Jewish thoughts on Oral Torah - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 03-30-2010, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have lurked here from time to time as I ask my self questions about my faith and my relationship with G-d, religion and my spirituality.

I converted to Judaism about 5 years ago. For various reasons I felt most comfortable choosing an Israeli Reform Rabbi to oversee my conversion, with a Reform Beit Din in Israel ruling on my conversion.

Reading through threads here has challenged what I learnt in my year of study as a convert, although I have broadened my study in the last year, as I try to understand myself and my relationship to G-d, as I said.

So far I have understood the written Torah to be sacred and binding for all religious Jews. However, the Oral Torah seems to hold different significance for different people, with there being a general trend of Orthodox adhering to the Oral Torah , while the Reform do not consider the Oral Torah in it's entirety binding. From what I understand this stems from a difference in perception of the origin of both Written and Oral Torah.

I want to check my understanding, so what I am writing is not statement, but rather a question, and I would appreciate any kind of critique.

Orthodox Jewish thought is that the Written Torah and the Oral Torah were presented in their entirety at Mount Sinai.
Reform Jewish thought is that the Written Torah was written by men (inspired by G-d) and the Oral Torah is an evolving interpretation of the Written Torah.

I have yet to fully understand Conservative Jewish thought on the beliefs of how the Written and Oral Torah came about.

I do not want a debate on whether Orthodox, Reform or Conservative Judaism is the 'right' Judaism. I know enough to know that there is no 'true' answer. If people are available and able to share in the discussion, I would appreciate it.

Chag Sameach veKasher lekulam.

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#2 of 19 Old 03-31-2010, 08:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ema-adama View Post
The Oral Torah seems to hold different significance for different people, with there being a general trend of Orthodox adhering to the Oral Torah , while the Reform do not consider the Oral Torah in it's entirety binding. From what I understand this stems from a difference in perception of the origin of both Written and Oral Torah.

I want to check my understanding, so what I am writing is not statement, but rather a question, and I would appreciate any kind of critique.

Orthodox Jewish thought is that the Written Torah and the Oral Torah were presented in their entirety at Mount Sinai.
Reform Jewish thought is that the Written Torah was written by men (inspired by G-d) and the Oral Torah is an evolving interpretation of the Written Torah.

I have yet to fully understand Conservative Jewish thought on the beliefs of how the Written and Oral Torah came about.



Just as it "holds different significance" for different people, different people have different understandings of what various concepts mean.

Denominational titles only mean that official organs of those denominations have come out with pontificating statements about what their official stance on yada yada yada is and means.

Actual human beings come to their own conclusions. We have, after all, been gifted with free will by The One.




The Conservative movement's official doctrine falls somewhere in the chasm between the Reform movement and the varying versions of Orthodox (keeping in mind that there is no "Orthodox movement").





So beyond that, am not clear on what your question is. Is it that you'd like to know what the individual Jews on MDC believe about the Oral Law?





FWIW, it's still YomTov in Khu'L so it may be some time before many regular posters show up.
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#3 of 19 Old 04-02-2010, 03:02 AM
 
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I agree that the movement's though doesn't nessicarily represent the people's thought. I go to a conservative synagogue. I'm still figureing out my views on "oral torah". (I presume that means the talmud, the mishna, etc?)

I do think that biblical laws are binding (though I *think* that is universal among jews? except maybe not among reform jews, I don't know.) rabbinic laws... I'm uncertain. I definitely don't beleive that the talmud, etc was given to moses with the torah, and passed on as an oral tradition until it was written down. I also don't know whether I feel that makes rabbinic law binding and important or not. (well it is our history so of course it is important but is it important to practice today) I'm not sure that rabbi's from that period of time (in which life, and thus their viewpoint) are somehow more valid at interpreting the bible than anyone today. However there is clearly some wisdom there, and I don't want to throw it out all together. (I'm just beginning my jewish learning process really, and haven't studied the talmud really at all myself.)

(I'm just as of mixed opinions about the origins of the written torah as the oral, though I feels strongly that it is of divine origin however that came about. sometimes, I feel that it is literally g-d's words, through human hands. sometimes I feel that it is a book we compilated of our myths, and somewhat divinely inspired. sometimes, I have other opinions.)

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#4 of 19 Old 04-16-2010, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Actual human beings come to their own conclusions. We have, after all, been gifted with free will by The One.
I think that makes perfect sense.

