Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh My God!

I just realized something extremely important. It actually came about because of what I was thinking/ wrote in the post below this one.

It's what I wrote in my "Off the Derech" post, but larger.

I figured out why we're so fragmented.

Why are there so many of us with so many different views: Philosophically Modern Orthodox, Culturally Modern Orthodox, Chareidi, Right-Wing Yeshivish, Left-Wing Yeshivish and so on and so forth?

And why do all these groups clash with one another? Why don't we at the very least exist separately but happily?

Well, here's why:

Because we love each other.

If I love you, I don't want anything bad to happen to you. If I love you, then I want to teach you the right way, the way that I believe to be right and to hold the secret to the ultimate truth, I want to make sure that you benefit from my knowledge, that you have everything that I have, that you're going to merit Olam Ha'ba, the next world. I want you to have everything good.


And that's because I love you.

Which means that if we each think that the way we have of practicing Judaism or halakha is the right way, that we're the ones with the most honest and genuine approach to Judaism, that is what we want to share with the world, that is what we want to give over to others, that and nothing else. That is why people are so passionate about their beliefs and ideas. That is why we fight, why we can't agree, why we are fragmented and not unified.

Because each one of us is fighting to assert the validity and authority of our own personal truth, because since it works for us we assume, perhaps we even know, that it must and could work for others and bring them the happiness and rightness that we possess.

This means that the fighting and controversy between each of these groups isn't a manifestation of sinas chinam; it is, if nothing else, wrongly channeled love.

Everything that has been done to me, all the people who have tried to force ideas down my throat, who choked me and tried to stifle my individuality, who tried basically to beat me into submission and to make me into a cookie-cutter kid, all of this, all these horrible actions, all this was done to me because they meant it for the good which is at once incredibly horrifying and frustrating for me but which is simultaneously demonstrative of the great love they feel- they want me to be okay, as it were. They want me to benefit from everything they see themselves as benefiting from; they want me to have the Olam Haba that they have.

And they don't understand- they can't, they won't- that my approach is as legitimate as theirs.

But then again, do I want to admit that the Chareidi approach is legitimate? Definitely not. I can't feel at home with an approach that hides information from others, that only feels secure when it bans books or Rabbis and doesn't allow for the intake and flow of ideas. I can't feel at home with an approach that would have destroyed me for the sake of saving me, as it were. I can't, I won't, I never will; it all sickens me.

But this is what I realized:

In the same way that I see this girl's Orthodoxy (in the post below this one) as halakhically skewed, that's how they see me- as having a halakhically skewed understanding. And that's why they think I'm in the wrong. And maybe they even think that I'm still a good person worth saving, and that's why they do this to me, that's why they hurt me and cause me so much pain, because they think it helps me, they think it's good.

Nobody is ever evil because they want to be evil: the worst evils are perpetrated in the name of God, country or love.

And this is an evil perpetrated because of the great love our people has for one another. We are so fragmented, so divided, we have factions and sects that hate one another or completely dismiss one another- and why? Because we want others to benefit from what we have, what we view as right, what is the right and the good, and it frustrates us when people don't want what we have; the techniques used to force submission may also frustrate us.

But this is what I know.

They love me and they do what they do because they love me.

It's so sick, but they could have completely crushed me, they could have made me so disgusted with my own religion that I wouldn't want to be religious, and why? Out of this wrongly-channeled love. All the questions and critiques and horrible mussar speeches- all this meant for my betterment, all this meant for my own good, all of this intended out of love, not hatred.

I understand, I understand now. Oh my God, I understand!

How to fix this? This needs to be channeled appropriately. This love and concern that we all bear for one another needs to come across appropriately. The way to start is to fight over ideas, not over or with people. That was the way that Hillel and Shammai did it- they fought for God and for love of God, but both approaches were legitimate. But see, not every approach is legitimate nowadays- not from a halakhic standpoint, at least- so what to do?

The first thing is to separate the people from the philosophy.

