Renewal for Liberals?

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by dauer, Aug 7, 2009.

  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    2
    deary me. and people wonder why the mainstream find things like renewal scary.

    i don't know if you would consider r. steve greenberg as part of renewal, but as far as i'm aware he would consider himself mod-orthodox; his position is that the Torah (as opposed to "jewish texts" per se) is against sexual violence rather than homosexuality and that the main sources have been systematically misinterpreted. it's a different strategy but still a halakhically workable one.

    i'm going to be back in the integral halakhah thread soon, having taken ken wilber's "a theory of everything" on holiday. my interim conclusion (based on what i think i've understood of what i've read) is that at present i think gravesian spiral dynamics is probably a more robust system, although i can sort of see what wilber's trying to do. in wilberian/SD terms, however, i think you have both "orange" and "green" sensibilities, but a lot more orange than green due to your rejection of the mythic.

    the thing is that the more i've understood about halakhic methodology, the more individualised i already think it is, once you know the system. the issue is the influence of hashkafa or worldview, which in the haredi and to a certain extent the mainstream orthodox worlds often results in galloping cases of groupthink, whereas actual personal mastery of halakhic methodology often results in surprising positions being taken, of which i could cite the following:

    r. elyashiv's comment to r. greenberg on homosexuality (Steven Greenberg (rabbi) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    r. moshe feinstein's view that "halav yisroel" is a chumra (don't have a source for this)
    rav kook the elder's view of secularist zionism
    r. ovadia yosef's views on "land for peace": Ovadia Yosef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia the religious status of ethiopian jewry and the permissibility of women reading the megillah
    r. henkin the elder's view on reform marriage: (Yosef Eliyahu Henkin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
    r. henkin the younger's views on women as educators and halakhic authorities: Yehuda Henkin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    the views of my own teacher r. jeremy rosen (Jeremy Rosen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia / Jeremy Rosen Online | A Different Approach to Torah Today) and his brother r. david rosen (Rabbi David Rosen Home Page ) both of which are based on the views of their father r. kopul rosen (Kopul Rosen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

    obviously i'm cherrypicking here and one could quibble easily enough, but i am just suggesting that the halakhic system is more sophisticated than is generally realised. poh: your anecdote about r. steinsaltz says it all, really.

    argh, that windbag. is he really the best we can do?

    i would call that a very halakhic view indeed, namely that there is a Torah basis for more stringency on the need for sustainability. it's just one more example, however, of selective viewpoints and enforcement. it's like the argument i make about homosexuality. whether it's kosher or not, we don't ask people if they've got a kosher kitchen before we call them up, so on what basis would we discriminate against someone on the basis of their sexual orientation?

    hmmm. if he means by clarifying how these grey areas can be categorised into B&W, i'd agree, but if he means making it unclear whether something is kosher or not i can't see that being very helpful.

    yes, the "orange" PoV!

    i'd say, rather:

    ultra-conservative: reluctant to change anything even with good reason, because we'll almost certainly screw it up
    conservative: open to the possibility of change but not without very good reason, in case we get it wrong
    liberal: presuming that change is generally for the better and trusting ourselves to do it right, after all we can always fix it later if we get it wrong
    radical: we can't be doing with this bollocks, it's stopping us doing something we really want to do at the moment

    that's not wrong - with the proviso that i believe (and it is largely an aspiration) that halakhic methodology, properly understood, is a great deal more liberal than is commonly supposed and, furthermore, that hashkafa has a greater influence on it than we admit, particularly when halakhah and aggadah are wrongly conflated.

    perhaps, but at least you clearly have a methodology that you work through as opposed to "this is how i interpret it" which doesn't seem to me to be a million miles from the protestant sola scriptura position.

    only if one has a very narrow view of what that methodology constitutes.

    i agree.

    i would like to maintain this, but i find myself unable to do so for a number of reasons. for me, i have to look at individual cases. i can't tell someone who has lived 40-50 years as a committed member of the jewish community, even if he doesn't keep shabbat or kashrut, that he isn't jewish, even if his halakhic status is invalid according to the london beth din. halakhically, i would be inclined treat such a person as a "ger toshav" and someone who is an aspiring convert and be lenient on such matters as participation in wedding ceremonies, call-ups and so on as long as care is taken to ensure they are not acting as an 'eyd. there are many loopholes and alternative procedures available if people would only investigate them. obviously they could not marry in an orthodox ceremony, but i wouldn't stop their kids going to a jewish school.

    in my experience there are a number of different paths that can be gone down, but you need an experienced guide to know they are there.

    in other words, liberals are just as self-congratulatory and prone to using self-serving terminology as conservatives are. it is ironic in the light of your comment that it is liberals who are at the forefront of restricting free speech in the name of offence. just go to any student union in the UK and you'll see how open liberals can be.

    exactly. it's a circle, the further round it you get the more of nob you become, until you finally come out the other side. it's like eddie izzard's idea of the "fashion circle":

    in fact, it is a liberalising innovation to allow weddings to be held in synagogues at all. halakhically, this is less then ideal - to say nothing of logistically! of course, there are such things as conservative innovations as well - look at the weights and measures of the chazon ish!

    precisely. there is a false set of assumptions which lies behind the default dichotomy i always hear from reform-minded people, that they think they can separate the "ritual" from the "ethical", like that clothheaded statement you always hear from people who say "well, i'm not religious, i'm spiritual", as if that actually means anything.

    and having experienced that myself i can say it can get quite unpleasant as well.

    precisely. that is why i see klal yisrael as a sort of religious ecosystem with all the attendant biodiversity. i don't see any haredim doing security duty and i don't see any secularists making menorahs, tallitot or sifrei Torah.

    exactly. and we all know what happens when political correctness attains the levers of power. politically unpopular views that are deemed to be less than "progressive" are promptly silenced.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    2
    double post, you see this is what happens when i go on holiday...

    nor do i. ritual functions on many different layers other than "because I Said so".

    strictly speaking, that dates back to something the rambam said but, in any case, it applies not to all kabbalah, but only to sodot ha-Torah, not ta'amei ha-Torah.

    it's not a chumra unless it is following a halakhic process, namely in this case a decision regarding stringency. it is more likely to be a position of being lifnim min-shurat ha-din. incidentally, the me'iri (who i have quoted more than once on this) held that "idolatry is not about statues", so perhaps it is a perfectly kosher halakhic position. either way, the thing with buddhist statues is that as long as you don't behave idolatrously to them, they're not idolatrous. the same goes for pictures of the lubavitcher rebbe.

    except there isn't actually freedom of choice, though, is there? it is more that there is a very wide latitude allowed to individuals and kehillot, but nonetheless some standards will be universally maintained within a particular community - it's not like the rabbi can just decide to conduct this morning's services wearing her pajamas.

    it was this very question that ended up making me leave the reform and become more traditional.

    exactly. when reform was invented, it was right up to date. now it is in many ways seeming very antiquated in a way that the timeless values of judaism have proven not to be.

    exactly. it plays into the hands of the kiruv groups when they talk about "authenticity" and "Torah-true judaism" (yuck) as a way of delegitimising non-orthodox denominations. reform can be just as hypocritical and selectively deaf as orthodoxy can and the inability of the self-styled "progressives" to concede this possibility is the number one reason people chuck it in for something that feels less sterile, cold and german and more "haimishe", or "harif" if you're me.

    it's actually a form of "fashion circle dickheadism" - both fundamentalists and cultural jews see the Torah as being a factual document about historical facts, whereas the former see it as literal historical fact which denise others' view of historical fact and the latter see it as essentially a version of what once was historical fact enveloped in layers of mythological accretion and wishful thinking, but the fact remains that they both fundamentally think it's about what historical fact may or may not be. i find it revealing that what they are both agreed on is the importance of historical fact as a bolster for an essentially blinkered position.

    actually, you need a 5D axis, which looks like this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life_(Kabbalah)

    which is, apparently, defined as "things which make me feel like i'm close to something bigger than myself (G!D, nature, love, cosmic energy) without feeling like this closeness demands anything of me in return".

    yes - read david weiss-halivni on "peshat and derash" to see how the concept of what was meant by "peshat" changed between talmudic times and the mediaeval period.

    oh yes, i saw this the other week when i took my mum to shul to say kaddish for her sister. i found it very odd indeed. very very odd.

    you're not wrong about that.

    although it seems pretty clear that it wasn't "Torah is a human document that changed over time", as the reform have claimed. what vexed ibn ezra more than anything else was people who didn't know their grammar and made what were, to his way of thinking, stupid mistakes. this, from his point of view, included pretty much everybody, especially if they were ashkenazi. his main preoccupation, however, was the logical inconsistencies of the karaite sect and the challenges of the schism implied by their beliefs which is, oddly, not as familiar to the reform as it really ought to be, seeing as it doesn't differ that much in essentials.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  3. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,399
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just a quick thought here:

    In my view the ideas of pantheism and panentheism, although those words were not used until much later, are really inherent to much earlier Jewish thought than Maidmonides or Jewish mysticism (which presumably started in the 2nd century with Shimon bar Yochai). I believe that the midrash of Avraham's idol smashing was an early example of belief in non-anthropomorphism and non-corporeality which is essentially equivalent to pantheism or panenthesim and was a major contribution to a realistic world view. Interestingly, as we study Torah, these false notions of anthropomorphism and corporeality stuck around from many years as the early authors of the Bible demonstrate.

    Also, your point about Torah exegisis is well taken. Interpretation at multiple levels can only point to non-literal understanding. But again, if this approach is attributed to Zohar, we are talking about post second century C.E., correct ?
     
  4. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,399
    Likes Received:
    0
    My last Rabbi was entirely capable of conducting services in her pajamas. She would have made it a teaching opportunity. That was one of the reasons that I liked her.

    It seems like this is a very foundational issue. I doubt we would make much progress trying to explain or defend our opinions. I think we know what the arguments are.

    I think it is still the Judism denomination which makes the most sense. There are too many contradictions for me in traditional Judaism.

    "fashion circle dickheadism", that is a classic BB.





    :) my sister-in-law gave me a Kabbalah book by R. Berg, but I did not agree with much of it. She also gave us a Zohar, but it looked to me like it should probably be studied in a group.

    BB, have you read the whole Zohar ?

    And what is demanded is that I follow 613 Commandments ? And I should follow them according to the Rabbi's of the Talmud ? It doesn't make sense to me.




    It seems like you are quoting Ibn Ezra here, but I am guessing that you agree with him. On the other hand, "Torah is a human document that changed over time", sounds like it makes pretty good sense to me !!
     
