Questions about Judaism

bluroze

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I don’t know if this has been asked here before or not. If it has, I’m sorry! :eek: I heard that some Jews don’t believe in a life after death, I also heard that some Jews don’t believe that their Messiah is coming or he already came (Jesus). Is any of this true? I’m really confused because I always had a certain assumption that all Jews believed the same thing…but I know very very little about Judaism, I must admit. :eek:

 

dauer

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blu,

hi! Not all Jews believe the same thing. In fact, there is a good deal of variety in Jewish belief. On the issue of life after death, in Judaism, there really isn't a lot of emphasis on life after death. There is more focus on living this life. Myself for example, I don't have an opinion on whether or not there is an afterlife. I'll know after I die.

On the messiah, some Jews believe there will be an individual person who will be the messiah. This will be someone entirely human who will fulfill a number of prophecies, for example rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. Others believe in a messianic age, a future time of world peace. Still others hold different beliefs, while others don't believe in anything messianic at all. The belief that Jesus is the messiah is not a Jewish belief. There is an organization called Jews for Jesus, but this organization is actually a Baptist mission to the Jews disguised as Judaism.

Hope that helps.

dauer
 

bananabrain

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bob - as you know perfectly well, jewish opinion on whether jesus was the messiah or not is probably the one exception to this rule. there are no bona fide jews who accept jesus as the messiah.

bluroze - although, as dauer says, there is not a lot of emphasis on life after death it is a fundamental of jewish belief. have a look here:

http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm

in fact, i recommend this site as an excellent place to begin your study of judaism.

http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

bob x

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I myself would certainly never use the word "Jew" to describe one of the "Jews for Jesus", who are a sect of "Christian" as I would use the word. Of course there are people who will use words in strange ways, and get all huffy that you will not accept their usages.
 

dauer

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Jewfaq is a good site, but I think it tends to reflect an Orthodox bias, which comes from the fact that the author of the site is himself Orthodox. I think

www.myjewishlearning.com

is a much better place to learn because it is transdenominational (it features articles by people representing all of the shades of Judaism) and therefore much more reflective of what Judaism really is.

Dauer
 

bananabrain

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...and is therefore much more confusing. i prefer to start with the normative and then bring in the theology after the fact. you may consider that a bit biased, but frankly, when people ask "what does judaism say about x?", they're generally asking about traditional judaism. to be fair, though, when there's a big difference, i do try to point out that the different denominations or sects or whatever you want to call them do things differently in practice.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

dauer

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How is Orthodoxy "normative Judaism?" It is merely the most conservative of the modern movements, as it is often even unwilling to acknowledge the amount of evolution that has led up to its own existence. But if we were to look closely, we would see that the definition of normative Judaism has changed throughout the ages, and in this current age cannot be defined based on one denomination's customs alone.

Theology imho is often a big concern for those asking about Judaism, because those asking are often Christians, and Christians tend to be more concerned with belief.

That myjewishlearning gives fewer concrete answers (or in some cases, multiple concrete answers) is a testament to the variety of Judaism that thrives today, as opposed to jewfaq, which settles for easy answers based on its own denominational bias.

dauer
 

bananabrain

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How is Orthodoxy "normative Judaism?"
i think you're misunderstanding me. i do of course agree with you that "orthodoxy", as constituted subsequent to r. samson raphael hirsch, is a modern movement, but what i am really referencing is the "pre-modern", more or less unified judaism. when i say "normative", i really mean rabbinic judaism, as constituted by halakhah. note that i am not determining what is halakhic or not. i guess this is more of a sephardic perspective, because we don't have denominations. there are no "orthodox" or "conservative" sephardis. and, yes, you can tell me i'm cheating, or ducking the issue and, yes, you'd probably be right.

where i definitely agree with you about modern, traditional and even - dare i say it - ultra-orthodoxy is that "it is often even unwilling to acknowledge the amount of evolution that has led up to its own existence." so i guess what i am saying is that i am harking back to a simpler time when we didn't have to deal with all this denomination stuff. denominationalism is simply a set of reactions to modernity, which is why i prefer to consider myself post-denominational, as it were.

of course you would be correct in saying that the "definition of normative Judaism has changed throughout the ages", the most recent example i have seen (and i do recommend the book i saw it in) being ibn ezra's critique of the ga'onim. i do think it is slightly disingenuous of you, though, to reduce the very real and problematic differences in perspective, theology and practice to "denominational customs". if i may employ a reductio ad absurdum for a moment, this argument could be used to equate something i would consider valid, such as the chazon ish's reworking of weights and measures for those who wish to be lifnim min'shurat ha-din with something i wouldn't consider valid, such as the UK liberal movement's acceptance of patrilineality. surely this is more than a denominational custom?

i do understand why you are taking me to task over my use of the word "normative" - but you must surely concede that to use it in its english sense (without that more jewish sense of "ought", if you like) would reduce it to a numbers game and we both know perfectly well that by this logic, intermarriage, assimilation and so on are also "normative".

Theology imho is often a big concern for those asking about Judaism, because those asking are often Christians, and Christians tend to be more concerned with belief.
yeah, i get what you're saying; i actually agree with you there, because of all jewish subjects, theology is the one that supports multiple interpretations best.

That myjewishlearning gives fewer concrete answers (or in some cases, multiple concrete answers) is a testament to the variety of Judaism that thrives today, as opposed to jewfaq, which settles for easy answers based on its own denominational bias.
i would agree with you if i felt that jewfaq delegitimised non-orthodox judaisms, but i've never felt that; i always got the impression they were happy to admit there was a problem, rather than always starting every answer with "well, before you understand this you have to learn about the difference between orthodoxy, conservative and reform" - it is judaism 101 after all.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

dauer

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i guess this is more of a sephardic perspective, because we don't have denominations. there are no "orthodox" or "conservative" sephardis. and, yes, you can tell me i'm cheating, or ducking the issue and, yes, you'd probably be right.

I do think you're avoiding the issue. There are orthodox and conservative sefardis. There is simply no orthodox or conservative equivalent within sefardic Judaism, except unless I am mistaken, for an odd shul or two that have gone more egalitarian in different part of the states. I can't back that up. I've only heard of it in passing. Nevertheless, I don't think a previous format of Judaism could be considered normative for current Judaism. This would be like calling colonial American law the normative for post-colonial America.

so i guess what i am saying is that i am harking back to a simpler time when we didn't have to deal with all this denomination stuff. denominationalism is simply a set of reactions to modernity, which is why i prefer to consider myself post-denominational, as it were.

