Thursday, September 02, 2010

hopefully finished before Rosh Hashanah

I think popular paradigms of hashgacha pratit encourage a peculiar certainty about the nature of the world. It is as if all - spiritually speaking, physically speaking, everything - as in everything all over, over time from Day One on - could have happened no other way than precisely as it did and does, no exceptions - without resulting in badness we don't like ("Potterville" scenario of "It's a Wonderful Life"), if not universal destruction. To my mind, this mortal-held certainty impinges on God's freewill (depending), in saying He could not "do" it all any other way than we witness or experience (or are told by the sampling of the mesorah) - since Creation is as Creation does - "it" would not be any other way, that there is no way for the world to be than as it "is". So?

Kiruv workers face many arguments from many challengers, and most will concede the logical possibility of one or multiple challenges to traditional Judaism to be logically possible - occasionally compellingly so. For example, the weaknesses of Kuzari argument will be admitted by many, many RWMO will admit the possibility of natural morality/ethics which Torah then comes to define, certain fewer will formulate ways of reconciling Biblical Criticism and observance, say uncle to evolution, consider that halacha is often very socially-conditioned, embrace non-literal readings of most all historical narrative of Torah, and rejection of revisionist histories of "Jewish survival". But when many of these points are allowed or conceded, one is really left wondering what makes Judaism specially special - since many faiths have and do engage in such reconiliations of core defining matters - admission of many of them makes Judaism less strong in say, historical argument against Christianity's claims; or the liberalizing claims of the reformists.

One approach left is to demand that the OTDer or potentially-frummy explain various historical "particularisms" of Traditional Judaism that boil down to this; how much better the world is for "Jewish" Judaism being in it, how different it would be without it, how impossible the world you encounter would be (as a modern, Western, affluent Jew), without it.

But the assumption behind such historical claims is far too inclusive of the events and uncertainties, the vagaries of Day One. Everything now derives as a result of Day One - laws therein accumulated, conditions therein rule out others, by definition. Yes,"fundamental Constants" of the early universe included radical conditions from which the slightest deviation - at that time - meant literally universal destruction - but at many points over time (again, something time is within creation), these conditions concreted and "universal destruction" is ruled out. Mary is not inevitably a widow, Potterville is no inevitability - and again the particularity of kiruv apologetics faulters. People apply the same potentiality of Day One to every moment of history, without allowing that conditions and circumstances rule out others, make the path for potential futures.

On top of which our knowledge of past events, let alone the present - change inexcorably. The past is never what we think it is, just as so many hashgacha pratit stories explored too thoroughly become rather mundane events - or not-so-particular miracle stories.

What I'm saying I think is that the world - from the biblically and Western (biblical) scientifically proposed Day One - really does look to have a path and structure to it - but many. God is pro-life, pro-intelligent life, the universe is much the same - not just pro-Homo Sapiens Sapiens, let alone Jewish Homo Sapiens. Many possibilities! Avraham Avinu for example was obviously a very, very special person - the only one who raised his hand in class, shall we say. But he did it in classroom.

What I'm saying is possible is that there could very likely have been many numbers (but not any; rules, conditions and parameters accumulate), of other possible ways - and we, as Kellner has pointed out - could be doing a Judaism derived from the Navajo. And I'm not sure how this possibility applies any less to the moments of our lives - with no spiritual or physical harm done to the universe.


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