Wednesday, November 09, 2005

BT's skeptical Family Members- Chizuk Like the Old-Time Anti-semites?

It's been said that anti-semitism has kept the Jews together through the ages. There's the famous story of the Rabbis debating whether to root/pray for Napoleon to be victorious in Russia during his campaign there. A famous Russian rabbi (an early Chabad rebbe?) said he would pray for the czar ( a wicked anti-semite).

Napoleon would certainly have seemed a refreshing change, having promised to unite the european continent and pave the way for a new, enlightened empire. A key proposal of his vis-a-vis the Jews, was Napoleon's stated aim to "emancipate" the Jews. It seems plausible he would have opened the doors for Jews to new professions, land ownership, and the like.

Well, you guessed it, the Rabbi chose to pray for that anti-semitic bastard Czar. Why? Because, with emancipation would come assimilation. At least the Jews stuck together in Russia. (Being the skeptic I am, when I heard this story, retelling of all these Rabbis meeting with sudden urgency about who to pray for, it's an amusingly self-important stance. Rabbis of today haven't lost their sense of presumed gravitas of their prayers either. However, one has to wonder, why didn't they use their powerful prayers for some other outcome, even a Jewish one, like er...uh, moshiach for example? It almost seems like they weren't mekabbel the mitzvah to expect moshiach at any moment per Rambam's 13 ikkarim of Judaism, but I digress...) For more on anti-semitism, and how it is part of a divine plan to keep Jews together, see here: http://www.russianjews.org/philosophy/q13.asp

But, alas, I digress... I really digress.

I was inspired to write a post about this based on a dialogue with a BT on RespondingtoJBlogs' site:

BT said: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/respondingtojblogs/113112852348935544/#49502

I said: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/respondingtojblogs/113112852348935544/#49689

(And if the links change, don't worry, you'll get the drift here).

In short, it seemed the Anonymous BT (our demographic niche market) was being chastised by his family for his frumness. We've ALL experienced that. In fact, that's one of the advantages for BT's- when we go off the derech, our families cheer! Not so for FFB's; their lot is to take the derech less traveled, and it must be a lonely one at that.

Could it be that anti-frumkeit families are actually keeping their BT relatives more frum, just like all those anti-semitic bastards over the years?

Of course! And it makes perfect sense. BT's essentially reject their upbringings. Their families are typically ignorant of basic judaism. And- their families are clearly just defensive since they are being made aware of just how lock-step and non-spiritual their lives actually are!

So, I guess my thesis here is that BT's are lulled into a false sense of security in some ways by their intransigent families, that they are on the right path. They become more isolated from their families and cling even more to their Rabbeim. Of course, the Rebbeim are not "brainwashing" per se, since they practice what they preach. Nevertheless, this phenomenon gives the Rabbeim all they need to solidify their hold on BT's with family problems. In Freudian/Lacanian analysis, transference takes place rather readily.

Mis-nagid can fill in the blanks of how BT's are more susceptible to being roped into this cultish cycle of events.

Thoughts yea or nea?

51 Comments:

Blogger Shlomo said...

You have no idea just how lonely it can be. Fortunately, I was never codependent to relationships or communities, and that made my self-imposed refugee status a bit more tolerable.

Those who doubt or deny and continue to 'live the lie' must very strong people with a very strong sense of community to endure the double-life they lead.

We are forced more or less by circumstances to accept any number of rules, regulations, facts, events, etc.
So too with religion. Of all the things a person could fall into, religious Judaism isn't the worst of them. One who chooses to stay isn't making a bad choice overall. The world outside of it is fraught with many problems, too.

It requires much the same moral-ethical vigilance living as a sheygitz as it does when one is a chosid. The sheygitz can be just as moral, but doesn't most spend his time playing superstitious mind games with imagnery god.

11/09/2005 6:03 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

There is an old joke about assimilated Jewish families and their daughters, which describes your point quite well.

If a liberal-minded Americanized Jewish family has a daughter, they raise her to be tolerant and accepting of anyone and everyone(as they should.) So if their daughter comes home with a blond-haired blue eyed Protestant boy, no big deal. If she comes home with an dark haired Catholic boy, no big deal. If she brings home a black musician, its no big deal.

BUT....

If chas veshalom she decides to marry a man wearing a shtreimel...OY GOTT! You will see otherwise normal suburban Jewish parents ripping their hair out and clothes and threatening to sit shiva!

11/09/2005 6:13 AM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

"Of course, the Rebbeim are not "brainwashing" per se, since they practice what they preach."

I don't see the connection. Don't Moonies also practice what they preach? How does that contradict brainwashing?

11/09/2005 10:45 AM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

The story of Napolean and the Czar would have been too late for the Besht. Chabad tells of the First Chabad (Alter) Rebbe making such a choice for the Czar, because of reputed cruel tendencies of Napolean. Such a thing did not portend well. And would you trust the French?

