Sunday, February 26, 2006

“Na-aseh v’nishma”?: Why this Conservative Jew trying to become more observant could probably never become Orthodox

Following in the fine footsteps of Jack of the Shack, I’m going to simplify access to what, much to my considerable shock, has turned out to be an eight-part series by providing hyperlinks to the previous seven posts in the proper order:

"Taping" time

Why I don’t think I could become Orthodox (part one)

Why I don’t think I could become Orthodox (part two)

Why I don’t think I could become Orthodox (part three)

Damned if we do and damned if we don’t (part one)—the anecdotal evidence

Damned if we do and damned if we don’t (part two)—the textual evidence

Damned if we do and damned if we don’t—my conclusion

It was GoldaLeah’s post Standing Again at Sinai I—Feminist Judaism that encouraged me to try to organize and edit into a readable form some thoughts that had been in the back of my mind for quite some time. I thought I’d be publishing only one post. But, after mulling the issues over for probably more than a month, I found, when I finally started putting words on hard drive, that I couldn’t express what I wanted to explain in less than three posts with different focii. Then, laid up in bed most of yesterday trying to recover from this debilitating cold and without sufficient kavvanah (ability to focus) to davven (pray), I started writing another post in more head. Much to my shock, by the time I’d made havdalah, not only had I written four new posts in my head, but I’d also realized that they were connected with the three that were nearly ready for publication.

It’s just my good fortune that yesterday’s parsha was Mishpatim (Exodus, chapter 25, verse 1-chapter 24, verse 18), because I realize that the sum of my problem is expressed quite clearly in a quote from that weekly Torah reading. The parsha tells us, in chapter 24, verse 7, that when Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our Teacher) took the book of the covenant and read it to the people, they said, “Kol asher diber Hashem na-aseh v’nisha, All that the L-rd spoke, we will do and we will hear.”

That, in a nutshell, is why I could probably never become Orthodox.

As I said in the first four posts of this series, in terms of halachah (Jewish law), there are things that I am not prepared to do.

And as I tried to make clear and explain in the posts titled "Damned if we do and damned if we don't," in terms of haskafah (religious perspective), there are things that I am not willing to hear.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

-->in terms of halachah (Jewish law), there are things that I am not prepared to do.

-->in terms of haskafah (religious perspective), there are things that I am not willing to hear.

Just out of curiosity, where/why do you draw the line?
(I realize this may be too personal a question. If so, please feel free to disregard; also if you have already talked about this and don't want to run through it again.)

Wed Mar 01, 12:32:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Eliyahu said...

shira shalome, thanks for your thoughtful commments. orthodoxy has some wonderful and welcoming people, as well as the ones you mentioned. i have always had a hard time with rabbis who cannot hear the voice of a woman for divorce.

Wed Mar 01, 08:55:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Eliyahu, I've already 'fessed up, in the comments to previous posts in this series, to dealing in worst case scenarios, setting up straw men, and generally tarring the entire Orthodox community with a Chareidi brush--guilty as charged. Most of the frum folks who comment on my blog--yourself included--are very welcoming, indeed.

I always put in a little thought for all the agunot (an agunah is a woman who is forbidden to remarry because her husband refuses to give her a Jewish religious divorce) whenever I say the brachah (blessing) praising Hashem for loving righteousness and justice (melech ohev tzedakah u-mishpat).

Thu Mar 02, 12:31:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

G, I've pretty much answered your question in the other posts to which I provide links above, so, nu, stop cheatin''n start readin'. :) This post is just the Hillel version (standing on one foot). If you want the details, read the series from the beginning.

Thu Mar 02, 01:08:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Unknown said...

I really love this series. It's well thought out and you explain yourself really well. I knew O wasn't for me when I was attacked by O people - whatever. I knew I'd have to be a Jew on my own terms then. I waver back and forth, in and out of observance and I do wish I was more observant than I have allowed myself to be. But when you're constantly told that no matter what you do you'll never be good enough...why try? Now my goal is the be the Jew I can be..and define that in terms of the Reform movement for now. But if asked? I'd never admit ANY affiliation. The minute you do...suddenly you'll never be good enough no matter what. That's not a trip I wish to take.

Fri Mar 03, 06:17:00 PM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm an almost 16 year old girl who found this blog while taking part in my new hobby of finding blogs written about Judaism. Thank you so much for all of this, I read a lot of your posts and the things you have said mean a lot to me. I consider myself somewhat right-wing conservative in most regards, but i do wear a tallis and put on tfillin. I have an intense love of Judaism, and I've been working really hard at strengthening my connection with the Jewish people and with God, and I can wholeheartedly relate to the idea of why becoming more observant for you could probably never mean Orthosox, because I'm experiencing the same thing. So again, thank you so much for this. Keep up the great work!!

Sat Mar 04, 09:37:00 PM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Z, thanks for your kind words. I did put a lot of thought into this series, but, apparently, not enough: I have been taken to task by Dilbert, and quite rightly so, for focussing almost exclusively on the Chareidi (right-wing) segment of the Orthodox community. While I still don't think that I would feel comfortable as an Orthodox Jew at this time, it's certainly true that there's a much broader spectrum of interpretations of the "rules and regs." than that the interpretation that I emphasized in this series.

I, too, am trying to be the Jew that I can be. Where that effort will lead me remains to be seen. Stay tuned. :)

Sun Mar 05, 12:53:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Hi, anon., and welcome aboard. You might want to try picking a name for yourself, as that will make it easier for folks to figure out which "anonymous" is you and which is someone else. (It's not at all unusual for more than one person to comment anonymously, and it gets pretty confusing trying to figure out which anonymous comment was posted by which anonymous commenter.) When you write a comment, you'll be asked to "Choose an identity." Just click on "Other" and make up a name for yourself. I didn't realize just how informal one could be in choosing a blogging ID when I chose to call myself Shira Salamone--I've seen names as interesting as "Mis-nagid" (great pun), and as meshuggah as PsychoToddler. By all means, feel free to be creative.

A really good place to look for Jewish blogs is, which is on my blogroll. It's basically a site that posts hyperlinks to posts on many different Jewish blogs. Hyperlinks to the most recent posts come first, so that's a good place to check out the latest.

Also on my blogroll are links to a few other folks in your general age range. Fudge, of "More Tales of Crime and Treason . . .," just turned 17. 30CAL, of "One Half of Thirty," just turned 16. I have reason to believe that the self-name "MajorMoron" (I doubt that) of "Frozen Custard Butterburgers," (apparently a fun frum guy out to give his yeshiva teachers conniptions :)), is roughly 14 or 15. Chana (not yet on my blogroll, but maybe, down the line . . .) is 17, and her blog is called The Curious Jew. Those are just some suggestions for blogs that you might want to check out.

Best of luck in your quest to be "the Jew that you can be," as Z so poetically put it.

Sun Mar 05, 01:54:00 AM 2006  

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