JUDAISM EVOLVES....past 150 years #4


CONTINUING  with  Professor  Cherry's  lecture:


BUT  THE  THRUST  OF  THE  EARLY  REFORMS,  WERE  TO  BE  REALLY  IDEOLOGICALLY   CONSISTENT;  SINCE  WE'RE  GOOD  GERMANS  AND  NO  LONGER FEEL  WE'RE  IN  EXILE,  WE'RE  NOT  LOOKING  FORWARD  TO  GOING  BACK  TO  ISRAEL,  TO  RE-ESTABLISH  THE  TEMPLE,  THAT  THAT  SHOULD  BE  REFLECTED  IN  OUR  LITURGY.


AND  SO  THEY  DELETED  THOSE  TRADITIONAL  BLESSINGS  THAT  TALKED  ABOUT  GOING  BACK  TO  ISRAEL,  THAT  TALKED  ABOUT  THE  RE-ESTABLISHING  OF  THE  TEMPLE,  AND  ALSO  THAT  LINE  ABOUT  BEING  EXILED  FOR  OUR  SINS;  WELL  THEY  DIDN'T  FEEL  LIKE  THEY  WERE  IN  EXILE  ANYMORE.


SO  HOW  DID  THEY  GO  ABOUT  ADDRESSING  THEIR  PRESENCE  IN,  WHAT  IS  NOW  CALLED  THE  DIASPORA  -  THEY  BEING  DISPERSED  RATHER  THAN  BEING  EXILED.  WHAT  THEY  DID  WAS  TO  REHABILITATE  AN  IMAGE  FROM  THE  BOOK  OF  ISAIAH  4:6.

"FOR  GOD  HAS  SAID,  IS  IT  TOO  LITTLE  THAT  YOU  SHOULD  BE  MY  SERVANT,  AND  THAT  I  RAISE  UP  THE  TRIBES  OF  JACOB  AND  RESTORE  THE  SURVIVORS  OF  ISRAEL?  I  WILL  ALSO  MAKE  YOU  A  LIGHT  TO  THE  NATIONS,  THAT  MY  SALVATION SHALL  REACH  TO  THE  ENDS  OF  THE  EARTH."


THIS  IDEA  OF  BEING  A  LIGHT  TO  THE  NATIONS  BECOMES  THE  REFORM  MISSION.  AND  IT'S  THEIR  EXPLANATION  AS  TO  WHY  THERE  IS  A  DISPERSION.  IT'S  NOT  THAT  WE'RE  IN  EXILE  ANYMORE,  BUT  WHAT  OUR  JOB  IS,  IS  TO  DEMONSTRATE  ETHICAL  AND  MONOTHEISM,  IN  ALL  THE  LANDS  THAT  WE  HAVE  BEEN  DISPERSED  TO.  WHY?  IN  ORDER  TO  SERVE  AS  AN  EXAMPLE  TO  THE  NATIONS  OF  THE  WORLD,  AS  TO  HOW  PEOPLE  SHOULD  BEHAVE.  THE  PRINCIPLE  OF  ETHICAL  MONOTHEISM,  SHOULD  CHARACTERIZE  OUR  BEHAVIOR,  AND  INFLUENCE  OUR  NON-JEWISH  NEIGHBORS.  IT  HAS  NOTHING  TO  DO  WITH  POSTALIZING  OR  MAKING  OUR  NON-JEWISH  NEIGHBORS  CONVERT  TO  JUDAISM,  BUT  RATHER  INFLUENCING  THEIR  BEHAVIOR,  NOT  NECESSARILY  THEIR  RELIGIOUS  AFFILIATION.


IN  THE  PRAYER  BOOK  OF  THE  BERLIN  REFORM  ASSOCIATION,  WE  HAVE  THE  FOLLOWING  LINES:


"YOU  HAVE  CALLED  US  O  LORD,  TO  FOUND  THE  KINGDOM  OF  LOVE  AND  TRUTH  ON  THE  WHOLE  EARTH;  FRO  THIS  YOU  DID  DISPERSE  US."  THE  LANGUAGE  OF  DIASPORA,  DISPERSION.  "AND  FOR  THIS   YOU  DID  DISPERSE  US, THAT  THE  SPARKS  OF  YOUR  LIGHT  MIGHT  FLY  TO  ALL  NATIONS.  TO  DISPEL  DARKNESS  OF  DELUSION  FROM  THE  FURTHEST  CORNERS  OF  THE  GLOBE."


SO  YOU  GET  THE  SENSE  NOW.  THAT  HISTORY  IS  BEING  RE-WRITTEN;  WE  WERE  NO  LONGER  EXILED  AS  A  RESULT  OF  DIVINE  PUNISHMENT,  BUT  IN ORDER  TO  SPREAD  GOD'S  LIGHT.  THIS  IS  THE  REFORMED  MISSION.


THE  AUTHOR  OF  THAT  STATEMENT  IN  THE  PRAYER  BOOK  OF  THE  BERLIN  REFORM  ASSOCIATION,  WAS  PROBABLY  SAMUEL  HOLDHEIM.  HE  WROTE  IT  IN  THE  MID-19TH  CENTURY.  AND  HE'S  AN  INTERESTING  FIGURE  IN  THE  EARLY  REFORMED  JUDAISM,  BECAUSE  SAMUEL  HOLDHEIM  WAS  A  RADICAL.  AND  HE  ADVOCATED  A  COUPLE  OF  REFORMS  IN  ORDER  TO  TO  BE  IDEOLOGICALLY  CONSISTENT.  THAT  JUDAISM  IS  JUST  A  RELIGION  THAT  DOESN'T  HAVE  AN  ETHNIC  OR  NATIONAL  COMPONENT. 


