Thursday, July 7, 2011

Christianity's Keyword is Salvation and Buddhism's Key Word is Enlightenment Soooooooo

What's Judaism's keyword? Community control?



What are most of the gederot in the kosher rules for? To prevent intermingling with other types of people.



What are most of the gederot in the rules of shabbat for? To keep the community in line.



It seems to me that the fact that orthodox jews like to marry so young is a tacit admission that orthodox judaism only makes sense as a family/community religion.



When you are single and unemployed, it can be helpful by providing a reason to wake up every morning and maintaining a sleep cycle (to get up for shacharit) and a reason to socialize (while learning torah) and to soooooooome kind of extent it can keep the brain active (while learning torah).


However, when you are single and EMPLOYED, all that becomes irrelevant and you wanna do your own stuff. Orthodox Judaism does not even seem to be made to be a personal religion.

6 comments:

JRKmommy said...

For once, I'll partially agree with you.

It IS a family/community religion. It's not really about meditating on a mountaintop (although you do get some mystical groups within it, like Breslov or Jewish Renewal), and instead the ideal is to be part of the community.

For singles, I guess community needs to play a bigger role, since family won't. Not just in the coercive sense (and there are less coercive Jewish communities outside the Charedi world), but in the simple sense of providing a social network, mutual support, a sense of belonging and an outlet for community involvement.

The challenge, of course, is to make sure that Jewish singles have an outlet to connect with community. Teens get youth groups, students have resources, but after that you need a place that opens its doors to singles and doesn't assume everyone comes in pairs. I imagine that Shabbat and holidays would be downright depressing without family. I remember, back when we were newlyweds and my husband was a student working 100 hours/week, finding a really funky shul that was totally open to everyone (single, married, alcoholic, newly sober, professionals, homeless, students, hospital patients, etc.), buried deep in Chinatown, and it was literally this warm, home-like beacon when we were living in a pretty sterile place. They had pay-what-you-can Friday night dinners and Shabbat lunches, everyone pitched in and we found our community. It was an Orthodox shul, but absolutely not coercive in any way (aside from very polite requests to visitors/tourists not to take photos on Shabbat). I know my old shul was a unique place, and there need to be more places like it.

Of course, there are always mitzvot that can apply to anyone, single or not. Proper business ethics, laws of proper speech (Chofetz Chaim on losher hora), etc. Maybe an employed single needs Judaism and community even more, in order to order being a workaholic and have some balance and a focus away from just oneself.

You've mentioned wanting "fun" in past posts, but I think it would be wrong for kiruv to focus just on that. It's not all "here we are now, entertain us". It's more about stretching yourself to be the best person that you can be, to make the best use of your talents to fulfil your unique mission in the world and ultimately bringing heaven down to earth in order to perfect the world. That's not just about "fun" in the immediate sense, but about purpose and ultimately joy, which is the biggest high of all.

SJ said...

>> It IS a family/community religion. It's not really about meditating on a mountaintop (although you do get some mystical groups within it, like Breslov or Jewish Renewal), and instead the ideal is to be part of the community.

And participate in having your freedoms limited and having to live a more expensive lifestyle.


>> For singles, I guess community needs to play a bigger role, since family won't. Not just in the coercive sense (and there are less coercive Jewish communities outside the Charedi world), but in the simple sense of providing a social network, mutual support, a sense of belonging and an outlet for community involvement.


The coercive sense is the only sense. If you stop being religious or lower your level of following the stuff your social network goes asta la vista.


>> The challenge, of course, is to make sure that Jewish singles have an outlet to connect with community.

Right. Only with the same gender in the community! All that work to be jewish and the men only get to talk to the men. Thanks but no thanks.


>> Teens get youth groups, students have resources, but after that you need a place that opens its doors to singles and doesn't assume everyone comes in pairs.

They all open their doors to singles as long as singles try to make their lives as strict as possible.


>> I imagine that Shabbat and holidays would be downright depressing without family.

From what I hear, Shabbat is depressing with family. There does not seem to be a real reason to stop people from relaxing in their own way.


