Thursday, November 1, 2007

Foolish Hostilities

In-group charity and out-group hostility—we all have felt the warmth of the former and the sting of the later. In-group ethics are characterized by undeserved benevolence, benevolence that is capable of overlooking a multitude of offenses. Out-group hostilities are characterized by an overly critical ability to find fault in heterogeneity coupled with an oft-accompanied fear for the heterogeneous.

Identity with the in-group is cultivated through right and ritual. The right or the right of passage is the means through which one attains a given identity. In the Evangelical Christian community, personal conversion is the primary right of passage. For the “Sacred-Name” communities, recitation of a given name or baptism into that name is the initiation right. For the member of the in-group ritual becomes the rubric of identity, the way to maintain identity with the in-group.

In-group/out-group ethics present themselves strongly in religious contexts; however, such ethics are not inherent to religion. Rather, they are normative to human self-comprehension—a by-product of mammalian evolution. Unfortunately, though, the meme of religiosity is both the historical and modern venue for the nastiest expressions of these ethics.

No one is more despised than the “apostate.” The community fears and deplores her. Though at one time embraced despite her human misgivings, those same misgivings are now used to dress her up in the ghoulish garments of a nefarious knave. The reprobate is spoken of, though not named. She is damned with dour hostility, though no one sheds a tear. She has become the scapegoat, the trash bin of abhorrence. She is thought to be second-rate, undeserving of in-group identity from the start. Through deleterious depictions the dutiful devotes find gratification in her, vindication for their fears of heterogeneity, and justification for their draw to homogeneity.

Pathetic!

Why do you fear that which is without? Cast aside your hubris for homogeneity and look reality into the eyes. Can you do this without shame? Is your belief system characterized by self-deception—the self-fulfilling, emotional, and illogical schematic attachments to anomalous aspirations?

If you are a devotee of religious faith, the answer is yes. No exceptions…..

Oh the web we weave when we choose to *believe*

30 comments:

Andrew T. said...

I am a theist, and I don't really fall into your description. When I reject something, I tend to have solid reasons for it; it isn't done on guilty pleasure. The ingroup and the outgroup is just basic human society. The "freethinkers"/"Brights" movement has its own doctrinaire rejections of an outgroup (just about anyone who doesn't practice "freethought" or at least doesn't believe that freethought necessarily begets a non-theistic conclusion).

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

I hope this is not too personal to share here, but these are my thoughts......

I have always felt that hypocrisy and double standards were applied by forum administrators/moderators in your case. Were other members’ marriages scrutinized? Were other members’ belief systems analyzed for anomalies?

I believe that you would have benefited from the warmth and caring of your online community and not slid so far down the slippery slope had others at TR reached out to you. It must have been very disappointing and must have contributed further to your disillusionment. It is appalling when so- called believers cross the street rather than pour the soothing oil of the Spirit in the wounds of the spiritually and emotionally wounded (although the sting of rebuke is an important antidote on occasion as well as it can lead to godly sorrow and real repentance.)

I hope you can forgive the foibles of those who fear you. None of us have arrived at spiritual maturity. We are like lost and leaderless “adult children” waiting for someone to lead the way out of the cacophony of confusion of what has become hypocritical, paganized Christianity and Judaizing Messianic Rabbinic Judaism. It is all crashing and burning, with fatalities left and right in great numbers. May something REAL come out of the ashes.

I said this once before on the forum ....and you laughed:

“Lead the way, Peter!”

I still think my words may be prophetic.

Speaking of prophetic words (and music)......

Do you have these songs from Paul Wilbur’s live albums?

Watchman
Days of Elijah

Peter, if you give me an address I would love to send you this anointed music if you don’t already have it. I want you to listen to this with an open heart. The LORD is going to prove Himself real to you in a way that you will not be able to deny.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I agree with you: in-group/out-group ethics are “just basic human society.” You correctly note that “freethinkers” such as the “Brights” also express such ethics.

Note, though, that religious in-group/out-group ethics have spawned the most indecent of behaviors in human history. Examples of such ethics include the Inquisition, the literary fiction of the conquest of Canaan with an accompanying slaughter of indigenous peoples, the development of ceremonial customs that exclude that non-participant (e.g., holy sites and occasions), and the Shoah (which fed upon the us-them idiolects of European Christianity vis-à-vis European Judaism).

