JUDAISM EVOLVES..... past 150 years #5


Continuing with Professor  Cherry's  lecture:


BUT  BY FAR  THE  MOST  RADICAL  INNOVATION  OF  THE  EARLY  REFORM  JUDAISM,  WERE  ITS  CLAIM  THAT  THE  TRADITIONAL  COMMANDMENTS  WERE  NO  LONGER  OBLIGATORY!


THIS  CLAIM  COMES  OUT  OF  THE  COMMITMENT  TO  SCHOLARSHIP,  AND  THE  NEW  IDEAS,  RELATIVELY  NEW  IDEAS,  OF  BIBLICAL  CRITICISM.  THE  IDEA  THAT  GOD  IS  NOT  THE  AUTHOR  OF  THE  PENTATEUCH,  THE  TORAH,  THAT  DIVINE  DICTATION  DOES  NOT  DESCRIBE  HOW  THE  BOOKS  THAT  WE  HAVE  BEFORE  US  -  GENESIS  TO  DEUTERONOMY,  CAME  INTO  EXISTENCE;  BUT  RATHER,  HUMAN  BEINGS,  INSPIRED  BY  GOD,  TRYING  TO  PUT  INTO  WORDS  THAT  THEY  UNDERSTOOD  WHAT  GOD'S  WILL  TO  BE,  WROTE  THE  5  BOOKS  OF  MOSES.  DIFFERENT  HUMAN  BEINGS,  OVER  HUNDREDS  OF  YEARS,  AND  HUMAN  BEINGS  ARE  FALLIBLE;  HUMAN  BEINGS  ARE  HISTORICALLY  ROOTED,  AND  THOSE  BOOKS  NEED  TO  BE  VIEWED  AGAINST  HISTORICAL  BACKGROUND,  FROM  WHICH  THEY  EMERGED.   AND  SO  NONE  OF  THE  LAWS  IN  THE  HEBREW BIBLE  ARE  BINDING  ON  US  BECAUSE  SOME  CLAIM  THEY  COME  FROM  GOD.


REFORMED  JEWS  ACCEPTED  BIBLICAL  CRITICISM,  AND  REJECTED  THE  IDEA  THAT  THE  LAWS  ARE  BINDING.


THIS  WAS  THE  FIRST  REAL  BREAK!  


IT  WAS  OKAY  TO  MODIFY  THIS  AND  TO  CHANGE  THAT,  IN  TERMS  OF  THE  SYNAGOGUE  SERVICE,  BUT  TO  SAY  THE  TRADITIONAL  JEWISH  LAW  IS  NO  LONGER  BINDING,  THAT  REALLY  WAS  A  QUANTUM  LEAP,  AND  ESTABLISHES  WHAT  FOR  TRADITIONAL  JUDAISM  IS,  A  HERESY!


THE  IDEA  THE  TORAH  IS  NOT  THE  WORD  OF  GOD,  AND  THE  IDEA  THAT  THE  TRADITIONAL  LAW  WAS  NOT  BLINDING;  THE  REFORM  JEWS  THROUGH  DOWN  THE  GAUNTLET  AT  THAT  POINT  IN  THE  MID-19TH  CENTURY.


THEY  JUSTIFIED  THEIR  CONCLUSIONS  BY  ACADEMIC  SCHOLARSHIP,  BUT  AS  WE  WILL  SEE  IN  THE  NEXT  LECTURE,  THE  MORE  TRADITIONAL  SCHOLARS,  AND  THE  MORE  TRADITIONAL  RABBIS,  DID  NOT  ACCEPT  THEIR  CONCLUSIONS  OF  BIBLICAL  CRITICISM  AND  THEIR  SCHOLARS.


THIS  REJECTION  OF  TRADITIONAL  JEWISH  LAW  WAS  ALSO  A  RESPONSE  TO  THE  FAMOUS  GERMAN  SCHOLAR  IMMANUEL  KANT [1724-1804],  WHO  CRITICIZED JUDAISM  AS  HARMONIOUS  -  (THE  IDEA  OF  INDIVIDUALS  NOT  MOTIVATED  THEMSELVES  OUT  OF  AUTONOMY,  BUT  WERE  DOING  WHAT  CAME  DOWN  FROM  GOD  OR  THE  RABBIS).  AND  SO  REFORMED  JUDAISM  REALLY  EMPHASIZED  THE  INDIVIDUAL  AND  THE  INDIVIDUALS  AUTONOMY,  TO  ENGAGE  IN  THOSE  TRADITIONAL  FORMS  AND  MODES  OF  WORSHIP.  THAT  SPOKE  TO  THEM,  THAT  INCREASES  THEIR  PIETY,  AND  DEVOTIONAL  POSTURE,  THAT  WAS  SPIRITUALLY  EDIFYING  TO  THEM.


THE  EMPHASIS,  LIKE  WITH  THE  HASKILAH,  AND  THE  ENLIGHTENMENT,  WAS  ALL  ON  THE  INDIVIDUAL.


AMONGST  THE  COMMANDMENTS,  THE  TRADITIONAL  COMMANDMENTS,  THAT  ALMOST  ALL  REFORMED  JEWS  COMPLETELY  ABANDONED,  WERE  THE  TRADITIONAL  DRESS;  THEY  WANTED  TO  ACCULTURATE,  TO  LOOK  LIKE  OTHER  GERMANS  OR  FRENCHMEN;  THE  LAWS  OF  THE  FAMILY  PURITY,  WHEREBY  CERTAIN  TIMES  OF  THE  MONTH,  DURING  A  WOMAN'S  MENSTRUAL  PERIOD,  BOTH  A  MAN  AND   HIS  WIFE  DO  NOT  ENGAGE  IN  SEXUAL  RELATIONS;  AND  DIETARY  RESTRICTIONS.  SO  THE  JEWS  NOT  NECESSARILY  EATING  HAM,  BUT  THEY  WOULD  BE  MUCH  MORE  COMFORTABLE  EATING  IN  A  GENTILES  HOME,  OR  AT  A  RESTAURANT  THAT  WAS  NOT  RABBINIC  SUPERVISION.


SO  THESE  KINDS  OF  RITUAL  LAWS,  WERE  WIDELY  REJECTED,  WITHIN  THE  EARLY  REFORM  COMMUNITY,  BUT  CIRCUMCISION  WAS  ALMOST  ALWAYS  RESERVED,  AS  I'VE  MENTIONED,  FOR  THE  NEW  BORN  BOYS  IN  THEIR  COMMUNITY.  AND  THAT  SIGNALED  EVEN  TO  THE  MOST  ACCULTURATED  JEW,  THAT  JUDAISM  WAS  MORE  THAN  JUST  A  RELIGIOUS  FAITH.


IN  OUR  NEXT  LECTURE  WE  SHALL  EXAMINE  THE  REACTION  TO  REFORM  JUDAISM  BY  THE  TRADITIONALISTS.

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TO  BE  CONTINUED