ways, not as some broken and immature pre-logical response to uncertainty.

  26. Paul Freedman

    Avrohom–unlike myself I think that Shmarya is an observing Jew. If he isn’t then there is no point to this blog since it is written from the point of view of a Jew who maintains Orthodox practice and halacha–if he has ceased following halacha–and I do not believe that is true–then this would be a deceptive effort.

    Since he is an example of “halachic man” I believe he should start drawing some intellectual conclusions from this rather than drifting into espousal of atheistic viewpoints that are at odds with the life he is still following, but racist remarks are of no use to anyone. He is still part of your world.

  27. Paul Freedman

    What is required is a gradient that is “finer grain” than these binary oppositions–a lot of this “strum und dang” is already internalized in the academic methods of non-harediim MO:

    check out, for example:

    http://www.yu.edu/Revel/jewish1.htm#JPH%206745

  28. “Avrohom–unlike myself I think that Shmarya is an observing Jew. If he isn’t then there is no point to this blog since it is written from the point of view of a Jew who maintains Orthodox practice and halacha–if he has ceased following halacha–and I do not believe that is true–then this would be a deceptive effort.

    Since he is an example of “halachic man” I believe he should start drawing some intellectual conclusions from this rather than drifting into espousal of atheistic viewpoints that are at odds with the life he is still following, but racist remarks are of no use to anyone. He is still part of your world.”

    Paul –

    Thank you. Well said.

  29. avrohom

    Dear Paul,

    Judaism is not (only) a set of practices and “observance”; it’s a WAY OF LIFE. Life begins (not with practice) but with A BELEIF SYSTEM. That is why the Rambam in his most important work, the ONLY work that is CODE OF JEWISH LAW AND WAY OF LFIE included a set of clear guideliness of the beleif system of a Jew.

    A Jew who does not propfess these beleifs, and adopts a lifestyle just for some “mythological” fantasies, is NOT JUDAISM AT ALL! THE RAMBAM CALLS THEM HERESY.

    Judaism that does not incorporate hte beleif in a G-D THAT TAKES THE JEWISH PEOPLE FROM EGYPT TO BRING THEM TO SINAY HAS GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH JUDAISM!

    Judaism is the encounter between man and G-d above and beyond the relationships of men through his nature. It transcends these boundaries by their very genesis and by their historical flow. Scotty, somehow could not continue the path of meeting G-d in the highber level that was given at Sinay, he then looked for all ways and means possible to relay to himself and to others, tha tthe reason he has left that path is because “child molestation” “corruption” etc; the truth however is that he left judaism is because HE IS CORRUPT, he is given away to the powers that he created as idols and therefore he molests jewish children by painting a defamatory light at them.

    Scotty, cannot stand the fact, that observant jews AND YES MANY AND MANY OF THEM ARE LAW ABIDING CITIZIENS AND ARE HONEST AND WORK FOR A LIVING, AND YET THEY DO NOT VALUE THAT AS GOAL FOR THEIR OWN SELF PERFECTION AS BECOMING “UPSTANDING INDIVIDUALS” BUT THEY PASS THESE BOUNDARIES TO ATTEMPT TO MEET THE ALMIGHTY ON A LEVEL WHERE THESE “PERFECTIONS” ARE COMPELTE AND TOTAL “NOTHINGNESS”, BUT THEY ATTEMPT TO UTILIZE THESE PERFECTION TO SELF NULLIFY THEMSELVES SO THAT THEY MEET THE ALMIGHTY ON A DIFFERENT PLANE, ONE THAT SCOTTY CANNOT GRAASP WITH HIS LIMITED MORTAL BEING…SO WHAT IS HE DO?

    HE starts paingig their lifestyle with false glasses that make appear as if all jews who live with the G-d of Sinay are somehow more corrupt and honest than this lowlife is.

    This lowlife LIED with regards to what reb moshe’s real opinion is regarding something gthat goes against the grain of his underworld welshaaung.

    The remarks were not racist n their nature. they were inteded to this lowlife: if he so much preaches that they are real jews and that his perfection a s a human being is by briging them israel to bring more intermarriage let him eat the fruits of his filthy thought and writings.

