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View Diary: The Root of Orthodoxy (37 comments)

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  •  I should mention that until about 200 years ago (9+ / 0-)

    although a lot of practices among Jews varied, strict observance of the Sabbath and of dietary laws was universal.

    •  I was brought up in Orthodox synagogues (8+ / 0-)

      But I confess I do not understand "modern day" Orthodoxy.  Most of my neighbors are Orthodox Jews.  The men wear black hats and long white shirts.  The women wear long black dresses.  Apparently, colors are verbotim - I don't know why.  I don't understand the black hats.  The services are not only for male participation only, the women are confined behind a wall and can see nothing and hear little.  It's funny - our Saturday morning prayers virtually match.  But we live in different worlds.  The last time I went to services in one of their synagogues, just around the corner from our house, I had to endure a sermon denouncing gay marriage.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 04:45:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Isn't quite a bit of modern Orthodoxy among Jews (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, commonmass, Matt Z

        a reaction to the assimilation that was going on in Europe? A rediscovery of the old practices? I am not Jewish and quite ready to be corrected.

        Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

        by Wee Mama on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 06:53:20 PM PST

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        •  Its complicated (7+ / 0-)

          maybe I should try a diary to explain.

        •  I think it's about a response (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LSophia, Wee Mama, historys mysteries

          to the emergence of the Reform movement in the 1800s. Reform Judaism puts most of its emphasis on the ethical commandments and is more relaxed about the ritual ones, which are treated as more optional than obligatory. The Reform movement tried to mainstream Judaism when they first started, by not wearing yarmulkes, not doing services in Hebrew, building fancy church-like synagogues where people sat in church-like rows facing an elevated pulpit and listening to organ music. I have heard it said that this was (and probably still is) the denomination of the affluent, educated, and assimilated. I think the Reform position is that the Bible is not the "word of God" but is "divinely inspired." The movement emerged during the Enlightenment, allowing people to embrace scientific discovery and intellectual inquiry.

          But then, around the turn of the century, 1900-ish, the Orthodox responded, to push for people to go back to the old ways.

          I think, although I may be wrong, the Conservative movement came after the Orthodox, in an attempt to "conserve" traditional ways of worship but also to allow for some more modern ideas, such as that the world is older than 6000 years, or that we could ask questions about who wrote the bible, viewing it more as a literary and cultural document than an historical one.

          And later we got Reconstructionism and the Renewal movement, and Secular Jewish Humanism (which is kind of like a Jewish version of Unitarian Universalism.) They are smaller, and as far as I know, only in the United States.

          •  I think the sequence was a bit different (1+ / 0-)
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            many of the Orthodox in Europe responded with a huge push-back to Reform, making traditional Judaism much more reactionary than it had ever been. The term "Orthodox" as applied to Judaism is only about 200 years old, but it would accurately apply to most of Judaism for the preceding 1800 years. (The exceptions would be the Karaite movement that started in the middle ages, and the Ethiopian Jews who had become disconnected from the rest of Judaism prior to the codification of the talmud.) Conservative was a reaction not to Orthodoxy but to Reform, objecting to it having ditched too much of tradition. All this was in the first half of the 19th century.

            Just to give you an example:

            The first Reformers had four things that they wanted:

            (1) Sermons in the vernacular
            (2) Secular education
            (3) Shorter services
            (4) Musical instruments in services

            It turns out that all  had actually existed somewhere in traditional Judaism prior to the development of the Reform movement, and with the exception of musical instruments on Shabat and holidays, none of them are at all problematic in terms of halachah. But the winds of change had not spread very fast, as Judaism is very much as (small 'c') conservative religion in the traditional sense of the term.

      •  I'm Orthodox and don't even own a black hat! (7+ / 0-)

        And my wife doesn't own a black dress. Not all the Orthodox world is trying to bring back the 19th century.

        If you are ever in NYC, please come for Shabat.

      •  As I understand it, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LSophia, Dark UltraValia

        the black and white stuff is a combination of "This is the way 19th century wealthy or noble people dressed in Europe", although not consciously, and "Modesty means not drawing attention to yourself; black and white is safe and boring."

        I'm sorry to hear about the gay marriage thing. The last time I went to a more-orthodox shul than my usual one, I was wearing a colorful crocheted kippa and a blue shirt - no hat, no suit. I'm glad to say I was welcomed even though I wasn't wearing the uniform.

        It was not quite the same when I went to an ultra-Hasidic minyan while I was mourning my brother. I got a few odd looks, until I joined in Kaddish

        Anyway: it seems the view of gay marriage, within orthodox Judaism, is... unpredictable. We had a rabbi come from England (R' Rappaport, I think? He works for Rabbi Lord Sacks) to speak about how Jewish communities should treat gay people. I was really surprised by how progressive he was about it. His argument was, basically, that because sexual orientation is unchangeable, a gay person should be viewed as unable to fulfill the commandments relating to marriage and procreation. However, he still feels the need for romantic fulfillment and a partner in life, and he will be unhappy and feel unfulfilled without such a partner. So, naturally, he should find a partner, so that they are suitable for each other, and they should be a couple. That way they can both have satisfying romantic lives and contribute to tikun olam. As for the sex - yes, there's a Biblical prohibition, but which is worse, abstaining from a healthy sex life and being miserable and have difficulty discharging your duties re: tikun olam, or acknowledge that you're violating a commandment but be better-able to serve the needs of yourself, your partner, your community, and so on?

        He finished off by saying: so you can't just say you're going to deny gay people the ability to read Torah, lead a service or otherwise receive honors, when you allow tax cheats, adulterers or abusers to receive these honors. Either we acknowledge that people can sin without forfeiting their right to be involved, and invite gay people in, or we bar all sinners from participation.

        I wonder if some of the confusion comes from the idea that legal same-sex marriage will require kiddushin to include same-sex couples. But of course there's no halachic prohibition on civil marriage of any kind.

        "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

        by Shaviv on Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 09:18:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is truly fascinating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Tennessee Dave

          And worthy of a diary of its own.

          Yet another example of how someone who interacts with an ethic or creed on a daily basis ensures that it is still vital, whereas many Christian (and, I daresay, Islamic) fundamentalists don't spent a lot of time meditating and applying the prohibitions in Leviticus to their daily lives.  It's not a living document to many of them.

          In this, the fundamentalists are almost acting like a remnant population.  They've forgotten (if they ever knew) what the Law was for, and are instead excerpting selective bits of it to use as weapons.  

          Sad, really.

        •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          One rabbi told me that the Talmud says we don't judge people for things about themselves that they can't change - so he argues that if the Talmudic rabbis had known and understood that people are born gay, they would not have been down on homosexuality. And of course, there are plenty of gay couples in Reform synagogues who go ahead and get a ketubah and consider themselves married even though State law doesn't recognize it. This guy's opinion contrasted with what I had heard in an Orthodox setting (which was the usual message that homosexuality is sinful and unacceptable.) What the guy you are talking about says makes sense to me.

      •  A rebbetzin (0+ / 0-)

        who has identified herself as "Orthodox" (not "modern" - I don't know what that means, either), when I asked her about the black clothing, said they're not required to do that - she just does it because she likes black. I think there is something about dressing so as not to attract excessive attention to yourself. She seemed to think the Hassids require the black clothes, but the Orthodox don't. In her group, men and women are completely segregated socially, and at services. They also have arranged marriages.

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