Any type of group ethic is capable of such monstrosities, but religious group ethics have spawned the worst. It is in the name of religion that people veil themselves to the realities on this side of the rainbow while, with hope for “somewhere over the rainbow” justifying injustice in the temporal arena. I believe that it is largely due to such sentimentalities for non-sensible suppositions that make religious group ethics more capable of malevolence than other types of group ethics (e.g., social cliques or even racial groupings).

Sara is writing a paper on social justice in the religion of Judaism. I look forward to its completion. She will be highlighting the retrograde ethics of the Torah (and later sectarian writings: DDS, Mishnah, etc.) that relate to concepts of justice for those not of the in-group. The Torah was behind its time relative to justice for the woman, the homosexual, the landless, the foreigner, and for the non-adherent to Torah ethics. This is true whether one believes that the Torah was composed late like I am convinced (post 8th century BCE) or earlier—the Torah was behind the times morally, etc.

Jamie G. said...

Good post, Peter.

Darlingsheepie said...

I couldn't have said it better myself!


P.S. It seems I do not have enough time to keep up the posting as often as I'd hoped...and so discourse on my blog remains non-exsitent until then.

PeterS said...

Hello Jamie,

Congratulations on your new addition! What is the name/gender? Are you getting any sleep at night?

My next is due sometime next year.

PeterS said...

Hello Tandi,

Though this post does relate to primary experience, it actually is my response, my outrage, against another event that many on this site are not aware of.

Those involved in the event will know and understand the betrayal and the indecency of harmful disclosure and gossip in the name of edification. The event is so heinously constructed that, though it may make the contributors feel warm and fuzzy for their in-group belonging, it makes those without see through the shallow facade of their God....a god who is more the phallus of their longings.

Jamie G. said...

Her name is Kara Necole Guinn, born on Sept. 11th of all days! You can see her at http://www.flickr.com/jamieguinn. I hope to have so more photos up soon.

Congrats to you.

She is so much fun, and she is finally starting to get on a decent sleeping schedule. So far we are taking shifts and it is working out most of the time.

Wishing you and yours the best!

Jamie G. said...

Oh, and by the way, thank you so much for the color change!!!!!!! Your new theme is so much more easy on the eyes. The white text over black background was horrible.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Jamie,

Congratulations to you for this new member of your family!

PeterS said...

Hello All!

1001 apologies. I made a statement in a reply to Jamie implying that I am having another child next year. The statement was intentionally cryptic so that it would produce a variety of interpretations.

Well, it is not true...I am not having another child next year. I made this statement as an experiment. Material on my blog is being used against me in several settings, and I was eager to discern who it is that views my blog aside from those who post. Well, within eighteen hours of my reply I received confirmation of several avenues of information dispersal.

What I did was dishonest. Sara is less than excited about the statement. I regret doing it. And well, it was wrong to have done it. So, I am sorry. I did wrongly and probably may have hurt some people. And, I ask for forgiveness.

Thank you,
Peter

Tandi said...

Hello Peter,

What a relief! Sometimes I feel like I am bearing your burdens, and the weight of trying to support four kids in two households was really weighing heavily on me all weekend. Yet multitudes in our society do just that. Talk about social injustice—DIVORCE IS A SOCIAL INJUSTICE TO CHILDREN. There’s a good term paper project for you, Sara!

I’m sure neither of you will like that statement but I tend to speak what’s on my mind. It’s a good thing I did not post certain statements on this blog that I planned to post, had I not heard back from you, Peter. And Sara (darlingsheepie) will be very glad I did not post certain statements I had ready to go this morning had you not posted what you did.

Maybe this whole blog is a spoof. Maybe you are still a dedicated disciple of Yeshua. Maybe there is no Sara. How would I know? Spoof/Experiment is as good an explanation for the radical change in you as any I can come up with.

