Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Frum Skeptics

There was recently a guest post over at Godol Hador that got me thinking.

The crux of the post was that the poster was a frum skeptic: he didn't believe in the basic tenets of Judaism, but that he still feels a connection to what I would call the cultural aspects of Judaism (learning Gemara, eating kugel, singing zemiros, etc.).
Above all, my skepticism has not muted the pleasure of sitting around the table with my family at a Shabbos meal and singing zemiros or listening to the little ones mangle the story of the weekly parsha, or the awe I feel watching my wife light Shabbos candles and usher in the light of a new Shabbos.

I am the last person to advocate giving up Frumkeit. It is part and parcel of who I am.
For many people, this sort of thinking is merely rationalizing the fact that the person in question is trapped in the Jewish culture (due to family, friends, work, or other reasons), and so they find solace in the familiar.

However, the logic presented by Mike in the guest post I referenced would seem to be equally valid for someone who grew up Catholic, Mormon, or Muslim. If Judaism is simply taking refuge in the familiar because of an inability to take another path, what makes it special? Better yet, what makes it worth spending so much time and energy devoted to fulfilling not only the religious rules that you consider manmade, but also the regulations of Slifkin-banning, Wig-burning, Water-filtering 'Gedolei Hador.'

Any frum skeptics wish to comment?

12 Comments:

Blogger Aviel said...

Even if Judaism isn't true you can still be better off, i.e. happier, by living your life in the culture you grew up with. Nothing says that life "outside" is more rewarding. But I suppose it depends on what level of frumkeit you are already at. Charedishkeit would feel like a prison to me since there are plenty of thing I would want to do in my life that I wouln't be able to. MO Lite suits me better. :)

4:11 AM  
Blogger lakewoodyid said...

Charedishkeit would feel like a prison to me since there are plenty of thing I would want to do in my life that I wouln't be able to. MO Lite suits me better.

So your hashkofa is to do what you find convenient. And when your child decides that Zero observance is convenient for them, how will you feel about that?

Was true judaism created just as a convenience?

8:07 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

Ly
if you're born a NatUrei Karta
would you say just accept it?

11:47 AM  
Blogger Bais Yaakov Girl said...

So your hashkofa is to do what you find convenient. And when your child decides that Zero observance is convenient for them, how will you feel about that?

You should feel like you did a pretty bad job raising them. If that's their attitude, it's probably because you never helped them to understand why they're Jewish, and thus helped them develop positive feelings about the faith. It's probably because you practiced Judaism primarily by rote, and indicated to them that it was your religion because it was "convenient."

9:11 AM  
Blogger lakewoodyid said...

Ly
if you're born a NatUrei Karta
would you say just accept it?


"IF" I was born one, and my parents raised me as one, good chance I would be one. Just like a good chance I would be a Mormon if both my parents were one.

But Aviel's comment was not based on birth, but on "today" how to live.
And the lifestyle you choose today will probably have an impact on your children's life "tomorrow".

4:34 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

ly
but SHOULD you accept being neturei karta?
you should only believe what u r taught?
why then should we expect anyone to be a bt?
why r we looking up to avraham?

3:47 PM  
Blogger Jewish Thinker said...

Growing up and attending frum schools it was always emphasized how th e jews said naaseh , before they said nishma. This is something that is remarkable - they accepted before they understood. But to me the thing that strikes me , that is more of a lesson for todays frum jew, is the fact that they said Nishma. They agreed to seek the truth and understand it. There is much to be said for following rules until we understand them enough to have just cause to not follow them. But to follow them blindly without question is tragic and against the jewish spirit. I think I will blog about that.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

sometimes it's not about doing it because it's comfortable, but doing it because you think there's a higher purpose even if it's not divine. One who appreciates Judaism for nationalistic reasons rather than religious ones may still find value in a Halachic lifestyle because he/she sees it as the only viable reason why the Jewish nation has survived for so long, and see it as the only way to enable the Jewish nation to continue surviving.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Moshe Kappoya said...

Thinker,

I don't need to be an automotive engineer with a complete understanding of how a car works, to follow the care and maintenance instructions in my car's manual. I trust that the manufacturer has provided these instructions based on their expertise with the car they built.

The Jews at Har Sinai understood that whatever Hashem says is for our good whether we understand it or not.
So yes, sometimes we follow blindly, because we trust in our Father. This is a basic tenant of Jewish faith.

9:56 AM  
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Some great reading!!

10:48 AM  
Blogger greg said...

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1:26 AM  
Blogger connor said...

There are people among frum Jews who have the brains, education, and courage to realize - and admit - that the Torah is mythology, and varies between benign silliness and real twisted evil. Nevertheless, many of these folks maintain an outwardly frum life, simply because the cost of breaking away is too high. It is a noxious prison, but consider: you are a Rav, highly respected, when you come to realize...

8:22 PM  

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