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.


Baal Habos said...

>Run, man, run.

But what exactly are you suggesting? Orthodoxy? It's not as if you can control your beliefs. Being Frei? As you stated we have our reasons.

FriedFalafel said...

Seems to me he's suggesting that ignorance is bliss. In many ways I tend to agree.

-suitepotato- said...

What is it about modern Orthodoxy that it seems perennially unable to comprehend the transcendentalism and perspective choosing of the stories of rabbis of old?

The message they give me is that man is imperfect, our interpretation of Torah is imperfect, our everything is imperfect. Only G-d is perfect and since we're not, we don't even understand how He's perfect. We just take it on faith that He is and work from there.

When two different rabbis as far apart in demeanor and outlook as can possibly be can agree that their wholly different interpretations of a thing are equally valid while appearing to be mutually exclusive you should get right away that literal written on a rock thinking is not the way.

So I don't see a reason for Orthodoxy's literal obsession or Orthopraxy's obsession with Orthodoxy's literal obsession. Just believe one thing and let the rest sort itself out. Just believe G-d is.

Anonymous said...

What about advice to the orthoprax - new or otherwise? What do you suggest they do?


Nimrod said...

Well we Marrano's must stick together first.

Second, ignorance is bliss. Many of my extended family members thrive with avodas hashem. They are good people and it works for them. But it aint me!

I was trying to bring out the point that orthopraxy leads to being more frei, i.e it is a transient state not a permanent state.

Transient can be years, and I have moved on, and haved changed gears and became less observant and thereby pushing the limits of family and friends.

Is it worth it? Still not sure.

Advice, if you are reading this blog and others like it you are already gone...