Maybe you are still a fundamentalist, protestant, torah observant, Hebraic, Judeo-Christian for all I know. Or at least still harbor a closet of faith. You have been on a frenzy of feeding your doubts and starving your faith to death. Dan, Andrew, and I have been throwing you a few crumbs of faith manna now and then to keep you alive.

Yes, maybe this whole blog is a spoof/experiment to find out who your true friends are who will stand by you through thick or thin, even though we must strongly disagree with you and say so. We kind of spoil your “no exceptions” clause.

If there is a pending divorce, if that is the “event” you cryptically speak of, it is not too late to stop it. Sara could return to her proper place as a good friend (if she can forgive you for starting a red hot rumor mill.) Your wife could forgive you for unfaithfulness and take you back. Your childrens’ prayers could be answered. You could stop running from God and His call on your life.

Then again, I am a dreamer. But sometimes dreams come true

Tandi said...

Hi Jamie,

I enjoyed the baby pictures. Beautiful child. Did your wife have some difficulty during delivery? Glad everything is fine now.

I have been looking for some good Apologetics online to send your way in an effort to rekindle faith in you. Best I can find is bethinking.org—a European site. Yet it is Calvinist oriented—a view Dan and I are contending with presently in Tim's course on Soteriology. Still, there may be something helpful for you on this website. I have listened to a few audios. It is interesting to hear Apologetics at an intellectual level, with British accent to boot in some cases.

I am praying that Peter would become a catalyst for profound change in Christian thinking. May agnosticism/atheism be a stepping stone and not the end of the journey for either of you.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

Sometimes when you post one of your stranger topics on this blog (like this one), it makes me wonder whether it's an outlet of some very complicated feelings you're having, or if you are trying to do your readers in.

The Torah was composed on Sinai. At least, that's where the Torah says the Torah was composed, and where every other Judaic source says it was. Got non-anecdotal evidence to the contrary? Didn't think so.

Torah works. Judaism is the only pre-Christian religion still practiced today. It's funny that Sara would write a piece about Judaism lacking justice for groups like the resident-alien (geir), the poor, the maligned, and the widowed, when you consider that the Torah talks about nothing but justice for such members of Israel. And like any other contract, Torah has necessary preconditions as well as benefits dependent on those preconditions; those that do not adhere to the preconditions are not under its benefits (that is, the non-adherent to Torah ethics). On the Kena'an conquest, the books of Yehoshua ("Joshua") and Shoptim ("Judges") are not at all poetic; they record military strategies and conquests, land surveys, supplies, and diplomatic engagements. Since you have no non-anecdotal evidence that they are fiction, you are jut blowing hot air.

Indeed, if there's an ethical problem today in non-selective normative Judaism it's central to the scandals, slander, and medieval-sage fetishism of ghetto-minded "authorities" in black homburg hats and dark coats, who place vain "bans" on all works relevant to modern knowledge or evolutionary science, even those written by fellow dati Jews (such as Rabbi Slifkin's book on origins). By those old blog articles, I can tell that the anti-Israel Orthodox Jewish community you were part of wasn't modern Orthodox of the knitted-kipah variety, but it also wasn't Khareidi. Was it somewhere in the middle, Peter?

dutch kleopatra said...

tandi,

"Talk about social injustice—DIVORCE IS A SOCIAL INJUSTICE TO CHILDREN. There’s a good term paper project for you, Sara!"

Tandi, thanks for the suggestion. Yes, that might possibly be a good term paper. However, I think an even better term paper would be about the social injustice abusive marriages bring upon both spouses and their children. in this case, divorce is an incredible social justice as it removes children from negative, stressful and manipulative environments where one , or both, parent(s) are verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive(sometimes all three)to their marriage partner. no child should be exposed to such a tragedy. divorce can provide a chance for the parents to experience healing and to receive the necessary help for whatever problems may have ruined their marriage that would not be solved through the persistence of the relationship. I know many cases of life-improvement (for all parties) through divorce. Yes, it is painful process, but growing pains are in general. overall, I have observed (through primary and secondary experiences) that in many cases divorces can be the best option in favor of a child's developmental well-being.

yes, an interesting topic indeed!

i'm sure you meant nothing derogatory by suggesting this topic for my research. please correct me if i'm wrong. ;-)

Tandi said...