ONE  OF  THE  THINGS  HE  SUGGESTED  TO  DO,  WAS  TO  MOVE  SHABBAT  TO  SUNDAY.  AND  INDEED  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES,  THERE  WERE  A  HANDFUL  OF  REFORMED  TEMPLES,  IN  THE  LATTER  HALF  OF  THE  19TH  CENTURY,  THAT  ALSO  HAD  SHABBAT  LIGHT  SERVICE  ON  SUNDAY.

BUT  REFORMERS  IN  GENERAL  DID  NOT  AGREE  WITH  SAMUEL  HOLDHEIM'S  IDEA  THAT  SHABBAT  SHOULD  BE  MOVED  TO  SUNDAY;  SHABBAT  WAS  SATURDAY  AND  THAT'S  WHAT  WAS  GOING  TO  STAY,  EVEN  THOUGH  IT  WAS  A  NUISANCE.  IT'S  MUCH  EASIER  TO  HAVE  YOUR  SABBATH  CELEBRATIONS,  YOUR  DAY  OF  REST,  WHEN  THE  MAJORITY  OF  THE  POPULATION  HAS  THEIR  DAY  OF  REST.  WHAT  WERE  YOU  GOING  TO  DO  IF  YOU  WERE  A  STORE  OWNER  OR  AN  EMPLOYEE?  ARE  YOU  GOING  TO  TAKE   OFF  ON  SATURADAY  AND  THE  STORE  IS  CLOSED  ON  SUNDAY?  SO  AS  A  WAY  OF  MAKING  THE  CELEBRATION  OF  SABBATH  EASIER  FOR  PEOPLE,  HOLDHEIM  SUGGESTED  THE  DAY  BE  SHIFTED  TO  SUNDAY.  NOT  WIDELY  ACCEPTED.


ALSO,  AND  VERY  RADICALLY,  HE  PROMOTED  THE   IDEA  THAT  THE  "BRIT-MILAH"  -  OR  THE  CIRCUMCISION  OF  MALE  BABIES  ON  THE  8TH  DAY,  SHOULD  BE  ABOLISHED!

IT'S  GOT  NOTHING  TO  DO  WITH  RELIGIOSITY,  IT  DOESN'T  INCREASE  OUR  AWARENESS  OF  GOD  IN  THE  WORLD.  IT'S  A  MARK  OF  ETHNIC  IDENTIFICATION,  AND  BECAUSE  JUDAISM  IS  NO  LONGER  ABOUT  ETHNICITY   OR  NATIONALITY,  WE  SHOULD  GET  RID  OF  THE  "BRIT-MILAH."  BUT  AGAIN,  THAT  WAS  NOT  WIDELY  ACCEPTED,  ONLY  VERY  FEW  PEOPLE  STOPPED  CIRCUMCISING  THEIR  SONS  ON  THE  8TH  DAY.


OTHER  EARLY  SCHOLARS  IN  THE  REFORM  MOVEMENT  WERE  LESS RADICAL  THAN  SAMUEL  HOLDHEIM.  AND  ONE  OF  THE  MORE  FAMOUS,  EARLY  FOUNDERS  OF  THE  REFORMED  JUDAISM  IN  GERMANY  WAS  ABRAHAM  GEIGER.  AND  WHAT  HE  DID  AS  A  SCHOLAR  WAS  TO  DEMONSTRATE  THAT  JEWISH  LAW,  JEWISH  PRACTICE,  JEWISH  THOUGHT,  HAS  ALWAYS  CHANGED,  FROM   THE  BIBLE  TO  THE  RABBINICAL  PERIOD,  TO  THE  MEDI-EVIL  PERIOD,  TO  THE  EARLY  MODERN  PERIOD.


HE  DID  THE  WORK  AS  A  SCHOLAR,  BUT  WITH  THE  IDEOLOGICAL  AXE  TO  GRIND;  THAT  WHAT  REFORMED  JUDAISM  WAS  DOING,  IS  BEING  FAITHFUL  TO THE  IDEA  OF  THE  PROGRESS  AND  DEVELOPMENT  OF  THE  JEWISH  LAW.  AND  THEY'RE  NOT  DOING  ANYTHING  RADICALLY  DIFFERENT  THAN  WHAT  THE  RABBIS  OF  THE  TALMUD  DID  IN  THEIR  DAY.


SO  THIS  WAS  SCHOLARSHIP  IN  THE  SERVICE  OF  REFORMED  JUDAISM.


AND  SO  THERE  IS  REALLY  AN  OVERLAP  BETWEEN  MASKILIM  -  THESE  ADHERENTS  OF  THE  ENLIGHTENMENT,  AND  THE  FOUNDERS  OF  REFORMED  JUDAISM.


WHEREBY  WE'RE  NOT  BEING  FAITHFUL  TO  THE  "CONTENT"  OF  JUDAISM  WE'VE  INHERITED,  BUT  WE'RE  BEING  FAITHFUL  TO  THE  "PROCESS"  OF  JUDAISM,  THAT'S  ALWAYS  TRIED  TO  GRAPPLE  WITH  ISSUES  OF  MODERNITY,  IT'S  ALWAYS  TRIED  TO  ACCOMMODATE  THE  HISTORICAL  AND  SOCIOLOGICAL   CIRCUMSTANCES  THAT  JEWS  FIND  THEMSELVES  IN.


AND  THAT  IS  EXACTLY  WHAT  PEOPLE  LIKE  ABRAHAM  GEIGER  WERE  TRYING TO  DO  FOR  THE  GERMAN  JEWISH  COMMUNITY,  IN  THE  MID-19TH  CENTURY.


....................


TO  BE  CONTINUED