I would be interested in hearing from people who identify themselves as practising Orthodox Judaism. From the little I have managed to understand, the Written and Oral Torah are equally binding for Orthodox Jews, with the basis for both being in their being revealed in their entirety at Mount Sinai. Essentially I think my question comes down to this:

How does a religious Jew decide what is binding and what is not? I know even within the orthodox practice of Judaism, some women show NO hair, some don't mind a few whisps escaping, and others keep their heads covered, but hair out. I also know Shomrei Shabbat who do not cover their hair at all. Some keep their arms covered to their wrists, others to their elbows and others just above the elbow. Also, there is a wide range in observance of Kashrut. Some orthodox religious Jews would eat a lemon off my lemon tree, and others wouldn't.

I guess I am trying to figure out the guiding principle for where people draw their own personal line when it comes to observing the mitzvot. I realise this might not be a rational experience for many people. And there no doubt is not a tidy answer.

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I agree that the movement's though doesn't nessicarily represent the people's thought. I go to a conservative synagogue. I'm still figureing out my views on "oral torah". (I presume that means the talmud, the mishna, etc?)

I do think that biblical laws are binding (though I *think* that is universal among jews? except maybe not among reform jews, I don't know.) rabbinic laws... I'm uncertain. I definitely don't beleive that the talmud, etc was given to moses with the torah, and passed on as an oral tradition until it was written down. I also don't know whether I feel that makes rabbinic law binding and important or not. (well it is our history so of course it is important but is it important to practice today) I'm not sure that rabbi's from that period of time (in which life, and thus their viewpoint) are somehow more valid at interpreting the bible than anyone today. However there is clearly some wisdom there, and I don't want to throw it out all together. (I'm just beginning my jewish learning process really, and haven't studied the talmud really at all myself.)

(I'm just as of mixed opinions about the origins of the written torah as the oral, though I feels strongly that it is of divine origin however that came about. sometimes, I feel that it is literally g-d's words, through human hands. sometimes I feel that it is a book we compilated of our myths, and somewhat divinely inspired. sometimes, I have other opinions.)
Thanks for responding.

I agree that there is much wisdom in the Oral Torah. Not that I have read it extensively, but it stands to reason that there would be. Reading G-d, Jews and History, I really developed an appreciation for the study of Talmud and it's central role in keeping Judaism alive.

I see the Oral Torah as being 'in progress'. What was *practised* 1000 years ago, was not necessarily practised 2000 years ago. What is practised today, was not necessarily practised 1000 years ago. The inspiration to observe the mitzvot was/is constant, the practice of that observance was/is more fluid. This is obviously my opinion, and I know it will not gel with some Jews.

I think another central part of my questions stems from "Who is a religious Jew?" Can you only be considered a religious practising Jew if you keep the Sabbath? And what does that mean? Preparing your babies diapers to be in accordance with keeping the Sabbath, not driving, not cooking, no media, prayer, family meals, family time, blessing the food, blessing the day? How do you define what it is to observe the Sabbath?

Here in Israel Orthodox Judaism has a monopoly on regarding themselves to be practising Jewish religion. However, I have met and been inspired by people in the Reform movement in Israel whom I would call deeply religious. Just because they drive to their beit knesset, does not make them less observant in their practice of their religion.

Anyway, just ramblings here on my part. Again, I do not hope to find a 'true' Judaism. I know that does not exist.

If people feel comfortable sharing their personal understanding and experience of the role the Written and Oral Torah play in their lives, I would love to read it.

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#5 of 19 Old 04-16-2010, 10:05 AM
 
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I'm going to chime in here, although I don't have enough time right now to address this question as comprehensively as I'd like.

I'd identify myself as an "Orthodox" Jew, albeit a ba'alat teshuva -- one who came to the observance of the Torah and Mitzvot as an adult. I grew up in a Reform household, one which was very traditional in general but dismissive of the concept of Torah as binding or Divine.

I think you're asking two different questions here. The first is, what is the role of Oral Torah for Jews who believe it is binding (if I'm understanding you correctly -- since you specifically referred to Orthodox Jews). The second is, how do Jews who consider themselves 'Orthodox' reconcile differences in orthopraxy (every day observance and practice) between what the Torah seems to require -- and between communities.

Backing up a moment, it's worthwhile to also note that "Orthodoxy" is not a discrete movement in the way of Reform, Conservative, or Reconstructionist. The latter three are specific movements born of the Enlightenment of the 19th century and each have recognizable hierarchical structures as well as 'manifestos' that describe precisely their standards, beliefs, and practices. Orthodox Jews adhere to the Judaism that has been the norm, more or less in its present form, since the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the subsequent devolution of the central practices and observances of Judaism from Temple-centered to home, community, and synagogue-centered.

