Sunday, September 07, 2008

Observance or Affiliation?

I will be editing this of the next week I"H, so I don't have to write anything new...
To the degree ones does mitzvot as mitzvot - do they count (p.257), or not? On these things, it would seem no one can judge anyones 'praxy' (let alone me, as this is increasingly how I look at my own lifeways), when one has done [what is defined by the Halacha as] the mitzvah.

But who defines these very parameters, and when? Only the most recent authorities? May averot annul mitzvot? If it is that affiliation is more significant in determining the 'standing' of an individual, how is the performance of a mitzvah 'controlled' by the Conservative/Reform/Unaffiliated/Chabad setting in which it occurs? Many recent Charedim poskim have ruled very strongly against these movements and affiliation with them, even using language in the setting of a ruling, such that using the name of a movement classifies that person.
Is observance and/or transgression possible in ignorance and/or knowledge of the sin as Forbidden and the mitzvah as Commanded? It seems some say yes, some say no - but the consequences are not merely of this world; determination is made about who is a 'heretic' and what is heresy - people are legislated to Heaven, Hell or annihilation in accord with something that seems so fluid in its parameters?...if the punishment or reward is so bound to legal decision 'here' and 'now', are even those categories of existence only "real" in legislative history?! This can't be. The mutually-exclusive approaches in Torah Judaism, the paremeters each establish are so divergent, and the condemnation vented on many of them so extreme, there are too many "legislative histories" of so much legislation that are applied to the life and afterlife of Jews, eternal souls rising to Shamayim and plummeting to Gehinnom and experiencing annihilation at the decision of each succeeding posek or proclaimed Gadol.

Within all this, I don't think intention exhausts the efficacy of mitzvot - I recall something R. Soloveitchik said about a mitzvah being acceptable even in the absence of 'kavannah' - but what of 'in leu' of it being a mitzvah? If one does ethical deeds as ethical deeds and not Commanded Mitzvot, do they count?

Sephardim are "known" for being Traditional but not fully-observant. Commonly it's said that "if they're going to do something they're going to do it 'right'". By them, it would seem a general non-tainting of what a mitzvah is, what revelation is, etc (not abstracted them in accord with a random passing zeitgeist), granted that this strengthens 'necessary beliefs', etc. Conservative jews vs. Conservative judaism, the failure of institutionalized 'pluralism' in encouraging/maintaining the presence among conservative jews of the historically normative views and practices - the increasing intolerance in Conservative Judaism of their own stated, defining doctrine of pluralism. The historical arguments over even having a poskening body like the CJLS, the circumstances that created it's 'necessity' .

The natural, organic wisdom of Sephardic 'pluralism' - where there is not attempt to sanction every non-normative behavior or non-engagement with Jewish Law, the resulting proliferation of natural religiousness among Sephardim - rare among Ashkenazim. Their general communal "orthodoxy", etc, the establishment of legislated normativity, where pluralism naturally occurs. Kadushin's "normal mysticism", it's Conservative setting in modernist approach to 'command' - and even this kind of mysticism distasteful to Torah "rationalists".


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