Halachah For the 22nd Century

The Fringes of Technology meet the Fringes of Halachah

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Where have You Gone Aryeh Kaplan? (A Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.)

While I haven't had personal experience with that much kiruv stuff my school will occasionally get some outreach speaker to preemptively speak to the school. From those presentations here is what is the large problem with the Baal Teshuvah movement today and why it is faltering. The major problem is that the Baal Teshuvah movement never really could make a purely intellectual case and they never really tried. Rabbi Kaplan came the closest but in general the movement was successful because people were emotionally dissatisfied with their secular lives in the 60's and 70's and turned to religion for more meaning in their lives. However the kiruv organizations never prepared for a time when there would be less dissatisfaction with the outside world. This meant that all of their arguments which are so ironclad within their paradigm fall short to someone who doesn't share all of their starting beliefs, even if he believes in G-d. The problem is that there hasn't been an argument in most of these lectures originated within the past millenium. This creates a vicious cycle because Judaism enters into an intellectual climate which is weakened by the inbreeding among the opinions with old commentaries elaborated on and no new source of ideas coming in from the Baalei Teshuvah. This means that fewer ideas are thought of and fewer rational and unemotional thinkers come into Orthodoxy. The only new source of ideas for many in the Jewish community are those from the outside world and this leads to more and more assimilation. Most rational people are turned off by the seminar's focus which is a combination of pseudoscience and Coast-to Coast A.M.. A case in point is a seminar which was given by someone good in Powerpoint but not that good in his scientific knowledge. He would make a point which he thought proved Judaism's truth based on some Gemorah predicting a scientific discovery, such as the Eart's roundness, not realizing that a large number of the Greeks thought that and that is what the Sages based their statement on. This is not really a technology and halacha post but its a trend which could affect Orthodoxy in 2100 more than anything else I post on.


Blogger Tobie said...

Woo woo woo.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

The Bible says that the Earth is round. Somewhere in Isaiah he talks about God sitting on the curve of the Earth. Of course, that's the part of Isaiah that was written in the 400's, so he probably got it from the Greeks too.

10:18 PM  

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