  5. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    2
    i suppose it depends what you mean. they are implicit rather than explicit i would say. you'd really need to look at the really early sources such as heichalot, sefer yetzirah or shiur qomah: sources.html - i personally wouldn't consider maimonidean thought to be pantheist or panentheist, far more neo-platonic, which would make it more like heichalot, but by his own lights rambam wasn't a mequbal.

    depends who you ask!

    now that is really an interesting insight. i think that's from genesis rabbah (38:13), but actually that is a C3rd midrash i believe so it's later than bar yohai.

    depends who you ask! remember, according to the tradition, the zohar was written by bar yohai C2nd (although academics maintain it is C13th) but draws on even older mystical ideas, which were systematised by bar yohai but not released publicly until 1290 by r. moshe de leon (who the academics say is the real author). personally, i don't really know which is right but it seems more likely that it is a redaction rather than the work of one author.

    i understand, but not all times are times for teaching. there is a time to teach and there is a time to do. prayer is about doing, about experiential practice, not theoretical study.

    granted!

    right back at you, mate - on the contrary, i find traditional judaism far less self-contradictory than reform.

    that doesn't surprise me. berg is the chap from the kabbalah centre and should be avoided at all costs. i hope for the sake of her bank account she hasn't got involved with them.

    well, i hope she didn't pay the $200 that they normally mark it up as. and, yes, zohar can be studied in a group and normally is, but not always.

    nope. i've really only just done the basics of structure and content and will not be starting proper zohar study in earnest until i turn 40. not because i am observing the prohibition necessarily, but because i need to spend more time on "filling my belly with meat" as it were.

    i think what is demanded is that something other than the self should be sovereign and that one should be prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve something. no gain, no pain.

    hehe, i do really like ibn ezra, but i am aware that he has been claimed by some thinkers as "the first reform jew" because of some comments that i believe have been misinterpreted for partisan reasons. ramban (nahmanides) made great efforts to have him included in the mikraot gedolot canon and i would rather see that as the mainstream embracing the radical.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  6. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Myself or Avi? I don't reject the mythic, I just regard it as myth. I've argued against the pre/trans fallacy in the past on this site because it seems to devalue myth. I've also decried how much has been changed in the Hebrew of some liberal siddurim because it seems like it results from a misunderstanding of myth. So, for example, to relate back to this thread, I experience the revelation at sinai as a finite even in the mythical past and as an ongoing reality outside of time, but I don't believe for a moment that either of the two are true. I dislike referring to subjective truth as truth because I think that waters down the concept of truth. This is a shift from referring to truth with a little t and truth with a big t, but the primary shift is in my terminology and not my intent. I just want to be clear in my communication and separate the idea of meaningful from the idea of true, by which something can be very, truly, real for a person but not true. I'm using real in this sense as a blanket term that includes all of a person's experiencing and framing of the world.

    Related in terms of wilberian level probably is my heavy criticism of strong relativism. I don't think I've ever maintained that truth is relative, only that we may not ever be able to know that we know. Even in terms of ethics, I find relativism untenable and have said so before. Even if we cannot know what is just, or there is no universal law in that sphere, I've maintained, I think for a couple of years now, that we should act as if such standards do exist. Related to rationalism, I prefer Breslov to Chabad in terms of approach. But I do place high value on logic and critical thinking. In my previous semester I learned a few things, including among them:

    1. Since on some implicit level I've acknowledged that some things are knowable (including rules of logic and empirically verifiable cause-effect relationship), I'm better off saying such while including the fallibilist clause that I could be wrong, but the data points strongly in that direction.

    2. My difficulties communicating my opinions to others may come from my idealistic approach to language, according to which I look for the most accurate language I can find rather than the most understandable and reject those terms that I think would hint at ideas I don't intend. I'll disagree with someone based on their language, because I disagree with the ideas attached to it, even if the key idea being communicated is something that I agree with.

    3. I loathe strong constructivism with a passion, so much so that I felt the need to coin the term constructivist-structurism for those constructivists who treat the unmasked as if it is objectively true even when there are viable alternative conclusions that can be drawn. It's probably one of the reasons I'm at odds with renewalniks when they claim "this is the reason why this particular practice was done and so our practice is valid." I prefer to say that we can't be sure, but that if we connect the search for origin back to God then it's okay. Maybe two people connect their practice to a different idea of origin. I don't see that as problematic if God is brought into the process.



    I was going to say that you were doing as much, and I do agree that halachah is much more sophisticated than most people realize. But as you acknowledge, these are exceptions to the rule. I think it's idealistic to assume that in the hands of humanity halachah will manifest for Klal Yisrael in as individualized a manner as it exists in your mind. Further though, I'm not sure that halachah is something that much of the Jewish community could accept. That said, I don't think Reb Zalman's integral halachah could do that either, but I do think that we are now in a time where it is worthwhile to assess not only the results of halachah, but where the methodologies tend to lead and if there might be a better approach. Maybe one way of doing that is to turn halachah on its head by presenting countertexts. This is Gershon Winkler's exercise in Way of the Boundary Crosser and is probably a bit closer to your preferred approach.

    You know I hope not because I share your feelings about him, but I'm not very much into political activism and I can't do better.

    This raises in my mind a very important, possibly the most important question: what's the point of halachah at all? It's something that can and does change, this is a point that we both agree with without getting into specifics. That change happens according to human hands, perhaps also according to Divine will, but if that is the case then the same can be said for everything else, including the development of perspectives that say halachah should be entirely rejected (and yes, one might argue that this view is in order for halachah to develop further in response to it, but as a counterpoint I think it would be necessary to look at how ultra-orthodoxy may have become so entrenched in part in response to the haskalah. Of course here too one could argue that ultimately it's to allow for the development of halachah, or for a light that comes from darkness, as it were. But such arguments are all tenuous at best.)