Sara,

I read an article one time about the creative benefit to children when coming from homes where Mom and Dad yell and scream at each other and bicker constantly. Seems a study has shown that these children tend to go to their rooms to get away from the discord and take up learning the guitar, or writing, or drawing. Some of the most creative people come from these “negative” environments. When all is pleasant in the “Leave it to Beaver” family (before your time tv show) children most likely become well rounded, socially functional, cookie-cutter people instead of fascinating, creative, moody, complex individuals. The world needs many kinds of people. Makes for a meaningful mosaic.


“Divorce can provide a chance for the parents to experience healing....”

I disagree. SEPARATION can provide a chance for the parents to experience healing. Jumping from the frying pan to the fire in a rebound relationship seldom acccomplishes anything good. Second marriages often end in divorce as well.

Moses gave permission for divorce because of hard hearts. Regenerated believers should not have hard hearts. They should forgive, mend relationships, be selfless in their love. Maybe the problem is Regeneration has never taken place. Or it could be that unconfessed sin has quenched the Spirit and blocked God’s grace.

Marrying a divorced man means marrying his ex-wife as well, as she will never be completely out of his life. Do you really want to be a second wife in a ready-made family? What if Mr. Right is soon to come along...a fellow student who shares your political interests, etc? Peter is definitely Mr. Wrong for you. You are two hurting people trying to find a little happiness and relief from the pain of the trials of life lived on your own terms, not God’s.

Don’t make me start caring about you, Sara, as I’m beginning to. I’ve got enough emotional energy invested in Peter. Yet somehow caring about him releases some kind of “effervescent love” that bubbles over to others in need of a prayer or a thought.

No, I meant nothing derogatory towards you, Sara. I’m only trying to help by bringing another perspective from the wisdom of years and experiences. I have made many mistakes myself, and I have seen the outcome of the mistakes of others. Maybe that’s why I see things with some clarity and cannot just be silent while precious children lose the security of having a Mommy and Daddy that live together and work out their problems. My husband and I decided to do that, after two separations in our early years. We have not regretted sticking it out.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

You ask for non-anecdotal evidence demonstrating that the Torah was not given at Sinai. This request begs the question—it assumes the Holy Book is true on empirical grounds. What non-anecdotal, systematically scientific verification do you have for the claim that Torah is from Sinai? There is no such evidence. In fact, there is a stark lack of evidence where it would be expected.

Not “every Judaic” source is in agreement on the Sinai origin of Torah. For one, the Pentateuch itself is a composite construction, and several tiers of this conglomeration are seemingly unaware of the Sinai theophany (e.g, the sanctuary narrative [SaN] interspersed throughout Exodus through Numbers). Likewise, most Reform Jewish scholars (yes, scholars with better scholarly methods than Orthodox rabbis) deny the historicity of Sinai.

The Torah is a composite human production. Scientific discoveries demonstrate that it is retrograde regarding the arrangement of the cosmos, the age of humanity (and the Earth), the formative history of the universe (e.g., the Earth created before the sun), and the occurrence of a single ancestor to the human race (Adam). Rather than being consistent with science, it displays ignorance and inconsistency.

The city of Jericho was destroyed, according to scientifically verifiable dating methods, well before the time of Joshua as chronologed in the book of Joshua. This is non-anecdotal evidence against the historical claims of the book of Joshua.

The Jewish community that I used to participate in was Kharedi. They were non-Zionist—theologically opposed to the existence of the state of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state. I often wore a knitted kippah (instead of a black suede kippah or a black hat) to work, but I generally would not wear a knitted kippah around the community environs. I came at one point to prefer the Modern Orthodox, and I was desirous of eventually plugging into such a community—after conversion. I was already under the auspices of a certain Kharedi rabbi in Chicago for my conversion, and it took long enough to arrive at this point—too long to start over again.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

I dispute your claim that Reform Jewish scholarship is better than Orthodox. I don't think that there are many Reform scholars; most Jewish scholarship is either secular or Orthodox (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, etc.). The Jewish Theological Seminary is an exception. Being fair, I think that the Orthodox scholars are bias-bent on traditional results in their research and the secular ones are bias-bent on secular and egalitarian ones. To the Reform, it's all a choice anyway, similar to being homosexual.