In the Chabad legend, the Alter Rebbe blows shofar early on Rosh Hashana to secure victory for the Czar.

11/09/2005 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the anonymous BT again from the comment on R2JB's site. Firsr thing's first, I am a girl. You mentioned something about having doubts. I think the healthy doubts that the rabbis expressed are in relation to science in particular- and how to explain the Torah to go according to science. Maybe in the ultra orthodox communities science is thought of as something that can't be studied, but in Modern Orthodoxy it is studied and taught. I know this because I went to a modern orthodox yeshivah where evolution and modern science was explained in accordance with the torah. I think that is one of the faults with ultra orthodoxy is that they don't explain to their students how modern life can relate to Judaism. One more thing- the only reason I read these blogs was at a request of a friend- the very author of R2JBs.

I am not making up my own religion. There are many rabbis who believe in evolution and science, including my own rabbi, which is why I feel so strongly about Modern Orthodoxy.

Fulfilling god's will is not something I found out of a book or from a rabbi. I have only mentioned to one rabbi that i was shomer shabbos when my family wasn't, and that rabbi only tried to help me stay on the derech without teaching me certain things. Fulfilling god's will is something I came to on my own- after carefully studying the Torah and actually trying to understand all the prayers. I realized that G-d does so many things in this world that the least we can do is listen to him.

Let's face it. I don't enjoy Shabbos for the peace and harmony. I only enjoy it because I know that what I am doing is something that G-d commanded me specifically to do- and it has been done ever since. I spend every Shabbos at home with my family because I live at home with my parents, which might make you guess at my age, and I spend it all in my room trying to avoid any sort of command by a parent to answer the phone. And my parents have already accepted the fact that I do not drive on Shabbos, which was a big step, and this has not made me any less adamant about my beliefs.

When i say that G-d gave me all sorts of things, I don't mean only good. I have had a lot of trouble in the past with many things that I will not get into in order not to reveal my identity, but I still always believed that we cannot fully understand G-d's intentions. I once heard an analogy that from earth we can only see the back of a needlepoint sewing- in the back is all ends of thread and a rough surface which does not make sense to us. Only G-d can see the whole needlepoint picture from the front- which can account for good and evil but in the end make a beautiful picture. I am truly a strong believer in "everything happens for a reason." And believe me, I have had my fair share of hardships to make that claim legitimately.

Please respond to this comment, as I am very interested in hearing what you have to say.

11/09/2005 12:59 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Mis-nagid- C'mon, the kiruv rabbi's may have some major issues, but they just can't be likened to moonies. No one has to go live with them, give them their entire salaries, no bathroom breaks are withheld, no drugs are used (unless kugel has been reclassified by the FDA).

As a BT, I went to shul for 2 years without joining and no one batted an eye or bugged me about money. I think the cults you compare OJ to are all about the money. That goes for scientology, moonies, etc. Even the BT yeshivas operate on a shoestring and get next to nothing for tuition, assuming it isn't deferred indefinitely by needy students.

In fact, all of the above gave a lot of credibility to OJ rabbis and practitioners. If they were out for cash, I would have been on my way in 1 second.

As for the theology, well that's another matter, but this should clarify what I had in mind.

11/09/2005 11:16 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Thanks, Rebel, as always you are a wealth of info.

11/09/2005 11:16 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Anonymousette (now that I know you're a girl). Welcome, any friend of R2JB's is a friend of mine.

I am sorry to hear about your family. I am sorry to hear you don't enjoy Shabbos all that much. I assume you live in an area with no real Jewish community, so you can't go and stay with other like-minded OJ's?

I'm not here to sway you. You sound inspired and you are being held back by your family. I do think they have an ironic way of solidifying your commitment.

On the other hand, I think you will enjoy being frum all the more once you can get out of the house and keep Shabbos in a jewish community!

I have said elsewhere on the blog, I think being frum is easier for women than men. And, perhaps due to the double standards that exist for women in OJ, you also benefit tremendously, since for the most part OJ is merely helping you live a healthy, family-oriented life.

I've said elsewhere on this blog that if I were a woman, I'd definitely be frum! Sounds wierd, I know.

I really think reform women would miss out on a lot as mothers.

You said you prefer modern orthodox and the only questions are scientific ones. Well then, you have no need to make up questions for yourself that don't exist. I'd say "make yourself happy." I love that phrase; it's really more of a mantra.

I think you need to make the transition to moving to a jewish community asap. You need to get financially independant if your parents are against your lifestyle. And you need to find a like-minded man to marry. There you go.

And stay away from this blog! GO! SHOO! (think the last scenes in Bambi). SHOO!!