I tend to agree with you on this and also see myself as post-denominational. But rather than seeing post-denominationalism as a return to what came before, I see it as a progression into something different.

if i may employ a reductio ad absurdum for a moment, this argument could be used to equate something i would consider valid, such as the chazon ish's reworking of weights and measures for those who wish to be lifnim min'shurat ha-din with something i wouldn't consider valid, such as the UK liberal movement's acceptance of patrilineality. surely this is more than a denominational custom?

Actually, I was baiting you. Jewfaq sees all of Judaism through the eyes of Orthodoxy, even when it attempts to give info about the other denominations. I used the word custom because Reform Judaism reduces halachah to custom. I wanted to demonstrate how unfair it would be to see all of Judaism through the eyes of one denomination.

i do understand why you are taking me to task over my use of the word "normative" - but you must surely concede that to use it in its english sense (without that more jewish sense of "ought", if you like) would reduce it to a numbers game and we both know perfectly well that by this logic, intermarriage, assimilation and so on are also "normative".

I have no problem playing with the definition of normative. But to do so and be fair, I think one must take into account the variety of positions within Judaism. I think a great example of an attempt at this is Emet Ve-Emunah, the Conservative Judaism statement of beliefs. It took them forever to publish one, and for most beliefs it offers two or three positions. "Some of us feel... While others feel... And still others..." Of course, they were forced to do so for political reasons. But if someone were to attempt something like this encompassing all of Judaism, that would be pretty amazing.

i would agree with you if i felt that jewfaq delegitimised non-orthodox judaisms, but i've never felt that; i always got the impression they were happy to admit there was a problem, rather than always starting every answer with "well, before you understand this you have to learn about the difference between orthodoxy, conservative and reform" - it is judaism 101 after all.

I'm not sure I entirely understand what you're saying. I don't think Jewfaq deligitimizes the other denominations, at least not intentionally. It does make an attempt to include them at times. At other times they are noticeably absent. But I think it tends to see through its own lenses. Just like the Reform analogy I made. And this does effect the way it reports on the other denominations. The front page makes the agenda of the website clear.

Dauer
 

bananabrain

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There are orthodox and conservative sefardis. There is simply no orthodox or conservative equivalent within sefardic Judaism
and that is precisely my point. although there may be conservative and reform sephardis (i myself grew up in UK reform) they are in my experience almost totally ignorant about anything that isn't basically ashkenazi, food, music, accents, customs, let alone theological and halakhic approaches. i'm not saying that the "progressive" movements are prejudiced (perish the thought) but frankly even the mainstream orthodox seem to see sephardim as a sort of weird bunch of aliens and as for the 'eidot mizrah - forget it. they haven't even heard the phrase - it's all "sephardis" to them. perhaps if the conservative and reform could actually get a cultural clue, as it were, it would be a valuable backchannel for interdenominational dialogue, as the sephardis are a hell of a lot less (at least in the UK) uptight about such things as uniformity, tzniut and kol isha. not to mention that the davening's less embarrassing, heh. ever seen british people try and do carlebach? *shiver*

Nevertheless, I don't think a previous format of Judaism could be considered normative for current Judaism. This would be like calling colonial American law the normative for post-colonial America.
surely the whole of traditional judaism is about preserving some element of the previous format, whether the spirit or the practice. i think it would be more correct to consider the motivations of the "founding fathers", as it were.

I tend to agree with you on this and also see myself as post-denominational. But rather than seeing post-denominationalism as a return to what came before, I see it as a progression into something different.
that's actually quite interesting - i think the same, except that so far everything i need to be different seems to have been precisely what has been preserved in the sephardi community - in other words, the texts are still engaged with, the passion's still there, the mysticism hasn't been eliminated, there's less of a bunker mentality and people are less obsessive about trying to enforce communal standards that are out of whack with the real world. don't get me wrong, i know precisely why my family left that community and i can sympathise with their reasoning, i don't see it as an ideal, but somehow what has been perpetuated traditionally speaking has proven far more sustainable than what has been changed. not that this is chatam sofer argument for a moment. that "kol chadash issur min-ha-Torah" is the short-circuit, not the way forward. counter-intuitively, the way forward is a *rejection* of consistency, an engagement with *themes*, not rulings and about community, not theology. one might almost say it's aggadic - and therefore open to interpretation.

Actually, I was baiting you.
i thought so, you rascal, you. sigh. but what can one expect from a hippified heretic with a hamas-orange beard? hur hur hur. and, next time you're in london, let me know and i'll have you over for friday night dinner.

I used the word custom because Reform Judaism reduces halachah to custom. I wanted to demonstrate how unfair it would be to see all of Judaism through the eyes of one denomination.
only if you accept that to admit the existence of denominations is from a certain standpoint equally unfair, reducing halakhic judaism to the status of a denomination, which, to me, gives modernity an unwarranted influence. i'm still basically a mediaevalist at heart. but, yes, i do think one must take into account the variety of positions, even as far as "eilu ve-eilu", but, nonetheless, the halakhah must be ke'hillel.

i will take your point about jewfaq, though and try and be more balanced in my links if it bothers you - of course you are at liberty to post your own!

btw - if you really want to know why i'm being so pig-headed about this, you need to read jonathan sacks' "one people?". it goes through all the arguments in great detail and reveals the heart of precisely why this issue is so sodding intractable.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

dauer

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surely the whole of traditional judaism is about preserving some element of the previous format, whether the spirit or the practice. i think it would be more correct to consider the motivations of the "founding fathers", as it were.

But you aren't being open to just taking on some of the element of the previous format. If you were open to that, then both Reform and Conservative Judaism as well as Reconstructionism would have to be accomodated. Even Jewish humanism bears important similarities with its predecessors. You're taking on the old format and calling it normative.

that "kol chadash issur min-ha-Torah" is the short-circuit, not the way forward. counter-intuitively, the way forward is a *rejection* of consistency, an engagement with *themes*, not rulings and about community, not theology. one might almost say it's aggadic - and therefore open to interpretation.

Do you extend this to halachah? What do you apply it to?

i thought so, you rascal, you. sigh. but what can one expect from a hippified heretic with a hamas-orange beard? hur hur hur. and, next time you're in london, let me know and i'll have you over for friday night dinner.