A brief diversion into history (and please forgive the pedantic tone -- I am, after all, a Jewish history teacher): the Mishnah (Oral Torah) was redacted and written down in the first three centuries CE -- following the destruction of the Second Temple and the subsequent chaos and expulsion of the majority of Jews from Eretz Israel. It was feared that the tradition of passing down the Oral Law, well, orally -- which had previously been an unbroken chain for around 1000 years -- would be lost with the diaspora. The Mishnah was largely completed by 250 CE and after that, the commentaries -- the Talmud -- was also written down by the rabbinic leadership in exile, which was located in Babylon. This rabbinic leadership was also part of a larger government in exile -- the head of which was a leader descended from the Davidic monarchy (the "Exilarch").

Once the Talmud was fully written (took a couple hundred years), it began to be dispersed to diaspora Jewish communities around the then-known world by rabbinic yeshiva students who would go to Babylon to study under the leaders, then return to their own communities to establish yeshivot and the basic infrastructure of Jewish life wherever they were. This is more or less how the Jewish world was able to resurrect itself in the centuries following the Diaspora and flourish; it is also why there is a tremendous unity of scholarship (i.e. the Talmud looks the same) around the world (this is not addressing the differences between the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmud; the latter is generally not considered definitive as it is incomplete).

Also, it is more than worth noting that every Jewish movement which has rejected the Oral Law as binding has eventually broken from the Jewish people and either faded away or developed into a completely separate religion (i.e. Karaites).

So. Jews who identify as "Orthodox" consider the Oral Law to be equally as binding as the Written Law, since we believe they were both given at Sinai. But more importantly, the Written Law is simply incomplete and to some degree incomprehensible without the Oral Law. The Torah (written) is incredibly concise, without an extraneous syllable or letter anywhere -- and every letter, even every nekuda (vowel sound) has cosmic significance.

Because of the nature of the Diaspora (and we are, after all, still in Exile...the Moshiach has not yet come to redeem us), each community has throughout history had rabbinic leadership who was responsible for addressing the practical nature of how to live within the Oral and Written Law. Certain specific rabbinic leaders came to the fore at certain times and provided 'super-leadership' -- they became the "Gadolim" ('large ones, or 'leaders') and their commentaries developed into definitive works. Most specifically I am speaking here of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki -- a tenth century French rabbi whose commentaries are still considered the most brilliant and guiding of all) and others.

The nature of the Diaspora, and the many persecutions, expulsions, wars -- and simply geographic distance -- led to small differences in practice and in some cases philosophical outlook across Jewish communities (speaking here mainly of the Sepharadi/Ashkenazi split in the 15th/16th centuries, then the split of the Chasidic movement in the 18th century).

Okay. So. What does this all mean for us?

It means that: 1) Orthodox Jews consider the Oral Torah as binding as the Written Torah. Some Orthodox Jews have varying interpretations and rabbinic leadership over certain questions, especially those of degree (sleeve length, amount of hair showing, etc.). What they DON'T vary on is the idea that it is all equally Divine and obligatory, and that -- at its essence -- the Torah (both Oral and Written) are THE way that Hashem gave us to connect to Him, to bring His presence into this world and bring Kadosh into profane, thereby providing the light to the world that He wants us to have. That is what the Mitzvot are.

This is the 'ikkar' -- the essence -- of mitzvah observance. That is what Torah observance entails.

As to your second question -- my feeling is this. We are all human. We all have weaknesses, challenges, areas where we fall short. There is no human being that can observe the mitzvot of the Torah in all its facets with perfection. That's not the point. The point is the striving, the climbing, the seeking to do better all the time.

The KEY difference here -- is that Orthodox Jews will, in general, admit that the shortcomings are with them -- human. That the 'picking and choosing' is simply a reflection of their own human condition, and that they are always trying to do better. This is a real distinction between Orthodoxy and the other movements, which flip that around -- the picking and choosing instead becomes what is 'meaningful' to the individual and that the Torah itself is only a Divinely inspired suggestion rather than a Divine mandate.

I have more to say on this but have to take my kinderlach to school.

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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#6 of 19 Old 04-16-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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Thank you nickarola, that was interesting.

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#7 of 19 Old 04-18-2010, 02:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Nickarolaberry. I love your passion for your topic and always learn a lot when you post.

Having read through your answer, I found myself refining my questions further. I think my question is this:

What makes a Jew a religious Jew?