I believe that people are innately good. That's crucial, of course. But I believe in people.

Which means that people generally want to do what is right or what is good or what is best.

Which means that generally, especially in the spectrum of Judaism, people can be good regardless of what spectrum of religion they are in. And the things that I find frustrating about people are generally those that have to do with philosophy- usually philosophies that were taught them- where I find them to be brainwashed and perpetrating brainwashing. Yes, that frustrates me.

So the people are good, it's the philosophies that are bad.

But can I say that? Can I say philosophies are bad? No, I can't! Because I too am biased and will always be biased- I hate the implementation of Ultra-Orthodoxy that I witnessed and felt and there is no way that I can logically weigh the pros and cons of a system that so totally disgusts me and hurt me. So I am biased. But I do believe that the people who advance the Chareidi system of philosophy mean well and do this for the good of others and again, out of love.

There's a quote in one of Neil Gaiman's books that goes something like, "The most dangerous people are those who believe that what they are doing is right."

And that appears to be the case in our fragmented, tortured Jewish community; each faction thinks that they are right and the others are wrong, and they want to spread their "right" notions so they try to bring others over into their camp. But obviously this is bad because it leads to your forcing ideas on people who don't want to hear them and hurting them because of it.

Which means that maybe, impossibly, we have to let it be.

That I might see you and think that I would like you to be a certain way, but I can't make you do something against your will. I can provide you with information if you ask for it, and be there to show you what is important to me, I can share myself and what I think with you, but I cannot force you to accept it and it should not be the goal to make you accept it. Even though it is so important to me, even though I really may believe that you'd be better off, per se, following the route or path that is best for me, I cannot, cannot force you to do it. And I shouldn't put pressure on you to do it; I should only be available, I should be there, present, there if you want me, if you want to hear what I have to say, but not there to force you.

Which is extremely difficult for those of us who really believe that we know something or see something in a truthful way. Because it means we have to hold back, that we can't make others be like us, that we can't force people.

But it's so much better for us all in the long run. And perhaps then we needn't be so fragmented. I may believe your philosophy is wrong but I can still love you, you the person, as long as you don't do anything too terrible, as long as you don't go around killing innocent children, for instance. Because you're a good person and I believe you have value even if I don't agree with you or believe in your philosophy. And maybe your philosophy of life really bothers me and I find it to be really flawed, but I just can't make you be like me and that shouldn't be my goal.

It means holding back and not offering what you see to be the truth, not "saving" people. It means letting go of people, of not doing what you'd like to do to help, for instance. Because that help will not be appreciated; it will be hated.

The only thing you can do is be there. There, if you want me, if you want to know what I think or what I have to say.

So that is what we should do- all of us- all of our fragmented factions- we should be there.

And that is the proper way to channel the love that drives us- being attentive. Listening. Being there. Not forcing it, not even for the person's "own good." People have to come to that realization by themselves. You can't make them. I know, because I've tried and failed and I realize that I can't and it is wrong to attempt it.

So this is what I want to do- to be there. If you want me. If you want to hear what I have to say. But not to force you, not to smother or choke you on the love I'm trying to give over. Only to be there.

A presence, but not a threatening one.

And that is what we all need to learn to be- I can't force you to think what I think, believe as I do or be who I am. I may want to because I may believe it to be right, but it is a wrong action and ultimately causes so much pain. So, so, so much needless pain.

This is my new goal: To be there.

And if all of us could do that, if each of our factions could exist in a semi-peaceful state, by which I mean that we all battle for the truth and for God's sake, like Hillel and Shammai did, but we don't force ideas down people's throats- if we could all just be there, that would be the proper way to channel the love we feel. That would produce results.

And we could make this world a better place.


Erachet said...

I really, really like this idea, and the head Rabbi of my Israel school said basically the same thing when he explained why so many Israelis seem to be rude. It's because, if you think about it, that's the way a family behaves. You're polite when you're among strangers, but you have no qualms about shoving your brothers around a bit. When you're comfortable in an environment and with other people, and when you love them and think of them as family, you aren't afraid not to put on your best manners. You can be yourself and cut them in line or say things you wouldn't ordinarily say to some random person off the street.