Sure thing. I'm sure someday I'll be visiting my ancestral homeland.

only if you accept that to admit the existence of denominations is from a certain standpoint equally unfair, reducing halakhic judaism to the status of a denomination, which, to me, gives modernity an unwarranted influence.

I think that using the model of the spiral is a useful way to look at this. When all of Judaism was strictly halachic, before the haskalah, we as a people saw all of these issues from one angle (not that everyone shared the same views, but that our views were limited.) After the enlightenment took full force, we could not return. The haskalah, in my mind, was just as important as the revolutionary work of Rambam or of the sages of the mishna. If it happened 1000 years ago, I don't know that we would be as much in disagreement, but it is a recent event, and one that is still causing major division in the Jewish Community. So to not acknowledge the importance of the haskalah by not putting all forms of Judaism on equal terms, I don't think that can work. It was a transformative event for the Jewish people.

Some of you've been saying reminds me of an interview I think I've posted up here before so you may have read it, but it deals with this theme. I don't know if you're taking the concept as far or not. It actually reminds me of something else more, but it's unfortunately unpublished. I only got it because I asked the rabbi in residence at Elat Chayyim for material on psycho-halachah. This is the interview:

http://www.ohalah.org/psychohalakhah.htm

But it could be that I am confused as to whether or not you would apply flexibility and innovation to halachah.

i will take your point about jewfaq, though and try and be more balanced in my links if it bothers you - of course you are at liberty to post your own!

I actually never meant for you to stop posting links to Jewfaq. Please, do as you please. I just wanted to voice my opinion for mjl over jewfaq. I will look out for the book you mentioned.

Dauer
 

bananabrain

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this is turning into a great discussion, isn't it? a real argument le'shem shamayim.

But you aren't being open to just taking on some of the element of the previous format. If you were open to that, then both Reform and Conservative Judaism as well as Reconstructionism would have to be accomodated. Even Jewish humanism bears important similarities with its predecessors. You're taking on the old format and calling it normative.
i'm obviously not explaining myself very well. perhaps this would be easier if i explained precisely why i think my definition of "normative" is necessarily linked to pre-haskalah judaism and what made judaism such an paradoxically sustainable anomaly in this environment. which means i'm going to have to talk about why the haskalah is so problematic for me nowadays.

When all of Judaism was strictly halachic, before the haskalah, we as a people saw all of these issues from one angle (not that everyone shared the same views, but that our views were limited.)
that assumes that the haskalah was unlimiting. from our post-modern perspective, i can't really agree with that 100%.

After the enlightenment took full force, we could not return. The haskalah, in my mind, was just as important as the revolutionary work of Rambam or of the sages of the mishna.
i agree it has been epoch-making of the same order as the destruction of the Temple. we are now in a similar period to the first couple of centuries after this. the question is really who is going to be yohanan ben zakkai? who is going to be yehuda ha-nasi? not necessarily even individuals, or groups, but maybe groups of groups, or tendencies. more importantly, are we with the tannaim, or are we proto-christians, minim, kutim, hellenisers, qumranis, gnostics, sadducees, or 'amei ha-aretz?

So to not acknowledge the importance of the haskalah by not putting all forms of Judaism on equal terms, I don't think that can work.
but you're assuming the answer by means of a fait accompli or, dare i say it, "facts on the ground". i don't accept that from artscroll, "torah judaism", the kiruv movement, haredi sects or the settlement movement. why have i suddenly got to accept it from the denominationalists? i'm not going to get sucked into the equation of a denominational approach with the idea of "70 faces of Torah". so what actually can i accept and what can i not accept?

i suppose for me this is bound up with the idea of *authority*. it is authority that impels me to accept halakhah as binding, so the question must therefore be what i understand to be authority. and that's not a simple thing. it is bound up, for example, with something like motivation. there are, imho, correct motivations and mistaken ones (that is, assuming that nobody actually wants to harm judaism) and i am sorry to say that at least one of the motivations behind the *original* haskalah thinking was mistaken - to try and make judaism palatable and acceptable to european society.

i also think it was as mistaken during the haskalah as it was in the 10th century to try and subordinate judaism to the categories of reason - something over which ibn ezra in particular takes the gaonim to task. the haskalah had its idols no less than the time of the mishnah - namely, progress, science, reason, inalienable human rights, liberty and in particular the nation-state. and all of these, though extremely important and good (like sunlight) can become idolatrous (as rambam was perceptive enough to point out) and warped.

it is precisely the genius of judaism that it DEDUCED THESE CONCEPTS FOR ITSELF - and potentially workably, too, from (at least mostly) its own resources. it was a *huge* mistake to consider that judaism a) did not produce these or b) contradicted them in any meaningful fashion. thus, the "orthodox" innovations of hirsch *just as much* as those of the nascent reform movement were doomed from the beginning. because they were wrong, the *reaction* against them (as exemplified by, for example, the chatam sofer and the zionists, that's what i mean by a short-circuit) was equally misguided. this, imho, is how we get to the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in today.

in short - WE GOT THE HASKALAH TOTALLY WRONG. and everything we have tried to do since then to reconcile the differences it created has been doomed to failure because we have failed to rectify the mistakes that were made in germany in the C18th/19th. because of this, i believe that certainly the UK and US reform movements and much of the conservative and orthodox world are now more or less where the karaites were in the C10th - impelled to invent their own d'rabbanan because they had rejected what was already there.

so, what next? my approach to creating a normative judaism must include what is correct *in essence* about all the movements and address the *problems* that they were created to solve.

Do you extend this to halachah? What do you apply it to?
with the proviso that i am by no means an expert in halakhah, i would apply it to that which causes injustice and harm, as it says: tzedeq, tzedeq tirdof - "justice, justice you must pursue." this means where injustices have been committed both internally and externally - agunah, the palestinians, homosexuality, racism, herems, sinat hinam, we must construct viable and valid ways to approach them and leave no stone unturned in doing so. personally i think part of this could involve r. steinsaltz's experiment in constructing a court of 71 - let's see if the idea of "kosher pheasant" can be established and then move onto the harder stuff.

