Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The threat comes true - part one

Once upon a time, ok, maybe more than once, I threatened to write a bit about the things that influenced my thoughts about Judaism. A post today by DJ Singer (life on the far side... link here and on the side) got me thinking that maybe it was time to do just that. On his blog, he talks about the people that pass his way (in the blogosphere) and who they were and did he know them. I don't know him, but got to thinking that his blog has influenced some of my recent thinking about yiddishkeit (positively) and I got to thinking about others who have influenced me. (or not) The other day, I posted a link to an interview of Marc Shapiro. If you did not read that interview, you should do it. It really defines, in my way of thinking, someone whose ideas are right on the mark. In the article, Professor Shapiro explains that in "modern Orthodoxy" many of the things that were once done in our communities are no longer acceptable, and he laments these changes within contemporary Orthodox Judaism. This is why I enjoy reading Singer's blog. You see, it is written by a reform rabbinical student, someone with whom once upon a time, I would have had nothing to do. Having been raised in an orthodox home, with a small orthodox group of acquaintances, I lived a pretty sheltered life. Not only was it sheltered, but I felt it was the only lifestyle in Judaism that had meaning. True meaning. Imagine my surprise when I began working in the Jewish Communal field and found that there were other forms of Judaism that worked for many people and maybe even had some legitimacy. Imagine my greater surprise when I learned that these people, conservative, reform, reconstructionist actually KNEW SOMETHING. Now please don't misunderstand me. I mean no disrespect, nor is this how I feel today. I am merely trying to explain my spiritual travels. They began in a place of judgement. A place that says there is only one right way, and it is my way. And as many of you know, that thought process continues today for many people. It is, what I call, the Frummometer. Anyone to the right is a fanatic, anyone to the left, is a heretic. Frum is a yiddish term that means observant of the mitzvot. Of course in my world, my level of Frumkeit was always right. Today, I realize that the Singers and Shapiros of the world might actually have it right, at least for themselves and for those who share similar thoughts. I have evolved a position in life that Judaism has many legitimate "faces" (from the expression shiv'im panim l'torah - the Torah has seventy faces - meaning there are numerous way to look at it) and while I practice, observe, or believe in one way, it does not mean that other ways have no merit. They are just not for me, but they deserve respect.


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