The only problem I have with this theory is that it seems really idealistic. I'm idealistic myself, but I also think that another reason for wanting other people to be like you (and I don't mean you Chana, I mean the general 'you') could be out of pride or out of the need to justify that what you're doing is, in fact, the right thing. There are many reasons to enforce a way of life. However, I do think that love of klal yisrael has a major role to play. :D Awesome.

Looking Forward said...

So right, and yet you make a left turn right in to the bushes at the last moment.

What you project is apathy, and is not a real way to show love. Real love means accepting the person for who they are, what they can do, and what they need, and need not to do. It means meeting them on their level, not on the level or place that we would like to find them.

You are still doing the latter, and it is only a marginaly better way or relating than is what you deride and hate.

The truth of the matter (I think) is much harder, much more difficult, and much worse. What you are saying is the "do not do unto your fellow what is undesierable to you". I Think that what we need to do, is to look and see what they need, on their level where they are to be happy and whole people, and that we need to not only respect it, but cooperate with them. That means being willing to give an interpretation that will help them grow in their conception of judaism, even if you do not necessarily agree with it.

eilu v'eilu.

Anonymous said...

Could be, OR...

Because we love ourselves.

Since I love me, I don't want anything bad to happen to me. Since I love me, then I want to teach you the right way, the way that I believe to be right and to hold the secret to the ultimate truth,

I want to make sure that I benefit from my knowledge, that I have everything , that I am going to merit Olam Ha'ba, the next world. I want to have everything good.


And that's because I love me.

Chana said...

Oh, so harsh, all of you! So cynical.

Where are my fellow idealists?


Don't think I quite like the apologetic approach for rudeness but I see where you're coming from. And yes, I'm very idealistic...

Halfnutcase, you in particular I don't agree with. I am NOT projecting apathy. I don't think you're right when you say, "look and see what they need, on their level where they are to be happy and whole people, and that we need to not only respect it, but cooperate with them. That means being willing to give an interpretation that will help them grow in their conception of judaism, even if you do not necessarily agree with it."

I don't believe in giving false interpretations in order to "get results." The only thing I believe in telling is the truth as I see it, and refraining when that could hurt.


I don't understand your point. If I love myself, why would I give a damn about anyone else? Why "teach others" the "right way?" Why even CARE about them? They have no impact on ME. As long as I'm not going to hell, then I shouldn't care about anyone else.

There would be no need to force anything down people's throats, because the only person who would matter is ME. And as long as I'M okay, everyone else can just die, as far as I'm concerned.

Unknown said...

Well, you know what I have to say on all this, so... :)

A couple small qualms - firstly, G is also correct. People love themselves, too. It's not only that they want what's best for you, but they feel that - because of "kol yisrael areivim" - they must make sure that you do what's "correct" or it will hurt them, too.

Second, only passivity [which you implied, albeit may not have meant at the end] is the wrong approach as well. It becomes a question of knowing when to be active, when to be passive, and how to go about either. I generally take the quietly active approach - as you may be aware of. ;) But there are times to be quiet, times to wait, times to scream and shout.

As always, everything is eventually about balance. :)

Unknown said...

Oh, and we're ALL cynical. That's why we blog, duh. :P

Chana said...

I'm not cynical!

Unknown said...

Sok. I was kidding. But perhaps you understand what G meant?

Chana said...


I think you're reinterpreting G. You're saying that G means that we care about other people because we care about how they reflect on us- that is, how they affect OUR reputation.

Which means you don't care about the PEOPLE, you just care about reputations.

Which is a sad thing, but probably, yes, you're right, true in practice.

Unknown said...

Not our reputation, but affect US. As G said "since I love me". :)

Anonymous said...