But it could be that I am confused as to whether or not you would apply flexibility and innovation to halachah.

the simple answer is that i would. the more complicated answer is a jumping-off point for what i suppose are critical success factors for jewish innovation or renewal or whatever you want to call it, here are 10 that i think must be considered when making the changes we need to make:

1. sustainability - in other words, the future effects must be indefinitely beneficial, or they must be explicitly limited
2. targeting - it must be clear whether something is intended for *everyone*, or whether it is aspirational, or whether it is for a scholarly or pious elite
3. convincingness - there must be a demonstrably compelling argument that can be made
4. communicablility/understandability - this is not the same as simplicity, but it is closer to clarity
5. justice - this means the avoidance of harm and the maintenance of equity and impartiality, not always favouring one or the other group or outcome
6. passion - abstract, overly intellectual solutions satisfy the head without the heart; nobody can live without food and music
7. cultural anchoredness - part of the genius of judaism is its ability to import that which is best about the cultures it interacts with, whether this is intellectual, emotional or traditional
8. acceptability and actionability - by which i mean practicality and implementability; theoretical solutions (no irony intended) are no good to anyone but theorists
9. authoritativeness and trustworthiness - in the end, we have to trust someone - rabbis, historians, commentators, archaeologists, scientists, politicians; we have to believe they understand what they're doing and they're not lying to us. if something is demonstrably false, it is unreasonable to expect it to get support
10. halakhic validity - again, there are many ways to how this is achieved, but the important thing here is not really consensus, but interoperability - open standards, as it were. to expect all standards to be bada"tz is to create exclusive enclaves of purity - and the whole point of judaism is that it is designed to cope with diversity - a portfolio religion, if you will.

the interview you have posted is absolutely *fantastic*. although i would perhaps not have designed all of the solutions the same way as they have, or with the same outcomes, i see the process as a halakhic one. in fact, i'd like to discuss the interview at length with you; perhaps we need another thread for this, though?

i don't know if you've read eliezer berkovits and david hartman at all, but these guys (and my own rav, as well as the sephardic approaches) are what enable me to consider myself as within the halakhic mainstream (or orthodoxy, if you prefer to call it that, although it seems to me there's a big hinterland between that and where you are)

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

dauer

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i agree it has been epoch-making of the same order as the destruction of the Temple. we are now in a similar period to the first couple of centuries after this. the question is really who is going to be yohanan ben zakkai? who is going to be yehuda ha-nasi? not necessarily even individuals, or groups, but maybe groups of groups, or tendencies. more importantly, are we with the tannaim, or are we proto-christians, minim, kutim, hellenisers, qumranis, gnostics, sadducees, or 'amei ha-aretz?

I think this will become most knowable in hindsight. Yet, I do believe we can compare ourselves with the various groups. I don't think anyone can be compared to the tanaim unless they are doing the real R&D, reaching far out beyond the system that already exists, leaving the next generations to sort things out. I don't think any group could be compared to the tanaim unless it was really willing to look beyond the restrictions of halachic reasoning. This allows for a restructured vessel. More of this I think will be discussed in the thread on the interview.

If some is working from within the bounds of the old system, that is a patently Sadducaic approach.

Bagels n' lox Jews, amei ha'aretz.

and i am sorry to say that at least one of the motivations behind the *original* haskalah thinking was mistaken - to try and make judaism palatable and acceptable to european society.

I don't know that this was such a bad motivation. It was, to me, overdone quite a bit. But it got Jews out of the shtetls. That seems honorable. It would be unfair to make the issue so two-dimensional and to ignore the different factors that played into the desire to be acceptable to European society.

it is precisely the genius of judaism that it DEDUCED THESE CONCEPTS FOR ITSELF - and potentially workably, too, from (at least mostly) its own resources. it was a *huge* mistake to consider that judaism a) did not produce these or b) contradicted them in any meaningful fashion.

Are you saying that because liberty etc. appear within Judaism that they should not be sought as some higher ideal from outside of Judaism? I have a hard time accepting a closed model because it doesn't evolve as well. Something I learned from permaculture, the most life appears at the edges, where two things meet. And I think you made a similar statement earlier so maybe I misunderstand you.

Also, are you claiming that all of the denominations, from O to R, are in one way or another idolatrous?

because of this, i believe that certainly the UK and US reform movements and much of the conservative and orthodox world are now more or less where the karaites were in the C10th - impelled to invent their own d'rabbanan because they had rejected what was already there.

But, after eating of the fruit of the haskalah, why should d'rabbanan still be d'rabbanan? Or d'oraita for that matter? What is the force behind these concepts? Do you believe that each generation is one further removed from the original revelation and thus less capable of evolving our tradition?

my approach to creating a normative judaism must include what is correct *in essence* about all the movements and address the *problems* that they were created to solve.

Have you come to a conclusion about what is correct "in essence" about all of the movements?

- let's see if the idea of "kosher pheasant" can be established and then move onto the harder stuff.

How do you think the Orthodox community in general tends to view these issues?

Some questions on your guidelines:

on targetting: does it disqualify something if it is targetted at a particular group and not at the whole?

convincingness: Does it have to follow rabbinic logic?

cultural anchoredness: would a synonym be syncretism or would you avoid religio-cultural anchoredness?

the interview you have posted is absolutely *fantastic*. although i would perhaps not have designed all of the solutions the same way as they have, or with the same outcomes, i see the process as a halakhic one. in fact, i'd like to discuss the interview at length with you; perhaps we need another thread for this, though?

Another thread would be good. What I don't like about this particular interview is that although it is about psychohalachic process it doesn't focus on it. It actually spends quite a bit of time discussing those elements of traditional halachah that approach psychohalachah yet aren't psychohalachah. I feel that psychohalachic process, that is, bringing the psychological element of halachic decisions out into the open and making them just as valid as any other factors, is one of the more important contributions that Reb Zalman has made. And I don't think it's really had the time to seed enough yet and grow. But I think that it could be a place where liberal Jews could meet strictly halachic Jews on a familiar playing ground. And Reb Zalman has always emphasized breaking the sefer barrier. If, 150 years from now, this whole Jewish Renewal thing doesn't fizzle out, it could develop into something with real substance that could, if I can allow my mania to overtake me for a moment as I dream big, help to reunite the Jewish people. Yes, yes! I can see it now. Please, start the thread with whatever about the article seems the best place to start.

"i don't know if you've read eliezer berkovits and david hartman at all, but these guys (and my own rav, as well as the sephardic approaches) are what enable me to consider myself as within the halakhic mainstream "

I don't think I have, but I have read:

http://www.kashrut.org/forum/

Yitzchok Abadi. He's pretty independent in his rulings.