    It seems to me that halachah ideally functions in the following ways:

    1. It supports group cohesion.

    2. It provides a clear method to support Judaism's growth.

    3. It ideally wants to maintain a happy middle and avoid extremes (but I think that historically it has tended to devolve into fences upon fences upon fences. Maybe, come to think of it, were an integral halachah to take place its greatest problem would be an opposite tendency toward too much openness. That's not how I think Reb Zalman's imagined it but I think he's most certainly an idealist. Renewal already seems to be driving itself away from what he'd intended.)

    4. It provides a person with a discipline for practice that has at its basis a strong mythical narrative.

    and, the other side of 4,

    5. It binds a person to strive for an ideal accepted norm of right-action while providing him with ways to address those times that he's unable to meet that ideal.

    But currently 1 isn't working because much of the community rejects the system. Both 2 and 3 seem not to be functioning quite well within Orthodoxy, although whether or not it's meeting 3 in a given circumstance may be a matter of opinion. In terms of 4 it's by-and-large doing alright, but with 5 there are some issues.

    What I've picked up from his reading is that he means to treat eco-kashrut differently than kashrut and as guided by ideals rather than by rules. For example, is it more eco-kosher to get local food that's not organic or to get organic food that's produced at a distance? This seems a bit different as well from how he has approached the related concept of mitzvah in which he suggests a person should see himself in covenant with God to do such-and-such where that is a particular practice that is connected to presumed original intent of the mitzvah in terms of its internal effect on the individual.

    I think those categories are workable too and also add something to talk of those different types of reactions.

    I've noted that attitude too, but how could halachah exist independently of hashkafah? Or are you merely suggesting that hashkafah be more acknowledged, that halachah not be treated as some sort of objective exercise? If so I think the answer might tie back into the what's the point question I asked above.

    Gah! Too much consecutive agreement! Can't... take.. anymore... *combusts*

    I didn't realize that. So the ashkenazic stringency was a broadening of what was forbidden? Did Rambam connect back to pirkei avot?

    I realize that and didn't intend it literally. My point is that, if he holds a very expansive view of idolatry, then he's extending rather than rejecting the notion.

    There was a really interesting idea I came across in the book I'm reading on Nachman of Breslov that the meaning of the aim for joy is God's joy and not one's own. As the author acknowledged, this doesn't mean that no joy will come from the practice. But the goal is God's joy, not man's.

    You've suggested that text to me before and I've been meaning to read it. It's been on my list of books to get for at least 2 years. The cost has prevented that but maybe I'll find a way to integrate it into my studies and pick up a copy.

    I would date Jewish mysticism much earlier, kabbalah later. Nor would I ever refer to Shimon bar Yochai as having started Jewish mysticism. I think you mean that traditionally hs is the author of the Zohar.

    I don't see them as equivalent. Pantheism is saying that God is everything, that is, including the material. Panentheism may or may not include the material depending on one's definition. And in regard to Jewish mysticism, outside of the blatant panentheist positions, you can get some extremely nuanced positions that come very close to it. And in both cases, within Judaism, the use of anthropomorphic language wasn't an issue.

    I think you're confusing anthropomorphism as it's applied in Judaism for "speaking in the language of man." I can talk about God in mythical, anthropomorphic terms without implying that God is, truly, human-like.

    I wasn't attributing it to the Zohar. I'm pointing to Rambam and kabbalah as products, not causes, of an environment that allowed for a lot of theological flexibility.


    I get that Reform makes sense for you, but it doesn't make sense to imply that there is only Reform and traditional Judaism.

    I wouldn't suggest either a book by Berg or picking up the Zohar as an introduction to Kabbalah.

    Agreed.

    I want to connect that back to the idea of not leaving God out of the process in integral halachah. I think that's a very big part of it. Both the not leaving God out and accepting the results of the process as something binding, albeit leaving open the possibility for future revision based on a revisit to the process.
     
  7. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    2
    avi.

    now i understand what that means a bit more i would agree with you, although before i certainly agreed that using "myth" as a dismissive term was a fundamental mistake, this just allows me to make the argument more effectively.

    zigackly.

    ah, well, the last part is the fundamental bit where you and i part company, because i think that both are true - for a given value of "true" which is not defined solely by "orange" criteria, that is.

    as do i - this is my frequent argument about Truth with a big t not being within human comprehension for all sorts of very good philosophical reasons.

    if you mean that "true" and "real", let alone "meaningful" are not to be treated as synonymous and coterminous (if that's the word) i agree with you.

    it is remarkable how similar our philosophic outlooks are sometimes.

    i'm with you on that.

    oh good, because i was afraid i had stopped being as idealistic as i thought i was. clearly i am still there to some extent despite parenthood and actually living in the frum community.

    which the halakhah understands as "ones" or duress and treats very leniently indeed.

    i wouldn't be at all surprised.

    i've become more involved in that via muslim-jewish dialogue and political dialogue outside IO - i blog at the anti-extremist site The Spittoon | Heresy is another word for freedom of thought , which came out of my involvement with the comment community at the leftie-brown-people blog Pickled Politics

    yup, because of "eiloo we-eiloo" and the preservation of minority opinion.

    definitely, because of the oven of achnai and "lo ba-shamayim hi".