11/09/2005 11:25 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Shlomo Leib- no real comment, just thanks for posting. You are definitely a kindred spirit. It just sounds like you aren't so happy with the new life either. Is that so? Do you feel your upbringing is like a conscience that you can't shake even though you know you are doing no wrong?

Maybe we are haunted by our Jewish ancestors' ghosts! The pintele yid is really a ghost that wants you to suffer as much in olam ha-zeh as they did!

11/09/2005 11:30 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

This is why I love this blog.

SL - great joke, but don't laugh: My charedi cousin was in the airport, and an irreligious Jewish woman came over and told him how terrible religiousity was blah blah blah. After she finished, he said, "Actually, I'm Amish." She then gave a whole speech saying how nice it was that he kept his traditions blah blah blah. He then told her she was right the first time - and she should be ashamed of her disgusting hypocrisy. And he walked away. (CLAPPING)

BTA - I'm in a way impressed that despite a few sarcastic comments here and there, you've done a great job at keeping the blog as it was intended - and are not trying to convince those who wish to be frum not to be. Great advice to anonymousette.

Email me, so I remember to email you - I still want to give a post from a questioning but remaining frum FFB perspective. I guess that would be almost the opposite of you - frum, looked at not frum, remained frum. So much to write though! Hmmm...

11/10/2005 12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your kind words and good advice. I do live in a jewish community but the problem lies with my parents power over me. I have spent a few shabboses at my friend's houses and I found it to be enjoyable- but this was only after I had committed to being shomer shabbos. However, being a frum woman is a lot harder when you are thinking about going to law school- and I think thats a different issue in and of itself. I still think I am going to read this blog because as a rational thinking person I am always open minded even though as of now I am very adamant in my beliefs.

11/10/2005 3:54 AM  
Anonymous hayim said...

I've said elsewhere on this blog that if I were a woman, I'd definitely be frum! Sounds wierd, I know.

I really think reform women would miss out on a lot as mothers.


You know, men and women have by nature different reproduction strategies.

Men have an almost infinite supply of sperm, and it costs them nothing to deploy it. To spread their genes, the best strategy that they can choose is to wander and copulate with as many females as they can find.

Women, on the other hand, have far fewer opportunities to have children - one a year is an unrealistic maximum. And it costs them a LOT of energy to bear them until childbirth. The process even endangers their lives, and after birth they are unable to find the resources (food, shelter) for themselves and the newborn. So for women the best strategy to spread their genetic heritage is to find a male willing to commit himself to their welfare.

Actually, it gets more complicated than that. Women are interested to choose strong, healthy males - those who will be the best providers, but also those who are the most likely to cheat on them. Whereas men have their own dilemma, be a committed spouse to mae themselves more attractive but thereby limit themselves, or the contrary. Either way, it's a trade off.

The argument has been made that civilization in general is the perfect environment for the women's reproduction strategy. I guess your comment about OJ goes in the same general direction.

11/10/2005 4:04 AM  
Anonymous hayim said...

Dear Anonymousette,

(I rather like the nickname ;))

Kol Hakavod. May you stay strong in this path, you are an inspiration for me.

I had also many problems when I chose to become frum. Many of my friends became upset at me, a close family member chose not to speak with me anymore - it was quite painful and gave me quite a few sleepless nights. Many people accused me of choosing an observant lifestyle because it gave me something which I could not find in the secular world, and it took me a long time to understand them... At first, I could only see the sacrifices, and no benefit whatsoever, except the (self-righteous ?) feeling that Î was doing the right thing.

11/10/2005 6:11 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
On my blog you mentioned that you commend me for ability to belive in falsehoods.
Id like to respond:
its not false that there was a chofetz chaim, a gra, a rambam, rashi, the geonim and amorianm and tanaim.
There was a beis hamikdash.
based on nytimes article yesterday, maybe more proof of a thriving era for david and shlomo hamelech.
a few weeks ago, maybe more proof of charachters in navi being real people.
we have a torah, its basically the same for all jews. there are arguments about it origin, but remember we were in exile, and the jews have been through hell through the ages.
there had to be some kind of oral tradition otherwise, most commandments in the torah wouldnt make sense. its like the declration of indpendance without the consitituion. our tradition has the bill of articles.
so we keep shabbos, kosher etc.
thats what great minds 2000 years ago decided was the best way to save judiasm. the gemera is not embarrssed to tell the story of yavne!
do you really think you and your friends who dont know how to see the beauty of a mishna, are qualified to start your own religion?
if so, go ahead, propose something, see if anyone follows you.
thats what reform did. and look where they will end up.
Doesnt show some kind of inspiration for our way of life?
our sages have done their best to keep it together.
the torah is delved into in many layers, shivim panim latorah. all this is our tradition.
each person as he matures, progresses from layer to layer of understanding.
its not that one layer is a lie.
its all true.
and if you dont like it, go ahead and try to convince the arabs that their religion is false. then at least youd be doing something constructive.
trying to destroy your own people by sowing doubt is wrong.
the people you sow doubt are the people who havent matured to the next layer of torah. so in a sense, you are messing with their minds!

why dont you want to be part of that?

