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View Full Version : Is Judaism Too Wrapped Up In Doctrine?


Honza
13-09-2011, 07:52 AM
There is something I've noticed about the Judaic Sub-Forum here at SF. It used to be an open place where people could dicuss all manner of aspects about 'Our Father' and Man/Woman and Creation.....

That is until the doctrine began to take over. It started becoming about details. About the Judaic explaination for this or that....This started when Judaic members decided to interpret everything according to the Kabbalah or the Torah or whatever.

My question is; do the details matter? Are they important?

What I find beautiful about Judaism is the broad interpretation. The general story of Man/Woman, God, Creation, The Fall, The Tree, The Devil etc.

Perhaps I'm only interested in what was passed down to Christianity..???!!!

The details don't interest me. So what! I say. Its only doctrine. I'm not interested in the RELIGION of Judaism, but rather in the story of creation which Judaism has to tell.

Yamah
13-09-2011, 08:08 AM
Hi again Honza :) hope your journey is taking you to many fantastic places.

Don't confuse the words 'doctrine' with 'detail'. Doctrine also exists at the 'big picture' level of things.

The thing about Judaism is, it's not a subjective religion. It doesn't leave things open to any and all interpretations like many other faiths do. Certainly there are debates and discussions about various topics, and massive disagreements between different groups on the interpretations of various passages of various texts, but all of the opinions have a basis in Logic and Tradition.

Judaism is, first and formost, a Tradition. The main reason we have a belief in God is because we have the tradition of His revelation passed down from generation to generation. All of our teachings are passed down from Rabbi to Student, generation after generation. This includes the mundane laws as well as the deeper mysteries. In my opinion that isn't a fault, but a strength - because the same truths have been passed down from great mind to great mind, granting us lowly people of this generation a rich and full accounting of... well, everything.

What you were experiencing before in this sub-forum was a bunch of people talking about Judaic things in a New Age way. The proper Jewish style of learning truly is detail oriented... because we are taught the truths to a high degree of detail, from big picture all the way down to small. We interpret everything according to Torah and Kabbalah because... well that's Judaism! lol....

psychoslice
13-09-2011, 08:08 AM
Yea I agree, doctrines, there not really worth the paper there written on, no matter if there Christian, Judaism, Hindu, or whatever, its where the words point to that matters, if they don't point within you, to help you realize the truth, that can only be realized from within you, then there useless to you. There is nothing wrong with scriptures, its just the ones who try and tell you how they should be read that makes them bitter, or even poison.

Yamah
13-09-2011, 08:13 AM
psychoslice: That would only be true if we all had perfect hearts, being perfect judges of what is true and what is false. A basic premise of reality is that nobody is perfect and whole. When a person gives you true and whole advice you can still cover your heart and reject it.

One who calls oneself a perfect judge must be arrogant. One who says 'I and I alone know what is true and what is best' must be arrogant. That is why it is important to trust a truth that one cannot know.

psychoslice
13-09-2011, 08:16 AM
psychoslice: That would only be true if we all had perfect hearts, being perfect judges of what is true and what is false. A basic premise of reality is that nobody is perfect and whole. When a person gives you true and whole advice you can still cover your heart and reject it.

One who calls oneself a perfect judge must be arrogant. One who says 'I and I alone know what is true and what is best' must be arrogant. That is why it is important to trust a truth that one cannot know.
You are only repeating what you have been told, but have you actually found out all that you believe you know, for your SELF ?

psychoslice
13-09-2011, 08:28 AM
Yamah: One who calls oneself a perfect judge must be arrogant. One who says 'I and I alone know what is true and what is best' must be arrogant. That is why it is important to trust a truth that one cannot know.

Yes, these word are true, or have truth within them, you or i can never know the truth, it can only be known from within, but by no one, when you discover this truth from only within, you will never be able to write about it, you will never be able to talk about it, but, you can point to it, and this and only this, can the so called scripture can ever do.

Yamah
13-09-2011, 09:45 AM
You are only repeating what you have been told, but have you actually found out all that you believe you know, for your SELF ?

No I haven't, and that's the point. God and His scriptures have proven themselves in part, and so I trust the whole. Just because I don't understand something or agree with something doesn't mean it's wrong... it just means I don't understand or agree with it. It is a difficult thing to say 'I don't know, but I trust you', but on the path to Humility and Truth those are necessary words. I pray that some day I will understand everything... and I strive to... but in the meantime I will trust.

