Monday, June 30, 2008

Aish and me

Now I must admit that I have alot of good things to say about Aish. I even attended a few shiurim from Aish superstars and was suitably impressed and entertained. I enjoyed reading their websites for many years. I even donated money online regularly as I realized that their stories were much more inspirational than anything going on at my local orthodox shul. I know many former BT's have isssues with Aish and its missionary tactics. Well it has an agenda and it is kind of clear to anyone who spends time with them, but at least their material is well marketed and presented.

That being said I came across this video by a Rabbi whom I highly respect(ed), and I guess am just concerned about how flimsy his arguments were.
Did I become more intelligent?

His arguments started as follows:
Why choose Judaism?
First using Occams' razor, monotheism beats out all polytheism, so lets filter out all polytheistic religons
Second, once we are narrowed down to monothiestic religons, Judaism is the oldest, older than Christianity and Islam. But both believe Christians and Muslims believe in Jewish bible and their scriptures refer to it, therefore we have the general agreement of the world's 2-3bn other monotheists.
Third, Judaism is very accessible, not secretive, lots of publications in all languages and encourages study.
Fourth, Judaism does not ask its adherents to give up their minds, rather its based on reason and logic
Fifth, your soul is Jewish, which will most be finely tuned to Judaism
Sixth, Judaism makes a claim to absolute truth as opposed to a lifestyle or nirvana

I wont insult my readers by rebutting this, you are welcome to do so in aish comments.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


As a continuation of my conversation with my newly orthoprax friend, I made the following comment to him

" your wife would probably prefer you spend your time on porn sites than on apikorus sites "

And I think this is very true.

You can do the quick comparison of XXX versus XGH (being used here as a catchall phrase to include skeptic blogging, reading, and commenting).

XXX is for fantasy, XGH is real

XXX takes a few minutes of your time, XGH can be an hour a day, hundreds of hours yearly

XXX leaves you relaxed and of clear mind, XGH leaves you more confused or conflicted in perpetual angst

XXX can be easily forgiven as a sin of human weakness, XGH is deliberate, ( Yehuda versus this weeks villain Korach!)

XXX is anonymous, XGH puts you in danger of being outed

However both have the same core chracteristic of trying to revolve around the same old central subject from every angle possible (!) while trying to keep readers titillated by fresh and new perspectives on it לא ראי זה כראי זה ולא ראי זה כראי זה; הצד השוה שבהן

Feel free to add more in comments...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Advice to the newly orthoprax

My journey began many years ago and was greatly assisted by veteran bloggers listed on the sidebar. I am humbled by their analysis, insights, wit and prose. I barely have time to read all of the blogs, especially XGH's ups and downs. Likewise to find a private place to write is also not so simple.

I can only share what is personal to me in hope of helping others out there who are on the road less taken.

I think the biggest myth of orthopraxy is that it can be a steady state or a way of life, on similar footing to orthodoxy. Orthopraxy is living the frum lifestyle for convenience purposes while not having belief in the underlying theology. It means following rituals and halacha for other peoples sake. In my case it is for my spouse and children who are frum. The question is, is orthopraxy an option? is it sustainable?

Of course it depends on circumstances.

The idea for the post stems from a friend who is also married with kids, and has picked up on my orthopraxy. He asked to borrow a very not-kosher book from me, and I was hesitant. Why, because it is clear to me that after you have read a few of these books your life can change dramatically.

Orthopraxy is difficult. You are living by other peoples approval. You are scared to act or behave the way you believe. You are forced to sit hours of your life through rituals which are meaningless to you. Your social circle will only be people like you. You condemn your children to follow the same heavily proscribed lifestyle, while your hard earned money goes to pay for th indoctrination of the minutuae of halacha and perpetuation of the lifestyle. This is just the externalities.
Internally you are the new marrano, attending synagouge under the watchful eye of the Rabbi, who dutily registers you timeliness and attendance. You must keep your headcovering in place, ensure your daughters are modest, your sons pious.
But, late at night, on your own, behind closed doors, you bask in the dark to worship the blue light of the computer screen, dwelling in forbidden texts and conversatins, seeking kindred sprits, who are on the same journey, exploring the mystery of their born-into-religons, the universe and the complexity of human nature.

So my answer to my friend is, I do not want to become the cause of your divorce and your children's pain.

Piss off.

And in the words of Jethro Tull

And as you cross the circle line, the ice-wall creaks behind ---Youre a rabbit on the run

Run, man, run.