Thursday, March 27, 2014

Yesterday's post: Do over

Too many of you missed what I was trying to say yesterday which, of course, indicates the fault is all mine. So permit me to try again. For your reference, here is the old post:
I'm prepared to agree that the Torah is perfect, but we human beings are not. Any attempt we humans make to interpret or apply the Torah must be filtered through our own limited perceptions. Approach that exercise of interpretation/application with, e.g., a pre-existing condition of bigotry, and you'll likely conclude that the Torah enshrines that bigotry when in fact it does nothing of the sort. That's in your head, not in the Torah.

All of us ignore what we wish to ignore. In the same way, we all choose to emphasize what we wish to emphasize. If you choose to emphasize the anti-gay parts of the Torah, or the anti-black midrashim, or the misogynistic asides that are all over the Talmud that says something about YOU, not about the Torah.

Many of you though I was saying that criticizing the Torah is invalid, but that was not my intent. My criticism here is directed only at people who think they are fulfilling God's word when they bash gays, mistreat minorities, and hold back women. After all "it's in the Torah" and "Who are you to second-guess God?"

In the post, I attempted to point out that while there are anti-gay verses and the anti-black midrashim and misogynistic asides sprinkled throughout the Torah, no one is forcing you to make those passages your guiding stars.

We all ignore the what we find inconvenient. Lakewood, as I've pointed out, ignores huge swaths of Choshen Mishpat, while many in the MO community disregard passages that talk about modesty and swimming on shabbos. This is because we do what we want to do first, and worry about what the book says second.

As a result, someone who chooses to base his behavior and morality on the ugliest parts of the Torah, when those passages might instead be merrily ignored, is only telling us something about himself and the corrupt attitude he had first.

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