The truth from within is also a truth, that I do not dispute... but only when the truth from within is true. The truth from without has the same problem... is the truth from without true? Both can be doubted, both have different qualities and both have different verification methods. But a cart on a path is safer than a horse through a swamp.

psychoslice
13-09-2011, 10:55 AM
No I haven't, and that's the point. God and His scriptures have proven themselves in part, and so I trust the whole. Just because I don't understand something or agree with something doesn't mean it's wrong... it just means I don't understand or agree with it. It is a difficult thing to say 'I don't know, but I trust you', but on the path to Humility and Truth those are necessary words. I pray that some day I will understand everything... and I strive to... but in the meantime I will trust.

The truth from within is also a truth, that I do not dispute... but only when the truth from within is true. The truth from without has the same problem... is the truth from without true? Both can be doubted, both have different qualities and both have different verification methods. But a cart on a path is safer than a horse through a swamp.
I agree with you, but still never believe anything that is told to you, this no matter how holy we believe it to be can never be truth, as I have already said, the truth that is found within can never be written, or shared in anyway, but can only be pointed to, and that's all we can ever do regarding truth, thank you.

Honza
13-09-2011, 02:25 PM
"as I have already said, the truth that is found within can never be written, or shared in anyway, but can only be pointed to, and that's all we can ever do regarding truth, thank you."


This sentence above is very much a psychoslice way of looking at things. There are many other ways of seeing "truth". Many experiences. Many lives.

I for one don't agree with psychoslices conclusion. I think the truth can be known throughout everyday life and by words too.

That is my opinion and I'm sticking with it. Hinduism and Buddhism just does not do it for me.

Whereas Christianity and Judaism DOES.

Honza
13-09-2011, 02:30 PM
So back to Yamah's point - about detail.

My question is then; is Judaism too wrapped up in DETAIL?

I do not know the details of Judaism. But every discussion these days always seems to come back down to details. Why are they important? Isn't it better to cast them off and live through experience, observation, attention, awareness, devotion, worship....etc. Through daily living rather than TEACHINGS!

Honza
13-09-2011, 02:32 PM
To put it another way; what is the point of the details of Judaic teaching? Where do they lead one?


Would one not be better off without them?

Animus27
13-09-2011, 03:43 PM
So back to Yamah's point - about detail.

My question is then; is Judaism too wrapped up in DETAIL?

I do not know the details of Judaism. But every discussion these days always seems to come back down to details. Why are they important? Isn't it better to cast them off and live through experience, observation, attention, awareness, devotion, worship....etc. Through daily living rather than TEACHINGS!
*insert not a Jew, but have an interest in Judaism disclaimer here*

Judaism has lots of details and traditions because that's one of the points of being a Jew. God gave the Israelites the Torah to set them apart from other nations. He gave them the rules and laws so that they are not like other peoples; to disregard the Mosaic laws is to turn one's back on God's commandments to the people of Israel.

Jews try to follow the Law in order to bring themselves closer to God's will; and to set an example for other peoples. The question of whether or not they are the best ways for everyone to live is irrelevant. If they were meant for everyone, then they would've been called universal laws - instead they only apply to Jews. Gentiles are not held accountable for not following the laws of the Torah (instead, the Noahide laws apply to all of humanity, and since there's only 7, it's much easier to follow them).

Basically, if you purge Judaism of it's laws and tradition you no longer have Judaism. Instead you'll have a religion vaguely based on Jewish cosmology, but not the faith that was handed to Moses.

To put it another way; what is the point of the details of Judaic teaching? Where do they lead one?


Would one not be better off without them?
See above. :D

RabbiO
13-09-2011, 08:34 PM
So back to Yamah's point - about detail.

My question is then; is Judaism too wrapped up in DETAIL?

I do not know the details of Judaism. But every discussion these days always seems to come back down to details. Why are they important? Isn't it better to cast them off and live through experience, observation, attention, awareness, devotion, worship....etc. Through daily living rather than TEACHINGS!

Judaic teaching? Judaic members? An odd turn of phrase in this day and age - The word "Jewish" works quite well.

It is hard to see how Judaism can "work" for you if you do not know the, as you put it, the "details." That's like saying you're going to vote for a candidate based upon the fact that he or she seems like a nice person without having any knowledge of his or her positions on the issues that matter most to you.

And Animus is correct, that the point of all these details is so that we can live and experience life, an authentic life being truly who we are and becoming truly who we are meant to be. Judaism is the roadmap we follow that enables us to encounter the divine even at the most mundane of moments.