You know that I, taking khavruta from the Netzarim, of course understand the inarguable fact that the Torah is the redactive end product of a long and complex tradition. And I have not disputed this. I submit that whatever mountainous location the final redaction occurred at is too greatly stressed at times, although the Reform apostates absolutely despise the idea that the Torah might have been completed in the same location that the Torah says it was completed, and all extant Judaic traditions for that matter. Har Karkom or Har ha-Sheim el-Tareiph, much?

Approximately when does the dating say that the city of Jericho was destroyed? Recognize that the dates proposed by some modern scholars, The Exodus Decoded film, and the Netzarim (~1500 B.C.E. IIRC, time of Hatsepsut) are several hundred years BEFORE the estimates conventionally held (~1200 B.C.E. IIRC, time of Tutankhamen).

I'm sorry that you chose a conversion path through the Khareidim. Matter of fact, I had almost settled upon the conclusion that Khareidi and/or Yeshivish Judaism is wholly disinterested with the prospect of converts and that conversions are virtually non-existent in the Khareidi world. I suppose you were a very, very lonely exception? I have the perception that you would have had a much better relationship with Khab"d. According to the Paqid, Khab"d is quite preferable, after Teimani, Baladi-Sephardi, and European-Sephardi, of course.

Daniel said...

Andrew,

You wrote,
"Approximately when does the dating say that the city of Jericho was destroyed? Recognize that the dates proposed by some modern scholars, The Exodus Decoded film, and the Netzarim (~1500 B.C.E. IIRC, time of Hatsepsut) are several hundred years BEFORE the estimates conventionally held (~1200 B.C.E. IIRC, time of Tutankhamen)."

If you ever looked at my reconstruction of biblical chronology, you will see that the destruction of Jericho was 1593/92 B.C., which is right in line with the archeaological parameters for the date of Jericho's destruction.

Your so called Exodus date of 1200 or so does not take the figures in the bible seriously. I do. That's why the 1200 date conflicts with the archaeological findings.

Daniel said...

My site: www.torahtimes.org

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

If you have time, could you answer my questions? That's one of the things about you that interests me most.

Did I catch you at a bad time? You appear very, very ticked off right now.

Andrew

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

Which questions are you referring to? I generally take your questions as rhetorical. Please forgive me for not answering them. Direct me to the ones that you want answered first. I might not be able to answer all for any number of reasons.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

Well, from my last post:

When did the dating that you're referring to say that Jericho was razed?

What kinds of Orthodox Jewish communities were in your vicinity in the city of Chicago? As I recall, Chicago has a large Jewish community (after NYC, Boston, and LA of course), including modern Orthodox, various Khasidim sects, Yeshiva Khareidim, and Sephardim. You chose Khareidi.

Thanks.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I am checking my sources on Jericho….

The Orthodox community that I “belonged” to was Kharedi. I did not really choose this option or flavor—it is what was available. There are few Orthodox congregations in the Chicago suburbs where I lived. The one that I knew of was involved heavily in kiruv (“outreach”) and consisted of many baalei teshuvah. Before pursuing conversion, I attended shacharit there on a number of Shabbat mornings. I remember how alien I felt in the environment. I did not know the language, the order of service, the liturgy, how to meet and greet, etc.

When conversion became an item of interest, the only Orthodox rabbi that I knew at the time was the one at this congregation. As far as I knew, Orthodox Judaism was Orthodox Judaism. I did not realize how diverse Orthodox Judaism was internally until my exposure to the Netzarim and the Chicago Jewish communities.

In my largely Kharedi community, there were a number of variegates. For example, I studied on occasion with Sephardic Rabbi Bar Tzaddok (www.koshertorah.com)--an outspoken opponent of the Netzarim. While becoming Kharedi, I contemplated both going Shephari and Modern. I sometimes went to the houses of non-Kharedi on Shabbat. Occasionally a non-Kharedi would show up at shul—often noticeable due to obvious differences in dress.