>> Of course, there are always mitzvot that can apply to anyone

We're not talking about "mitzvot applicable to everyone." We're talking about how Orthodox Judaism does not make sense for employed singles.


>> Maybe an employed single needs Judaism and community even more, in order to order being a workaholic and have some balance and a focus away from just oneself.

See, if you already have work to provide structure, it seems to me to diminish the need for strict religion to provide structure.


>> You've mentioned wanting "fun" in past posts, but I think it would be wrong for kiruv to focus just on that. It's not all "here we are now, entertain us".

It's not that judaism itself should be entertaining noone is saying rabbis should get up and sing for people or some shit like that. Too often orthodox judaism gets in the way of having fun. cutting half the weekend, kosher restrictions, not being able to chill with the opposite gender, are all nonstarters. Oh and if you mock me for not wanting to deal with Shabbat like you have done before on your blog JRK, then you mock the vast majority of American jews.


>> That's not just about "fun" in the immediate sense, but about purpose and ultimately joy, which is the biggest high of all.

Gotta do whatever makes you happy.

JRKmommy said...

I have no issue with those who aren't shomer Shabbos (which includes almost everyone in my family). The "mocking" was intended to be sort of a sarcastic comment, which may not have come across to you in writing, because I thought it was weird/hypocritical to pull out all these religious right criticisms of the lifestyles of others, when you obviously resent being on the receiving end.

Anyway...some of your comments are valid for some of the right-wing/Charedi groups. However, while some of those groups are strong, have a high birth rate and like to claim that they perfectly represent traditional Orthodox Judaism, they are merely sects within it. Some of what they do is based on halacha, some on their own customs, some on nothing more than some rabbi's personal view which ends up being treated as Torah from Sinai by followers, and some based on nothing more than community politics. They are not a perfect reflection of everything in traditional Jewish law, nor of Judaism as a whole, or even Orthodox Judaism as a whole. I'm not denying what your experiences were. I'm just pointing out that other alternatives that you may have never experienced exist in the world.

To give a basic example - plenty of Modern Orthodox groups only have a mechitza (separation of genders) for actual davening (praying), and sometimes for dancing. Otherwise, people eat together, socialize together, attend lectures together, etc. NCSY runs mixed trips to Israel. In that world, mixed group stuff is fine, but they just encourage actual dating to be with the goal of marriage in mind, and to save the physical stuff for marriage.

Have you ever done anything with the Sephardic/Mizrachi community? Ovadia Yosef is a fanatic who IMO was tainted/indoctrinated by Litvish yeshivas, but traditionally that community wasn't dogmatic at all. There are tons of families with varying levels of observance among the members, and it's not a big deal and not cause for rejection.

Re Shabbat and structure comments:

Yes, Shabbat is described as a "day of rest", but that can be a bit of a misnomer. It's not about laziness or lack of physical exertion - if it was, nobody would walk to shul, and the rabbi could have a day off. It's about taking a rest from creating things, as a reflection of how Hashem stopped creating the world on the 7th day, and how work on the mishkan (tabernacle used by the Israelites in the desert) ceased during Shabbat. It's a deliberate break in the routine to stop running the world ourselves, reflect, and reconnect spiritually. Whether it is "depressing" with family would depend on the family, I suppose. It seems a bit sad if being together with them without electronics or work to distract everyone would be so difficult.

Yes, work provides a form of physical structure in one aspect of life - but it's just one aspect. People need some balance. Work focuses on the physical, material world. You are defined by your productive value. Those aren't bad things per se - but it's not healthy is that's all that life is about. We aren't just cogs in a wheel - we are also human, with a human worth that is more than dollars and cents. In addition, work is where we control and produce things, but the religious aspect reminds us that we are not totally in control since there is an Ultimate Source of Power in the Universe, and that we need to relate and connect to both that Ultimate Source of Power and to those around us.

Finally, someone once told me that the key to Shabbat was remembering that it comes after 6 days of work. I've certainly found that the more I did during the week, the bigger the contrast with Shabbat and the more necessary it seemed. We get that one day for spiritual connection and contemplation - but then we are SUPPOSED to work and get involved in the world for the rest of the week.

