Thank You Dear Readers
Today will be my last post on my blog, at least for now. I will keep my blog up indefinitely, but in time I will block all new comments. I have personal reasons for stopping. The books are piling up. I don’t learn enough. I need to catch up with my life.
When I started the blog, I wanted to see if it was possible to write a blog about Jewish life, using a language that would be secular, humanistic, ironic and progressive. I wanted the subjects of my posts to be able to recognize themselves in what I wrote, and to feel that even if I was critical I had made some effort to look at them deeply and with empathy. My hope was that the experience of being seen and understood at least in part, would have a positive and pleasurable effect.
Another goal I set for myself was to explain the mixture of Hebrew, Yiddish, and English called yinglish/ yeshivish. I didn’t go overboard in stressing this, but I hope I made some contribution that would enable non- Orthodox Jews to feel more comfortable with the language and culture of Orthodox Jewish life.
I also wanted to offer an alternative to Torah U’Madah (Torah and Secular Knowledge). My view is, “I like Torah. I like Madah… Hold the U (and).” I tried to show how in practice one can shift back and forth between Orthodox and secular ideas without going through the compulsion to integrate that is so frequently found in Modern Orthodoxy. In order for me to elaborate on this charedi-secular combo I would now have to talk about Slifkin, (I am anti Slifkin, pro evolution) and the role of Jewish and Bible studies. I tried to work up some of my thoughts on these topics and I sent drafts to The Vaad (Committee) for the Protection of Evanston Jew’s Posterior. The Vaad advised I either bury these essays, ask my doctor for an increase dosage of Prilosec, or write a book and do it right. I have ordered the Prilosec and someday I might try to elaborate on these issues, but not now.
I don’t sense any great Orthodox demand for new philosophical ideas about Judaism, and I’m not sure the internet is the right vehicle, especially when the ideas are anti –Platonist, anti-naïve realist, anti-essentialist (anti-Brisk), historicizing, and naturalist. (Hint: It’s not the historicism that is causing all the problems, it is the naïve realism.)Speaking schematically, I believe it is possible to construct a philosophy of Judaism that would be open to the world but give a leading role to charedi life; a theology that used pragmatist conceptions of rationality and ontology, a sort of Rorty/Putnam hybrid that would hopefully work in a deeper and less painful way with the actual practices of Orthodoxy than the current mix of theologies. It would provide a philosophical basis for Torah and mitzvoth that would at least be comprehensible to non-religious Jews .Unfortunately, a serious presentation of new theological ideas doesn’t lend itself to my chosen style of schmoozing out of my own experience. It is possible I might try another limited series sometime in the future if I can find a way to present such ideas in a reader friendly, experience near way.
My request to remain anonymous remains. Even if someone disagrees with my outlook, it should be apparent I have tried to act in a sincere and constructive way. I very much want to maintain my privacy.
Considering the baggage I was carrying going into this blog, I think it’s to the credit of my readers, especially my Orthodox readers, that they gave me a chance to lay out my tentative ideas without coming down on me too hard. I want to thank all those who wrote comments as well as my readers, especially those who began reading at an early point and stayed with me. I would also like to thank Rabbi Student and Rabbi Maryles for saying nice things about my blog. Special thanks are due to the Vaad mentioned above as well as the Vaad for the Preservation of Tznius in Downtown Evanston. I couldn’t have proceeded with the same confidence without you. Finally, I would like to thank my assistant for learning how to spell charedi, chasidish, and austritt, and for her sound advice in matters of style and syntax.
Thank you dear readers. It has been a joy and a privilege to have this conversation.