The psalmist put it nicely in Psalm 19, beginning with verse 8, concerning those teachings whose source we Jews believe is G-d -
תורת ה תמימה משיבת נפש עדות ה נאמנה מחכימת פתי׃
פקודי ה ישרים משמחי־לב מצות ה ברה מאירת עינים׃
הנחמדים מזהב ומפז רב ומתוקים מדבש ונפת צופים׃

B'shalom,

Peter

(Yes, I know. I skipped a verse. I meant to.)

psychoslice
13-09-2011, 11:40 PM
Honza: That is my opinion and I'm sticking with it. Hinduism and Buddhism just does not do it for me.

Whereas Christianity and Judaism DOES.
__________________

As long as you believe that the truth is found within one belief system such as Judaism or Christianity, then you haven't found the truth. When I say that you cannot know the truth, of course I am talking about the ego mind which can never know the truth. The truth is life, its living life as it is, its not trying to interpret life from our past conditioning, its just letting go and letting god, not some father figure setting up in the sky on a cloud, its knowing that you are also god, and that there is nothing outside of god, its not being frightened of uttering your name, for this is fear, fear keeps you away from who you truly are, all religions have used fear to keep you away from knowing this truth, its time to take your rightful place in life, and Realize that you are GOD, but also to Realize that there is nothing or no one that isn't God.

Honza
14-09-2011, 03:14 AM
It just goes to show that I am totally ignorant of Judaism. I had no idea what the term meant or implied. I thought it was basically the 'Old Testament' that the Christians talk about. But I now see that there is much more to it than that.

Time
14-09-2011, 03:25 AM
YEah, but Judeism was meant to be discussed and though about, so it has lots and ltos of details. Why do you think christianity is so similar?

Animus27
14-09-2011, 03:38 AM
It just goes to show that I am totally ignorant of Judaism. I had no idea what the term meant or implied. I thought it was basically the 'Old Testament' that the Christians talk about. But I now see that there is much more to it than that.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Judaism. So don't feel bad.

The Talmud is one of the other major texts of Jewish sects, besides the Tanakh (the book that is basically the OT, just.... 2 extra books, I think? Maybe RabbiO can correct me). So Judaism is not just the Old Testament.

http://www.jewfaq.org/judaism.htm Here's a good site about basic Jewish questions - keep in mind that it's from an Orthodox POV. Which isn't bad, but their opinions are not universal among Jews; as the saying goes: Ask three Jews their opinion on something, and get four answers :tongue:

And - http://www.jewfaq.org/beliefs.htm

If you don't know much about Judaism; explore it Honza. You might like it. I know I sympathize a lot with many Jewish beliefs. But I doubt I could convert. Because once a Jew always a Jew lol. And I dunno if I have that level of commitment.

Yamah
14-09-2011, 05:40 AM
1) Tanakh (the Original Testament)
2) The Mishna (six tractates of compounded law for interpretation)
3) The Gemara (2,711 pages in 37 volumes of law discussions and philosophical parables)

Those are the primary texts used in Jewish spiritual practice, which is an intellectual path to spirituality. They are build one on top of the other - the Mishna is derived from Tanach, and Gemara expands the Mishna.

The expansion of the Gemara was then redacted in more modern times (16th century) into the 'Shulchan Aruch' which is a text of practical laws, which was then adapted and slightly expanded with commentaries into the Mishna Berurah. Most Jews nowadays follow either the straight Shulchan Aruch or the expanded Mishna Berurah when it comes to daily practice.

There are also hundreds of accepted commentaries written on everything. A true talmudic scholar should be familiar with all the major commentaries.

Honza
14-09-2011, 08:18 AM
So what is the Torah and the Kabbalah? In which books do they lie?

mattie
14-09-2011, 09:44 AM
It may be that the forum is only reflecting the inherent nature of religion. Focusing on that which divides rather than than commonalities.

psychoslice
14-09-2011, 10:12 AM
It may be that the forum is only reflecting the inherent nature of religion. Focusing on that which divides rather than than commonalities.
That is what religion does, it divides, after all most if not all religions believe they have the truth, as Judaism itself does.

Honza
14-09-2011, 11:17 AM
That is what religion does, it divides, after all most if not all religions believe they have the truth, as Judaism itself does.

There is some truth in that. However you yourself believe you have the truth too, so what is the difference?

Also it is worth pointing out that religions can unite too. People can be united by their shared religion and beliefs.

Many religious people are also very tolerant of other religions. Many people accept other peoples beliefs.