Check it out, darshening into G ;)

Sorry for being vague. I have been known to sacrifice clarity in favor of (what I beleive to be) wit, which why I simply tried to re-work the original post.

The idea was that people to do not try and change others for the sake of others but for the sake of themselves. In my opinion it is all (o.k. mostly) about self validation. The more people that do things my way, the better I feel about my way. Moreso, the more people that I can move away from something else onto my side only increases my confidence in it. This is especially true in religion where there are major issues of self limitation at stake as well as the whole "after life" aspect. In order to live such a life takes a tremendous amount of confidence in what one is doing, and it is always easier to have confidence in something when it is a)accepted b)not apposed by an alternative.
There is also an element of self perpetuation/preservation. This is the life that I have chosen for me and mine and I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure that it is seen as right/better.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, so harsh, all of you! So cynical."

Cynacism!!? Where!!?

Larry Lennhoff said...

I don't believe an authentic love wants to make the love object over into a copy of the lover. I rejoice in the diversity of the people I love. I guess the difference is that I don't believe I have THE truth, only A truth.

Looking Forward said...

Chana, you proceed from the presumption that there is only one right derech in torah, that there is one particular philosophy and halachic path that will meet every single persons needs. This is not so. Amoungst the material presented to us many different valid hashkafos and approaches can be hewn out, all of them concurently, and in a very beautifull way they contribute one to another and make for klal yisroel a much greater picture than could be accomplished alone, just as 3 people of differing skills and talents can accomplish much more than 1 jack of all trades can.

It is not perverting your judgment or opinion to tailor your statements to the recipient and bare in mind their station and purpose in life. There is a certain hashkafa that suits you, and fits you well. For the other person that hashkafa could be quite detrimental.

One cannot, obviously, preach idol worship, but it is healthful to recognize and celebrate the legitimate diversity that is torah. Such is a much more mature understanding, yours is simply the approach that you hated brought up one level. It is an approach of passive dissinterest. It does not matter what is in one's heart, if one sits and does nothing one's love is meaningless. Thus people do what they try to do, but ultimately we must recognize the diversity of torah and of people and recognize that the same hashkafa will not fit everyone. I certainly believe in the goodness of studying in college, but there are people whom I have known who I would not counsel to do so, because it would be harmful to their worldview. All of this is about mutual respect, and encountering each person in their place and loving them for their place chana.

Chana said...


"There is a certain hashkafa that suits you, and fits you well. For the other person that hashkafa could be quite detrimental."

Okay, so that's the most important thing- does each person have a specifically tailored legitimate hashkafa for them or is there potentially one true worldview that would and should suit everyone, but which people oughtn't to force upon others?

You say that there's loads of differing hashkafot and opinions and they're all legitimate. I think that might have worked in Talmudic times (like by Hillel and Shammai) but I don't think that it's true today. I think there are certain hashkafot that are simply wrong, not only from an emotional standpoint but from an intellectual standpoint.

Hence I don't buy what you're saying, and that's why what I've said works for me. Assuming I believe there is one particular truth (and that is one mandated by halakha, and no, not every hashkafa out there today subscribes to halakha) I must hold back from forcing it upon lots of different people.

You have this very (as it seems to me) tolerant approach of every view, and while that might work for you, it would never work for me.

Hence we're going to disagree- you think that hashkafot and beliefs must be tailored to suit people; I think that ideally and in a Messianic world there will be one firm standard and set of beliefs (with slight deviations, perhaps, as the "eilu v'eilu" approach allows for- that is, there can be Chassidus and Rationalism side by side) that we will all subscribe to.

Anonymous said...

So, no taking on any kiruv projects for you, eh Chana? ;-)

I think that your premise is absolutely spot-on. But I think that your conclusion just won't work. Your premise is that we care, and for most of us, our care stems from a very deep-seated belief in what is Truth and Goodness. When people's values come from religion, and people are so certain that the key to Goodness resides in their ideas, their views are, well, fundamentalist to a degree. Perhaps we Jews are fundamentalists.

