by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
Neged - Opposing, opposite, standing against.
The Critic - The critic is a perpetual kvetch. No solutions, just nit picky complaints. However, he is fully observant (performs the mitzvot). You know the grumpy old guy in the back of the synagogue who always grumbles this event stinks, he could have done it better, but has never actually done anything to help.
Now the critic isn't always wrong. There are failings in Jewish society and balances that cry out to be corrected. There are failings in every synagogue. And the perfect rabbi or societal leader, well, not in this world.
So the critic's tendency can be used for good. He can point out a problem, rally people around it, and push to make things better...
But the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) usually keeps the critic firmly in the "just critical" stage.
The Karrite - The modern Karrite is a Jew who believes in the written Torah but not the oral Torah (the Mishnah, Gemora, Shulchan Aruch, etc). Often this may be due to bad experiences with rabbis and a rejection that rabbinical power or influence could possibly be kosher while not wishing to reject G-d. Other times this may be due to the seemingly simplistic or straightforward relationship with G-d demonstrated in the written Torah. In either case, he ignores the inherent contradictions of the written Torah and focuses upon the simple narrative. He tries to connect to G-d with his heart, but leaves behind his mind and the opportunity Judaism offers to elevate the physical world.
Now the karrite isn't always wrong. There are sometimes rabbinical excesses, and simple faith in G-d is a special thing. If he were able to infuse this into his mind and into mitzvot, he would truly reach a high level and be a shining light for those around him.
But the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) usually keeps the karrite from taking the next step.
The Rationalist - The Rationalist de-mystifies yiddishkeit. Stories of angles and demons are seen only as metaphors, as are all stories outside the realm of physical possibility as understood by modern science (except when such events are specifically described as direct actions by G-d, true miracles.) The rationalist decomposes many Jewish rituals looking for influence of kabbalah or other non-rationalist thinking - to point out what doesn't make sense. But he doesn't change his davening (praying) or performance of mitzvot, just his understanding of what's behind it.
Now the rationalist isn't always wrong. One of the defense mechanisms of Judaism is a reluctance to change, and some customs and things that have become rituals were due to local cultural influence from many generations past, or physical understandings far out of date. The rationalist could help reconcile modern science and/or the modern world with Jewish tradition.
But the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) usually keeps the rationalist struggling internally and makes him argumentative with the traditionalists, resulting in activating the time honored defense mechanism of Judaism to push away change.
It's surprisingly easy to become a Neged Jew, and to get involved with one. They're ALWAYS passionate about their position, and their passion attracts attention and interest. Beware the passion being focused negatively, as it's often the case.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
// 11/10/2009 //