Sunday, November 13, 2005

So Am I a Kofer?

So what is this blog about? Well, it's about Jewish thought, but not just any Jewish thought... My Jewish thought, which frankly can be a bit different; certainly different than the "accepted" views of many. There a number of major areas in which these difference are manifest:
  1. I do not believe that previous generations were quasi-magical beings who never did anything wrong, or without in some way having pure intentions. I believe that while they were, great and learned people, they were also human, with human failings. Sometimes they made mistakes. Sometimes they did bad things. And contrary to making them less, I believe that makes them more. They were able to rise to their levels of greatness despite their failings.
  2. I think that Chazal were very real about the world in which they lived, believing that God put us in this world to reckon with, and appreciate, as it is. This doesn't mean the world is perfect. It doesn't mean there isn't even extreme ugliness in the world. But even the unpleasant aspects of life are part of God's world, just as the beautiful parts.
  3. I believe in Science, and that most of the time, it is possible to reconcile it with Torah. I do believe there are aspects of the Bri'ah that we don't understand... parts that are, perhaps, mystical. But in General, I believe that God created the universe, and the scientific rules that govern it. And if God believes in Science, that's good enough for me.
  4. I do not believe that Chazal were never mistaken about the universe. I believe that they lived within the context of their day, and that understood things within those frames of reference. So if the Gemara talks about spontaneous generation, which it does, that doesn't mean that it really happens. It doesn't even mean, as I've heard many explain, that things used to be that way, but then nature changed. I think that's a ridiculous assumption. It makes much more sense to assume that peoples' understanding of the World changed, and hence their descriptions and explanations of it would do likewise.
Those are some the kinds of things you'll find here. I hope that most of them will be at least marginally coherent, but I make no promises. If you truly don't understand what I'm trying to say, by all means, let me know. If you understand, but disagree, and can make a coherent argument, please feel free to post. If you're really good, you might even get me to change my mind; I try to be intellectually honest. If you understand, disagree, and just want to harangue me about my views with comments like, "How can you say such things about the Gedoilim?", you probably shouldn't bother... unless, of course, they're truly stupid and worthy of serious ridicule, in which case, by all means, please post them. And if you're being mean and nasty, I'll just delete your comments anyway, so don't bother.

Finally, and I really don't mean to offend, but the purpose of this blog is to express my ideas, and allow some dialogue about them, as I continually quest to hone my understanding of things, and my own thoughts about God, Judaism, and the Universe. If it interests you, and you are able to take anything away from it, I'll be thrilled. But if some of the concepts, or terms, are a bit too esoteric - and depending on whom you are, and your background, they may just be that - I'm not going to slow down to explain much... at least not here. Mi she'yavin, yavin...

So, am I a kofer? I don't think so, but based on many of my conversations with the yeshivishe velt through the years, I think some of you will conclude that I am. That's your perogative. You're welcome not to read this stuff. If you do, well... you've been warned.

-- The Half-Heretic