11/10/2005 7:46 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

ps. hope you dont mind me plugging my website:
happywithhislot.blogspot.com

11/10/2005 7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hayim- I was sorry to read about all the troubles you experienced when you became a BT, but I experienced the same things. At first family members thought it was a "phase," but when they saw it got serious were a little more skeptical. One of my parents told me that it was really inconvenient and selfish of me to stop driving on Shabbos because that would mean no more family outings, so they didn't accept it. But while I have still remained strong in my beliefs and practices, I hope you can also do the same. Please feel free to comment on this blog if you have any other questions/doubts as I am always willing to answer them.
From the Anonymousette

11/10/2005 9:29 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

HWHL - You should read through the archives - BTA is absolutely NOT trying to convince people to go OTD; he actually encourages people (somewhat) to remain frum. He merely is warning potential BTs of the difficulties that BT may go through while trying to become more religious. Perhaps you can write a post saying how you've overcome some of those difficulties.

Some of your points are quite good - they do show an inspiration for this way of life. They're not blanket proofs by any means, but they are excellent points. Focus on that.

Anonymousette - I'm not sure if BTA has decided yet how he's running this blog... (BTA? You listening?) Originally the idea was put forth to have more than one host. Perhaps that gets a little crazy though... Anyways, if BTA is still looking for co-hosts, perhaps you should be one? A slightly different perspective (woman, still frum, went through issues vs. man, OTD, went through issues).

I'm still hoping Holy Hyrax continues to post! :)

11/10/2005 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Larry Lennhoff said...

So, I guess my thesis here is that BT's are lulled into a false sense of security in some ways by their intransigent families, that they are on the right path. They become more isolated from their families and cling even more to their Rabbeim. Of course, the Rebbeim are not "brainwashing" per se, since they practice what they preach. Nevertheless, this phenomenon gives the Rabbeim all they need to solidify their hold on BT's with family problems. In Freudian/Lacanian analysis, transference takes place rather readily.
This certainly doesn't fit most of the BTs I know personally. We all spend significant amounts of time and effort to ensure we can keep up a relationship with our secular families while staying true to halacha.
Azriella Jaffe's book What do you mean you can't eat in my house? is a good source for getting along with one's non-observant relatives. After the Return is another. All the Rabbis I have personal experience with, kiruv and non-kiruv alike stress the obligation of honoring my parents. The Chabad Rabbi I studied with told me to eat in my mom's home despite her not being Shomer Shabbat - she still held the stame standards of kashrut that she did when I grew up and that was good enough for a visit. I've seen religion used as an excuse to justify an existing bad family dynamic, but I just don't know too many cases where an O Rabbi urges a complete break between a BT and his/her family.

11/10/2005 11:39 AM  
Blogger Anonymousette said...

I agree with Larry. I still live at home so obviously I still eat there. And I have spoken to my OJ rabbi many times about this and he told me exactly what you are saying- that kibbud av va'em is extremely important and that I shouldn't cause trouble in that aspect. Who knows? Maybe if I continue living a "normal" life at home my family will see that religion isnt so bad. Just a thought.

BTW- I made a new gmail account and blogger ID. so please feel free to send email to anonymousette@gmail.com

11/10/2005 11:59 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Anonymousette, welcome. I would hope you find people that give you some chizzuk here. Also, law school sounds like a perfect solution. Just go to a school in a city with a jewish community, such as NYC, LA, Atlanta and others and you're set. You'll be married by 3L and then your parents will come around. I think one of the keys is having children. Then, the parents kind of realize you never would have been a family person so soon, so they come around. Hopefully, your husband won't have a streimel! (See Shlomo Leib's joke).

11/10/2005 12:27 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy- I get your point, I get it!

I'm not happy about how I feel about OJ. You insinuate my problem was not seeing the beauty in a mishna. Well, you've got that right. But, trust me, I can understand the learning of a mishna.

What I don't like is all the factual assertions in the mishnayos of things that are not divine, asserted as divine, things that are not historical, that are asserted as such.

I think you are being a bit extreme about my point of view. I think the arabs have the worst of fundamentalism, it's true. However, the chareidim in our bnei braks and such are close to the mufti's. Or take Ovadia Yosef, putting death curses on Sharon (like that would work) and blaming hurricanes on gush katif.

If our religion got to its ultimate attainment (fully binding sanhedrin) it would be a horrible contrast to life now. The Elyashevs and Ovadia's and all their ilk would be throwing more stones than the palestinian kids!

And please don't tell me about the rarity of the death penalty, etc. Again, no one would even think of saying anything kefiradich, there would be no freedom of thought or speech. Yes, there is a tradeoff, but I side with truth.

