Gabriel: In the end, there's still the word. Everywhere. In heaven with angels, the Earth and stars; even the darkest part of the human soul. It was there the word burned brightest, and for a moment... I was blinded.
Friday, January 4, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008
This raises an important set of questions.
- Do those who are "born Jewish" who believe Schneerson was/is the messiah merit Jewish excommunication, known essentially as cherem?
My POV: No. There are born Orthodox Jews who I've heard utter that Jesus may have been the messiah. The idea that the messiah may have come already and been passed by in error is a common fear much like thinking your soulmate might have been someone you got off on the wrong foot with and passed by years ago. What others view as an error in composition of theology in you is not something that makes relations between you and the community impossible. That is my standard for cherem by the way.
- If so, why are they not?
My POV: They are not because the Chabad Lubavitch movement is very large, very wealthy, extremely effective at getting donations for various good causes, and very attractive to baalei teshuva in a way many Charedi groups only wish they were. In other words, supposed integrity in defense of Jewish orthodoxy is readily thrown aside for the usual reason: scraps off the table of wealth and influence.
- If not, why is this man who follows their ways in every respect considered unfit?
My POV: Quite simply, it is a stunning lack of foresight as to the exposure of the above two points conflicting with simplistic reasoning and misplaced concern masquerading as integrity and defense of the faith and probably a little bit of the old suspicion toward the ger.
- Is this like the "don't ask don't tell" of the US Army regarding homosexuality?
My POV: This is the embodiment of agreeing that there is such a thing as a "noble lie", the idea that small children have that if they hide under a blanket and can't see you then you can't see them, and tacitly agreeing to disagree all in one. It's both a subtle and obvious admission of fatigue with the argument, and a willingness to let things go between us lest we argue and fight further. However, in the end, it's only because when it is told that we feel socially bound to fight not necessarily because we actually have to or should.
I think that it is highly unlikely his fellow Lubavitchers did not advise him to be careful what he said, and perhaps may even have gone past inference to pointedly telling him to deny it if they, the beit din, asked. The Lubavitch community is not unaware of how the rest of the Charedi and Chasidic worlds regard them on this subject especially. I would not blame them in the slightest for counseling this man to lie. He, the ger tzedek, answered honestly anyhow.
That honesty, of taking the rap to the spiritual knuckles shows an honesty that is sadly lacking in many religious quarters. Whether or not I agree that Schneerson, or Jesus, or whoever was the messiah is not the point. It's that what we each believe is ultimately squeezed out of our public lives, hidden under our clothes like a forbidden book, in favor of things we may not believe which unfortunately have become orthodoxy.
It is also an honesty lacking in the "don't ask don't tell" approach. We lie and pretend something isn't so until it is told and then we think we have to. We invent for ourselves the peer pressure. We think, "oh great, now I have to stand up against this because otherwise people will think less of me". THAT is why when it is openly told that you're gay or you believe Schneerson is the messiah that you get open resistance and oppression. It is because the other person fears for what society will think of them, not for what impact you will have.
I am of course not getting into a discussion of the righteousness or horrible anathema of messianic or sexual leanings. That's not for now. I just wanted to point out why this man was rejected: the beit din worried more what people would think than over what the actual damage to the Jewish community would be. They were worried that accepting his conversion would be seen as opening the gates to more messianic believers, not just those harking to Chabad Lubavitch's rebbe, but perhaps Jews for Jesus.
All of this also points out that it is almost impossible at this point for there to ever be the coming of moshiach as G-d's own choice of representative on Earth would be circumscribed by the judgment of a mortal human beit din. G-d is not constrained by us but if we don't heed Him, what does it matter? The outcome is the same. In the name of Him, we marginalize Him.
This is one more reason for my philosophy of uniting the opposites and floating in nothingness. Whatever will be will be...
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Turn to France. America thinks big and talks big, but when it is time for action, they retreat. They are the ones who are cowards now. Israel should turn to France now. The French President is pro-Israel and he has a drop of Jewish blood. Times have changed. The United States of America is becoming weak and the Arabs are aware of this.
By this rationale, it is better to let your beloved shade tree die during a drought because it proves the tree weak and scrub is encroaching. Sheer idiocy. You carry water to the tree and nurse it through the bad times. You enjoy the shade during the good times. If it grows a way you dislike, you place stakes and wires to hold it upright. You trim the grass about it and make sure it is treated specially so you have it for the summer.
Whoever posted that silliness seems tragically unaware of recent French history vis-à-vis World War II and France's capitulation, nevermind France's "screw the world" attitude when it comes to international concerns over their spreading of nuclear materials and technologies such as to Saddam Hussein's Iraq because as we all know it was the evil superhuman mastermind George W. Bush who utilized time travel to make ties with Saddam during the Iraq-Iran War and no one else ever was involved with propping that regime up... No, no one at all...
If Israel hitches their wagon to France, they might as well slap England across the face pimp-style on top of it, and whiz on America's leg to top it off. Of course to effectively do that, they'd have to ally with Al Queda and give them assistance with the insurgency in Iraq and wouldn't that be amusing.
