Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rambam's Necessary Beliefs in Modern Orthodoxy

The ever-popular "truth for the masses" and the "truth for the enlightened" really cuts both ways (especially when you're trying to create a new mass and enlightened Orthodoxy, a la R. Marc Angel...). There are respectable disputations between theists and non-theists in the academia, thoughtful, dialogues between religious/non-religious scientists who believe in the deliverances of reason and in revelation - but many of the philosophical settings for the DISCUSSION of principles of religious life and belief are rooted in *general*, shared, non-exclusive philosophy; i.e., the doctrine may be Jewish in origin, but the formulated *argument* for it is made in non-Jewish setting.

Much of Orthodoxy has cut itself off from both the give and take of the exchange, and when it has engaged in the exchange, it is often cut off and ends with a few thinkers in cloistered settings. Of the Jewish movements that fractaled out of the impact of modernism at different times, I primarily blame Orthodoxy for convincing Jews that things must be 'untouched' by humans and the facts of human life, must be 'unchanging' to be sacred or holy. Truth can be tainted or by falsehood, revelation soiled OR spoiled by thoughtless OR over zealous custodians.

As a result, any Jewish movement since the general Enlightenment speaking of "tradition and change", of evolution, is a comically embarrassing Frankenstein dabbling in genetic engineering, and anything claiming to be "timeless and uncompromising" shows itself to be dated and compromised by revisionism. Also as a result, a perspective can be true, may be Torah even (deducible from Torah sources), but that doesn't make it kosher...oh but we've dug ourselves a deep, deep galut.


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