And your comments tend to make me feel that my points need to be heard. There are a lot of people with questions, and some of the questions are where to go from here. I advocate keeping traditional to the extent it doesn't go against your nature and drive you crazy. Sorry you feel people should just keep banging their heads against the wall.

11/10/2005 12:36 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Larry- good comments. However, those books only have a market because of how common it is to have tension with one's family post-BT. My family came along quite nicely, but then again, I was an independant adult by the time I chose to be a BT. They also saw I was "settling down" getting married, starting a family, etc. So, they took it in stride.

The younger BT's are not so lucky. Also, the main reason the kiruv pros are so eager to get young BT's to yeshivas and seminaries is that they want them away from their families- far away- so the socialization process can take place. It's not like they care so much if they can learn a mishna after a year. JMHO

11/10/2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Hayim- yes those mating strategies, hard to escape. Still mating strategies don't explain everything, since there are a lot of single OJ's who can't find mates. You would think they'd get less picky as GH pointed out time and time again if these drives were the strongest motivators. Instead, it seems that "shopping for the bigger better deal" is more important than stam reproducing. Again, you can say the "best catch" is yet more evidence of the selective drive and I acknowledge that.

I also just think that an OJ lifestyle is a lot healthier psychologically for a girl than the sex in the city lifestyle.

If men didn't have to run to shul, do tefillin, this and that all the time and then "learn" and teach their kids mythology as emes, then it would be healthier for men too. It may still be, but I see a lot of tired, uninspired, unhealthy guys in shul when I do go on Shabbos.

11/10/2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

bta
i doubt the sanhedrin of today would kill anyone for speaking their mind.
The gemera is full of give and take.
Who said the sanhedrin would be r' ovadia yosef and not r' cordozo?
or r' gedaliah nadal. or maybe even r' godol z"l.
anyway, if there were a sanhedrin it would be in time of moshiach, so you'd then believe anyway.
so why worry yourself over silly things.

> You wrote: What I don't like is all the factual assertions in the mishnayos of things that are not divine, asserted as divine, things that are not historical, that are asserted as such.

i say, why do you feel a need to complain about it?
are you telling me that a mishna in nizikin or sukka says anything about divinely inspired stuff. Stop trying to be so spirtual, and learn a mishna to the depths that it contains. that is the problem with chassidus, they think you get closer to hashem via spirituality.
Its a little bogus. Spirituality comes from learning.

Look at a yochin boaz on the mishna, and see the complexity of it all. The order of it all, the brilliant use of words to convey a result that could only be resultant because of those words.

Why get hung up about a louse.
Its again throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Re my comments need to be defended against.
Why? what am i saying that offends or worries you?

Im saying that you can work the system to get what you want out of it with out tearing down the house.

is that unfair?
You know the american juris prudence system is rife with issues, are you going to want to destroy it and let there be chaos, or will you work from inside to make it better. and make us stronger.
How does attacking the divinity of the torah help you in any way.
Focus on making judiasm richer, meaningful, and stop worrying about what r' ovadia yosef would say.

Focus more on what r' abadi would say.
(kashrut.org - i love this rabbi)

11/10/2005 2:23 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

ezzie
i hear you, and i respect you.
Im not sure bta is what you say he/she/it is, but i will monitor and particpate to see.
Currently he talks about falsehoods and lies, and the sacrifices of some bt make to be jewish.
It annoys me, because the sacrifice isnt one if they constantly talk about it.
My family lived through the holocaust. If you put things in perspective, then we begin to understand what sacrifice means.

BTA thought that very few jews abandon judiasm simply because its too much to daven etc. they leave because they lose faith.
I'm skeptical about the faith part, but i dont have the data. But lets see how the commentators fall out.

BTA feels that there arent that many people on these websites who want to destroy judiasm for the sport of it.
Im skeptical. But i am compiling the data.
Lets see how the commentators fall out on this as well.

Re pointing out the positive, myself.
good point, i will take it under consideration.
Thanks!

11/10/2005 2:31 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>BTA thought that very few jews abandon judiasm simply because its too much to daven etc. they leave because they lose faith.

yes, but why do they lose faith? It can be for multiple reasons, one reason being the tedious nature that they percieve of their religion. Another reason is the fact that they no longer think that it is based on truth. Or a combination of both

>BTA feels that there arent that many people on these websites who want to destroy judiasm for the sport of it.

I assume you are talking about me, I don't know where you got that impression. I never try to get someone to lose faith. My discussions with GH were about the nature of Judaism, not whether a person should or should not practice it if he wants

11/10/2005 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Happywithhislot

My family lived through the holocaust. If you put things in perspective, then we begin to understand what sacrifice means.

I think the guilt trips need to end. Noone is denying what the past generation went through. But what does all that have to do with doubts about Torah? Lets keep perspective here.