And if the care that one Jew has for another stems from his fundamentalism, and his sincere concern that every person should be able to reach ultimate avodas Hashem or whatever, how can we sit tight and be satisfied knowing that we are able to impact others but we choose not to? How can we be content in a state of cosmic dissonance when we could, potentially, be able to affect cosmic harmony?

If your beliefs are fundamentalist in nature, you can't sit still and let the world be sinnerly like that.

[Of course, we shouldn't call it kiruv, and we shouldn't want to do kiruv in order to condescendingly make people better in our own image; we should care enough about ahavas yisrael to reach out to our more estranged brethren. If it is not a labor of sincere love, it will not work.]

Chana said...


Nope, I'm not a kiruv kind of girl.

"If your beliefs are fundamentalist in nature, you can't sit still and let the world be sinnerly like that."

See, that's why I think the action is heroic. Because you want so much to make someone act or believe a certain way but you logically ascertain that it will be bad to force it upon them and that is why you hold back.

I guess we'd have to make a divide between reaching out and forcing ideas onto people. I think reaching out is fine as long as you are willing to stop if the person says "No thanks." Otherwise, I think it's much better to wait until you're asked, to be open and available to people's questions but not someone who is going to drown them in rules, laws and regulations in which they have no interest. And which indeed will have the opposite effect and repulse them.

Looking Forward said...

Chana your mistake comes from misconception of the halachic process. (but I will say no more after this comment.)

There is much in halacha that is subject to segnificant dissagreement, and as at least one halachist stated "they have whom to rely on and they are permitted their views".

Halacha is not arbatrary, but neither does it have a single fixed conclusion. This is the reason why there are so many different oppinions on almost everything in torah. This one says that women may study no torah, and he cites his proof, this one says that they may study alot of different torah texts, and he cites his proof.

and on and around it goes. few if any of the oppinions are definitive and irrefutable, and some are more different than one being more lenient than the other.

Take the area of the tying of techelet. Almost no two rabbanim after the close of the period when techelet where worn agreed as to the method of wearing them, and each cited and offered a talmudic proof. MAny of them are wildly different, and each one comes from a different source and conception.

Halacha is not always so clear as you pretend it to be, and is frequently murky and difficult to descern, and many rabbanim come up with wildy differing opinions. IN many cases there is no way to satisfy all oppinions. Another example is shechita. Many (especialy pre modern hereidim) held that the best shechita had to be carried out with the animal right side up. Others contended that the best way is that the animal be on it's back. Personaly I think that the latter are stupid and that it is a cruel kind of shechita and therefor forbiden, but I understand their logic, although I see it as quite flawed.

There are so many conlflicting traditions in halacha that it is very easy to end up in a different place in one's understanding of the process than another person. Some say that we say al mitzvos tzitzis on a talis katan, others rule that such a bracha is a bracha l'vatalla.

Your conception of halacha as having one deffinite end is a horrid misconception, and you are far brighter than to think that way. The only reason that I can think of you thinking that was is (what I might call) contamination by that bais yaakov school you attended. Halacha is a varied and complex entity, that while not arbatary, certainly looks that way, and can feel that way. Frequently halacha is modified by the hashkafa of the person deciding it as they weigh one option as being more important than the other, (a common issue) and therefore rule a certain way.

Personaly I don't see the hereidi practice as conforming with the torah, but in the end you have to realize that all hashkafas are not completely reconcilable with torah, as there are to many completely contradictory directives and lessons in the torah to actualy meet them all, and this is where variation comes in. This person chooses to emphasize this aspect of torah, and this one chooses to emphasise another.

Chana said...

Hmmm, Halfnutcase, I agree with you that there are many different views in halakha, but there's always the particular way in which we actually pasken isn't there?

And that might differ based on whether you're Sephardi or Ashkenaz, but still, when it comes down to true halakah, it's either this or that, isn't it?

Or are you telling me that all the opinions are accounted for? Because that can't be right; the Gemara itself oftentimes shows that even though both opinions are right there is only one way in which we pasken or rule.

