Thursday, June 4, 2009

Let's say we get 100% proof . . .

I was talking this past shabbat with my wife about the fact that it bothers me that moshiach & olam haba are not mentioned outright in the torah. As the discussion ensued, she basically told me that she thinks I am looking for excuses to get out of OJ and am therefore nitpicking all the things that seem to annoy me. While she isn't completely on target, she isn't necessarily that far off.

This got me thinking, what if I was presented with 100% proof that gets rid of all the issues I have with Judaism. What that proof is, I don't know, but suffice to say it was rock solid. Maybe God himself comes and has a one on one chat with me. Maybe Moshe Rabeinu pops in with a video of him getting the torah. Maybe I am provided with a time machine and see things myself. Maybe I fly on Alladin's carpet up to God's castle in the heavens.

You get the point: ROCK SOLID proof is provided to satisfy me and any skeptic out there of the following:
- God created the world
- God chose the Jews and personally gave the torah to them, which is all fact
- God wants us to follow the torah and cares about our daily lives
- God generally rules the world
- God rewards us in the life to come after we are dead

So then what? Does OJ all of a sudden interest me? As I once responded to my wife when she asked me if I was interested in a shiur she read about, "Just as you never attended my engineering classes because they do not interest you, I am not attending the shiur because I am just not interested".

So, in the end, it really doesn't matter how "right" OJ is. It just matters that I am not one who is spiritual and believes in the mitvot and supposed reward that OJ offers. Couldn't I just opt out and not be bound to things I don't believe in or care in? I would gladly give up the "olam Haba" that OJ think I have coming to me. Just like there are people who prefer to not to be managers because with the additional money comes additional rules and responsibilities, i want to choose to be a plain old person.

If all jews were really given a choice, I wonder how many would choose OJ? And I am not taling about the "choice" they say we have now, but then look down upon anyone who isn't a practicing OJ.

47 comments:

G*3 said...

If the precepts of OJ are true, I don't think you get a choice of whether or not to participate. You have to, or terrible things happen to you when you die.

The Hedyot said...

I agree. This is why I say that for most people, the primary motivator is not intellectual, but rather emotional/social/psychological. That's not to say that intellectual factors don't come into play. They almost always do. But those factors aren't the primary reasons people are heading in a certain direction.

As to G*3's point, yes, that's kind of true (only 'kind of' bec you can believe in some precepts but not neccesarily all). But at that point you're faced with two awful choices: Living your life now as a thoroughly miserable person, or risking terrible things happening to you in the world to come for choosing a path that will bring you satisfaction.

jewish philosopher said...

There are plenty of heroin addicts who really don't want to stop. They really want to sleep on the sidewalk, prostitute, steal and shoot up. Does that make them smart or right in their "choice"? I'm not too sure. Same thing with your choice not be OJ.

G*3 said...

"you're faced with two awful choices: Living your life now as a thoroughly miserable person, or risking terrible things happening to you in the world to come for choosing a path that will bring you satisfaction."

That's not a choice at all. Its a choice between being miserable for 80 or 90 years in this world or being miserable for eternity in the next. We engage in short-term unpleasentness for long-term gains all the time.

And since we're assuming that you know for sure that OJ is 100% correct, you're not "risking terrible things." That's like saying that jumping off a 30 story building has a risk of death. Its more opf a certainty.

Rich Perkins said...

G*3 - That is correct according to OJ, however, there are plenty of non-Jews who are not punished for not being OJ. So there is an alternative to keeping the torah that is acceptable to OJ as long as you weren't born Jewish.

Hedyot - Now that I have been through the whole gamut of emotions, i agree with you on that one.

JP - Herion is bad and that is not arguable. The fact that God set up a system where 99.999% of his creations are not bound by his torah tells me that the other alternative is not so bad for your health.

Rich Perkins said...

G*3 "That's not a choice at all. Its a choice between being miserable for 80 or 90 years in this world or being miserable for eternity in the next. We engage in short-term unpleasentness for long-term gains all the time."

Precisely, from the OJ point of view, there is no choice at all.

jewish philosopher said...

"Herion is bad and that is not arguable."

Torah is the truth and that is not arguable.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

"The fact that God set up a system where 99.999% of his creations are not bound by his torah tells me that the other alternative is not so bad for your health."