Chicago’s Jewish community is shrinking. Many streets which were at one time defined by storefronts boasting Jewish and kosher interests (e.g, kosher backers, kosher groceries, etc.) are now only slightly punctuated with the same as new minorities occupy the same. The Jewish neighborhoods have given way to Pakistani and Indian neighborhoods. The demographics are changing. For better or for worse, the Orthodox world is shrinking.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

That Rav Bar-Tzadoq is an interesting one. It's strange that he'd be an outspoken opponent of the Netzarim when the one that gave the Beit Din ha-Netzarim his blessing in the first place was the great Rabbi Mordekhai Eliyahu, the former chief Sephardi Rabbi of Israel!

It is a good thing that Orthodox Jews have such large families, as the tides of assimilation would have otherwise swallowed them up. Where the Paqid is, he says that the assimilation is tragic among the Teimanim, dramatically worse among the Sephardim, and catastrophic among the Ashkenazim. This goes tenfold outside Israel.onkey1

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

I think that the Modern Orthodox make a good cause.

Maybe the M-O haven't been able to keep up with the incredible work that Khab"d has done in the past generation because they're not carrying their founding principles far enough... They could appoint their most talented Rabbis as poseqim (so they don't have to rely on Khareidi poseqim). They could immediately ditch the Ashkenazi Sidur for the Sephardi Sidur (the realist in me says Teimani isn't happening anytime soon), and ditch the Qabalist 16th-century Shulkhan Aruck for Ramb"m's medieval Mishneh Torah as the de facto compendium of Talmudic Halakha. They could tie a kosher blue tekhelet into their tzitzit. Their rabbis could modify their opinions on electricity use on Shabat to be compatible with modern science. They can ask the O-U to clearly mark out kitniyot from actual leaven products in their Pesakh certification.

I think that such relatively minor changes could be made by the Modern Orthodox within a decade, and if it happened it would certainly send a profound ripple through the whole Orthodox world, and ultimately the secular world.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I do not think that such changes will occur, ever. Orthodox Jewish identity is rooted in tradition and fraternity. Unlike Protestant, especially Evangelical, Christian identity, compliance with the written canon is not priority; rather, most Orthodox Jews esteem ancestral norms to be on equal par with the written canon. For example, Most Ashkenazi Jews understand that there is no issur min-hatorah (biblically based) prohibition against lentils during Pesakh, but allegiance to ancestral custom is such an important part of self identification, that few consider it unusual to abstain from them.

Jewish religiosity is very communal and custom based. Individual religion or spirituality, especially as epitomized through self-application of written Torah (even if according to a better understanding of halakhah), is uncommon in Orthodox observance. I made the mistake of trying to transplant my inherited Christian emphasis on individual spirituality into the corpus of Orthodox observance, and this attempt was a source of vexation for me. I was often frustrated with how family and communal-based Jews were. Instead of asking questions like how one came to follow Torah, questions like, “What is your last name?” were asked frequently.

An individual Jew that opts to wear tekhelet would be seen an oddity—a spiritual maverick with more akin to Yashka and Christian spirituality than a “Torah-true” yid with authentic yiddishkeit. And herein is my point: you are assuming a spirituality, a religiosity that is foreign to Orthodox Jewish religiosity. The reform that you expect is more likely to happen in Christianity than among customary Jews. Orthodox Jewish self-identity is less concerned with written Torah than with family ties and allegiance to particulars of ancestral practice.

Yirmeyahu may argue that such self-understanding is a core reason for why Orthodox Jewry has alienated most of the Jewish community. He is possibly correct. However, I feel that the issue is less ancestral allegiance and more the challenges that modernity poses to Judaism.

Modernity has always been a source of tension for Judaism, and it is because of modernity, viz. , changing conditions, that the need for “halakhah” arose. Yet, the modernity faced today is of a completely different nature than the shift from the wooden to the steel plow. The fact is that post-Enlightenment modernity brought a revolution in how humans relate to the natural world and other-worldly authority.

