Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rooting for Daniel Shwartz

Rockland Lawyer Daniel Schwartz now has a huge X on his back and I fear for what the forces of the Inquisition might do to him, but man.... I leapt out of my seat when he landed this blow on fat, arrogant Gordimer's nose:
Gordimer’s tactics do achieve one purpose; they squelch free and open debate. It’s always been true, that throughout history, as information became and becomes more and more available to the masses, Judaism in any of its forms, is only as successful and meaningful to people as its ability to compete in the free marketplace of ideas. That’s especially true of any Orthodoxy as it draws its legitimacy from defending tradition and cleaving to practices that appear anachronistic or worse to the casual observer or neophyte seeker. Modern Orthodoxy has the added challenge of articulating how to go about incorporating practices and values that are not specifically Jewish into the Halachik orbit, whilst not altering Judaism’s basic form. But Gordimer, via his denigration of Open Orthodoxy and its leadership, refuses to engage in free and open debate, to compete in the free marketplace of ideas. And that refusal is tantamount to an admission on his part that in fact Modern Orthodoxy has nothing to contribute to the discussion, has nothing to offer those who are troubled by the status quo. For Gordimer, one is either “in or out,” a true believer or a heretic. But it is Gordimer’s worldview that is rendered out. Why should an outsider take him seriously, when he takes no one, other than himself and those who think as he does, seriously?"
Team Gordimer operates under the premise that some truths are self-evident, and just not up for debate, but they forget that Jews have been debating interpretations and applications since the time of the mishna at least.

Moreover, if human history has shown us one things it is this: the only way to get at the truth is via dialogue and debate. You've got to constantly  test and defend and refine your ideas, always allowing the best argument to carry the day.

Truth, by definition, is available to human beings only in partial ways - our knowledge is imperfect. When people bring their own thoughts and their own experiences to the group -where they offer and accept criticism, and honor the positions of others- our ideas are refined, and this process makes the ideas better. When Judaism teaches that there are 70 faces to the Torah it is recognizing that human knowledge is subjective, and that truth can only be reached cooperativly. So though I agree that Judaism is not a democracy, I insist that democracy has a certain holiness because when it is used correctly and in good faith, the community draws nearer to the truth.

This is what Gordimer seeks to undermine, and its why he must be stopped

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