    i don't see why, because fundamentally halakhah is the process by which G!D's Will (or Divine Love if you prefer) becomes real-world action. any process which relies on G!D's Will to underpin authority (by which it becomes siwa or commanded) - i believe the perspectives you are referring to merely reject the current *conduits* of halakhic authority, but there is ample room for this itself within the bounds of the halakhic process, whether using the ben sorer-u moreh or the zaqein mamreh or other models of principled dissent.

    oh hell yeah. and not just the haskalah, but the shoah and zionism as well. the thing is, that would require the non-orthodox movements to take a long, hard, critical look at themselves and how they contributed to the current mess.

    certainly - and most effectively. the question is whether it does so through din or hesed - when it does so through coercion the system is out of whack.

    actually, i'm not sure it does. it provides some methods for this, but they are extremely wasteful methods (e.g. large families, putting a strain on community resources) which were adopted to assist in the repopulation of the haredi world after the shoah but have got out of control and are unbalancing the system of religious biodiversity. the same goes for the yeshiva model of "torah is my profession" and that of the paid rabbi, to say nothing of the proliferation of rabbis, which is imo causing the mahmir overload in the same way that the proliferation of lawyers has ground legal systems to a halt all over the world - jobs for the boys. the "Torah judaism"/kiruv subsystem has become so successful that it is unbalancing the entire system.

    hence my point 2 above.

    exactly, it's an essentially integrative approach when approached in the right way.

    agreed, again, if done in an integrative way.

    that is exactly what i am suggesting - the trouble with the artscroll/kiruv hashkafah (and chabad, although it is a lot more acknowledged that this is their "way") is that the hashkafah is implicit, all-pervasive and distorts the halakhic tendency.

    well, remember that rambam was sephardi - i don't know exactly whether it connects back to PA, but it is in ch 4 of yesodot ha-Torah in the yad, in this somewhat bowdlerised translation:

    remember that rambam seems to have understood ma'aseh merqabah and ma'aseh bereisheeth quite differently from the mequbalim, however, this was the basis i believe that was used after the shabbetai tzvi debacle.

    i like that.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  8. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not sure what accounts for that. It's something I noted pretty early on when we were discussing where we identified within our respective communities. Some of it may be zeitgeist as we both gravitate toward post-denominational endeavors and some form of Jewish mysticism.

    Something akin to AQAL? I address that issue via a different route. Higher order statements about those experiences are true. While I wouldn't say, "It's true that [everything I said previously about my experience of revelation]" I would say "It's true that I have the experience that [ " " " ]" or "It's true that I include in my reality map that [" " " I." wouldn't see that as any less true than say, "If I jump into the ocean I'll get wet."

    That might be because we relate to hashgachah pratit differently.

    I mean Judaism as a religion, not the Jewish community; the growth and development of Jewish religion.

    I thought you were talking about the age limit for certain types of knowledge. That's what I was referring to originally. I'd intuitively thought that "wisdom at 40" was a source for the age limit, but not for the limit itself if that makes any sense. I thought that's where the number came from.

    I'm not as familiar with Rambam as I'd like to be, but that's likely something I'm going to try and address during my undergrad studies. I don't know how he understands maaseh merkava and maaseh bereisheet. Actually if I can strengthen my Hebrew enough I'd like to try translating some of mikraot gedolot, maybe just one parsha. Right now I'm working through the three levels of Rosetta Stone and some dikduk software will follow. When my Fall semester begins I'm going to be devoting some time to translation studies and the application of what I'm learning now. I spoke with someone at my first-choice program for when I've finished my undergrad. I'll need two years of college-level modern Hebrew and a year of rabbinic hebrew or equivalent as a minimum for acceptance. I think that's something I'm capable of acquiring in less time than that if I apply myself, but I still have three years to go anyway. Time will tell.
     
  9. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    2
    or it may be that we are both moving to second-tier on the spiral at a similar time, according to the gravesian view on which spiral dynamics is based:

    Dr. Clare W. Graves

    perhaps akin to AQAL, but i am starting think ken wilber is actually a distraction from this and rather than AQAL we'd be better off using our own holarchy, namely the sefirot. now, i know he maps the sefirot onto a quadrant of AQAL but i think AQAL is quite clunky and unsophisticated being as it's 5d rather than 5d and doesn't show the dynamic tensions nearly as well.

    that's an interesting way of dealing with it, but i don't know if a properly trained logician-philosopher would be able to let that pass.

    d'ye think? i'm not so sure. how do you think we relate to it differently?

    hmm. i'm not sure you can separate the two, but then again that is because i don't see how the community can be considered without considering religion as an integral part of the system.

    oh, right, that one from the PA, i see what you mean now - the actual age might originally be from there. the limit itself was, at least until comparatively recently, not observed at all - the great kabbalists of the C12th-C17th all started very young indeed and were talking to maggids by their early twenties. it's one of them continuinuinuinuum things, you have to be married with kids to keep you rooted in this world, you have to be full of "bread and meat" and have a trustworthy guide and so on, otherwise it's a lot more risky. there i agree partly because i've experienced the riskiness, but it is of course possible for the very talented (i do not include myself) to do without if they have to.

    rambam is generally misunderstood, both by those who think he's an arch-rationalist and those who think he's a mere reconciler of aristotle, to say nothing of those who are only interested in what he has to say about halakhah - generally those who study him as a philosopher ignore his halakhic positions and vice-versa. the only people i've come across who really get what he's on about (if you ask me) are menachem kellner, david hartman and david bakan, albeit i would certainly recommend fred rosner and minkin for the peshat of him. and as far as i know the idea of the thirteen principles being an exercise in logic and visualisation may well be mine, i've not come across anyone else who pushes that.

    eek. you're *so* going to kick my arse in such a short time, my hebrew is fecking lousy.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  10. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excuse me for jumping in (I was really planning to just read and follow the dialogue) but several times the "wisdom at 40" has come up. Just my small thoughts, but I don't think "40" has to be taken literally - it could also be symbol for another type of crossing over into a new level of knowledge (such as 40 years to cross the desert). Maybe "40" has its own pshat, remez, drash, and sod.

