Friday, August 31, 2007

An Authentic Judaism?

Our gracious host, Dovbear sent me the following email:

In the name of being more "authentic" has Judaism become less "authentic?"

To which I replied:

Not sure what you mean by more authentic. Has there ever been an authentic Judaism? It's always gone through developmental stages. Most people irk when hearing about the mystical side of Judaism or that it comes from Sinai(and I will admit I am one of them), but when you think about logically, this is just Judaism flowing and developing organically. It goes the same with some odd ball customs and beliefs that may pop up. Should ALL folklorish beliefs enter the corpus of Judaism. Probably not. But when you start putting down the gavel on customs such as dipping your finger in wine and putting on your forehead and back of the neck, you are in effect crushing Judaism's ability to flow out and find different expressions.

The person that is really looking for an "authentic" Judaism needs to ask himself, which Judaism is he talking about? Does he want the one before rabbinic Judaism came along? Does he want one more expressed by the rishonim? If anything, to some extent, the ideas of the rishonim have taken a back seat to another Judaism. So perhaps this means their Judaism was never the authentic one :)

We all have vision of what we would like Judaism to look like. If anything, instead of constantly lambasting others, you should be an example of what you feel is more a correct path. And if you see someone dipping their fingers in wine and putting on their magic neck bone that will not decompose, just do what I do...tell them they are a bunch of idiots ;)

I was kidding about the "idiot" remark. But, there does seem to be conflict here. Judaism by definition evolves and changes, yet when it does, people, especially those on the left complain about it. They have no problems when lets say holidays, like Purim, take a custom of the goyim like costumes, but are upset with stuff like Kabbalah. The truth is, both are now part of the corpus of Judaism. I have to admit, that I am like this too. I think alot of shtus has been swept up into Judaism. But if I want those on the right of me to respect my path, shouldn't I also respect theirs? Again, you run into conflict. IMO daas torah has gone extreme and is at the boiling point. Surely one can make the argument that this is how Judaism, or at least part of it has evolved and expresses itself. So what then. Do I respect it? Tolerate it? Is it still "authentic" Judaism?

**I hope Tzipporah likes this post :)

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