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Private opinions and general convictions.. Or sentences?

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by Oscar Laurens Schrover (Netherlands), Jan 27, 2005 at 06:01

Within each and every religious community that are debates about the ways to determine the membership of that community. As many other worldreligions Judaism is not a monolithic culture, there are many different sects, and denominations of which the orthodox is the fastest growing.

Now, people may differ on who is in and who is out, nevertheless I do not think that the argument of commenter Mr. Ephraim Feyertag improves mutual understanding when he blatantly writes: 'Spinoza's books are heretical. He didn't just write another point of view nor did he point a new way to be a Jew. He was another egomanical philospher that attempted to catagorize G-d's commandments (mitzvot) to the stinking realm of relativism.'

To condemn a man as heretical is always an argument that, for any scientist and cilivized man is a stigma that may have dire consequences for the condemned.. You may disagree with a book, but condemn and slur a person for it is to say the least using the argument ad hominem.

Though one can understand the passion with which a man and a woman defend their metaphysical outlook, I think we should – and that goes for all sensitive topics - try to maintain a civilized tone amongst eachother. And certainly when the western world is faced with the serious threat of Islamo-facism. The fervour of Mr. Feyertag is an anger which belies at least an inkling of intolerance. He is welcome to his ways and views, however if we want to be different from those that repeat Zarathustra's call – 'let us make them evil and improve upon their ways,' – we at least must try to safeguard some element of reason and not to follow our enemies in their ways..

Spinoza, and I do not know if Mr. Feyertag has read him—this author was my first incursion into the domaine of philosophy many years ago, and I do not regret it, is not only a rational man, but was also a modest and humble person who was, and many regret that nowadays, banned from the synagogue in Amsterdam. And only because he followed his own reasonings and the dictates of his conscience. Just as Marx did who wrote Dat Kapital, and makes commenter Carl Miller write: 'May I add that one of the most destructive elements amongst Jews, both in Europe and the US, has been their broad embrace of far-left and Marxist politics, even Stalinism, if one can believe it.'

Mr.Miller is certainly not a student of history for then he would know that that this was the main-argument of fascists during the worldwar when they went recruiting ss-soldiers in European countries. I shiver and find these remarks of a grizzlying nature, attempts to vent an ideology of anger where compassion is needed and constructive measures. All is lost when man thinks it is lost..

One may excuse these writers for their ignorance but their arguments are basically fallacies because they degrade the individuals who followed Marx and read Spinoza to pawns and puppets in a cynical puppetry, toys in the hands of a discontent and evil master. That is however not history and certainly a travesty of freedom and responsibility.

We must think for ourselves, and need not mime the thoughts in the books we read.

Man is often the reluctant master and servant of his own troublesome fate, an existance which he shapes within a framework of choices, thoughts and impressions. And I believe he bears some responsibility for the outcome of his fate. So I do not think there is any reason for writing a diatribe. To scold a man's philosophy is to deny the essence of freedom and of civil liberties which makes modernity as we know it.

Some people may not like this, but that is the state of our world, and anyone seeking to improve this condition with rules and stipulations and banning orders is certainly not going to make this a better world to live in.

I still remember one orthodox youngster who through reading Martin Buber joined the Hassidim (NY) and was extremely upset when his rabbi vilified Buber.. Man always seeks to improve on what we personally consider as too unseemingly ways—and that is our mistake. Let us grant some space to the Unmentionable.

And let Mr.Feyertag and Mr. Miller study the ways of the islamists in Europe and the USA, and acknowledge that they are promoting strife and inciting.. well, germinating hate, and let them not add to this ocean of discontent.

But to return to my point, those that somehow have become part of American Judaism, through their parents, even if they are from mixed marriages, (and this is a scientifically valid point of view) are partakers of what is called exosomatic heridity. I mean an established cultural heridity (through memes). Now, why not take them up on that and broaden the coalition that is willing to continue ideas and traditions, and support Israel? The world will not be a worse place for that.

People may follow the dictates of their private conscience. And everyone must seek his own personal initiation into Religious reality. Some man as Spinoza, Mr. Feyertag you must accept this without anger, will simply not stay put at 'But you've been told..' Why? Because man is a learning species, and some may learn this and others may learn that—so let us skip a final verdict on that. For now at least, because man, at large, does not posses the wisdom of Heavens. One conclusion we may draw from this debate: nothing is wrong with religion, but we may improve upon our manners and advocate tolerance in a time where dangerous forces seek destruction of others because Allah has decreed to them, Allah commanded them to kill westerners, Americans and above all Jews. That must at least count for something—not?
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