Which is why I would think that there must be a definitive end- the way we pasken.

See, with tekheles for example- we don't know now which way is the right way so we all do our best to tie it in a way that covers all the different verses or ideas, but when the Messiah comes we'll know, won't we, and it won't all be guesswork anymore.

Incidentally, I don't really think that I've been contaminated by my school just because I think that there is a particular way in which we definitively rule in the end. I think that point is very supportable, and all you're doing is demonstrating that there is a spectrum (which there is) but when it comes down to it, we do rule one particular way. Our not ruling in a particular way nowadays often has to do with the fact that we don't know and there's no Sanhedrin (which is why, as I understand it, and of course I might be mistaken) your tekheles example doesn't necessarily work.

Looking Forward said...

there is one way we pasken and different rabbis pasken differently.

The gemorah, which is universaly accepted, had the authority to pasken a certain way, and to authoritatively refute a certain stance.

We, on the other hand, do not. Our rabbis are those who simply cast their vote for themselves and their community, they do not have the authority to permenantly decide halacha.

and as far as the halacha of the techelet, al pi hachala tzitzis are valid with a single loop, and two double knots, one before, and one after. After this one gets in to a great deal of variety with regards to what is "ideal". Almost none of them are compatible at all.

even with the sanhedrin in function, there were still the schools of hillel and shamai, and numerous other individuals. Each of them taught their oppinion of torah to their students, and you can bet that it wasn't just a nice intelectual vort.

Further we find with regards to tefilin, for instance, that they state that there where four kinds of teffilin, each used by three of the origional tribes. These tefilin corespond to those of rashi, rabbeinu tam, raavad, and shemusha rabba (whom each champion a particular opinion) and the question as to this issue related to which pair relates to those whom do not know their tribe (a problem in the time of the sanhedrin) although each one still theoreticaly should be used by different people and a different one used by others. (this is in a midrash)

Chana said...

Okay, can't refute your tefillin point.

Sigh. So you're telling me that everyone has to have a hashkafa tailored for them?

I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.

Unknown said...

HNC - Where's that midrash? I've never heard that before.

As for your general views, I'm going to disagree.

Chana - I do not believe that each individual must have their own hashkafa, and you'll find that not only is such a thing impractical from a generation-to-generation standpoint, it's impractical on an individual level.

As in Halacha, where there are certain basic precepts that all agree to with variations only in certain details, Hashkafa is formed the same way... but with substantially more flexibility. Halacha is not as flexible as HNC has made it sound; even hashkafa is not. We also have built-in understandings of both, with, again, variations from different backgrounds. But common themes pervade, and common laws and hashkafos do as well.

If there were as much variation as implied, religious Judaism - which already runs a nice gamut - would be so incredibly dissimilar as to be unrecognizable, group to group. You met my first cousin - my father's brother's son - 10 days ago. We are completely different... but really, we're not. Almost everything we do and feel and our halachos are the same. Merely a few hashkafos our different. The key is recognizing those similarities first; understanding where the differences lie and why; and then making those differences clear to all and smoothing them out somewhat.

It's why my cousin and I can get along so well despite so much which we disagree on, yet when people like me talk about people like him - and vice versa - it's with so much animosity. They aren't seeing the similarities, only the glaring differences.

Looking Forward said...

No, but that I think that the differing hashkafot that exist and are possible are a usefull component of meeting the emotional needs of each of the diverse members of our population.

Torah is not a stand alone religion, and is one that only has meaning in the presence of comunity, thus one cannot just go and do what ever one desires. One is required (as is testified to in many halachos) to commit oneself to membership in a particular community, and I think that generaly (but not always) the communities fall within halacha. Some of it I do not like, and most communities still have alot of work ahead of them to reach their true ideal, but I do think that these are valid expressions of jewish tradition, within halacha.

