The following is an exchange which has recently occurred on frumsatire.net between yours truly and someone named Aviva Larev. Admittedly, it's not much of an exchange at the moment, but I'm certainly hoping for some feedback.
May 7, 2010 at 12:21 AM
TRS, that same old argument is dumb. Because 3000 years ago and continuing people were ignorant, racist, cruel and evil. THANK GOD for change, would you rather all Christians still murder Jews because that was their “tradition” for so many thousands of years!? Jeez what backwards logic. “Doesn’t matter if its real, matters that its old” Yea so if we found out some TRUTH say, some revelation that proves some of these pointless rules are garbage you wouldn’t want to change it then?! I really LOVE how so many Jews get stuck on the (seriously) dumbest littlethings and seem to forget the ENTIRE idea behind it. Tradition means nothing if all it does is perpetrate ignorance. No effing thanks.
TRS May 7, 2010, at 11:15 AM
Wow, what a blast from the past, eh? When is this post originally, from, January 26, 2009? That's nearly a year and a half ago! Remarkable. Anyway, to respond to your harsh accusation... Of course, I'm not entirely sure to what you are referring, because my last comment on this particular forum was so many moons ago, but I seem to get the general gist of your argument. It appears (to me at least) that you are saying something along the lines of, "The times they are a'changing, get with the program."
Obviously, everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do. I can go on Mivtzoyim and try to get you to light Shabbos candles, but if you're not interested, you're not interested. If you think that the divine pronouncement from Sinai was not eternal, then good for you. Hey, if you don't think there ever was a divine pronouncement from Sinai, then good for you too. We can deal with that.
What you say, "Change we can believe in," is certainly a wonderful thing, but it doesn't quite solve any of your problems. Evidently, you don't like that Judaism is based on a 3000 year old tradition. Evidently you believe that Judaism should be something different. Or else you don't think there should be any Judaism. Holding these opinions is certainly your right, but coupled with your apparent intention, to reform Judaism, they make no sense.
Judaism is nothing without the Torah. I think we can all agree this point. In other words, without the Torah, there is no Judaism. I think we can all agree this point. Changing Judaism means changing Torah. Changing Torah means changing Judaism. Are you still with me here? Excellent.
You say something about Christians still slaughtering Jews. In my mind, there is no problem with this- if Christians believe that killing Jews is what JC would have wanted, then good for them. Evidently they don't have this belief anymore, which is, I suppose, a good thing for the Jews. Obviously, the Christian belief system is not eternal (for more on this topic, see here: http://atheistplanet.blogspot.com/search/label/Stephen%20Fry ). Which is fine. It's the Christian's religion, let them practice it however they see fit.
You may not, and again I repeat, you may not use the same logic regarding Judaism. Judaism is very different from Christianity. Even if it were not very different at all, there would still be the fundamental difference, that of the revelation at Sinai. Those who practice Judaism must base their religion on this revelation. Whether they are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidic or Misnagdic, they're practices and beliefs are solely based on the Torah as it was presented at Sinai 3000 years ago. They may not do everything, they may not even believe in everything, but if they question the validity of something vis a vis it's being part of the tradition, and they can't prove it, then they are beyond the pale. I can accept that bullet proof stockings are not mandated by the Torah. I can not accept that the Torah does not proscribe homosexuality.
Does this make us a mean religion? Possibly. Probably. But I'm not sure what you'd like us to do about it. Shall we change certain parts of our religion based on the prevailing mores? Shall we change inconvenient laws we do based on the latest fads? If you want to do this, kol hakavod, but it's not orthodox Judaism. So again, I'm not sure what you'd like us to do about this.
Moving along in your argument, you state something along the lines of, "If there's new truth, will you change what you've been doing?" Obviously, there will be no new truth. There was only one revelation at Sinai. When Moshiach comes our understanding of the revelation will be infinitely greater than it currently is, but it will still be the same revelation. So no, I don't think we have to plan for the contingency of a possible "new truth". In general, that seems to be an oxymoron, doesn't it? If something is true, it is always true. Just saying.
Next, we have the charge that Jews get "stuck" on the "dumbest little things" while ignoring "the entire idea behind it." I would be the first to agree that Judaism does appear to be OCD about everything. This is not, of course, a bad thing. I'm not sure that I'd characterize homosexuality as a "dumb little thing," however- after all, if G-d saw fit to prohibit it, then it's probably not a "dumb little thing" but a very major intelligent thing. We are not G-d, and presumably he knows what he's talking about.
Your final point is that traditional Judaism perpetrates (I assume you meant, "perpetuates") ignorance. I wonder what you mean by this. Do you mean that traditional Jews are ignorant? Knowing, as I do, many hundreds of traditional Jews, I find this hard to believe. If we choose not to cover ourselves in the slime of current culture, why, that is hardly ignorance, it is nobility. The fact that we choose to spend our time in the depths of the Talmud and not in the depths of the current moral depravity is hardly ignorance.