And does the fact that God set up a system where 99.999% of his creations are not bound by him not to take heroin tell you it is not so bad for your health?

Off the Derech said...

It's an interesting question, although I think it should be flipped around.

I think the vast majority of OTDers would gladly go back if they had 100% proof. However, what would a frum person do if they had 100% proof against the Torah and mesorah? Would they go OTD? Or would they find excuses, rationalizations, and nitpick to stay in the fold? Let's say they're middle aged and a big rosh yeshiva with tons of kids?

I think they have a lot more to answer than us. As usual, they're projecting their own problems (in this case, intellectual dishonesty) on everyone else.

jewish philosopher said...

"I think they have a lot more to answer than us. As usual, they're projecting their own problems (in this case, intellectual dishonesty) on everyone else."

I can't believe the high level of ethics and morality atheists have.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/rational-response-squad.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/more-reason-and-rationalism.html

Off the Derech said...

JP: Stop being a pain in the a&&.

Rich Perkins said...

JP - since non jews are not bound to the torah it tells me that that is ok in the eyes of God according to OJ.

So JP, since you believe God chose the jews and that they have some intrinsic quality that they are born with which makes them better, why would Jews allow converts such as yourself? You may be able to follow the torah like every OJ, but you lack that purebred quality.

Dunking Rachel said...

I just found your blog.
I spent a good part of an hour reading your posts and the comments.

I hope you can find a way out of your pain...

I beleive that there is a path for you...that there is a way to honor participate in your faith, while being true to your feelings and thoughts.

OJ's beieve theirs is the only way....there are many others who beleive differently.....


i hope you can find peace.

jewish philosopher said...
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jewish philosopher said...
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jewish philosopher said...
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jewish philosopher said...

"So JP, since you believe God chose the jews and that they have some intrinsic quality that they are born with which makes them better, why would Jews allow converts such as yourself? You may be able to follow the torah like every OJ, but you lack that purebred quality."

Who ever said that?? Actually, I think pure bred Aryans like me are the master race. ;-)

The fact is that a person who observes 613 commandments is obviously superior to someone who observes only 7. However, basically, Judaism is a religion, not a race, but it is a religion which puts some emphasis on heredity. Unlike let's say Christianity where you must personally be baptised, in Judaism, if your mother converted (or your mother's mother etc) you are automatically a Jew. But just like you can be a Swedish Catholic or a Nigerian Catholic, you can be a Swedish Jew or a Nigerian Jew.

Actually, I think DNA indicates that modern Jews are to a large extent descended from converts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi#DNA_clues

Not a big surprise; just look at King David.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2904.htm#17

One thing I wonder about though, Rich, why don't you just leave? If you don't believe in it, why hang around Jews? Don't you think you could find friends elsewhere?
Why not?

m00kie said...

re: OTD`s question, if i had 100% proof that it all wasnt true i`d be very sad/upset/disapointed. as much as i struggle with it all, i still consider it a blessing to be frum.
that being said, i really think that in the end it`s a choice we make. im suspicious of anyone who claims to have `proof` for or against. there is some proof for, some proof against, and then there`s the way we choose to live with the doubts.

Rich Perkins said...

JP - "One thing I wonder about though, Rich, why don't you just leave? If you don't believe in it, why hang around Jews? Don't you think you could find friends elsewhere?"

Essentially, because I am married with kids and I don't want to shake up their lives because I have changed since we got married. I made a commitment to my wife and kids to be there for them and have no interest, nor do i think it is right to make a drastic change that would cause unrest in the home.

obviously, this causes inner turmoil for me and that is the essence of my venting on this blog and others

Rich Perkins said...

moookie - I agree with people who say they have 100% proofs for or against anything. For if you hinge your belief on them and then they are disproven it all falls apart. I think this is clearly evidenced by the way kiruv organizations have generally moved away from using bible codes as proof for God's authorship of the torah.

jewish philosopher said...

"I don't want to shake up their lives because I have changed since we got married. I made a commitment to my wife and kids to be there for them and have no interest, nor do i think it is right to make a drastic change that would cause unrest in the home."

Why do you care? Do you think some sky daddy is going to hit you with a lightening bolt for being selfish? Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.

