Thursday, December 27, 2007

לכפות בטוב

Background; Basically this is a response to a comment on my ‘דמים’ post:

To be honest though, this blog was initially intended for me to jot down little thoughts of mine on the Internet, which might otherwise become forgotten to me. But I nonetheless am always exited by new opinions, new thoughts, and new ideas.

Now, I admit; it is true- We, the philosophers, the priests, the monks, the theological students, all people devoted to thought and religion are the parasites of the world. We feed off the production of men, but do not ourselves produce. Yet, in turn, have we not produced what no man outside of us hath produced? Morals? Thought? I am reminded of a statement of David Hume that (to paraphrase) "all other sciences are sciences, and they have real world affects. But the science we are engaged in is an utter waste of time, an utter waste of life, we expound on things that are improvable, make no real difference, and of which many consider to be rubbish and pure fancifulness". But then again, where would the world be without religion, where would the world be without philosophy? I know, John Lennon would tell you “paradise”, but I highly doubt that (I obviously side with theologians). Now, I know you, as well as most Jews, are at least subconsciously affected by writers like Marx and Hegel in your approach toward the Jewish religion and its institutions, but just remember, they themselves are products of historical and sociological forces, which are no longer as apparent. (Truth is though, I can’t call myself a n enemy of Marx, for is one of the great heroes of rationalists of our time, and I do agree with him on most of his economical opinions. I feel that he was capable of such charisma only because

Although it is true what you say, that the working world is not as lowly as I make them out to be, being that they are the ones sponsoring the building of yeshivas, and not yeshiva people. True, it is a real show of these people’s religious and truly altruistic natures (I know I personally rarely ever give ma’aser or even tzedaka unfortunately, so who am I to talk about being lowly!). But it is also just a manifestation of their being addicted to opium. They help build those religious institutions because they themselves need them; they’re addicted to religion! And their religion is one of emotional and cultural and communal need, not one of conviction. I see them as more the ‘Religious-Man’ discussed by Rabbi Joseph b. Soloveichik in Halakhic Man, and not as that more profound Halakhic-Man.

Therefore, I wouldn’t praise religion too much, especially not Judaism, especially not Orthodox Judaism, and especially not the backward lifestyle that I had the misfortune of being exposed to, of the Eastern European Traditionalist Jews, and their descendants in today’s ‘global north’. For I feel we are all, in essence, misunderstanding the main points of the Bible, and especially ‘the five books of mosses’. Unfortunately, religion is not the outcome of only sound minded people’s interpretations of life and of the texts, but it is mostly a sociological evolution, and takes turns, sometimes for the worse, for needs of historical and sociological necessity, again, especially in regards us; the unfortunate religious minority in every country. It’s true, that yeshiva system is waaay out of whack. One of the only truly commendable books I’ve seen in the last few centuries, by an Orthodox Jewish author is Horeb, by Rav Hirsch. There, you don’t find a mindless stress on ritual (אורח חיים), but an equal amount of stress on the moral and ethical teachings of the Bible (חושן משפט ואבן העזר), which so many Jews today seem to neglect, and then get arrested for money laundering, even though they’re the head of a well known Hassidic sect.

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