    Omar Khayyam (last name meaning 'tentmaker' - wise men are frequently referred to as tentmakers or fishermen - I love this stuff) was said to have spent the second half of his life pursuing the spiritual disciplines of the Sufis and in writing mystical poems. He authored a treatise on metaphysical enititled Julliat-i-Wajud or Roudat ul Qulub and according to Swami Govinda Tirtha concluded:

    (This is from Wine of the Mystic)

    "The seekers after cognition of G-d fall into four groups:

    First: The Mutakallamis who prefer to remain content with traditional belief and such reasons and arguments as are consistent therewith.

    Second: Philosophers and Hakims who seek to find G-d by reasons and arguments and do not rely on any dogmas. But these men find that their reasons and arguments ultimately fail and succumb.

    Third: Isma'ilis and Ta'limis who say that the knowledge of G-d is not correct untill it is acquired through the right source, because there are various phases in the path for the cognition of the Creator, His Being and Attributes, where arguments fail and minds are perplexed. Hence it is first necessary tgo seek the Word from the right source.

    Fourth: The Sufis who seek the knowledge of G-d not merely by contemplation and meditation (on the scriptures), but by purification of the heart and cleansing the faculty of perception from its natural impurities and engrossment with the body. When the human soul is thus purified it becomes capable of reflecting the Divine Image. And there is no doubt that this path is the best, because we know that the Lord does not withhold any perfection from (the) human soul. It is the darkness and impurity which is the main obstacle - if there be any. When this veil disappears and the obstructions are removed, the real facts will be evident as they are. And our Prophet (may peace be on him) has hinted to the same effect."

    I used the above description of differences in approach from Sufi mysticism so as not to interrupt or taint the flow of your dialogue regarding various approaches to Judiasm with any thoughts of my own (which are still in the very beginning stages of knowledge). I am trying to keep up with the dialogue but I sense this is where it is heading "which path or form of Judiasm will be able to take one to the place where you meet g-d face-to-face". Even this concept of "face-to-face" is subject to levels of interpretation, belief and faith, myth, truth with both a small "t" and a large "T" .... in all forms of Judiasm, what is it that we want to reach at the end of the long walk??? he hawai'i au, poh
     
  11. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Bookmarked. Another thing I plan on dedicating a semester to is approaches to development in western psych and different religious traditions. There's also a bit of more recent writing that challenges the notion human development can be fully understood in terms of levels that I'm looking forward to studying.

    Typo? When you're talking about tensions, do you mean the way we could talk about a sefirah of a sefirah within an olam? If so, I agree, AQAL doesn't seem to handle that as well, although there is a calculus that Wilber came up with for dealing with perspective that's addressed only in a few places which comes closer to that in some ways (I don't remember the calculus but, first you have to divide each of the quadrants into an inside and outside perspective. From there you could have things like a 3rd person perspective of a 1st person interpretation of a 1st person experience. I think comparing this with the kabbalistic approach, it's not too hard to see the influence of Buddhism on Wilber.) Where AQAL is useful I think is in providing a basic grammar for interdisciplinary dialogue that transcends traditions. In that sense it seems a bit like the esperanto of ideology and metaphysics. It requires everyone to compromise and in some ways might not function as well as individual systems, but it also allows everyone a way to communicate together. Of course we all know how successful esperanto has been. :/

    Maybe not, but if not that seems more or less an issue of indoctrination. The formula expressed is valid. They might argue that it's only an issue of semantics, but it's at least semantically true. Logic can be used to argue many varying positions if the initial premises vary. Maybe c0de will see this thread and comment. He seems well versed in Western philosophy and formal logic and the like. But for that matter I'm not making a logical argument. There are no premises that lead to a conclusion. I'm just translating my experience into logic. It doesn't amount to much until it becomes a premise or a conclusion. An argument would look more like:

    "I have had experience E" is a true statement if I have had experience E.
    I've had experience E.
    Therefore "I have had experience E" is a true statement.

    It's a simple If-Then argument.

    (P>Q)
    P
    ∴ Q

    But yeah, it's largely semantic. It's only acknowledging that it is true that I've had the experience rather than that the experience itself is true. The only unstated assumption I can think of that might be challenged is that memory is reliable, and a reformulation could easily account for a challenge to that premise. A more difficult matter is, if it's true that I've had the experience, so what? It hasn't been demonstrated that, because it's true that I've had the experience, I should then rely on that experience in any way shape or form. Advancing beyond that requires stating more assumptions about the value and applicability of experience. While that argument could be made using formal logic, the premises would be much more easily challenged and would probably delve into deontic logic which stands on somewhat shakier ground. I might bother working out what all of those are at some point, but not today. I don't know deontic logic at this point anyway, only syllogistic, propositional and quantificational logic.


