Wednesday, September 4, 2013
In the words of the great Yiddish poet Ana Margolin, I wasted my life on bullshit.
Things might have worked out better if the world hadn't changed so much for the worse: that long downhill political descent from the days of President Ford to the present. The atomizing, print-killing effect of the Internet is a factor. Then there was my own boundless capacity for believing people I liked are more than they were. . .
But the main thing is the economy: the speculative market in real estate which has been the death of bohemia, or urban (and thus any) community for artists and thinkers.
It doesn't matter why. What matters is what you do about it. Me, I find myself at the the local orthodox schul.
How can I do this? I don't go along with their limited views on so many things. I don't actually care whether my food is kosher and I don't think there's anything wrong with homosexuality or driving on the sabbath.
I'm willing to go along to get along: to refrain from challenging their beliefs ways that will force them to notice. I will give verbal agreement and apparent compliance — and that's all a religious community really demands of anyone, unless they're a crazy cult.
I'm willing to do this because I need community. I can't stand being alone any more, not one more day.
For various good reasons, like having lost my job and now being back in school with people thirty years younger than me, I don't have any social context. I have a humanities advanced degree which left me out in the cold socially and economically for most of my adult life. But Im not just looking for a social club. I'm not just a lost soul crawling to the local church out of lonely desperation (though that's close enough to the truth to make me wince.)
I have spent my entire life trying to go my own way in Judaism, writing books, making translations, &c. &c., but I finally learned that outside of the orthodox world, people are not really interested in Judaism.The Judaism of the more liberal Jews is just window dressing to make complete assimilation look less like what it is. The Israelis are are not that smart and not that nice and not that Jewish (I lived in Israel for several years.)
There no longer exists an academic or cultural mainstream which would value my really considerable achievements. If Martin Buber were a young man in the late twentieth century he would have done no better than I.
I have finally, thus late in life (age 55) realized that there is no Judaism outside of the Jewish community. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus as the Catholics have it. I had hoped to make my own community from the refuseniks and dissidents of Judaism, but fringe characters I met on the far outskirts were there for a reason. Some were genuine mystics — and these were genuine kooks. The rest were genuine talkers.
So I am taking my search for spirituality and religious community to the frum world, hoping that this will be a good, workable marriage. And I know enough about marriages to know that it's largely about compromise. When I was twenty-five I thought I was purer and better and holier than the rule-crazed stiffs at the shul. And maybe I was. But that doesn't mean I can't work with them. And that doesn't mean I have any other choice.
Thursday, August 1, 2013
We are about real Jewish mystical experience. If you know what that is, you know you have little chance of finding it in the schul down the street, from "Jewish Renewal" pseudo-hippies,or among the boychicks in Borsalinos.You won't find it there, though you can possibly bring it.
This is not for money, and it's not for everyone.
This is the true and original prophetic, mystical and apocalyptic faith. This is about seeing the world in its eternal aspect: beyond time. It is indeed an "End of Days."
Just to be clear: these are Hebrew mysteries. The most ancient and powerful in the western tradition, of which Christianity and Islam are later, lesser imitations.
To really get to where we go, you'll eventually need to learn Hebrew (if not Aramaic and Yiddish and Aramaic). If that's forever unrealistic for you hard, find something else to pretend to do.