It is not a black or white situation, there are many shades of grey.

psychoslice
14-09-2011, 11:30 AM
There is some truth in that. However you yourself believe you have the truth too, so what is the difference?

Also it is worth pointing out that religions can unite too. People can be united by their shared religion and beliefs.

Many religious people are also very tolerant of other religions. Many people accept other peoples beliefs.

It is not a black or white situation, there are many shades of grey.
I know that I AM the truth but to tell you what I AM, no I couldn't do that, to tolerate another's religion or beliefs, is in itself violence dressed up as meekness. It sounds like you haven't had much to do with religion, or seen what the other side thinks of other beliefs other than their self.

Honza
14-09-2011, 11:35 AM
It is true, I have never been a member of an organised religion. I tend to mix with bohemians and liberals. Who seem to be pretty tolerant most of the time. I know what you mean about closed minded people. Best to avoid them.

Animus27
14-09-2011, 01:26 PM
So what is the Torah and the Kabbalah? In which books do they lie?
The Torah is usually the first five books of the Tanakh, which by tradition were said to be written by Moses himself (which is generally accepted to be more metaphorical than literal, since Moses couldn't have possibly written about his death and burial lol); but in some cases it can refer to slightly different things: http://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htmhttp://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htm

The Kabbalah is the mystical tradition within Judaism: http://www.jewfaq.org/kabbalah.htm One thing that article says, which is worth pointing out is that the popular conception of the Kabbalah is inaccurate and usually not the real thing. You can't pick up a paperback book and learn the Kabbalah.

Yamah
14-09-2011, 03:30 PM
The word Torah doesn't have a direct translation into english. Basically it means 'Teachings of the variety that a father teaches his children'. It is generally used to refer to the 5 books of Moses but can also be used to refer to the teachings of Judaism as a whole, specifically those teachings which contain laws and practical advice.

'Kabbalah' means 'reception' and refers to the kind of knowledge which cannot simply be taught, but must be 'received' in a deeper sense by the student from a teacher in order to be known. Nowadays it refers to all the mystical teachings of Judaism.

The statement 'Torah and Kabbalah' can thus be translated as 'The Practical and Mystical teachings of Judaism'. In these senses, neither can be found in a single book, as Animus explained. Furthermore there are many different texts which present different truths.

The current tradition of Kabbalah uses a text known as 'The Holy Zohar' as the central text, which is a mystical commentary on the five books of Moses. It then continues in the teachings of the Ari z"l (recorded by his student, Rabbi Chaim Vital z"l) in a book called 'Etz Chaim' or 'The Tree of Life' which reorganizes the teachings of The Zohar into a more understandable form. Some continue with the commentaries of the Gra, which grounds the Ari z"l's teachings back in The Zohar. Beginners can find help in understanding these texts through a few modern commentaries, including 'Pitchei HaAri' and 'Matok MiDvash'. Logicians usually turn to the Ramchal's works, such as 'Derech HaShem', 'Klach Pitchei Chokhmah', etc.

Another main stream of mysticism, known as 'Chassidut', is related to Kabbalah but starts with slightly different emphases and thus arives at significantly different conclusions. Chassidut is a lot more spread out in its teachings and it has a lot of individual pockets of traditions. The two more accessible streams of Chassidut would be Chabad, based on a text called 'The Tanya', and Breslov, based on all the teachings of Rabbi Nachman, specifically 'Likutei Maharan', which are Rabbi Nachman's teachings assembled by his student Reb Nosson.

There are also many other great scholars who are not part of our the current central tradition but whose works are still greatly respected. These include: The Maharal of Prague (who created a Golem to save his village), The Ramak (a contemporary of the Ari z"l who arived at very different conclusions), The Ashlag (whose works unfortunately inspired the Kabbalah Centers).

There are also other ancient texts which are not looked at as often as The Zohar but exist at the same level of reverence. These include most notably: Sefer Raziel, Sefer Yetzirah and HaBahir.

So in short.... there are lots of books on Kabbalah :P

Honza
14-09-2011, 05:18 PM
Thanks Yamah and everyone else.

Okay, big question. What is the ultimate aim of Judaism?

Animus27
14-09-2011, 11:11 PM
@Yamah: man, you know a LOT! That is so awesome :D

Yamah
15-09-2011, 05:05 AM
hey, it's not like I've actually read all those books, lol...

A Glass named Esther
20-09-2011, 03:06 AM
If you type out an email address and place one dot in the wrong place, the email doesn't get delivered to the intended recipient.

Sometimes a small detail can make a big difference.