SJ said...

>> Anyway...some of your comments are valid for some of the right-wing/Charedi groups.

Basically the whole ashkenaz orthodox judaism in new york city, and some sephardic also.


>> Some of what they do is based on halacha, some on their own customs, some on nothing more than some rabbi's personal view which ends up being treated as Torah from Sinai by followers, and some based on nothing more than community politics.

ROFL people were complaining about bull shit gederot since the times of the New Testament. XD

>> They are not a perfect reflection of everything in traditional Jewish law, nor of Judaism as a whole, or even Orthodox Judaism as a whole. I'm not denying what your experiences were. I'm just pointing out that other alternatives that you may have never experienced exist in the world.

If it's the majority then I would have to disagree.

>> To give a basic example - plenty of Modern Orthodox groups only have a mechitza (separation of genders) for actual davening (praying), and sometimes for dancing. Otherwise, people eat together, socialize together, attend lectures together, etc. NCSY runs mixed trips to Israel. In that world, mixed group stuff is fine, but they just encourage actual dating to be with the goal of marriage in mind, and to save the physical stuff for marriage.

Modern orthodoxy is already too far to the religious right. It's basically black hatters who call themselves modern for kiruv purposes.

>> Have you ever done anything with the Sephardic/Mizrachi community? Ovadia Yosef is a fanatic who IMO was tainted/indoctrinated by Litvish yeshivas, but traditionally that community wasn't dogmatic at all. There are tons of families with varying levels of observance among the members, and it's not a big deal and not cause for rejection

I've actually experienced a bit of the sephardic community where the opposite of what you claim is in fact the case.

>> Re Shabbat and structure comments: etc. etc. etc.

My work schedule isn't a set thing and sometimes I do work on weekends and yes, Saturdays. And I relax whenever I feel the need to. I pray and meditate whenever I feel the need to. I am not a set 9-5er. So all the pragmatic reasons always givn for Shabbat observance (cog in the wheel, 1 day a week etc.), does not apply to me.

I do see how some of Shabbat can be helpful to 9-5ers though.

JRKmommy said...

Yes, the epicenter for right-wing/Charedi Orthodoxy outside of Israel is the New York/New Jersey area.

There's a whole world outside of New York and New Jersey. I don't live there, and have only visited, Jewish-wise, the Upper West Side plus a corner of Queens with a bunch of Bukharan restaurants.

If you ever want, I can give you a list of cool Jewish places/events/rabbis in the rest of the world.

Thinking a bit more about your last point: There is a place for personal meditation and prayer in Judaism;. The Baal Shem Tov was certainly more into taking walks in the woods than studying in yeshiva, and Breslovers are totally into meditation. Overall, though, it's not a solitary religion. I don't know if you intend it this way, but a lot of you points and questions come across as "what can Judaism do for ME?" Maybe bad kiruv is part of the problem - I've seen some examples where it seems to focus on the wonderful benefits of various mitzvot and gloss over the fact that no, not everything will always be easy or fun or bring instant rewards. It's ultimately about commandments - recognizing that one is under the Ultimate Power in the Universe, and recognizing that we have Divine obligations to others.

You strike me as being pretty young, and there is a phase of life where it's normal to be a bit self-centered because you are still figuring out who you are. I can't help thinking, though, that there is a difference between single and solitary, and I get a sense of you being in a lonely place (even if you live with your parents) and not really being connected to others.

I know it's chick-lit, but read Eat, Pray, Love. She goes through a journey and really does have some phases where she needs to focus inward, but she doesn't truly emerge whole and balanced until she's able to connect with others in a deeper way, including a pretty awesome thing she did to help someone else.

SJ said...

Firstly, I'm a New Yorker. Secondly your very last paragraph really
could use proofreading. You seem to be trying to articulating something but it looks like a mishmosh of stuff.

Also, it's not self centered for people to look for a spiritual path that is best for them. If that were the case, you would have to call gerim self centered.

I am single at the moment but not solitary. Religion is not the sole source for community.