    We might not. In this case there's a strong hasidic influence on my thought in terms of "Not a leaf turns..." My thinking on this matter is very much in line with Reb Zalman who's used it to argue that Jesus on some level can't be seen as some great evil if a person believes in hashgachah pratit. But you've made similar arguments so maybe our views aren't so dissimilar.

    Maybe I'm just not communicating well, because I agree with you, and at the same time am expressing something a little different. When I'm saying growth I mean qualitative, not quantitative. Population explosion isn't qualitative growth although it may be influenced by it.

    Yeah I've noticed that and I don't see how you can get Rambam unless some attempt is made to reconcile the two together. He's not two different people. It's like the approaches to hasidism that focus only on the stories or only on the teachings. Neither gives a complete picture.

    Have you written anything on that idea? I'd be interested in reading it. I've found that Yigdal and ani ma'amin work very well in the siddur because there it can be treated as tefilah rather than philosophy. The first time I picked up on that was when reading a pretty awful interpretive chantable translation of Yigdal by Joel Rosenberg. Worst verse:

    "In Israel none arose a prophet like Moshe,
    A prophet who would come to see the "image" in the sneh
    Torah of truth God gave the people Yisrael,
    By truest prophets hand that in God's house would dwell."

    I don't know what lousy looks like to you, but if that means struggling with binyanim I know some decent software. I've only worked with the first level of it, which only deals with binyan kal, but the second level is all of the other binyanim. One of the things I really like is that it goes through conjugations of all of the irregular shoreshim in binyan kal. That's something I really need to review.

    -- Dauer

    edit:

    Poh,

    I agree that 40 can be interpreted in more than on way, as well as applying to more than one thing. We were discussing, more or less, the origins of a concept rather than its validity.

    I don't know that I ever want to see myself as at the end of the long walk. I'd rather see myself as always having further to go. Nachman of Breslov talks about this as how the hidden of one level is the revealed of the next, so you keep moving. He does speak of a pinnacle level but I think it's more productive to assume one hasn't reached that point.
     
  12. c0de

    c0de Vassal

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thnx for the invite D :)

    Avi, if you could please clarify the following, I would appreciate it muchly

    Isn't applying rationality to matters of faith besides the point?

    If religious rituals are no longer accepted as transcendent, then
    why dont we start call religion "culture"/tradition" and get it over with?

    You do realize there isn't much about science which is "rational" rite?
    Most of physics, is actually still metaphysics...
     
  13. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,399
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Code, nice to see you again ! To answer your question, no, I do not think it is wrong to apply rationality to faith.

    I will give some of my thoughts, please tell me if you think they are wrong. I have faith in G-d. I mean a pantheistic or panenthesitic G-d, so G-d is everything that exists from the universe to what is inside an atom. I believe this is a rational view of G-d and the world, you may disagree, I am tolerent of your beliefs.

    What is irrational to me would be for me to say I cannot drive my car on Saturdays because the Talmudic era rabbis interpreted the Torah to say that is not allowed.

    Dauer brought up this same issue earlier on the thread. I will come back to that shortly. I was what I think he and BB would consider a "cultural Jew" most of my life. The last couple of years my interests have taken me to different places. Religion is more than culture/tradition. It seems that you agree with that.

    I practice science and engineering every day. So I disagree, I believe science is the most rational practice that we have (but I am not a scientific fundamentalist :)). I would be pleased to discuss further. Perhaps you might join the science thread that Tao just posted about the inconsistancy in measurement of the density of the universe. :)
     
  14. c0de

    c0de Vassal

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    .

    D + BB + Avi

    @ D + BB

    I am no logician, but if there is a "ongoing reality outside of time" then by definition it encompasses the finite reality which is taking place within. Which means that this reality will be by definition, transcendent, and therefore irrational. This doesnt mean this hypothetical reality is proven false either. It just means that it is inaccessible to the empirical investigation.

    Personally, (regarding all things mystic) I think that ideas which try to merge/rationalize extra-dimensional experiences with our material existence are ultimately dualistic and subjective. Consider the higher-order theories of consciousness, the phenomenology of which runs into the same problems.

    The problem occurs when you believe that the revelation at Sinai was a transcendent intervention in the material world, or that there is a transcendent "soul" interacting with the finite body. Because this is a dualistic point of view. This is not to say that I believe in a pantheistic system which merges the Creator and creation. There is an "us" and Him. But the reason why we have to resort to higher-order explanations for such phenomenon is because irrationality is not supposed to mix with the rational, and in these cases it clearly is, which doesn't make "sense". Those who want to believe in both the empirical rules of rationality, and want to believe in a connection with the transcendent at the same time are at a loss.

    This is why I think we have to redefine our definitions. Instead of assuming that there is a transcendent reality and "us" on the other side of that reality - maybe "we" are already within that "ongoing reality outside of time"... And by "we" I don't just mean our soul/consciousness, I mean all the nuts and bolts together. In such a worldview the revelation at sinai was a finite event, but that finite is part of the infinite, and therefore infinite itself.

    i doubt i am explaining this well, cuz i am working on making sense of this stuff myself akshully...



    @ Avi

    But every interpretation of a religious text is inherently irrational Avi. There is no way for you to prove that any of the commandments were given by God. So for you to follow anything in religion, on the basis of rationality, is irrational.


    Just because something is functional, doesnt mean its rational. An engineer might do a lot of calculations involving the force of gravity everyday, but that doesnt mean his understanding of gravity is rational, as he does not even know what causes it.
     