And a person must find a community that furthers their connection with hashem and controbution to the world, and when teaching them, one should bear in mind their station and emotional/spiritual needs, and make sure that one teaches them in accords with their spiritual needs. This does not mean prostituting your self intelectualy, but it does mean being somewhat broad minded and open thinking when considering a problem for someone else. Obviously if someone gives you a problem that you cannot ethicaly solve, perhaps one should (happily) refer them to someone who is able to do so.

it's alot of grey really, and it's rather a bother, but such is being a Jew.

Looking Forward said...

ezzie, just to be clear, I'm well aware of the enormous amount that is the same, every male orthodox jews wears a yarmulka, the same as any other, for instance.

But there are segnificant differences, and I suppose in lots of cases I tend to take those constants for absolute granted and emphesise the remaining (truely breathtaking) scope of the differences. These are differences that I believe between them tend to account for any or at least most of the personal variations in peoples tempraments.

(althoug even some things that should be constant, like zman tefila, are sometimes taken for granted, which drives me crazy)

C said...

I think that everyone has their own truth (shivim panim letorah), and as long as that truth is not heretical with regards to Torah, we should not reject it.

The point is to be accepting of everybody-to realize that not everything works for everyone. If I look good in curly hair, should we abolish straight hair???

I am chareidi. Obviously, that doesn't work for you, Chana, but does that mean that I can't respect you? Not at all! We just have to realize that there is room for others' opinions as well.

Chana said...


How do you define Chareidi? I'm curious.

Unknown said...

every male orthodox jews wears a yarmulka

Not at all. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Chana,

If possible this is meant to be a private communication.

You are still young and your mind has not yet been completely drowned and brainwashed in misguided intellectual jewish thinking.

There is another way, a better way, a higher way, above all the religions of the world.

I am sharing it with you because I feel your still pure heart and I truly do wish to see yet another fine jewish person's heart age to become hardened, corrupt, or to give up in defeat later in life because the elders of the jewish community despite their good intentions mislead their children.

God bless your kind soul and may you rise up dear friend.

Please visit and please do not rush to judgement but give truth a chance:

smoo said...

What you have so eloquently reimagined as love misdirected, is actually a by-product of evolution. Humans have depended upon cooperation and coalitions to survive. Coalitional dynamics require special group thinking. Pascal Boyer in Religion Explained points out that the way we view people is in terms of their associations with a broader, more general social category. John is from the Smythe Clan, Eddie is Asian and Tommy, black. From there we further note- John is from our clan/group while the others are not. His non-cooperation with our group expectation is akin to defection and would be punished or rebuked. Loyalty to the group is essential.

Eddie and Tommy are not from our group. No matter what these individuals do, we will extrapolate their actions to be characteristics of their group (regardless if true or not). Actions of these individuals would warrant response against their group as a whole. (Racism is starting to make sense, isn't it?).

So within the group we tend to enforce cooperation and compliance so we would expect our neighbor to keep us in line with the group philosophy. This would apply to why different sects of Jews try to enforce their thinking on other Jews. Simply put, we are all Jews and that requires commitment to the group. However there are also elements of out-group thinking. Inevitably when dealing with a large group, smaller subgroups will tend to form whose social dynamics also take on in-group/out-group thinking. Each group thinking that their group consists of finer characters than those of other groups. Each group would value their view of Judaism as more correct than another sub group of Jews. Then out-group dynamics come into play. For example if we hear of a hasid involved in an abominable act, the first thing we say is, "Those hasidim..." We extrapolate an individuals actions as representative of the whole. In that way, there are divisive forces at work.

People believe that others represent the world as they do. If they view an act as morally wrong, they just assume you do as well. (Moral Realism) This is where their attempt to re-educate you comes in because of course they know they are correct, you just need some prodding to realign you. People also have a vested interest in believing their truth to be absolute.