11/10/2005 7:37 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

What does the Holocaust have to do with this. Last I checked many non-religious Jews were killed as well.

11/10/2005 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Carbon Shidduchim said...

happy with his lot said: "Spirituality comes from learning."

This is right up there with "it's all your yetzer hora" and "take 2 aspirin as needed" in the world of universal prescriptions.

if you were right, then no non-jews would be spiritual [since they don't learn]. say what you want, but you must admit that there are many, many non-jews who are spiritual - some more than the shabbos stock-tip-trading FFB's in our shuls [all of which "learn" BTW].

learning is a useful tool to get inside the mind of the pharissees, and that can be *very* interesting culturally & historically. but don't try to use the kiruv clown-esque approach that learning is "spiritual". afterall, it's the #1 way to blunt the tooth of the budding BT: "you can ask all your questions, but first you must learn!"

perhaps you find learning spiritual, but others don't. what are we left with, learning Navi?davening? mussar? zionism????

11/10/2005 8:25 PM  
Blogger Anonymousette said...

I think perhaps the learning that makes someone "spiritual" is more along the lines of feeling yourself connect with G-d through learning- even if just for an instant. When you read the prayers for Shacharit or learn Torah- if you actually pay attention to the words and think about why they are true, you will feel your soul connect to G-d. This obviously doesn't just come about learning in a yeshivah, but has to come from the person him/herself.

11/10/2005 9:31 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy- anyway, if there were a sanhedrin it would be in time of moshiach, so you'd then believe anyway.
so why worry yourself over silly things."

Oh yeah? http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=70349

I guess this is a more moderate crew, but the point was that Ovadia and Sterbuch would LOVE to stone a lot of people. They aren't nice mussardich Shlomo Zalman Auerbachs anymore.

11/10/2005 11:30 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"are you telling me that a mishna in nizikin or sukka says anything about divinely inspired stuff"

Well, take the mishna succos, where they all pelt the king with esrogim for doing the Temple water libations not according to the oral law. I guess yshka should have said "whoever is without sin, cast the first esrog." ;)

However, this is just the kind of nonsense that the real learners absorb. Or in Yoma, that the Kohen Gadol dies for doing the ketores in the lifnei lifnim sans oral tradition and dies, having his body thrown on the "dung heap."

I understand you say don't bring that up, and that and that and that. Trust me, you don't want me to learn, as I will only come up with a million other examples. What's the "depth" there? These are not only not divine, they are polemical, and possibly in those times, political documents.

11/10/2005 11:36 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Look at a yochin boaz on the mishna, and see the complexity of it all. The order of it all, the brilliant use of words to convey a result that could only be resultant because of those words."

This is always a good point. We have a rich tradition. I'm sure if the conditions were right, I could enjoy learning in the way you are describing. But I would nonetheless not want to daven and I still don't beleive in the god of the Torah, and possibly not god at all.

11/10/2005 11:41 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Im saying that you can work the system to get what you want out of it with out tearing down the house."

I am trying to do that. I haven stopped alltogether. I still keep shabbos and kosher and taharas mishpacha, etc.

I like your american jurisprudence example. However, the ikkar of ortho judaism in contradistinction to american law, is belief in divine commandments and the vesting of the rabbis with godlike power ("the torah's not in heaven") to rule our lives. These guys can't be overruled or appealed or legislated when they get out of hand. Thus, we keep the stupid second days of yom tov, or electricity is fire/building, or a million other stupid things.

The biggest way I'd change it from the inside is take back the power to make rules. Yes, that's what conservative and reform tried to do and failed. But they failed because they couldn't find a reason to not ordain women as rabbis, or other things, such as prohibiting driving on shabbos.

However, RW conservative might make the most sense for me. I never checked it out, but might have to.

Also, I must say I will not tell lies to my kids. I wouldn't forgive my parents for teaching me some elaborate lie that they clearly didn't believe. No, I don't want them mixed up with sex, drugs and rock and roll, but MO kids (and a lot of RW OJ kids too) are into plenty of sex and drugs, largely because they see how little their parents believe. I don't want that for myself or my kids. I want to be on an upswing and have firm convictions that I can teach them.

We'll see how it turns out. In the meantime, I'm not "complaining" as you so often complain. I am working on a solution and am recruiting people who can't live a lie to work together on new ideas.

One thing you can't say about reform/conservative- they haven't disappeared. Perhaps a very RW, conservadox shul would be just right, who knows? I've never heard of a shul calling itself "conservadox", btw- has anyone? I've only seen it on dating sites as a category.

11/10/2005 11:50 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Ezzie- you are correct, I'm not here to sway people that want to stay on the derech. I told anonymous this wasn't the place for her even. There are millions of chizzuk sites for BT's like her, that will help her.

