Sunday, February 26, 2006

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

I am, by nature a point-blank, blunt-spoken individual. As you may have gathered from reading my blog, I tend to say what I think and to think what I say, whenever I can get away with it (which means most of the time, except at work). Being tactful and diplomatic simply doesn’t come naturally to me, nor does saying the politic thing—I have to work very hard at choosing the right words for the circumstances and/or avoiding making matters worse by offending people who already disagree with me.

So, believe me, if I were to become Orthodox, the lightswitches wouldn’t be the only things on which I’d have to use tape.

My big mouth would be the next candidate.

While everyone else from my would-be Orthodox shul would be at the Israel Day Parade shouting “We want Mashiach now!,” I’d be busy stifling myself. Because I don’t believe in a literal mashiach (messiah). And I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in seeing the sacrificial system restored, believing, as I do, that prayer is a much better idea. And I have no desire to see the democratically-elected government of the State of Israel replaced by a hereditary monarchy of the descendants of David HaMelech/King David.

I spent too many years hanging around with the Jewish Recontructionist Movement not to have developed beliefs—or lack thereof—that the Orthodox world deems heretical. I don’t reevaluate, changing my beliefs to match what tradition demands. I revaluate—I find new values in our tradition, new ways of interpreting it, so that I can still claim Jewish tradition as my yerusha, my heritage, even though I’m not a literal believer.

So I fast on Tisha B’av not because the first and second Temples were destroyed, but because thousands of Jews were slaughtered in the process, not to mention during later times such as the eras of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the progroms, the Shoah/Holocaust . . .Can you see me trying to explain that one to the folks sitting on the shul floor, mourning-style, lamenting the destruction of the Temples?

Pass the tape, please.

So I davven/pray not because I believe that there’s a supernatural G-d who hears prayer—for me, personally, the jury’s still out on that one—but because I find poetry and beauty in our prayers, and/or because I’m quoting the words of my ancestors. That’s a good enough reason for me, but one that would be deemed kefira, atheism, by my Orthodox would-be co-congregants.

More tape, please.

So I observe Shabbat, after a fashion, not because I believe that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, but because I think that the very idea that everyone should have a weekly day off is one of the greatest contributions to the betterment of the human race that Judaism has ever made. And I am not willing to land in the middle of a shouting match among the “creationists,” the “Darwinists,” and the “Intelligent Design” believers, because, frankly, the question of how life on earth came to be is of no relevance to me from a religious perspective—one way or the other, I’m still lightin’ candles on Friday night. I hear that the rabbis say, “More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews.” That’s a good enough reason for me. But if I were to explain Shabbat that way to the Jr. Cong. kids at an Orthodox shul, they’d replace me with a new Jr. Cong. leader faster than you can say the word apikorsut—heresy.

Is there any tape left on that roll, or do I need another one?

I would definitely need to plaster more tape across my mouth if I didn’t want to be kicked out of my imaginary Orthodox synagogue, because nobody would appreciate it if I lamented that I found it difficult to be both frum and female.

Which brings me to my next post . . .


Blogger Stacey said...

What you have written is exactly how I feel, too. Your words resonate so deeply within me. Great post!

Mon Feb 27, 01:07:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Thanks, Stacey.

Mon Feb 27, 10:56:00 PM 2006  

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