My guess: You realize that Orthodox society is a lot more pleasant than secular society. Therefore, you're too comfortable and don't want to change. Rather than leave, you prefer to be one of those hypocrites who give all Jews a bad name ("You think those Orthodox are so pious! Ha! I just saw two guys with long black coats at the strip club!") It's just easier for you.

But isn't it interesting that a society based on falsehood is functioning better than one based on truth? I wonder how you explain that.

Rich Perkins said...

JP - "Why do you care? Do you think some sky daddy is going to hit you with a lightening bolt for being selfish? Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.

I care because i made a commitment to my wife under certain conditions. I believe one of those conditions was that I was an OJ. My love and devotion to her is great and if she truly knew how OTD I was, I believe it would hurt our relationship to some degree.


"My guess: You realize that Orthodox society is a lot more pleasant than secular society. Therefore, you're too comfortable and don't want to change."

the community is nice, but this is a social thing not a completely religious thing. i go to shul to talk to my friends. i enjoy long shabbat meals with guests because it is a time to hang with friends. either of those could be replaced with hanging out at the gym or just having people over. i live in a small town so everyone is friendly irregardless of religious observance.

"But isn't it interesting that a society based on falsehood is functioning better than one based on truth? I wonder how you explain that.

Nobody ever said it wasn't a good functioning community. religious christian's are also very moral and upstanding people with a great community. Yet, i am sure you think they are wrong.

The fact is, you are so hard headed you think that if you are not OJ, you are doomed for a life of failure and only care about sex and drugs.

jewish philosopher said...

"My love and devotion to her is great and if she truly knew how OTD I was, I believe it would hurt our relationship to some degree."

I think there some single agnostic women around; why not dump your nutty OJ wife and marry one of those?

"religious christian's are also very moral and upstanding people with a great community."

And that religion's founder was an Orthodox Jew. No coincidence.

Off the Derech said...

JP: Why are you driving him crazy? You tell closet kofrim like him to get out, and out-of-the-closet ones like myself to get back in.

What is your opinion anyway, big talker? Someone who doubts the "truth" of Judaism should stay or leave?

jewish philosopher said...

OTD, my opinion, to put it poetically is: Shit or get off the pot.

In other words, don't hang around the OJ world unless you actually believe in it. Spineless hypocrites are not needed or wanted, thank you.

Off the Derech said...

>don't hang around the OJ world unless you actually believe in it.

In that case, I expect an immediate post from you singing the praises of all OTDers who had the good fortune of getting out before it was too late. 200 words minimum. Get on it.

And religious people shouldn't swear.

jewish philosopher said...

"In that case, I expect an immediate post from you singing the praises of all OTDers who had the good fortune of getting out before it was too late."

Let's put it like this. I would prefer having a neighbor who is openly a pedophile than a neighbor who is openly rabbi but secretly a pedophile.

"And religious people shouldn't swear."

It's the influence of the God damned atheists.

Off the Derech said...

I rest my case.

DrJ said...

RP, I think your question is no different than a person who chooses to adopt ANY cultural lifestyle, which he might do for any number of reasons-- social, emotional, whatever. Some people go to India to retreat and meditate, some go to live among an African tribe, or a Chinese might continue or reject his own culture, having nothing to do with its "truths".

Having said that, if I were convinced of the absolute truth of OJ by incontrovertible evidence, I think that I would have difficulty rejecting it, since it would become a moral imperative.

Rich Perkins said...

JP- you're a real stand up guy suggesting i just leave my wife so I can be non frum. makes me wonder what the real story is between you and your first wife.

not that i would blame her if you acted at home the way you act towardso thers in the blogosphere

jewish philosopher said...
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jewish philosopher said...

"you're a real stand up guy suggesting i just leave my wife so I can be non frum"

OK, I understand. Eating treif - no guilt. Dumping wife - guilt. That makes a lot of sense.

What's actually going on with you and all the other secret atheists is that on one hand you want to enjoy the ambience of the Orthodox community. On the other hand, you want to eat anything and fuck anything. Why do I have trouble admiring that?

Off the Derech said...

>on one hand you want to enjoy the ambience of the Orthodox community.

That's not fair. Maybe no one ever told you, but most FFBs, unlike converts and BTs, are never really faced with a choice to be frum. It's the only life they know, nad it's hard to imagine life anywhere outside the world where they came from. In addition, there's a major stigma that comes along with leaving, and that can be a traumatic experience for those who do manage to leave, especially if they encounter the really judgmental types along the way [snort].

