Monday, October 6, 2008

Big Tent or a Clean House?

I like people, and I like to get along. All in all I am more comfortable with an Orthodoxy where those who don't agree 100% are comfortable. I'm not into breaking bruised reeds or extinguishing flickering flax. I am nevertheless highly uncomfortable with the notion of "orthoprax" individuals who reject Orthodoxy beliefs yet conceal this fact and participate in Orthodox life as though they were too.

I realize that the virtual world of Jewish blogs is going to magnify the extent of this phenomenon since it is a neighborhood ideal for them to meet like minded people and they where among the first inhabitants. Would I really be happier if these people hoped in their cars and drove to McDonalds next Shabbos? No, of course not. I am nevertheless very ambivalent about their presence.

A commenter at R. Gil's recently wrote,

People do go off the derech after they learn the DH. They just become orthoprax, rather than orthodox. I'm one of them. Maybe there are many more here. I have a family I love, including a wife who knows absolutely nothing about biblical scholarship. I have friends I cherish, I enjoy the intellectual fun of learning. I am part of a supporting and caring community, which is miles ahead of atheists who have no community at all. Should I throw all of that away just because they are not based on truth? Is observance of the Sabbath and kosher eating (at home) such a price to pay for happiness? Should I cause anguish to my parents who would not understand this, just to be intelectually honest? I dont think so.
This individual entirely misses the point, it is not a matter of "intellectual honesty", it is a matter of personal honesty. It is a matter of integrity. When I had just engaged my wife I began to seriously doubt that there was reason to believe that the New Testament was inspired. As we sat in the parking lot before entering the store to buy her engagement ring I revealed these doubts to her...because I owed it to her. She married me anyways, neither of us realizing where my line of reasoning would wind up. When I concluded that not only did I not believe in the New Testament but I felt that there was reason to believe that Oso HaIsh was not the Messiah I resigned my membership and left my congregation.

As it stands, you remain like a Sabbatean, outwardly observant but in truth rejecting Judaism. You take advantage of the benifits to being part of the community, but privately corrode away at the beliefs which formed that community. And now with the veil of the Internet you do so actively and derisively. I think your presence is hurtful, but I don't want you to leave either.

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