Monday, January 09, 2006

DovBear explained (partially)

What's DovBear all about? A difficult question, asked by friend and foe alike. PsychoToddler came close to nailing it, I think, back at the very begining of my blogging career when he wrote:
I think he's trying to show that there are other facets to Orthodox Judaism. That we don't all think one way and vote one way... [My] blog shows that being Orthodox doesn't restrict you to a particular dress style, prayer style, occupation, or musical preference. We are individuals, and each of us has many potential talents and interests, and we are all capable of contributing.
Over the last year or so, I've been gratified to meet people from everywhere on the religious and irreligious spectrum who understand and appreciate my intentions. Mis-Nagid, for example, is an atheist but a Jew to the core and a fine friend of the blog; yet, so is Gil Student, the blogosphere's chief Rabbi. This week, I found out that Lazer Brody also belongs to that group:
Curtail your premature joy when you see Orthodox Jewish bloggers like Dov Bear and Lazer sparring - this is intramural, between two brothers. We have no disagreement as to all 613 mitzvas of Torah or the importance of learning Torah. Our slashing swords unite in our fight against assimilation and in our efforts for the future of Orthodox Judaism. The two fists that look like they're pounding each other are actually the hands of the same fighter.
R' Lazer for over a year, I've taken you to be a strict conformist, someone who subcribes fully to the nonsensical and ahistorical idea that"Torah True Judaism" means one approach, and one way of thinking. I was wrong about you, and I apologize.

Yesterday, when I read Lazer's post, I was deeply affected. A friend put her finger on the reason. She said, "[Lazer's post] touches the core of who you try to be when you blog." She's right and here's the rest of the story:

DovBear is many things, but foremost the blog is committed to the idea that our mesorah (tradition) overflows with competing and contradictory ideas, among them the great and noble truth that our tradition permits us to reject the tradition's own mistakes. Though I may have ruffled some feathers along the way, the blog's only real enemies are those who subscribe to the fraudulent notion that the mesorah is a monolith. [This, incidently, is why I make such a target of GOP-Jews and Jews who are Christian apologists. There's a smug certainty about many of them which I find antonymic to the idea that the Torah has 70 faces.] *

Our tradition is rich and complex with something in it for everyone, including muddlers like me who operate on the theory that reason and experience, rather than authority, provide the best basis for knowledge. Lazer disagrees with that sentiment with every fiber of his being, but still he knows that Judaism is big enough for us both.

For that, I salute him.

[*In deference to some fair points made on the thread, I've deleted this sentence]