Friday, October 15, 2004

The electromagnetic Jewish spectrum

R. Emmanuel Rackman defines Jews as a legal order, a group of people who have the same obligations. What exactly are those obligations? There is obviously a wide spectrum of beliefs. And, because it is religion, each person has the serene certainty that God agrees with him.

I think most people settle into a relatively permanent position vis a vis religion somewhere between the end of schooling and soon after marriage(early 30's for those not planning on marriage). Obviously, there are tremendous influences from family, schools, community, spouse, life experiences, etc. but once those influences have had their effect, most people settle into a little niche and there is relatively little movement across the spectrum after that time.

So, we believe our beliefs, practice our beliefs, and pasken our beliefs. Some one who lives in a chareidi community, goes to a chareidi shul, probably has chareidi beliefs, and, if you ask him about an issue like wearing pants, teaching a woman torah, etc, he will probably give you a answer in keeping with chareidi beliefs. It is unreasonable to think otherwise. No matter how many arguments you make, or sources you quote, he is not going to change, because his actions, and halachic path is tied directly to his beliefs. The same is true for the center, the left, conservative, reform, all the way up and down the spectrum. Rarely have I seen, either in r/l, articles, blogs, books, anyone look at someone else's arguments and say "you know, you are right. How wrong I was to think or pasken the way I did." Even when new information surfaces(like the full version of the Meiri) or mistakes in texts that were in the hands of Rishonim are found, it rarely changes how people pasken.

Since no one is going to change their beliefs, what we need is more acceptance that we all are trying to serve Hashem in the way we believe He wants to be served. The problem is that viewed from the left, the right is ignoring things that they feel are right, and ethical, like egalitarianism, and from the right, the left is leaving the true path of God and distorting His teachings. I am not sure what the answer is, and it may be somewhat unsolvable. However, we are all still part of the same family

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