    Paul: jUDAISM AND hALACHA IS WAY OF LIFE (HALACHA FROM THE LOSHON HALICHOS OLOM LOY) THAT BRINGS US CLOER TO g-D. iF ONE DOES NOT HAVE G0D OF ISRAEL IN HIS DICTIONARY THAN ALL GHIS NONSENSE; LET HIM PERFECT HIMSELF IN HIS SKILL OF ANIMAL LOVE AND LEAVE THE JEWS WHO LIVE BY HALACHA IN PEACE.

  30. chakira

    all u ppl need to chill out
    u sound like such fucking tartcarts

  31. Paul Freedman

    chakira: what is a tartcart? does it come in strawberry?

    avrohom–like I said your comments are really more directed to me than Shmarya, who, although critical to a fault of orthodox practice is a practicing orthodox Jew–and my impression is that an orthodox Jew is to be respected by other Torah-observant Jews for being a Torah-observant Jew even if he questions G-d. The Rambam is a tricky example since he was heavily influenced by Hellenistic (“neo-Platonic”) ideals of non-corporeal unity in the godhead. (Google: Rambam + Active Intellect)

    Shmarya obviously is not an idol worshipper unless you generalize what you mean by idol-worshipping to mean secularism.

    My caution for Shmarya has been that in studying secularist-influenced alternative hashkafot through which he attempts to rationalize emunah with science/logic/reason he may find himself bereft of a healthy emunah and practice and a science/logic/reason that is not itself *free of contradiction*. So the danger is he falls between two stools.

    I have suggested that S. should consider the concept of bitul that applies to him, I would think, as much as it applies to, say, an official “tzaddik”. Or a hasid before their Rebbe.

    I agree that at this time we don’t need to overly criticize practices of this or that Jewish community of believers inasmuch as we do not live in a monolithic Jewish world–and there are options to find associations whose “starting gate”, articulated or not, is closer to where our individual “body temperatures” are. I have suggested and do suggest that those who feel constrained within a “right-wing” fundamentalist model (that has its strengths and service to Israel), yes, try to find a group of chevrei more compatible or start their own chavurah. The chaff of friction between somebody and a community whose totality of beliefs stands in opposition to their own sharpens discomfort.

    There are “modern orthodox”, “neo-Conservaguy” type traditionalists, and non-denominational alternatives, etc. (and we will see some new alliances probably across the conservative wing of Masorati Judaism with the liberal wing of Orthodox after the new rulings are made official). Here’s another:

    http://hebrewcollege.edu/html/rabbi.htm

    (which has its own disadvantages and advantages).

    I think “lowlife” is an insult–the Ethiopian immigres are undergoing conversion.

  32. Paul Freedman

    avrohom–there are going to be disputes within Jewish groups but nobody is tossing this blog into your living room window wrapped around a brick–and it has only so much influence.

    this is the enemy and people who believe this have more influence than you might think:

    http://www.the7thfire.com/new_world_order/zionism/israel_and_zionism.htm

    bye

  33. Anon

    Klinghoffer wrote you??? Balaams ass wouldnt take the time to write you. I doubt an intelligent educated man like him would waste his breath on a troll like you when there are more worthy ideas and goals he no doubt is striving for.

  34. avrohom

    Dear Paul,

    You are right that the owner of this blog is an unimportant boor and corrupt individual who speaks ill about all observant jews alive or dead.

    But you are wrong about your beleifs about the motives of the Rambam about thje place of beleif in the Torah. and likewise the Rambam is clear that a person who does not believe in the beleifs of the jewish is a either a kofer or min or apikores or sometimes all of them. It does NOT MATTER A BIT THE LEVEL OF OBSERVANCE! Even if the owner of this blog would wear 64 pairs of tepfillin he would be a kofer and apikoress and meysis and mediach. This is the type of the owner of trhis blog who lives as a parsite, sickling the lifforce that Hashem gives him and he uses it to besmirch his torah and his people and he falsely defames ALL of them…may he end with the fate of all the MALSHINIM that we pray in the shmone esreh.

