Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Will the masses ever engage with a skeptical Judaism?

In this article by Rabbi Arthur Green (HT: Gideon S), he asks: "Can a religion without literalist claims to divine will and dictate command the hearts of its adherents"

My answer? I'm not sure that can be done. Without the certainty of fundamentalist beliefs, without the absolute certainty that Hashem specifically commanded us (through the halachic process) to do things like have separate dishes for meat & milk, I'm not sure that the masses can ever develop the necessary passion for a living movement of any large size.

I wish that it were possible, since I'm certainly one of those who rejects "literalist claims to divine will". And happily, the passionate engagement I crave is certainly there in certain small communities. But I can't see it ever taking over and attracting hundreds of thousands of adherents.

My next paragraph is going to seem sort of elitist, but so be it.

Most people don't want to think that deeply about matters of faith and belief. They want a simple emunah, with a father figure at the top. Without that, the masses won't feel deeply engaged. Only certain pocket demographics within religious Jewry, such as Left-Wing Modern Orthodox / Open Orthodox or Right-Wing Conservative, or the independent minyan movement will spend the necessary time and thought to deeply engage without divine certainty motivating them.

1 comment:

  1. There's a reason that true communism thrived in the kibbutzim for decades while in Russia it never got out of the gate. Small groups of like-minded individuals can work together. The bigger the group or society the more simplified the system has to be in order to keep everybody participating.
    Having said that Judaism rests on a set of fundamental beliefs, such as God having created the universe and appearing at Mt Sinai to give our ancestors a personal revelation. We can prove none of these from any concrete scientific position. The Torah itself notes that the only generation with palpable proof of the truth of God's existence and His Torah is the one that stood at Sinai. Everyone else has to take it on faith.