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bananabrain

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I don't think anyone can be compared to the tanaim unless they are doing the real R&D, reaching far out beyond the system that already exists, leaving the next generations to sort things out. I don't think any group could be compared to the tanaim unless it was really willing to look beyond the restrictions of halachic reasoning.
eh? surely the defining thing about the tanaim was that they were using halachic reasoning. by this logic, anyone who stays within halachic system is clearly, well, wrong, just as you're saying. to my ears this sounds almost as unfair as the position that anything from the non-orthodox world is "by definition" wrong.

I don't know that this was such a bad motivation. It was, to me, overdone quite a bit.
i guess that's my point - it was overdone because the purpose wasn't properly understood - getting them out of the ghettos was by no means the end of it.

Are you saying that because liberty etc. appear within Judaism that they should not be sought as some higher ideal from outside of Judaism?
not that they *shouldn't* be sought - just that the reason people sought them outside was because they either didn't look inside properly or their teachers were at fault. i personally suspect it's a combination of both.

I have a hard time accepting a closed model because it doesn't evolve as well. Something I learned from permaculture, the most life appears at the edges, where
two things meet.
my principle for this is ben bag bag - "turn it over and over again, for everything is in it". this statement itself is known to allude to nistar. in other words, to see it as a closed model is to misunderstand it - the boundaries are the ones we ourselves put on it. Torah, to me, has boundaries the way the universe has boundaries, as it is said, the Torah is a blueprint for the 'olam - which includes not just the earth, or even the 'olam ha-zeh.

Also, are you claiming that all of the denominations, from O to R, are in one way or another idolatrous?
that would be mischievous of me. i personally would say that certain sections of "O" are certainly in distinct danger of idolatry as far as "sefer" is concerned, whilst managing to ignore "sipur" and "safar". but then again, the sefer yetzirah is not widely studied. and don't even get me started on chabad, or artscroll, or the "land of israel" nutters. similarly, i think there are sections of "R" that make quite the idol out of post-kantian personal autonomy and sections of "C" that make quite the idol out of history and scientific evidence (particularly as far as revelation is concerned). nobody can be considered completely blameless in this respect.

But, after eating of the fruit of the haskalah, why should d'rabbanan still be d'rabbanan? Or d'oraita for that matter? What is the force behind these concepts?
look, i see what you're saying, but as far as i'm concerned, the operative concept is that of TRUST. non-orthodoxy is determined not to trust rabbinic tradition - and orthodoxy is determined not to trust anything *apart* from something that has already been said by someone with a beard - and the longer ago the better.

Do you believe that each generation is one further removed from the original revelation and thus less capable of evolving our tradition?
no. but i do believe that the generation of the haskalah were so concerned to evolve the tradition that they failed to notice that they were screwing it up.

Have you come to a conclusion about what is correct "in essence" about all of the movements?
in my own way. for example, the reform movement in the UK is absolutely correct in essence about social justice.

How do you think the Orthodox community in general tends to view these issues?
in general? as treif, i'm afraid. the teachers are in general so concerned about ignorance that they are denying all autonomous thought and personal responsibility. fortunately there are still quite a few who are thinking.

on targetting: does it disqualify something if it is targetted at a particular group and not at the whole?
no - there have always been rulings for those who wish to be stringent. what is wrong is to expect everyone to keep the same standard. i refer you to r. moshe feinstein's position on "cholov yisroel", for a start.

convincingness: Does it have to follow rabbinic logic?
for those that require that, yes. for others, they will not require it.

cultural anchoredness: would a synonym be syncretism or would you avoid religio-cultural anchoredness?
yes i would. syncretism is the "short-circuit" of this principle.

It actually spends quite a bit of time discussing those elements of traditional halachah that approach psychohalachah yet aren't psychohalachah.
i was certainly no wiser at the end about what psychohalachah actually was.

And Reb Zalman has always emphasized breaking the sefer barrier. If, 150 years from now, this whole Jewish Renewal thing doesn't fizzle out, it could develop into something with real substance that could, if I can allow my mania to overtake me for a moment as I dream big, help to reunite the Jewish people.
i really hope you're right. i'm not convinced elat hayyim is the new yavneh, but perhaps the new yavneh doesn't have to be in one place - certainly not yeshivat ha-kotel, mercaz ha-rav, 770 parkway or williamsburg.

Yitzchok Abadi. He's pretty independent in his rulings
i'll check him out.

b'shalom

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dauer

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eh? surely the defining thing about the tanaim was that they were using halachic reasoning. by this logic, anyone who stays within halachic system is clearly, well, wrong, just as you're saying. to my ears this sounds almost as unfair as the position that anything from the non-orthodox world is "by definition" wrong.

What I'm saying is that the tanaim invented halachic reasoning, and we should have the same chutzpah, l'shem yichud kudsheh brich hu u'shechinteh.

i guess that's my point - it was overdone because the purpose wasn't properly understood - getting them out of the ghettos was by no means the end of it.

But I also don't think the reality of living in the ghettos and the effect that it had on them can be fully understood. I don't think it's fair for us, outside of the situation, to point fingers and say it was all done the wrong way, just as I don't think we can understand the mentality that drove some of the people within the concentration camps.

not that they *shouldn't* be sought - just that the reason people sought them outside was because they either didn't look inside properly or their teachers were at fault. i personally suspect it's a combination of both.

So are you saying that if a group of Jews integrates something into Judaism with the wrong motivations, that regardless how useful that information might be, we should disregard it in favor of what's homegrown?

Torah, to me, has boundaries the way the universe has boundaries, as it is said, the Torah is a blueprint for the 'olam - which includes not just the earth, or even the 'olam ha-zeh.

Here we disagree. But I do value that myth.

nobody can be considered completely blameless in this respect.

So is the non-commital agnostic the least idolatrous of all people?

non-orthodoxy is determined not to trust rabbinic tradition - and orthodoxy is determined not to trust anything *apart* from something that has already been said by someone with a beard - and the longer ago the better.

What is the tikkun?

no. but i do believe that the generation of the haskalah were so concerned to evolve the tradition that they failed to notice that they were screwing it up.

Granted, I agree with you the haskalah can't be taken as some sort of gold standard, do you think that means we have to do away with what has developed out of it? Can't we get something new out of something old?

in general? as treif, i'm afraid. the teachers are in general so concerned about ignorance that they are denying all autonomous thought and personal responsibility. fortunately there are still quite a few who are thinking.

