Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oldie: Why does DovBear rant?

An old post of mine, I thought you might enjoy:

Writing about Slifkin and the ban [in early 2005] , I wrote: "..it means that we have lost. It means that a certain old, and very good style of Orthodox Judaism has been murdered; yet another victim of the Eastern European Jewish tsunami."

I wrote these words on Bloghd a moment ago, and it was a sort of revelation. This is why I am so angry. I am furious at the thought that a perfectly legitimate strain of Judaism has been swallowed whole by a younger, and perhaps less-legitimate, strain of Judaism.

This is not the place to attack the authenticity of the style of Judaism practiced by the Eastern-Europeans. Instead, let's say simply that their style of Judaism (and please note I am discussing style, and style only) is very different from the style of Judaism practiced in the West. In fact, I'll even stipulate that both styles are equally authentic, and equally legitimate.

However, I can't pretend that the Western-style is newer, which is one of many lies institutional Orthodoxy asks us to accept.

A raft of examples:

Nusach Ashkenaz isn't modern; it predates Hasidic sefard by at least 500 years. Singing Yigdal on Friday night isn't modern; it was done in Amsterdam as early as the 18th century. [Hey! I knew this in early 2005! I guess I forgot until I saw it again last week!] Blue-shirts and ties aren't modern; until very recently Jews dressed like everyone else. Opposing upshurin or eating g'broks on Passover isn't modern; the customs of upshurin or refusing g'broks didn't even exist until less than 250 years ago. Singing the tefilla isn't modern; as far back as 1623 the Council of the Four Lands inveighed against it. And of course, imagining the universe is very old is not a modern idea. Jewish scholars of stature and rank believed this several hundred years before Darwin.

But the average Haredi man on the street knows none of this, he chooses to remain ignorant of it. His leaders make no effort to educate him, and forbid him to seek education on his own.

This willful ignorance is overtaking us, the lies multiply, and no one gets the joke that what the Haredim call "modern" is, in fact, very old, and some of what the Haredim imagine essential to Judaism is, in fact, very new.

Meanwhile, those of us who know better and refuse to play along with this new Judaism are tarred as "modern" and cast into the street. It's our punishment for insisting on the authenticity and legitimacy of our older traditions.This is what galls most about the Slifkin ban. Our way is the older way, but this counts for nothing among those who tell us that the old way is the best way.

No comments: