Now that the “personal hashkafa” series is completed, I’m listing the links in one convenient post. Introduction – What Matters To Me and Why. Fractured Frumkeit Popular Practice and the…
Category: Personal Hashkafa Series
“The very powerful and very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views…which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.” –Doctor Who: Face of Evil
It should be obvious by now that my take on Judaism is a little bit different than most other people’s. Sometimes I appear to be mahmir (strict), other times meikil (lenient), and other times completely ambivalent. I’m inconsistent to some, mechanical to others. I’ve had people try to throw every possible label at me trying to peg me down into an ideology with which they could identify. Even when I give my typical short answer of read Rambam’s Introduction to Mishnah Torah, I typically get blank stares or people just don’t understand the point.
In truth, I’ve never tried try to fit into most of the religious boxes that people set. I suppose I would be considered “Modern Orthodox,” but there are so many opinions as to what that term means that I do not believe it is terribly useful. I would also avoid using the varying degrees of “frum,” as well as the currently fashionable qualifications of “orthopraxis” or “heterodox.” Rather than rely on the social categorizations of other people, I will try to explain as best as I can what I believe and why. You’re free to call it whatever you’d like.
Personally, I prefer simply, “Shomer Torah.”
As mentioned previously (and obvious to many readers), Orthodox Judaism is considered to be religious, traditional, and/or authentic, but there are several gradations and sub-categories within Orthodoxy. There are countless customs, world views, and interpretations such that adequately defining what Orthodox Jews do or believe is nearly impossible.
Of course, this never stopped people from trying.
So in today’s installment of the “Personal Hashkafa” series, I’d like to present my take on the worlds of Orthodox Judaism, with a theory I believe accounts for most if not all phenomenon found in Orthodoxy. Let me just restate that this is my thinking and how it plays into my overall hashkafa. This is not an academic paper – though it could be a fun one if/when I’d ever have the opportunity.
The Role of Custom In Jewish Law
Today’s installment is a write-up of my Mahshevet Hazal shiur on Minhagim. The reason why I’m focusing specifically on customs is that most halakhic arguments are based, either implicitly or explicitly on communal practices and preferences. Still working under our assumption that for Orthodox Jews the Oral Law is authoritative, it would make sense to first see how the Torah Shebe’al Peh defines the role of communal norms in the halakhic system.
Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Jews and Judaism should be well aware of the fractured nature of the religion. Some may be able to identify a denomination or two,…