I did, however, enjoy the optimistic, hopeful message of your post. It shows the depth of your good nature and your eagerness to find the good in others or in outwardly negative experiences. If more people were like that or in the very least strove to be that way, the world would be unrecognizable to us today. Unfortunately, the representations you have of others are not necessarily the ones they hold for themselves. There are people with other agendas and other baser drives who don’t have as peaceful a view of the world and are willing kill for their beliefs. But don’t let me stop you enthusiasm and quest for a better world. Finding the good in things is better than finding the truth.

Anonymous said...

Chana, one of the most wonderful interpretations I've heard is that when the Jews were crossing the Yam Suf, they crossed in 12 separate paths one for each Shevet because Am Yisrael has within it Jews who follow Hashem in different paths all to the same destination. I think we need to just allow each other to be, but also to recognize that each path may be important, that connecting to Hashem through Judaism is most important and how one does that is unimportant for the rest of us. For example, I don't agree with current Chareidi initiatives, espoused philosophies, but I understand that some find that Derech to work for them and are very happy within it. I also do not agree with the assertion by some liberal Jews that homosexuality should be allowed and accepted, but I understand that there are homosexual Jews who wish to practice Judaism, some even want to practice Orthodox Judaism. I do not wish to stand in the way of their path nor in the way of the Chareidim.
But here's a question we should all seek to answer: How can we love each other if we do not know each other. The Torah uses the term VaYedah to mean "and he loved." Its literal meaning is "and he knew." Many of us seek to "convert" each other without properly understanding each other and respecting our place on the Derech to Avodas Hashem. So I always feel the need to be very active in explaining my position in the hopes of helping someone get to know me. It usually doesn't work. A real Ohaiv Yisrael tries to get to know the Derech of others while remaining stalwart in his own. I have met a few of those. I do feel the need to teach the unaffiliated about the beauty of our way of life. They can then make an educated decision. Really important, though, is that all Jews get educated thoroughly about their religion before they decide to ignore it. There are some basics that some of us do not know. Beyond that it's their choice.

Anonymous said...

Oh and I am definately not the same anonymous as 10:03. Let's be clear about that.

Anonymous said...

"Really important, though, is that all Jews get educated thoroughly about their religion before they decide to ignore it."

It's jewish people that made me ignore it. It was others, and especially Christians who helped find and respect the Jewish religion once more...LET US BE CLEAR ABOUT THAT. JEWS, NO MATTER HOW EDUCATED ARE GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION...LET ME SPECIFY CLEARLY-JEWS ARE BECOMING MORE EXTERNAL AND LESS SPIRITUAL. JUDAISM IS NOT ABOUT LOVE & SPIRITUALITY ANYMORE, I learned this very painfully.

Anonymous said...
Oh and I am definately not the same anonymous as 10:03. Let's be clear about that.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Chana: You bring this up during the appropriate time of Sefirat HaOmer.

Assuming one discounts historical background, that the "deaths of R' Akiva's students" probably had more to do with them being fighters in the Bar Kochba rebellion against Rome, than death by the "plague"...what was the reason they died?

The classic reason taught is because they "did not respect one other."

Does your thesis of love mean that thousands of Talmidei Chachamim really loved each other and therefore didn't respect each other, and therefore were wiped out in a plague? (Actually, as a side note, its interesting to apply your theory to them, since the love you discuss is really based on "Love your neighbor as yourself," which came from R' Akiva in the first place.)

The issue with your thesis is that assuming the talmidim did not respect each other out of love for each other, they were still punished (and died) by Hashem.

Meaning, despite our best intentions, if we behave poorly out of love for one another, the bottom line is that our behavior is unacceptable to Hashem.

Anonymous said...

Now we're getting somewhere.

"I don't like it. I don't like it one bit."

Why not?

Neil Harris said...

Seems like most everything has been said. Fantastic post!

C said...

i consider myself chareidi cuz im chassidic. (Chabad)

Stubborn and Strong said...

Love is wrong word. I disagree with you. By the way israeli and chasid react different way. You can't compare them. You just can't. I would say "arrogance" is the better word. They see themselves that that they are better than them and "know" the truth in it.