ORTHODOX ANSWER TO REFORMED JUDAISM #1


CONTINUING  WITH  PROFESSOR  CHERRY'S  LECTURE:


IT  SURPRISES  MANY  OF  MY  STUDENTS  THAT  I  TEACH  ABOUT  REFORM  JUDAISM  BEFORE  I  TEACH  ABOUT  ORTHODOXY.


AND  SOME  OF  MY  REFORMED  STUDENTS  ASK  ME  WHY.  AND  THE  ANSWER  IS:  ORTHODOXY  IS  A  RESPONSE  TO  REFORMED  JUDAISM,  AT  LEAST  THE  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  THAT  WE  KNOW. 


SOMETIMES  MY  REFORMED  STUDENTS  HAVE  THE  "IMAGE"  PROBLEM  THAT  SOMEHOW  REFORMED  JUDAISM  IS  UN-AUTHENTIC,  OR  ILLEGITIMATE   BECAUSE  IT'S  NEW  OR  NOT  "GOOD  OLD  FASHIONED  RELIGION."  WHAT  I  TRY  TO  COMMUNICATE  TO  THEM  IS  THIS:  THERE  IS  NO  GOOD  OLD  FASHIONED  RELIGION,  IF  WHAT  YOU  MEAN  BY  THAT,  IS  THE  KIND  OF  JUDAISM  THAT  EXISTED  BEFORE  EMANCIPATION,  BEFORE  ENLIGHTENMENT,  IN  THE  18TH  CENTURY.


EMANCIPATION  AND  ENLIGHTENMENT  CHANGES  EVERYTHING.


SO  WE'RE  GOING  TO  START  THIS  LECTURE  ON  ORTHODOXIES  IN  JUDAISM  BY  LOOKING  AT  MODERN  ORTHODOXY,  AND  AGAIN  I  WANT  TO  EMPHASIZE,  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  DEVELOPED  IN  GERMANY.  WHY?  BECAUSE  THAT'S  THE  SAME  PLACE  WHERE  REFORMED  JUDAISM  DEVELOPED.  AND  SO,  THE  IDEA  IS  THAT  REFORMED  JUDAISM  DEVELOPED  AMONG  OTHER  THINGS,  THE  REACTION  BY  SOME  OF  THE  TRADITIONALISTS,  THAT  BECOMES  KNOWN  AS  NEO-ORTHODOXY,  OR  MODERN  ORTHODOXY.


THE  FIGURE-HEAD  AS  FOUNDER  OF  THIS  MOVEMENT  IS  RABBI  SAMSON  RAPHAEL  HIRSCH [1808-1888].


HE  STROVE  TO  COMBINE  ELEMENTS  OF  TRADITIONAL,  AS  WELL  AS  BRING  IN NEW  MODERN  ELEMENTS.  SO  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  IS  VERY  MUCH  A  MODERN  SELF-CONSCIENCE  OF  WHAT  WE'VE  SEEN  IN  THE  LAST  LECTURE  OF  EMANCIPATION,  ENLIGHTENMENT  AND  REFORM,  AS  WELL  AS  A  STRONG  COMMITMENT  TO HALIDAH.  AND  THIS  BECOMES  KNOWN  AS  ORTHODOXY.


THE  BOOK  THAT  PUT  SAMSON  HIRSCH  ON  THE  MAP,  AS  THE  SPOKESMAN  FOR  THIS  NEW  GENERATION  OF  EMANCIPATION,  THE  JEWS  TRYING  TO  FIGURE  OUT  WHAT  RELATIONSHIP  SHOULD  BE  BETWEEN  JUDAISM  AND  GERMAN  ETHNIC  NATIONAL  IDENTITY  SHOULD  BE,  WAS  WRITTEN  BY  SANSON  HIRSCH  IN  THE  1830s.


IT  IS  CALLED:  "NINETEEN  LETTERS  OF  BEN  UZIEL."


HE  WRITES  THIS  BOOK  AS  A  SERIES  OF  LETTERS  TO  THIS  YOUNG  MAN  WHO  SEEMS  TO  BE  CONFUSED.  HE  USES  A  LITERATURE  FORM  THAT  MAIMONIDES   USED  IN  THE  BEGINNING  OF  "THE  GUIDE  OF  THE  PERPLEXED"  WHERE  HIS  EPISTICAL  DEDICATION,  WHERE  MAIMONIDES  IS  WRITING  TO  ONE  OF  HIS  STUDENTS,  WHERE  THEY  CAN  NO  LONGER  VISIT  FACE  TO  FACE,  WHOSE  HAS MOVED  FAR  AWAY,  AND  HE  IS  SAYING  I'M  WRITING  THIS  BOOK  TO  YOU,  TO  HELP  YOU  NAVIGATE  THROUGH  THESE  VERY  PERPLEXING  TIMES.


AND  SO  WHAT  HIRSCH  IS  DOING  HUNDREDS  OF  YEARS  LATER  IS  USING  SIMILAR  KIND  OF  MECHANICS  AS  A  NOD  TO  MAIMONIDES  THAT  WE  ARE  ALSO  LIVING  IN  VERY  PERPLEXING  TIMES,  AND  HERE  IS  MY  ATTEMPT  TO  NAVIGATE  BETWEEN  TRADITION  AND  MODERNITY.


SO  I'M  GOING  TO  READ  A  COUPLE  OF  QUOTES  FROM  THE  DIFFERENT  LETTERS  OF  THE  19  LETTERS  THAT  HIRSCH  WROTE.


