1/03/2005

Hineni He-ani Mi-ma'as, nir'ash ve-nifchad...

vey iz mir if my wife finds out that i'm starting a blog. like i don't already waste enough time. she thinks i'm writing a paper that i've started 4 times, and which is preventing me from getting my master's degree.
funny, though, how the topic of the paper and the impetus for this blog are really one and the same, but here i can jump straight to conclusions w/o the farshtunkene footnotes

[aside - i will frequently use terms like 'farshtunkene footnotes', which betray the fact that i've got feet in several, often incongruous, worlds. this leads me to my working definition of a 'modern orthodox' jew:
someone who can correctly understand and employ the sentence, "one man's reductio ad absurdum is the next man's in hachi nami". ve-hamaskil yidom.

i should also put in a certain caveat: i will often make reference to all kinds of statements and lines from jewish and non-jewish culture, mostly from rabbinic culture, and often pretty obscure.
klal gadol - the more obscure, the sharper it is.

for example, the last line 2 paragraphs ago - 've-hamaskil yidom'. it's a passuk in mishlei that Ibn Ezra employs in Bereishis (i will not be consistent in my havara; though i've tried to convert to sfaradit with vbm transliteration rules, there are certain words that i can't bring myself to leave the ashkenuzis. 'bereishis' is one such word, and for obvious reasons), when masking the true meaning of the 'sod shneim asar', i.e., the fact that he holds there are certain verses in the 5 books that are of non-Mosaic origin (i.e, that the chumash was mostly Mosaic, but was still a mosaic). i'm convinced that if ibn ezra had been blogging, he'd have finished his commentary there with a ;-) . given the modern connotation of the term 'maskil', the usage of the term becomes even more delicious. ve-Acamo"l. ]

[oops. i did it again. Acamol is the israeli version of tylenol, and in hebrew is spelled in the same way as the acronym for "ein kan makom le-ha'arich" - loosely translated as "nuff said". ]

i'd like to explain the whole 'self-hating rabbi' thing before i get carried away.
basically, i think that 'rabbi' is a job description, not a type of person. a din in the cheftza, not in the gavra, if you will. i think it's dangerous for rabbis to become too rabbinic. it creates distance between the rabbis and the balabatim, creates double standards, in short, catholicizes judaism. the real evil is when people start to think that there's a real differences between rabbis, or, if you prefer (and i don't) 'klei kodesh', or, the ever popular 'klei kodesh and wives of klei kodesh', and non-klei-kodesh. it creates a situation where rabbis and balabatim take a fundamentally utilitarian view of each other. it's tough for a rabbi to become a true role model. if you don't believe me, ask your average modern orthodox balabos if he wants his kid to go into education. then you can ask him how he feels about the fact that all of his kids' teachers are 'black hatters', which, by the way, reinforces the 'us-them' mentality that exists in the communities of mechanchim vis-a-vis balabatim and vice versa. ve-chazar ha-din. lo re'i zeh ke-re'i zeh, ve-lo re'i zeh ke-re'i zeh.
therefore, though i'm ordained by the israeli chief rabbinate (no small feat, grz"n punks), and though my job description entails much rabbinating (a verb that should have been around a long time, but that i had to invent) - like counselling, teaching, answering halakhic questions, ve-chuli - i don't see myself as being different from anyone else by virtue of my title and job description- thus, self-hating rabbi. not that i don't think that talmud torah refines us, or at least should refine us, as human beings (you should have seen me before i started learning), but that it has nothing to do with titles or job descriptions. if i can convince one rabbi to stop condescending, one balabos to actually befriend his rabbi as a true friend - and by that i mean that you won't alter your vocabulary or storehouse of jokes around him - then, well, i'll probably still have to consider this endeavor a waste of time. but i'll have what to work with when trying to justify it to myself.

one last point. theree will be a lot of sichas chullin in this blog, but much divrei torah as well. as you will see, the boundary between the two isn't always so clear. next post will be an exposition of a gemara of brachot based on the writings of r' kook that will reinforce some of the points that i made above.

kol tuv,
shr
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