I have actually had firsthand experience with those caught up in the struggle. At Elat Chayyim, the rabbi-in-residence almost quit before getting O semicha, but he stuck it through. Now he is not Orthodox. There was also a former Buddhist monk going to an O Yeshiva for semichah specifically for the education, although he was not O himself. And then there was a second year yeshivah student at a progressive yeshivah who almost dropped out and stayed the year at EC, then on to pursue Jewish Renewal semichah instead, but he decided to stick with it. So I heard a lot. Not to mention the soferet who passed through and other progressive Orthodox Jews. But a soferet... that's progress.

no - there have always been rulings for those who wish to be stringent. what is wrong is to expect everyone to keep the same standard. i refer you to r. moshe feinstein's position on "cholov yisroel", for a start.

I don't just mean rulings for people who are stringent. What about rulings for people who can't find a home in the general rulings?

for those that require that, yes. for others, they will not require it.

So then you're not just thinking in terms of Orthodoxy. You're thinking in terms of Catholic Israel (yes, I love that term.)

yes i would. syncretism is the "short-circuit" of this principle.

You would avoid syncretism or you would consider it a synonym?

i was certainly no wiser at the end about what psychohalachah actually was.

Yes, it's not linear. A while ago I took the time to trace the thread and see what I could actually learn about psychohalachah from that interview. This is what I came up with.

Psychohalachah must have roots in the past, and also a sense of what's going to be the way the Shechinah would like to relate with the next generation.

Psychohalachah is making changes, not adaptations, but adaptations are not wrong.

Psychohalachah only happens within the consensus of the pious, and this consensus depends on the community, shifts with the community.

The kavannah underneath is important to psychohalachah.






Identify stakeholders and foreseeable consequences in a psychohalachic decision.

Try to find and know what the roots were in Jewish practice and work from that.

Is it conducive to avodat hashem? Will it strengthen or weaken the Shekhinah?

How's the kavannah? What's the kavannah?

Is it within the consensus of the pious for the given community?

Is it something rooted in the past, that's going to help give the next generation room to grow as well?

But there are other things I've picked up as well, like that today each individual is ultimately their own posek. And what it seems like, is that kavannah should be a guide for making change. For instance, the change might be a way to recapture kavannah that has been lost due to the passing of time, like eco-kashrut. But psychohalachah also addresses the fact that not everyone is the same. So it looks to recognize that each person has different needs from the halachic system at different times in their lives and address it to each person individually, and be open about that process.

Change vs. adaption refers to working within the system or being willing to go outside of the system. Adaptation is like for example seeing electricity as water. A more psychohalachic decision would be something like saying, (and this is actually an issue on which there is a whole book of varying opinion from different renewal leaders) "there is a great connection and kavannah between Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the shofar, so even though it falls on Shabbat we will blow the shofar." or, also psychohalachic, to say, "there is a great importance to the peace of the shabbos and the presence of the shofar would disrupt kavannah" or, "as a shul that only observes one day of Rosh Hashanah, even though it falls on Shabbos, we will blow the shofar, because there is such a connection between the two and we would feel lacking to leave it out", or "in lieu of blowing the shofar, the congregation as a whole will make the notes vocally, because it would disrupt kavannah to have the shofar blown, but it would also be sorely missed if we did not have something in its place."

Or, also psychohalachic, "we will play instruments during services in shul because it enhances our kavannah." or "we will encourage people to drive to shul so that they can join together with us and help to increase the strength of the Godfield where we gather." or "I cannot connect to the traditional prayers when I pray alone, but when I meditate I feel close to God, so I will meditate."

i really hope you're right. i'm not convinced elat hayyim is the new yavneh, but perhaps the new yavneh doesn't have to be in one place - certainly not yeshivat ha-kotel, mercaz ha-rav, 770 parkway or williamsburg.

Elat Chayyim is actually not affiliated with Jewish Renewal. It was founded by members of B'nai Or and features a good number of Renewal teachers, but is not affiliated with Renewal. It is actually merging now with the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center.

For the most part, Jewish Renewal doesn't have central locations. Like the seminary, it doesn't exist in a place. The classes are generally correspondence classes that take place over conference calls.

My general understanding of all of the Renewal stuff that is happening now is taken from something else that Zalman has said. He's stated that Renewal is doing the R&D, and with R&D there are of course going to be some successes and some failures, if it's good R&D. So I don't think that the current landscape of Jewish Renewal can tell what will be a few generations from now.

I also don't think Jewish Renewal is the only organization doing the right type of work. I went to an amazing post-denominational gathering over Sukkot. There was a triangle mechitzah and people from all corners of the Jewish world came (not spatially.) It was very Carlebachy I think, but I'm not sure because I've never been to a Carlebach service. But davening went on for hours, and then once we got to the table we sang late into the night. But there was also a lot of dancing in shul. People getting up and dancing in circles, or in pairs, or solo. And one song could go on forever. And there were different people who taught when we weren't davenen. I also know that on the west coast there's another, in some ways similar organization called Jewlicious. And I happen to feel that a lot of this getting beyond the denominational structure is generational. So I really don't feel there is one central location, or that there is going to be, for change. Especially because of things like the internet. It's impossible to keep something so bottled up.

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ThePennyDrops

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bananabrain said:
and that is precisely my point. although there may be conservative and reform sephardis (i myself grew up in UK reform) they are in my experience almost totally ignorant about anything that isn't basically ashkenazi, food, music, accents, customs, let alone theological and halakhic approaches. i'm not saying that the "progressive" movements are prejudiced (perish the thought) but frankly even the mainstream orthodox seem to see sephardim as a sort of weird bunch of aliens and as for the 'eidot mizrah - forget it. they haven't even heard the phrase - it's all "sephardis" to them. perhaps if the conservative and reform could actually get a cultural clue, as it were, it would be a valuable backchannel for interdenominational dialogue, as the sephardis are a hell of a lot less (at least in the UK) uptight about such things as uniformity, tzniut and kol isha. not to mention that the davening's less embarrassing, heh. ever seen british people try and do carlebach? *shiver*

Forgive me if I have interpreted you correctly, but from this it appears to me that you think that there is not much dialogue between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews? If that is the case, I would have to assume you are speaking from personal experience, since I see Sephardi-Ashkenazi dialogue all the time and see both sides benefit from each others culture enormously.
 

bananabrain

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the tanaim invented halachic reasoning, and we should have the same chutzpah, l'shem yichud kudsheh brich hu u'shechinteh.
ok, i understand what you're saying and i sympathise, but with the greatest of respect, that's exactly what the german reformers and orthodox secessionists thought they were doing - and look at the results!