11/10/2005 11:51 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Carbon dating er shidduchim- you are on the money. What indeed are we supposed to learn all day.

And there's another thing that bothers me about learning. If its sole purpose is to get people to stay frum, is this the most important goal in today's world, where there are so many issues to be worked on by all these minds that are instead laying idle during learning times?

11/10/2005 11:53 PM  
Blogger Anonymousette said...

When I said before that learning connects you with G-d, I only meant the divinely inspired texts. The rest of the things we learn are only there to each us how to apply the texts, and I think Gmara teaches us how to think rationally and logically rather than explain us really the arguments that went on. (Yes, I have learned Gmara in my Modern Orthodox School.) About the Modern Orthodox children falling into drugs and sex- I don't see that around me. My friends are all free from sex and drugs and I do think that is a product of the Modern Orthodox education. We saw Rabbis and teachers who were so adamant about their beliefs that it rubbed off on us.

11/11/2005 12:00 AM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

I think BTA just released all his agression for the day

11/11/2005 12:30 AM  
Blogger blueenclave said...

I told my husband about this blog. His comments:
"If he believes in G-d and that G-d wrote the Torah, he can question everything but the kitchen sink."

11/11/2005 1:31 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Well, that's a position, I suppose.

But, if one really believed even those two premises, that person would be following the torah literally, bringing sacrifices, poking out eyes, etc, etc. Plus, the torah needs lots of commentary and interpretation to make some sort of twisted sense.

But alas, I don't believe option 2 and option 1 is out, if it means believing god = hashem= god of the torah. I don't believe that any more than I believe in zeus.

11/11/2005 1:58 AM  
Anonymous Larry Lennhoff said...

I've never heard of a shul calling itself "conservadox", btw- has anyone? I've only seen it on dating sites as a category
No. But you might want to look into the Union for Traditional Judaism a right wing C group that split over the issue of ordaining women. You might also look at the works of Rabbi David Weiss Halivni. He runs Kehilat Orach Eliezer on the upper west side of Manhattan.

In addition there are still right wing C affiliated shuls. In Highland Park NJ the shul has no parking lot. They just started egalitarian services last week - they have a traditional service and an egalitaring service each week, and presently they alternate who gets the main sanctuary and who gets the smaller one. Meanwhile, the East Brunswick Jewish center still does not count women towards a minyan. There is a C shul in East Meadow, LI that locks its parking lot for shabbat and is not egalitarian. I'm told most of the C shuls in Canada are not egalitarian. The Masorti movement in Israel has explicitly said the 'driving teshuvah' does not apply there.

Kol Tuv

Larry

11/11/2005 9:36 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
im very confused. You want right wing conservadox. but dont believe in god. So what are you explaining to your kids? I want to practice kwaanza because it will feel good for me and you?

I admire all you guys here, you all want to have everything, and every moment in your life be so spiritual and uplifing. Mamesh Tzaddikim.
Good luck on your plan.

> holy hyrax,rtjb
the point of the holocaust is not that
only religious died. Its that that is a sacrifice, and youre heart rendering search for truth and rationality is not. But go on seeking. Im not here to stop you.

> re Living the lie...
only the other cultures are charming. ours is a lie.
Its so demanding! I want it to be easy.
See kashrut.org, r' abadi talks a little about looking for shortcuts.

> Re r' sternbuch
How about YU?

> re sillyness in mishna
I dont get the antipathy, the archeoligist are so enamored by the mayan culture and their blood sacrifices. but the jews, its all silly drivel. You dont wantto belive that this stuff actually happened, at least believe that the mishna believed it, and its a historical footnote from their point of view. So, for that you cant remain frum?

> Re two days of shabbos or electricity
R' abadi addresses electriciy, its a klal issue and not neccesarilt a actual halachic problem (depending on type of light etc.) he point being the religion is full of gederim.

In our generation the issue of eruv has become a hot one.
On one side in some communities, when a eruv gets introduced, the kids start playing organized sports on shabbos.
On the other side, woman with children can actually go out on shabbos.
I hear both sides.

two days yomotov is not silly. is chanukah silly? purim? maybe to you it is. anything that is tradition must be thrown out, except driving to shul on shabbos and women rabbis.

Why dont you guys talk about the things you like and would want to enhance, instead of labels. Im just telling you what is meaningful to me. Its not a prescription.

11/11/2005 10:12 AM  
Blogger fleurdelis28 said...

But they failed because they couldn't find a reason to not ordain women as rabbis, or other things, such as prohibiting driving on shabbos.

They failed because they couldn't find a reason not to ordain women as rabbis? Hunh?

11/11/2005 11:38 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

FKM- How long til R'Abadi is put in cherem? He must not be respected anywhere. But I did see his psak on eating at non-kosher places. It's very easy to follow, but who would follow it?