Despite the benightedness of majority pre-Enlightenment Christians and Jews who embraced the biblical understanding of the cosmos as a domed solid over which loomed an aqueous chaos and the throne of God, modernity brought a revolution in how we view the cosmos. We no longer believe that hell (sheol) is a realm beneath us nor heaven (shamayim) to reside on a platform above us. Yet, to embrace the modern understanding of the cosmos requires, yes requires, admitting that the biblical depictions of the cosmos are erroneous. Now some conservative (Orthodox) Jewish and Christians scholars are able to stomach such discrepancies as God “speaking in the language of men” to the ancients but others, like myself, see these as blemishes—evidences of the mundane nature of the Writ.

The Writ is mundane. It reflects time contingent understandings and depicts of reality and myth. It does not reflect a view of the cosmos, the origins of life and the universe, and human moral dilemmas from a bird’s-eye transcendence that one would expect if its author was the Author of Adam and the aardvark. The mundanity of the Writ speaks against divine etiology. Hence, modernity manifests the mundanity of the Bible and is hence the greatest challenge to its on-going authority.

The Modern Orthodox are in a tight place. Some, as already mentioned, are willing to confess the autochthonous etiology of the Writ—the product of man and not a theophany. And, maybe they will succeed in saving their religion from the very challenge that characterizes their existence: Modernity.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

I understand exactly what you are talking about for Orthodox Judaism. It has amazed me for a long time and made me all the more anxious to understand the whole Biblical history.

Where we may disagree is on the inevitability of a transition. I think that, if in three or more decades rather than one, the fantasies that good scholarship has worked to dispel will catch up to Jewish Orthodoxy; it is a natural tendency among humans to sacrifice many aspects of a doctrine in order to prevent the most fundamental tenets from being abandoned, whereas in Orthodox Judaism's case it will not be so difficult because the changes made to align Judaism with its historical and logical reality will largely be reactionary rather than newly reformative. The very mainstream Zionist Rabbi Ya'aqov Ariyeil has ruled that there is no problem with Israeli Jews eating kitnoyot during Pesakh. A very small number of sopherim (at least the Yemeni sopheir that the Paqid is in contact with) will agree to certify tephilin that contain the Aseret ha-Dibrot ("Ten Speakings"). Even Khareidi-Ashkenazi stores like tallis-n-tefillin.com now offer a kosher tekhelet as a standard tzitzit option. More and more modern Jews are discovering the wonders of Ramb"m's Mishneh Torah as it is now reliably translated into a single English volume, and available online. Qabalah is becoming a joke, practiced only by the most cloistered Khareidim or as a fad by the most un-Orthodox groups imaginable and their celebrity benefactors. The internet revolutionizes everything for the good. And let's not forget about a little group called the Dor Da'im.

The Paqid does teach that no one will ever be more maligned in the Orthodox world than the Netzarim geir, who does nothing short of his absolute utmost to keep Torah. Indeed, all of the ancient prophets of Israel experienced just this, many to fatal conclusions (like Yesheyahu).

In any event, I can not imagine the Khareidim lasting another 50 years. That community is imploding and will collapse on its face as it retreats ever further from modern reality and entraps itself in a ghetto that bans ever more conventional media.

PeterS said...

Hello Andrew,

I have yet to see an Orthodox Jew who wears tekhelet. The only interest or discussion that I know of related to tekhelet is to be found among the Karaim, the Netzarim, and Messianics. I tend to think the association between "minim" and tekhelet will polarize the Orthodox against the practice.

Andrew T. said...

Hello Peter,

Indeed, the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are not concerned that their tzitzit is currently rife with partial observances (but then again, as you said, the vast majority of the Orthodox Jews you were familiarized with during your stint were Khareidi). But there are indeed some Orthodox Jews here and there (not whole communities) that weave a tekhelet into their tzitzit; a small market there exists and there is active research among the more cerebral scholars of Orthodox Judaism. There are whole foundations that exist to research the prospects for a kasheir blue thread, like www.tekhelet.com/ (alright, that one is run by a Ramb"mist Teimani Rabbi...is that cheating, lol?).

Anyone can purchase them for a reasonable fee over the internet, even from some black-hatter outlets. See tallis-n-tefillin.com/turkish.html or any of their other talitot; they offer it as an optional addition to any purchasable set of tzitzit.