I don't think it's fair for us, outside of the situation, to point fingers and say it was all done the wrong way, just as I don't think we can understand the mentality that drove some of the people within the concentration camps.
if we don't, how can we prevent the same mistakes being made yet again? we have to focus on the effects, but we have to focus on the causes too.

So are you saying that if a group of Jews integrates something into Judaism with the wrong motivations, that regardless how useful that information might be, we should disregard it in favor of what's homegrown?
not entirely - it depends on whether there are some favourable outcomes that we'd be better off preserving that wouldn't be preserved if we ditched it totally; my hunch would be that these "somethings" would be things that we could replace internally. the work of berkovits and hartman, to say nothing of jonathan sacks, are full of concepts and structures that could replace much of what people with less knowledge of the full panoply of the traditional sources have purloined from elsewhere. i guess what i am talking about is halakhic inclusivism in terms of "everything is in it".

So is the non-commital agnostic the least idolatrous of all people?
er... no. i don't think it works like that. the least idolatrous of all people is s/he who knows what s/he knows as well as knowing what s/he doesn't know, leading to humility, compassion and awe of the Infinite - reishit hokhmah yirat HaShem.

What is the tikkun?
the tikkun is to search for tikkun, the "great jihad", for want of a jewish phrase (you see, it happens to me too) unless the one i am looking for is "tzedeq, tzedeq tirdof".

do you think that means we have to do away with what has developed out of it? Can't we get something new out of something old?
i don't see why we can't as long as we acknowledge its shortcomings and its preconceptions, so we know what we're dealing with, rather than dealing with it uncritically.

I have actually had firsthand experience with those caught up in the struggle. At Elat Chayyim, the rabbi-in-residence almost quit before getting O semicha, but he stuck it through. Now he is not Orthodox.
i guess what i mean is that this is what makes it based on trust. i have to trust that my teachers are engaged in the struggle on my behalf as well as being engaged in it myself. if one of my major orthodox teachers had to abandon Torah me'Sinai, i would struggle with that, just as i suppose happened with a lot of people over the louis jacobs affair.

I don't just mean rulings for people who are stringent. What about rulings for people who can't find a home in the general rulings?
this is exactly what i mean - the only "over and above" rulings these days are on the stringent side, not those which allow leniency for one reason or another. there aren't enough communal takkanot these days. this is probably where i am at my most radical, incidentally - or at any rate the closest to conservative or masorti positions. just so you know, i could give you examples of personal rulings from extremely frum rabbis (mostly sephardis although if you look carefully there are plenty of ashkies doing it on the quiet) which can permit the generally forbidden for one reason or other, such as, for example, husband and wife holding hands during labour, which would normally be considered a breach of taharat hamishpachah. the problem is that we mostly don't know how and who to ask (in a seder-night styley) - let alone when to ask, as opposed to taking responsibility for "self-paskening", which is for me one of the important things orthodoxy can learn from non-orthodoxy - it's not something that is actually a modern thing; back in the day we had the confidence to make these decisions for ourselves. of course, the implications for the presently buoyant market in halakha-wallopers would be dire...

Psychohalachah is making changes, not adaptations, but adaptations are not wrong.
this is the only bit i would disagree with - i personally would stick to adaptations rather than changes in order not to sever the 'past-rootedness' - other than that, i don't see what's so "psycho" about it compared to a vision of what halakha can aspire to be. other than that, it seems quite an elegant and succinct concept. i'd just ditch the name.

"there is a great connection and kavannah between Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the shofar, so even though it falls on Shabbat we will blow the shofar."
that's not a good enough reason for me (first time i've been in the "consensus of the pious"!) - it needs to be connected to a valid and accepted halakhic principle, the same way i saw a teshuvah of r. ovadia yosef of all people permitting bike-riding on Shabbat despite the risk of breaking the chain and then repairing it - what he says is "unlike the ashkenazim, we're going to trust you to know you're not allowed to repair it" - thus he's removing a humra, not changing a halakha.

"in lieu of blowing the shofar, the congregation as a whole will make the notes vocally"
this sounds a bit woo-woo to me, but i see what you're trying to do; i'd have to understand the thinking better.

He's stated that Renewal is doing the R&D, and with R&D there are of course going to be some successes and some failures, if it's good R&D. So I don't think that the current landscape of Jewish Renewal can tell what will be a few generations from now.
oo, i totally dig that as an idea. think of renewal as the xerox parc of judaism. in which case its success will be judged on its shlichut to *all* the denominations, rather like chabad, if you don't mind me saying so. there's a controversial model for you.

It was very Carlebachy I think, but I'm not sure because I've never been to a Carlebach service. But davening went on for hours, and then once we got to the table we sang late into the night. But there was also a lot of dancing in shul. People getting up and dancing in circles, or in pairs, or solo. And one song could go on forever.
oh yeah, that's carlebachy all right - but personally, that drives me nuts, particularly with awkward white-person dancing and what is so charmingly described by eric cartman as "a bunch of tree-hugging hippie crap". consensus of the pious, my bum. what is needed is for this stuff to be cooler - not so 60s. personally, i think what has been really lost is the authentic folk culture - traditional songs, language and dancing. but then again i'm addressing that by bringing the songs to a modern audience so they can incorporate them into their jewish lives and practice again. i mean - how many pizmonim, kantigas, shbahoth and ballads do you know, eh?

ThePennyDrops said:
it appears to me that you think that there is not much dialogue between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews?
i mean it's a bit one-sided. in my experience minorities tend to know all about the majority culture. in the uk ashkenazis don't go to sephardi minyanim, or know any of the traditions, tunes or language. the half-sephardim by marriage tend to be taken over by the majority culture and even to 100% sephardim like myself, when brought up outside the community, it can feel completely like a different world. my wife's as ashky as you like (irish/russian/hungarian, coo-ur gosh) and she's had a real baptism of fire, if that's the phrase (or maybe it's baptism of harif). it kind of leads me to conclude that what we need is probably some serious education in "cultural literacy". i also think that the seriously flawed idea of a "zionist melting pot" has really damaged the cultural heritage of what was derided as "ghetto culture", with the result that, among other things, ladino is now an endangered language.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

ThePennyDrops

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bananabrain said:
i mean it's a bit one-sided. in my experience minorities tend to know all about the majority culture. in the uk ashkenazis don't go to sephardi minyanim, or know any of the traditions, tunes or language. the half-sephardim by marriage tend to be taken over by the majority culture and even to 100% sephardim like myself, when brought up outside the community, it can feel completely like a different world. my wife's as ashky as you like (irish/russian/hungarian, coo-ur gosh) and she's had a real baptism of fire, if that's the phrase (or maybe it's baptism of harif). it kind of leads me to conclude that what we need is probably some serious education in "cultural literacy". i also think that the seriously flawed idea of a "zionist melting pot" has really damaged the cultural heritage of what was derided as "ghetto culture", with the result that, among other things, ladino is now an endangered language.

b'shalom

bananabrain

But isn't that always the way, minority cultures will know about majority culture since it is what they are more likely to be exposed to. That idea is applicable to any situation. My boyfriend knew all about Christmas and Easter but I knew nothing about Passover and Chanukah until I met him. Smilarly, if we went to Israel, we would be in the minority with our customs.
 

