Friday, September 05, 2008


Of line, I've been speaking to readers who find my blog subversive. "You're trying to drive people away from traditional Judaism" is one complaint I've recently fielded.

I don't mean to sound rude and dismissive, but I think that's absurd. I'm not trying to drive people to do anything but think. I don't mock the traditional view, but the idea that what you learned in cheder is the whole, and only, traditional story. See, I like ideas; anyone who refuse to engage them makes me suspicious. Put everything on the table and talk about it, I say, and the truth will come out. So many of the so-called religious blogs take the opposite, more propaganda-driven approach. They delete comments. They argue dishonestly. They omit to mention all the facts. The censor the parts of the Mesorah they find unsavory.

In my own short life I've seen the damage this approach has done. "Traditional" Judaism is narrower now that it was 20 years ago. Ideas, practices and approaches our parents and grandparents found "traditional" are now beyond the pale. [Related] The real estate a "traditional Jew" can comfortably occupy gets slimmer every day.

That's a trend worth fighting.

On this blogs, I do lots of things, and share lots of thoughts. Some of what I say and do in the book is quasi-heretical, but more often what I put forward is a traditional view (i.e. a Rashbam, or Midrash) that's so far forgotten people imagine its message is "non-traditional."

For instance, there is plenty of room WITHIN the radition for saying that what we have today is not a letter-for-letter match with the Torah Moshe received. It's perfectly TRADITIONAL to cite the Ibn Ezra, Avot d'rabi Nathan, Rav Yosef in Kiddushin 30a, the Radak, the Ramah, R. Yom Tov Lipman Milhausen, and all the other TRADITIONAL sources that recognize this.

Isn't it? And there are many more examples of this kind.

Buy my book. (and see more examples of what I mean.)

No comments: