Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Preaching A New Religion

I never cease to be amused by stories from the fringe.  You know the type, some "rabbi" decides that Judaism as it has been practised in one way or another for centuries and millennia decides that today's Jews aren't feeling connected.  The idea of sitting down and talking to God while using a prepared text doesn't appeal to them.  The opportunity to take one day in seven to avoid certain activities and turn one's thoughts to dveikus with the Creator is so alte heim.  They're proud to be Jewish, don't get them wrong, and they want to "do Judaism" but the Judaism that they do happens to simply be what they're already into in their personal lives, only now they're saying they're proudly Jewish as they do it.
Thus this latest offering from an "unconventional rabbi" in New York should not come as a shock.  And I get it.  He's got a congregation looking for Judaism but signing off on actual Judaism as a starting condition.
What always bothers me about this is how people like this "rabbi" think that Judaism is just a bunch of rituals.  If the rituals don't appeal to people, then they have to be changed.  That the rituals might have more than a symbolic meaning, that they might be part of a cohesive system where everything has its part, that doesn't seem to occur to them. 
Tefillah, for example, isn't simply about speaking to God.  It's also our attempt to maintain a connection to the Temple service (may it speedily restart) and modeled on it.  We daven three times a day because between the two daily offerings and the nightly consumption of the sacrificial offerings there were basically three services a day in the Temple.  Any new system of "prayer" that ignores this background cuts itself off from Judaism.  It's not a new form of Jewish behaviour, it simply isn't Jewish at all, even if Jews "proudly" proclaim it to be an expression of Judaism.
That's why all these programs eventually fail and burn out.  Yes, they attract people in the short term.  Imagine a jazz hipster discovering he can do his usual jazz routine on Friday night and be consider "observant" if he does it with other Jews.  Ultimately though these people realize, either consciously or not, that there is nothing Jewish about Jewish getting together to do non-Jewish activities.  So they drift back to where they came from.  As I told a Conservative rabbi decades ago when he asked why turnouts at his synagogue's USY were going down, "the goyim throw better parties".
Ultimately the only path towards sustainable Jewish living is - wait for it - Torah Judaism.  Everything else is a novelty that loses lustre.

1 comment:

Mr. Cohen said...

What about this as a Jewish experiment:

Every Sunday night from 8 PM to 9 PM Jews meet to study Mishnah Berurah.

Every Monday night from 8 PM to 9 PM Jews meet to study Mishlei with commentaries.

Every Tuesday night from 8 PM to 9 PM Jews meet to study Avot with commentaries.

Every Wednesday night from 8 PM to 9 PM Jews meet to study Mishnah Pesachim.

Every Thursday night from 8 PM to 9 PM Jews meet to study Orchot Tzadikim.

Do Muslims want to conquer Christian lands?

* In year 732 CE the Muslim Army which was moving on Paris was defeated and turned back at Tours, France, by Charles Martell.

* In year 1571 CE the Muslim Army and Navy was defeated by the Italians and Austrians as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to attack southern Europe in the Battle of Lapanto.

* In year 1683 CE the Turkish Muslim Army, attacking Eastern Europe, was finally defeated in the Battle of Vienna by German and Polish Christian Armies.

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