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ok, i understand what you're saying and i sympathise, but with the greatest of respect, that's exactly what the german reformers and orthodox secessionists thought they were doing - and look at the results!

Yes, but psychohalachah says we have to consider the way the shechinah would like to relate to the next generation. It is also flexible. Just because one group of Jews applies psychohalachah in one way does not mean that anybody else has to do the same. Also, the intention of psychohalachah is specifically to enhance practice. I just re-read that book on rosh hashanah and shabbos and came across this Zalman quote from his book Paradigm Shift: "Shabbos is wonderful stuff. It's what everybody's looking for. Give it the benefit of the doubt. Do it and see what works. Now if it works, great. If it doesn't work, what adjustments do you have to make so it will work better? That's what I mean by the psycho-halachic process."

. the work of berkovits and hartman, to say nothing of jonathan sacks, are full of concepts and structures that could replace much of what people with less knowledge of the full panoply of the traditional sources have purloined from elsewhere.

I'm not familiar with the above, but I would imagine they are just as externally influenced as Rambam. Well, maybe not that externally influenced, but they don't live in a closed world. Certainly they are just as contaminated as the haskalah.

this is the only bit i would disagree with - i personally would stick to adaptations rather than changes in order not to sever the 'past-rootedness' - other than that, i don't see what's so "psycho" about it compared to a vision of what halakha can aspire to be. other than that, it seems quite an elegant and succinct concept. i'd just ditch the name.

The changes tend to be rooted in the past somehow, for example in pre-rabbinic Judaism or the spirit of a ruling. Its intent is generally to try and find the original intentionality of an act and use that to revitalize it in the present, like having a person make their own vegeterian tefillin. Hands-on is very psycho-halachic even though there is nothing kosher about veggie tefillin. The "psycho" in psychohalachah is for psychological. The reason this name was given is because while traditional halachah is not open about the psychological element and tends to see a good p'sak as being free of subjectivity, psychohalachah not only acknowledges the subjective element, but raises it to an equal level of importance as all of the other issues.

This is also not a last resort. It's not, "Stick to halachah until it becomes difficult to deal with." Psychohalachah is a new, dare I say post-rabbinic, paradigm for dealing with the same issues. However, all good psychohalachah is concious of the halachah. In fact in the book I have on Rosh Hashanah and Shabbos not only are various passages from Tanach, mishnah, gemara, and the codes referenced, they are included in the back of the book for further study in both Hebrew/Aramaic and English. But in addition to being aware of the halachah, a psycho-halachist is also aware of the political factors that may have effected the halachah, the differences between the way Torah vs Tanach vs mishna vs gemara vs codes vs kabbalah and hasidism understand the issue which gives a much larger canvas to paint on. Zalman said something about how up until now everyone was playing chess on a regular chess board, but Renewal has added a new dimension, or something similar to that. But he may have also been talking about Integral Judaism.

Integral Judaism is Judaism combined with the work primarily of Ken Wilber. David Ingber, that rabbi-in-residence, was big on Wilber and had said to himself that he was the Aristotle of this generation, and when he saw Reb Zalman once he asked him about Wilber and Reb Zalman said the same thing. If you go to Bayit Chadash in Israel, Mordechai Gafni's place, everyone there learns Integral Judaism. And now EC is offering two or three courses over the summer in Integral Judaism. I'm not as keen on Integral Judaism.

that's not a good enough reason for me (first time i've been in the "consensus of the pious"!) - it needs to be connected to a valid and accepted halakhic principle, the same way i saw a teshuvah of r. ovadia yosef of all people permitting bike-riding on Shabbat despite the risk of breaking the chain and then repairing it - what he says is "unlike the ashkenazim, we're going to trust you to know you're not allowed to repair it" - thus he's removing a humra, not changing a halakha.

And there's nothing wrong with that. But it's not psychohalachah. And particularly for people who don't believe in Torah m'sinai (and even more so for those who believe we are constantly open to new revelation) sticking strictly to the halachic system instead of stretching beyond it doesn't make a lot of sense.

this sounds a bit woo-woo to me, but i see what you're trying to do; i'd have to understand the thinking better.

It's the core of all psychohalachah. There's an absence in not blowing the shofar on Shabbat. There's also a discomfort in blowing the shofar on Shabbat. So what did this group do? In this case consensus of the pious meant they couldn't blow the shofar without upsetting people in the community. So they filled the absence with something permissible by halachah.

And while I'm on that, one of the other things about psychohalachah that Reb Zalman has mentioned is that there are certain things that shouldn't be changed, because it would cause problems for klal yisrael. So writing a get, patrilineal descent, things like this that could become an issue he suggests should not be changed, although some practices that fall under this category, it could make sense to add things to them without changing the underlying practice.

oo, i totally dig that as an idea. think of renewal as the xerox parc of judaism. in which case its success will be judged on its shlichut to *all* the denominations, rather like chabad, if you don't mind me saying so. there's a controversial model for you.

Something like that. The avant garde has to influence the mainstream to the point that what once was avant garde is now regarded as mainstream. There have been some influences. Renewal was accepting of gays from the start. It also is because of renewal that there are now many styles of talitot. There's also the spread of innovative ritual like those hosted at this site:

http://www.ritualwell.org/

Also, it is probably a Renewal influence that has more liberal Jews going to the mikvah. There's even a liberal mikvah in my area. Also, some of the interest in hasidut and kabbalah pre-kabbalah centre is probably due to Renewal influence. And also the spread of meditation. Actually, for a while Renewal had a huge influence on Reconstructionism because there were a good few Renewal Jews working at the Recon Seminary.


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