Sunday, January 15, 2006

State of the Hashkafa (Ramble in D Minor)

JOHN EDWARD: Everything I tell people is positive and gives them hope. How does that make me a douche?
STAN: Because the big questions in life are tough: Why are we here, Where are we from, Where are we going. But if people believe in asshole douchey liars like you, we're never going to find the real answers to those questions. You arent just lying, you are slowing down the progress of all mankind. You douche.

I guess this post is mostly space filler while I debate attempting to sleep- lately I've been questioning why I bother to blog.

The really big questions in life seem to dwarf the men who try to give the answers. The orthodox rabbis I know have neat little packages tied in bows for every question you could ever ask. The fact that their answers are less than satisfying to anyone with a modicum of rationality or sense of history does not phase them, but has taken a heavy toll on me.

Here is a list of things that irk me about Orthodox Judaism:

1. Leadership is hereditary.
Why is it so important that a rabbi have yichus and why is it essential that his children take over the family business? Given the scarcity of true rabbinic talent, what are the odds that a rabbi's son will be his equal? I don't recall Einstein's children achieving at the same scale of their father.

2. The Bible is so obviously a collection of edited myths, it boggles the mind that people who believe in them literally are taken seriously.

3. The Oral tradition is obviously a hodgepodge of disparate views, few of which are actually connected to the religion practiced by the Ancient Israelites.

4. Heaven. Heaven seems to be pretty important to the adherents of Orthodox Judaism. Why the devil wasn't it mentioned in the Bible? How does one experience heaven? All our senses are derived from physical organs.

5. Resurrection. Again, omitted from the Bible. One of the mantras of Orthodox Judaism is that an oral tradition is needed to explain the Written Law. Great, what text requires tekhiyat hameitim?

6. The idea that Judaism contains some sort of secret wisdom. If you look at diverse belief systems, you see recurring themes. Example of this include asceticism, dietary laws, and messianism. What exactly is the great innovation of Orthodox Judaism. The monotheism thing was a long time ago, and wasn't necessarily new back then either.

7. The idea that Judaism is immune from historic time. Things change over time. The idea that Orthodox Judaism resembles in anyway (from blekhs to bedika to Borsalinos) is laughable.

I am not so foolish as to think that I can add anything to a debate that dates back to the beginning of human existence. It's fun to live the debate though.

UPDATE: The list is hardly comprehensive, even as I hit "Publish Post" I thought of a few others, but I will save them for a different day.