    Now, a person who would like to have solidarity with the jewish beleifs and with the jewish people as jews but he grapples with them and is unable to internalize them in his language maybe is not under those titles (a person like yourself who (despite perhaps not yet observant etc. has a burning passion for the jewish people and their fate at some level attempts to meet the ALMIGHTY (NOT THE MORTAL EMPTINESS OF THE SMALL ANT THE HUMAN BEING AND HIS MIND)) such a person maybe included with all the jewish people and with the G-d of Israel which will be the G-d only G-d to all of the universe

  35. Neo-Conservaguy

    Rabbi Moses ben Maimon addressed his writings to specific and different audiences. The more strident and simply codified writings were probably directed toward more “working class” people that had less access to Judaic text study. It’s nothing but bizarre that his 13 articles of faith became a credo of the Orthodox movement.

  36. avrohom

    Reb Moshe Ben Maimon was clear about the audience and readership of Yad HaChazakah and said this in his introduction to his work: ALL JEWS “KAKORON KAGODOL”! All the pshchobables of people notwithstanding he was adamant about whom he is addressing.

  37. RD

    A rabbi was once asked to try to convince the local apikorus to return to Judaism. Many people had tried to do so before the rabbi, but to no avail.
    The rabbi met the apikorus and after discussing various intellectual issues with him the apikorus said to the rabbi, “aren’t you going to try to convince me to return to religion?”
    “No,” replied the rabbi, “but I do have a question for you,”
    “Go ahead and ask,” replied the apikorus.
    “Why are you an apikorus?”
    “Because I have many questions about the way religious Jews behave,” retorted the apikorus,
    “Aha,” said the rabbi, “in that case, I have another question for you.”
    “No problem, Rabbi.”
    “Did you become an apikorus after these questions arose, or was it perhaps that you thought of these questions after you decided you no longer wanted religion?”

  38. NYC Jewboy

    Thank you for your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air. I read your credo and was very touched by where you find God. You have a good neshama and may Hashem guide you to help the unfortunate ones in our society.

  39. Sephardi guy

    Shmarya,Whats with the Ashkenazim that makes so many of them radical, from the black hats to the Socialists and Leftists to the Reform and Reconstructionists,Anarchists, whatever.Shmarya,your just another Ashkenaz extremist. Place yourself with Separdim and learn moderation.

  40. Freedman's Link???

    To a Judenhass, I mean “anti-Zionist”, website.

    Perfect.

    Another of your commenters (Rowan Berkeley) is an admitted “anti-Semite.”

    That speaks VOLUMES.

    Occasionally interesting links, but frankly, the stench of Sin’at Hinam and Lashin HaRa’ around here is overwhelming.

  41. Jesse

    Hi, I just visit your site for the first time and have been browsing for an hour or so. Actually I got here by linking through from the Haaretz article on the rife in the Satmar and Bobov communities, through to an article on jewish feminism and Dr. Tamar Ross, and she mentioned sth about the pagan origin of hanukka, which made me google and that is how I saw some grueling footage on the AgriProcessors problem and other issues.
    What I want to say is that: yes, I agree with your empirical work, I admire it and would say: please go on. Like anything in this world, judaism as practice is human work. That is one of the tenets of judaism; Tora was revealed, the rest has to be done by us. Jews are as human as any other. That jews and non-jews alike don’t like this, is different. It is ridicilious to expect jews to be better people. I only can hope for myself to be a better person.
    As the current problems show, power is always a spoiler, especially when people want others to think they don’t care about power. However, you do mix religion and science, and expect scientific truth and religious truth to coincide; if not, religion fails in your eyes. But that is not what judaism is about – judaism offers a way to live; spiritual and communal, and most of all a way to live with ourselves.
    Now, the appaling footage of ‘kosher’ butchering and other misuse of religious institutions is of course a problem for judaism. To say that the alternative is vegetarianism is unworldly. I would much more endorse kosher-organic. What I am saying is: yes, there are manifold problems. To detect a problem is good thing, to change it to the good is better. So, while detecting problems, it is as usefull to formulate alternatives, but not too radical. To tell people they have to have vegetarian shabbos meals is far out. To offer an alternative to those tasteless factory-produced chicken, is different. We are here to make the world – our world – a better place. This means also to let people have their sense of self. Including celebrating a festival that has an pagan origin. For the people, and if you don’t like the people, then for the children. Not everybody can now everything. To be a good jew is hard enough.

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