Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ethical Critiques of Orthodox Judaism (found this somewhere)

I think this fragment puts into a different perspective some of the assaults by Daat Emet, Israel Shahak, etc, regarding the ethical failings of the Halachic rubric as a Revealed way of life.

At its best, orthodox Judaism shares and even lives out the ideals of many contemporary non-Jewish societies; people are encouraged to pursue what is collectively seen as the Divine, morality is to be order in accord with spiritual ideals, people are given freedom within reason to explore their ideals, etc…At it’s worst, orthodox Judaism is insular, bases it's readings of itself on empirical falsities, is oppressive, intolerant, stringent. This is said of the over-all rubric of Halacha, not of mere particular administrations in the times of the Judges or Monarchies. At their worst, gentile societies in their over-all rubrics have been autocratic regimes, genocidal, racist, anti-woman, anti-child, sexual and physically abusive and exploitive, etc. Is there any comparison?
Is Judaism just another among many “tradition-bound truth” perspectives on an inaccessible truth (following Alistair MacIntyre terms in "Whose Justice? Which Rationality?", not nec. his actual opinion), - or is it a Truth-bound Tradition amidst many perspectives (considering the distinctive claim of national Revelation, the kind of history Israel has had, it's leavening affect in the world, etc)? Also R. Jonathan Sacks (From "Dignity of Difference"), and “cultural-boundedness” of ethics, expectations of conduct, relationship to “humanity”, etc, how that we can’t foster universalist ethics or even a concept of humanity, etc, without first having im-mediate felt particularist senses of ethics, of peoplehood, of being human a certain way, cognated from within societies. Berkovits and being in history;

“The intellect or the soul may be satisfied with the creed; the whole man, however, may serve
God only through the deed…. However, in order to be, the deed must be effective; and it must
be so in the place where it belongs—in the external world, in history”.
God, Man and History, ed. David Hazony (Jerusalem: Shalem, 2004), pp. 137-138.

(also the bit in GMH where he mentions man’s holistic, whole complete being is not as “spiritual beings”, but as human beings - and that being our mode of relationship/worship; but I would say it’s also our modus – period). Also Veira ’03 from R. Sacks on website on meaningfulness of history.


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