Also, I don't think we're all looking for full time spirituality, which you keep saying. You just don't get the problem, so to each his own. You must enjoy it more than we do. Meanwhile there's someone a rung up on the ladder from you saying "what an apikores, he holds by R Abadi!" They don't understand why you'd recommend him.

11/11/2005 12:05 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Fleur, it contained a double-negative, but makes perfect sense. Conservative was established to undo to radical anti-tradition of Reform. However, having female Rabbis is pretty radical. The Conservative movement went downhill with their rulings on driving on shabbos and ordaining women rabbis.

Or was your "hunh?!" because you think my comment was sexist or something? Feel free to clarify.

11/11/2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Thanks Larry. I think I'll more likely stick with OJ shuls. I will just have to figure out the protocol that works...

11/11/2005 12:08 PM  
Blogger Anonymousette said...

I happen to know Rabbi Abadi and I agree he's pretty radical. Even my Modern Orthodox yeshivah thought so, which is not to say that people didnt go by "Rabbi Abadi's Pesach List" for things they could eat- such as Wrigley's gum. I guess everyone knows hes radical but following his psak is the easy way out.

11/11/2005 12:27 PM  
Blogger fleurdelis28 said...

Fleur, it contained a double-negative, but makes perfect sense. Conservative was established to undo to radical anti-tradition of Reform. However, having female Rabbis is pretty radical. The Conservative movement went downhill with their rulings on driving on shabbos and ordaining women rabbis.

My confusion is because the Conservative Movement permitted women rabbis because they wanted to figure out a way to do it -- in taking back the power to make rules, that was a ruling they ended up making (though as usual, they ended up with multiple opinions). If they'd wanted to hold back on it, I'm sure they could have. It's not like they fell into it through some inexhorable pull of liberal radicalism. Having female rabbis may have been socially radical, but halachically it's not necessarily such a jump. Much less so than having a female shatz.

The driving teshuva is just stupid, and most informed Conservative Jews I know will gladly admit as much. It's a product of the 1950s, and technically is not a grant of permission to drive on Shabbat so much as a "for goodness's sake, if you're going to drive on Shabbat, at least drive to shul and nowhere else." It wasn't the greatest idea, but I really doubt it encouraged anyone to drive who wouldn't anyway. Plenty of Conservative Jews don't drive on Shabbat anyway, and would ignore any tshuvah to the contrary. One major ideological distinction between Conservatism and Orthodoxy is that Conservative Jews are more likely to make their own decisions on halachic issues, with the advice of a rabbi, rather than having a single posek and following his decisions. This means they fall either to the left or the right of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, and will take the CJLS's opinions into account, but won't do something just because the CJLS says so. Especially if the reasons given are unpersuasive.

11/11/2005 1:31 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Fleur- thanks for the sweet-smelling post. A quick thought or two.

"Having female rabbis may have been socially radical, but halachically it's not necessarily such a jump."

Fortunately/unfortunately, in Ortho Judaism, the social and the halachic merge, as I'm quite sure you're aware. Something "socially radical" is not halachically acceptable on numerous grounds.

That being said, you know an awful lot about conservatism, the movement, the praxis, etc.

One thing I like about CJ is what you say: "One major ideological distinction between Conservatism and Orthodoxy is that Conservative Jews are more likely to make their own decisions on halachic issues"

One thing I don't like, is that I know I wouldn't "like" being in a conservative synagogue based on what I've seen and what I know. I hypocritically don't really like really MO folks that much!

I know, it's bizarre. I think many in my boat are in the same position. Since tradition (cue up Fiddler) is such a big part, going to a place that's not part of the normative Jewish experience of thousands of years, takes that part away. It may be more fulfilling on other levels. Plus, unless people beleive in it, it's hard to form communities. Again, I attribute that to the driving on Shabbos issue. Since it's optional, the conservs don't form communities with anywhere near the depth of interaction and networking of OJ communities. But again, not to paint them all with a broad brush- my experience is limited in this regard.

Good Shabbos.

ps- is your moniker based on the merger of the three jewish monvements converging into one "coat of arms"? Just curious.

11/11/2005 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Biotorah said...

You know what really disapoints me in Kiruv. There are no anti-Zionists in Kiruv. Kiruv programs never present anti-Zionism as a halachically acceptable option. I do not affilate with anti-Zionism, but I think kiruv programs should be more like an agenecy trying to work out which of the 12 tribes the lost souls come from.

11/12/2005 8:59 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"There are no anti-Zionists in Kiruv." Not true! The more chareidi the kiruv person, the more they bash Israel. But they treat learning there as a necessary evil.

I never heard a kiruv rabbi say "Israel's amazing, you've got to settle the land there, etc."

They mostly have mixed feelings at the litvish places. Aish encourages folks to stay, but that's it.

The rest of your post is a bit strange, perhaps you could elaborate.

11/12/2005 10:01 PM  

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