But now I understand why you like skeptic blogs so much. Where else do you get to swear and let loose? In shul???

jewish philosopher said...

"Maybe no one ever told you, but most FFBs, unlike converts and BTs, are never really faced with a choice to be frum."

And changed; what's the problem?

Off the Derech said...

I said, those who stay don't stay because they want to enjoy the "ambience" of the community. It's because they have no choice.

Anonymous said...

JP and his ilk are basically flawed with child-like "black and white" or "all or nothing" thinking. No shades of grey, no middle ground, no subtle distinctions or ambiguities, and certainly no compromise.

This occurs more frequently in BT's/converts because they have no emotional/familial grounding to their faith, thus nothing to moderate it. They are essentially insecure and thus must show themselves and others that they go "all the way" so that noone will doubt their commitment.

Unlike FFB's, who have family traditions and basic self-assurance in their lifestyle and beliefs, the converts and BTs base their faith only on books or copying others. Thus their tendency to go off the deep end, like JP.

DrJ said...

The last anonymous was me

DrJ said...

Slightly off the topic,

I just read about how biologists figured out the mechanism whereby the slithering of snakes propels them forward. It's the scales, which have different levels of friction with the ground, depending upon their angle of movement. Thus the side to side movement "pushes" them forward, not unlike ice skating or cross country skiing.

This gave me an insight into the "design" problem. Biological mechanisms seem to "know" the complex laws of physics, chemistry, etc. The body's organs use "knowledge" of fluid dynamics and chemistry in order to fullfill their function. We thus conclude that some being, who "knows" these laws, must have designed them, otherwise how could they have come into being.

But this argument is flawed, because the biological system is no different than any other earthly entity that "knows" the laws of nature. For example, the riverbed "knows" the laws of erosion, gravity, the chemistry of rocks and water, and fluid dynamics. The earth's crust "knows" about plate tectonics, geology etc, otherwise how could it work? A rock sitting on the ground is also a complex machine.

These are all "complex machines" (by JPs definitions) (athough not biological) yet they clearly don't need a designer to occur-- they simply naturally follow the universal laws of physics. So do biological systems. So if you can accept that the laws of nature created and modified volcanos, rivers, and earthquakes, than there's no problem seeing that nature also creates (or at least modifies) life forms.

jewish philosopher said...

OK, I get it. We should allow hypocrites to remain and flourish in the Orthodox communtiy. Great. But the next time some "rabbi" is convicted of raping ten kids or of selling heroin, don't get upset and start yelling about how the "Orthodox" are just as bad as everyone else. Who said the guy even believes in God?

DrJ said...

"don't get upset and start yelling about how the "Orthodox" are just as bad as everyone else."

When this happens I don't blame orthodoxy or religion, I just say its a disgrace for Jews and leave it at that.

That is, unless the orthodox community tries to cover up its misdeeds, as happens in some communities.

jewish philosopher said...

Instead of covering anything up, I suggest hunting down these slimy, sleazy spineless hypocrites and booting them out.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/11/hunting-secret-atheists-beginners-guide.html

shoshi said...

I also feel that orthodox judaism or rather many members of orthodox societies are not open enough to "osmosis", i.e. to people leaving and other people coming in.

While I completely agree with you that OJ might not be the ideal way of life for 100% of those who grew up orthodox, it might appeal to a certain percentage of those who did not.

The more you move towards extreme orthodoxy, the less they will accept strangers who come in as "equivalent to themselves", and the less they will accept that any of their own chooses a different way of life.

How very sad that the coerce their own members to stay in while rejecting people who appreciate their way of life.

Ben Noach said...

Don't leave your Judaism. I was raised as a believing Christian until I died one night in my bed from an allergic reaction and saw what was one the other side. It wasn't Jesus...I can tell you that. It was the God of the Torah and the prophets and He was a being/force of unimaginable love and He showed me the third temple and showed me that the Jewish people do have certain gifts, believe it or not.

Anonymous said...

check out the yeshivish blog

'not brisker yeshivish'

Anonymous said...

this says it all !!! its not truth your seeking and what is good or bad just to be free from what your told to do by whomever that teller is ....... its a choice as the bible says its all about choosing whats right and good ... choose honestly

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The Hedyot said...

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