LETTER  2 -  "THE  TORAH,  GIVEN  BY  GOD,"   ALREADY  THE  TORAH,  IS  GIVEN  BY  GOD,  NO  BIBLICAL  CRITICISM,  NO  MULTIPLE  AUTHORS  OF  THE  TORAH,  NO  HUMAN  AUTHORSHIP  -  TORAH  WAS  GIVEN  BY  GOD.  NOW  WHEN  YOU  SAY  "GIVEN  BY  GOD"  THAT'S  A  LITTLE  DIFFERENT  THAN  "WRITTEN  BY  GOD" -  NEVERTHELESS  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  INSISTS  ON  SOME  MODEL  OF  DIVINE  AUTHORSHIP  OF  THE  TORAH,  AND  REJECTS  BIBLICAL  CRITICISM.


CONTINUING  WITH  HIRSCH,  "THE  TORAH  GIVEN  BY  GOD,  IS  A  GENERATOR  OF  SPIRITUAL  LIFE  IN  US.  WE  MUST  READ  WITH  A  WAKEFUL  EYE  AND  EAR,  THE  MIND  TUNED  TO  THE  DEEP  SENSE,  AND  TO  THE  MORE  PROFOUND  MEANING  THAT  LIES  BENEATH  THE  SURFACE."


SO  THIS  IS  PART  OF  THE  PROJECT  OF  GENERAL  RELIGION  IN  GERMANY,  THE  PROTESTANT  EMPHASIS  ON  INDIVIDUAL  SPIRITUALITY.  YOU  CAN  SEE  HE  DOES  NOT  WANT  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  TO  BE  BEATEN  OUT  BY  REFORM  JUDAISM  AS  A  RELIGION  THAT  STRIVES  TO  ENHANCE  THE  INDIVIDUALS  RELATIONSHIP  WITH  GOD.  SO  HE  USES  THE  LANGUAGE  OF  SPIRITUALITY,  A  LANGUAGE  THAT  HAD  ALSO  BEEN  PROMOTED  BY  THE  FAMOUS  GERMAN  THEOLOGIAN  FREDRIC  SHRIAMACER  IN  THE  DECADES  BEFORE  HIRSCH  WRITES HIS  BOOK.


ANOTHER  QUOTATION  FROM  HIS  BOOK:  LETTER  16  -  "IT  IS  OUR  DUTY  TO  JOIN  OURSELVES  AS  CLOSELY  AS  POSSIBLE  TO  THE  STATE  WHICH  RECEIVED  US  INTO  ITS  MIDST.  TO  PROMOTE  ITS  WELFARE,  AND  NOT  TO  CONSIDER  OUR OWN  WELL-BEING  IN  ANYWAY  SEPARATE  FROM  THAT  OF  THE  STATE  TO  WHICH  WE  BELONG.  THIS  CLOSE  CONNECTION  WITH  STATES  EVERYWHERE  IS NOT  AT  ALL  CONTRADICTORY  WITH  THE  SPIRIT  OF  JUDAISM.  FOR  THE  INDEPENDENT  NATIONAL  LIFE  OF  ISRAEL,  WAS  NEVER  THE  ESSENCE  OR  PURPOSE  OF  OUR  EXISTENCE  AS  A  NATION,  BUT  ONLY  A  MEANS  OF  FULFILLING  OUR  SPIRITUAL  MISSION."


THIS  QUOTE  IS  PACKED  WITH  THE  SAME  KINDS  OF  SENTIMENTS  THAT  WE  FIND  IN  REFORMED  JUDAISM.  WE  ARE  GOOD  GERMAN  CITIZENS,  WE  NEED  TO  BE  LOYAL  TO  THE  STATE,  THERE  SHOULDN'T  BE  ANY  CONCERN  OR  ANY  FEAR  OF  DUAL  LOYALTIES.  WE'RE  GOOD  GERMANS.  THE  REAL  ESSENCE  OF  JUDAISM  IS  NOT  ABOUT  GOING  TO  ISRAEL. 


NOW  WHAT  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  WILL  NOT  DO,  WHAT  SAMSON  HIRSCH  WILL  NOT  DO,  IS  TO  CHANGE  THE  TRADITIONAL  PRAYERS,  BY  ELIMINATING  THE  BLESSING  "THE  HARMIDAH"  -  THE  CENTRAL  CORE  PRAYER  THAT  TALKS  ABOUT  GOING  TO  ISRAEL,  AND  RE-ESTABLISHING  A  JEWISH  PRESENCE,  A  RE-BUILDING  OF  A  JEWISH  TEMPLE.  HE  WILL  NOT  CHANGE  THE  FORMULATION  OF  THE  PRAYER,  BUT  HE'LL  SAY,  "THAT'S  NOT  THE  ESSENCE.  WHAT  THE  ESSENCE  IS,  IS  THIS  MISSION,"  THE  SAME  MIND  OF  MISSION  THAT  WE  SAW  WITH  ABRAHAM  GEIGER,  AND  WITH  SAMUEL  HOLDHEIM  IN  EARLY  REFORM  FOUNDERS;  OF  A  MISSION  THAT  INVOLVES  THINGS  OUTSIDE  OF  THE  LAND  OF  ISRAEL,  AND  SPREADING  ETHICAL  MONOTHEISM  ALL  ACROSS  THE  GLOBE. 


EVEN  THOUGH  HE'S  NOT  CHANGING  THE  BLESSING  HE'S  CERTAINLY  CHANGING  HIS  LANGUAGE.  NO  LONGER  TAKING  ABOUT  EXILE,  BUT  ALSO  BEING  IN  DISPERSION.  


THERE'S  A  SPIRITUAL  MISSION  HERE  THAT  HIRSCH  WANTS  TO  PROMOTE.

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TO  BE  CONTINUED