Serendipity: I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don't celebrate your faith; you mourn it.
While this was directed at an erstwhile and lost Catholic, it applies to others, ahem, as well. You know who you are. The difference between the blessing and the burden is the difference between freedom and slavery. G-d didn't make you to be a slave to anyone, not even and in fact especially not Him. He didn't make us aware of Him to bring us down and make us heavy. Neither need you tighten your chumras and redefine terms to make pain into pleasure like a flagellating masochist.
As the song goes, "don't worry... be happy. Be happy now..."
Monday, December 31, 2007
Right where I was at the beginning and will be years after the beit din of the local Conservative synagogue see me: still and always learning.
I work late hours and have crushing bills. I have no choice but to work the hours as I did agree to work any hours they gave me. I was desperate for this job when I took it and now... not so much, but still in dire financial need (though no tip jar shall go here, I don't need donations, I need ideas) and one of my ikkarim is that we are no better than our actions and among those specifically of greatest importance are those undertaken to fulfill our word.
Thus it is that going to the local synagogue for classes anytime soon is right out. I can't keep the roof over my head AND take classes.
However, this is not a big deal for me. I didn't join for acceptance and fitting in. I joined for having a spiritual home and that acceptance was G-d's alone. All my life I have looked everywhere for it but that little voice in the heart of my soul just shook it's head as it were. I could hear a depressed sigh from it and a very low and hard to hear "no, not there..."
It wasn't until I turned towards Judaism that the voice said, "yes... that looks like home".
I used to cry myself to sleep wondering if I'd ever find a wife when I was alone. I would cry myself to sleep wondering if I'd ever belong anywhere. I would cry myself to sleep wondering if I'd ever be like any other people and fit in.
Well, G-d worked through a relative who after everyone else had watched me be alone for years and think nothing of it, or at least not enough to speak about it, suggested the personals. I met my current and please G-d oh please let her be the only one ever and permanent and let me get old with her and die with her. Thank you for her.
I looked towards the lands I'd been, the lands others offered, and found a land that was no different and yet felt more at home than anywhere else. A place I felt I could put down my potted plant on the window sill, a place where I could sit on the porch, a place where I had neighbors who I didn't feel uncomfortable around.
That land was Judaism.
As I said, I didn't join for the fitting in and being accepted, it was the home and home is where the heart is and my heart was lost. Nowhere to be, nowhere to sit, nowhere to rest. G-d it seemed to me would not allow me to have a place. Like playing a game where the other person can only say yes or no, or more like maybe or not, I looked until I found the one that got the "maybe" response.
Acceptance and fitting in come with it, but it wasn't the acceptance by others, it was partly mine, and partly G-d's. I fit in within my heart.
Now will the congregation accept me? I think so. They're a bit politically left of me as far as I can tell and more than I'd like involved in city doings, but pretty average folks. Just Jewish average folks. They observe what they can fit in their lives to various degrees and I expect that though a ger tzedek has much more of a bar to chin up to, I should do well there. After all, I've had the time to let the shock hit me.
What shock you incredulously ask?
Well the shock of Jewish reality. Just read Jewish blogs. You have Charedi Orthodox (if that's not redundant and I think it is) men admitting they watch rented video tapes on Shabbat, sometimes drive on Shabbat, and some display a knowledge of adult subjects far beyond what a single guy who ostensibly davens and leins to the tune of their conservative community should.
Then of course there's the dark side. Stories of Chasidim acting like petty children, acting like Mitnagdim, acting like anything but people who even have the slightest clue what "chesed" means.
I am not going away. I am not afraid. I am not embarrassed. No one said you're perfect. If you were, what would be the value of you? To me the value of G-d is not that He knows everything, but that He DOESN'T. He created us to ask questions of and to Himself. He cares enough to think about these things. You were made in His image. What else should you do but have and ask questions?
It is not imperfection to have questions, it is imperfection to never bother asking them, among other things. G-d still is perfect in His way. Me and you, not so much, but we can do what we should and that's to ask. We should ask the big questions.
So are people asking the big questions? YES. Most assuredly yes. Beyond any Sanhedrin that could ever be again, the sages within us are crying out to wrangle and argue virtues and vices, sins and merits, and to figure out what should be what. They're doing it on the same blogs that bring stories of Jewish grief.
Don't be afraid. I'm not.
Well, not much. ; )
|Meditations (Penguin Classics) |
by Marcus Aurelius
Read more about this book...
This is one of the works that I got into and still haven't gotten out of yet, before I made the choice to convert. It is without a doubt for me one of the top five most important philosophical works ever. It sets forth and embodies ideas that I cannot properly express through any short words of my own, which I try to use to govern my trek into the world of religion and faith.
This and Hagakure as I earlier referenced would be the top two I want to propose be read by Orthodox and other Jewish religious seekers. There's a serene calmness possible in all human endeavors, even those of warriors and emperors. Perhaps you can find some for yourself to master your worries in these.