What does Judaism mean to me.
Note: the following is a response to a colleague who asked me to summarize, in two pages, my beliefs (mainly concerning Judaic issues) and the difference between them and the positions of the Haredi Jews. I've foregone my general reluctance to state hard-and-fast positions and risk explicit confrontation, but in this version, some points of contention were not included.
Yitzhak Hayut-Ma'n can be contacted via E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
1. That there is divinity about, and though-not-often-enough also in This World and in our lives. I have experienced this enough to know that it is true, and that this is much by dint of my being a Jew. Not discounting a-priory any proposed route to approach the Lord God, my being the legitimate heir to the Hebrew and Jewish intellectual and moral legacy has benefited me tremendously in this respect, while it also obligated me to much, as befits such nobility. Being Jewish and believing in God places one at a very privileged place in humankind's greatest adventure/quest.
2. I do not believe, however, that there can be any fixed system of rules that must bind God, or that just by adhering to some fixed formulae. The Lord is beyond that, and for me theophany has always been a beautiful surprise which I've never tried to reproduce mechanically. Yet I do admire the sheer audacity of Moses and the prophets of Israel in convening a covenant with the Lord - I can sense they have known the Lord better than anyone else. With them and their legitimate followers, we now have the senior rights of perhaps the world's greatest Intellectual Property - which we can capitalize upon.
3. The crown Jewel in our legacy is the Torah. I believe that the Torah is now coming of a New Age to give guidelines for a great work of Reconstruction for all humankind. I can see how it was written expressly for a generation such as ours, living as we do in a pivotal stage in the development of humankind. We can read now in the Torah so many things that have been canceled, or in comma, for the whole length of the Galuth, such as the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the Jubilee and the Temple (comprising, in fact, the majority of the Mitzvot of the Torah). As for the authorship of the Torah, it was made by God-inspired people. Opening the question of their identity does not diminish its inspirational quality. In my case I have found that it has added more depth for my reading in the Torah.
4. The Talmud, an admittedly human creation) has a great value, much of it still unutilized. We have agreed that the weakness of most religions and beliefs proffered about is that they foster credulity. The Talmud is probably the world's only religious text which trains people for skepticism and critical thinking. The principles of the Talmud, as well as its conversational methodology, should be applied in many new applications for government. These could make supreme training media.
5. I see a special value for our particular esoteric legacy, the Kabbalah (which means, literally "legacy"). It gives us the major keys for developing a spiritual (psychological, social, medical, etc) science and technology.
Why and in What I may differ from the Haredi People (Orthodox view)
1. The name Haredi means, literally, "frightened" or "paranoid". I hope I'm fairly free of these qualities.
2. (available via E-mail)
3. I see the orthodox as an essential, but not exclusive, component of the New Israel that can serve the divine purpose on earth. A tribe (of Yehudah, if you like) among brother-tribes that do not necessarily cling to the Halakha, possibly not even to Judaism as such. To take an over-mechanistic analogy: a computer system is made from various component units, not all of them even handling the information. Among these there is the ROM (Read-Only Memory) unit(s). It preserves the information that was burnt into it, and prevents its being changed. This preserved code can then act as base for the active memories and active control units. Alone, the orthodox are impotent for actualizing the Torah, build the Mikdash (Temple) or fulfill the mission of Israel.
4. (available via E-mail)
5. I am afraid that anything can become an idol, even the Talmud and/or the Torah, even Judaism. I am concerned that people are very concerned with Yidishkeit and "Jewish Tradition" and not enough with the Lord of Israel.
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