  15. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey C0de, thanks for jumping into the thread.

    I don't believe either.

    When you say:

    if I understand you correctly, that fits with kabbalistic cosmology. I could be misunderstanding. But when you say:

    I'm not certain that being part of the infinite makes something infinite. To me it would make more sense to say that infinite speaks to the whole, not the part, that a finite manifestation of the infinite cannot be said to be infinite. Unless I'm misunderstanding you, you could say similarly that a banana is infinite.
     
  16. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,399
    Likes Received:
    0
    I do not agree. One can interprete rationally or irrationally.

    I agree here, I am a Reform Jew, so I do not believe the Commandments were literally given by G-d.

    I do not follow this logic.

    We had some fun with this discussion with CZ and SG before. I disagreed with them and I disagree with you. Within the context of classical physics, we fully understand what gravity is and what causes it. The classical context refers to everything that happens right here within earths inertial reference frame. This has been known since the time of Newton.

    Hierarchically, there are more sophisticated levels of understanding of what gravity is, for example from a general relativity standpoint or within the context of some unique phenomenon such as black holes, pulsars, etc. And it is true that gravity is not yet fully understood within the context of these hierarchy. But for all practical purposes, for everything that an engineer will do, here on earth, he/she fully understands gravity.

    Now can you explain, what this has to do with rationality ? Thanks.
     
  17. c0de

    c0de Vassal

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2008
    Messages:
    2,237
    Likes Received:
    0
    .

    D + Avi




    @ D

    I am not really up to speed on the cosmology of the Kabalah, if there is a relevant thread about this I wanna check it out.

    You are right. I should have left out the last sentence and ended it with this: maybe we are already within that "ongoing reality outside of time"... Like I said, I am still trying to make sense of this myself.

    I like the phrase you used: "a finite manifestation of the infinite" ... nice :)



    @ Avi

    I did not know that. I want to ask you something then: why should one believe in God? Since His existence is not provable.


    No, we actually dont. We know that gravity is associated with mass, that's all (we do not even know what gives matter its "mass".)

    The definition of "rationality" is: agreeable to reason, and Gravity is anything but "agreeable to reason". This is all I meant when I said that our understanding of gravity is irrational.
     
  18. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm not sure if there is a thread. Did a site search. Found this:

    http://www.interfaith.org/forum/kabbalah-10592.html

    but the links I gave are dead because they revamped their site. This is an updated link:

    My Jewish Learning: Kabbalah & Mysticism 101

    The main thing I was thinking about is the idea of tzimtzum. There are multiple school of thought, but the general idea is that, in the beginning only God exists. Because God is infinite, there's no room for anything else. Contraction may give the sense of some massive space for space-time and all of that stuffs we call existence to come into being, but it's more like an infinitely small speck in an infinite sea of attributelessness. So, God has to contract in order to make a space for any other sort of existence. But now there's a problem. How can anything exist without God's presence to enliven it? So God has to re-enter that space in a sort of filtered form. At that point things get all crazy and more complicated, so I'm not going into that. Another interpretation is that God never leaves. Instead his light, as it were, is dimmed in order to make room for individual consciousness. According to that approach, even though from our perspective there's this whole world around us, from God's perspective, nothing but God exists. From God's perspective nothing has changed. Everything is the same way it was before tzimtzum. Those are the two general approaches to tzimtzum that I know of.

    Thanks. Something I was going to add but didn't is, within Chabad hasidism some of their theology ran into the problem of trying to address the paradox of, "Well if God is all-powerful, doesn't that mean that he could be, literally, finite?" So they danced with the idea that infinite God could manifest in all of his infiniteness into a particular finite space. I don't know if I'm communicating that well. That literally all of God's infiniteness could be in one finite spot, rather than that finite spot being of God's infiniteness. It has led to some real issues for them. After their last rebbe died -- a rebbe is a sort of dynastic spiritual leader to a hasidic community -- some people proclaimed him to be the messiah. The problem is that he's dead and within Judaism, if a person dies and hasn't completed the laundry list of messianic requirements then he isn't the messiah. But further still, at the extremes it seems like this theology of a finite infinite took hold, embodied by their rebbe. But I'm not as familiar with what's going on in chabad in relation to that today.
     
  19. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here are two other references related to Kaballah www.aish.com/sp/k and www.steinsaltz.org and a book that dauer previously recommended "In the Shadow of the Ladder" Introductions to Kabbalah by Rabbi Yehudah Lev Ashlag. There are so many books that it is difficult to tell which to read or not. My understanding is very superficial and it comes from links to several ancient texts - I have spent over 40 years studying the links and have only scratched the surface - most of what I consider to be my "aha momements" come through my intuition and times in which I am day dreaming or just coming out of a deep sleep. For example in a dream I saw and heard these words "when we remember who we were, we will know who we are, and we will be free" then I read in the above book (recently - the dream was many many years ago) "when we study the Kabalah, we are connecting with an ancient tgadition whose roots go back, perhaps even as far as the dawn of humanity. It is a teaching about what human being are, where we come from, where we are going and how to get there." That is why previously I asked the question, what do we really seek? Yes it is the process, but I do believe that the process (once understood) will take us to a special place (paradise for lack of a better description right now). The Torah is read cycle after cycle but we must keep repeating the cycle until we are able to step out of ourselves and "see" then we finally begin to understand where all the dialogue was taking us. he hawai'i au, poh
     
  20. dauer

    dauer Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Poh, I've never mentioned that book.
     

Share This Page