Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Truth shmooth

Judaism in general, and Orthodoxy in particular, is in flux. Today's version doesn't look like the Orthodoxy of our fathers and grandfathers. And with any luck our kids will cling to an Orthodoxy that doesn't exactly resemble our own. Therefore, the idea that any particular idea or dogma is "not Orthodox" is a little like saying that a particular style of clothing is "not fashionable." Believing that the universe is old is like wearing bell-bottoms. Nowadays, its gauche for Torah True Jews, but it was not always thus, and the pendulum has a way of swinging back. Some day in the future, perhaps the TY's take on evolution will be "the new black."

So what about "The Truth?" Ah, yes, the truth. Gather round children, for DovBear has an important bit of grownup wisdom to share: Truth is a multifarious thing. Also, it is by definition subjective. Also, it's not the only value that matters.

Truth is a multifarious thing

Also, it is by definition subjective
Whenver we sit across from our study-partners and attempt to puzzle out what God wants from us, we're engaging in an act of interepatation. As you've heard me say before, any act of interpretation is biased because people are biased. We're not capable of apprehending the whole truth. Only parts of it. This is what the Sages meant when they said the Torah has 70 faces. Every perception occurs from a particular point of view, and every perception is different. We're each a perceiving center, and every perception is different.

Also, it's not the only value that matters.
As Isaiah Berlin put it: "Liberty can conflict with equality or with public order; mercy with justice; love with impartiality and fairness; social and moral commitment with the disinterested pursuit of truth or beauty... Conflicts of values are an intrinsic, irremovable part of human life; the idea of total human fulfillment is a chimera.

I turn to Orthodox Judaism for many things, all of them important and all of them irreplacable - but not for "Truth."

And neither should you.

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