I think I am also a little confused about just what 'Orthodox' Judaism is and is not. Of course understanding between individuals might never completely agree on just how to define what orthodox means.

What I have seen around me has made me think that Orthodox Judaism is not necessarily the continued practice of Judaism as it has been practised in the last 1000's of years.

I know that the requirement for separate tablescloths for meat and milk is a relatively 'new' arrival to the observance of Kashrut. I would be interested to know just how many Jewish families could keep 2 sets of everything for meat and milk, (and a 3rd set of some things for Pesach) say, 500 years ago. Just over a 1000 years ago Jewish men had more than one wife if they could afford it. 60 years ago that practice was still happening in Yemen. For me, that points to changes and differences within Judaism that the Orthodox rhetoric minimises when they say that they are practising the true Judaism.

In my understanding, just like the Reform Judaism is a product of the Enlightenment, so too is the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) practice of Judaism. I realise that not all Orthodox Jews are Haredim. I know the Dati Leumi group are Orthodox, but break all sorts of 'rules' that the Haredim consider essential.

So, what in essence makes a Jew a religious Jew?

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#8 of 19 Old 04-18-2010, 11:17 AM
 
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Well I think we still have a few different questions going on here.

As to the first -- how can Torah (Orthodox) Judaism, as it's currently practiced, possibly be the 'same' as it has been for the last two millennia?

We know, from documentary evidence (halachic responsa, ketubot, letters of scholarship written between communities, letters, diaries, findings of batei din, etc.) that in fact, the issues that Jews face today are very much the same as they have always been. Technology changes, levels of income change, geographic locations change, governments change, etc.-- but the lives of regular people remain fairly steady and standard over time. We even know from similar documents during wartime (and times of pogroms, uhpheaval, expulsions, etc.) that the practice of Judaism according to the Torah varied only in its specific details.

One of the benefits of being a religion and nation which highly values literacy and education is that this kind of rich documentary evidence remains with us. One of the other benefits is that we do actually see that although cultural minutiae definitely varies, even from communities as distant and unique as say, Yemen to Persia to Ashkenaz (northern central Europe), the Torah, the Talmud, and the observance of them does not change.

(As to practical issues like the observance of kashrut -- I don't think every family had two full sets of service for 12 dishes. I think they likely had one pot for meat, one for dairy, one dish for each, etc. Not to mention that most of the impoverished families would only eat chicken once a week, on Shabbat -- and even 'dairy' foods as such were pretty limited.)

In terms of the Enlightenment giving birth to the "Haredi" movement, this is not quite accurate. Certain "Orthodox" political organizations did arise as a result of both the beginning of the Reform movement as well as Zionism. Agudat Israel is the primary one, and later on as the Zionist movement became more developed, the Mizrachi organizations followed (religious Zionist).

It is sometimes difficult for Israelis to distinguish between the Haredi and/or religious Zionist movements as political entities and religious ones. But it is important to do so.

Without getting into political questions (i.e. which "Orthodox" Jews accept the teachings of Rav Kook zt'l and whether Israel as a state is the beginning of the Age of Redemption or not) -- the RELIGIOUS differences between Haredim and Religious Zionists are, in reality, not that big.

There has always been (and will always be, until Moshiach, may he come speedily in our day) variations among Orthodox Jews over philosophy, dress, cultural standards, and certain areas of practice. These areas are called 'chumrot' or stringencies -- and some communities hold those stringencies to be mandatory while others don't.

(FWIW, dati le'umi Jews don't 'break' rules Haredim have -- they observe the same rules, albeit in a different way. And it is more than worth noting that both the Haredi communities as well as the dati le'umi communities are not at all monolithic, but rather extremely varied and unique one to the other. It doesn't make one more 'religious' than another necessarily -- it reflects cultural and philosophical variation. But it does NOT reflect any difference in mutual commitment to Torah).

What they ALL have in common is this: they ALL believe the Torah (Oral and Written) was given by Hashem to Moshe Rabbeinu at Har Sinai. They ALL believe it is immutable, eternal, and binding in its entirety forever.

That would be the basic definition of an "Orthodox" Jew. For practical purposes, generally speaking a religious Jew is defined as one who keeps three basic areas of halacha -- Shabbat, Kashrut, and Taharat HaMishpacha.

A person can of course be a religious and spiritual person without accepting the Divinity or binding nature of Torah. That would make the person *not* a Torah-observant or Orthodox Jew.

I think these questions are part of the cultural chasm between western civilization (and the worldview shaped by living in a Christian world) and the Jewish worldview. "Denominations" in Judaism are a very new thing, having only been around since the late 19th century. Having a 'movement' with a specific manifesto (other than the Torah) and a hierarchical leadership is significantly more similar to Christianity than it is to the Jewish historical and religious experience. It really is impossible to describe the tapestry of what "Orthodox" Jewish life is to those who are unfamiliar or just scratching the surface based on anecdotal observation.

But, like I said...all the movements who historically rejected the Oral Law as not relevant or not binding have eventually broken completely from the Jewish people and nation or faded away. It's not hard to understand why, really. The Torah is an organic whole. If a person understands how it works (not just on a surface level, but *really gets* it) then it becomes an absurdity to try and separate the two aspects of Torah. And not inconsequentially, the Torah (in its entirety) is also the central part of not only the 'religious' aspect of Judaism, but of the Jewish people and nation.

Movements which emphasize individualism (i.e. what is meaningful to ME) over peoplehood (i.e. what is my role as part of the Jewish people and nation) will necessarily, eventually lose that component of Torah which attaches to the Jewish people and nation.

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#9 of 19 Old 04-18-2010, 11:45 AM
 
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Eden Ama, Magelet, this one's for you... Simply A Jew

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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#10 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 05:34 AM
 
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I hope I am welcome here (if not, please just say so!) but I consider myself a Messianic Orthodox Jew. That is to say, I practice Orthodox Judiasm, but believe that our Messiah has come already. And so it enriches my faith and I joy in returning to the ancient paths of my forefathers and claiming my Jewish ancestry. I am matrilineally Jewish, but was raised in a Christian home, and so was not raised Torah-observant except for token observance of Rosh Hashanah, Pesach, Hannukah, and an occasional Shabbat dinner. I am now in the learning process (past 2 years) of becoming Torah-observant and though I don't completely practice Orthodox Judiasm yet, that is the goal, the end result of this journey I'm on (and truly know will never end).

And so, I wanted to chime in here because I have just now (past two weeks) began studying Talmud. Can you believe I never knew it existed? I'm mortified and sad that my parents didn't teach me Judiasm as a child, that they refused to let me go to Hebrew school as an 8-yr-old yearning to learn the Holy language in order to read Scripture in the original tongue. Yes, I've always known I was Jewish but my parents dismissed it. And even as a child, my heart wanted to learn about being a Jewish person.

So anyway; back to Talmud. I have just begun studying it in English (and although I feel odd reading it in any language but Hebrew, I cannot yet understand much Hebrew and I feel like I should strive to understand it now in English rather than waiting until I speak Hebrew; mixed feelings. Any thoughts?). And I am blown away...so many difficult passages or parts of Leviticus that I spent hours trying to decipher, were explained and expanded and made applicable to everyday life. This was the part of Torah I had been missing in my studies! It is like the missing piece of the puzzle finally slid into place. And I've just barely begun to scratch the surface of Talmud. I read and I laugh and I cry and I take it all in. And I am so excited to be on this journey.

The newest commandment I am adding to the ones I follow so far is to not wear clothing of mixed fibers. And, being newly married, the wearing of headcoverings daily (instead of occasionally) is new to me. But wearing a lovely scarf in my hair, elaborately twisting it to cover everything but a few strands in front, the bond of Jewish women with babes on hip, fixing each others "fancy" Tichel's as Seder approaches---priceless. I would love to get to know other Jewish women on Mothering and add to my limited knowledge by delving into your wisdom, but again, let me know if I don't belong

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#11 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 06:26 AM
 
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How does one know what the written torah is talking about without the oral?
What are "totafot"?
In my understanding the relationship between the oral torah and the written is like this:
When Moshe came down from Mt sinai he taught the people "the torah" if it was just a book that was written they could just read it themselves. But, instead he taught them, gave classes. The classes he gave were the oral torah that G-d had explained to him. The written torah was like the class notes, what the teacher (in this case G-d, through Moshe wrote on the board). The Mishna is recorded discussions among the sages when they decided the time had come for the oral torah to no longer be only oral.
I do not understand how the written torah on its own could be a document to live by, nothing is explained inside.

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#12 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 06:27 AM
 
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As an "ulra orthodox" jew I would not say that DL Jews break rules I consider essential. They rule differently, most of all on political and social ideals.

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#13 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 06:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ema-adama View Post
How does a religious Jew decide what is binding and what is not? I know even within the orthodox practice of Judaism, some women show NO hair, some don't mind a few whisps escaping, and others keep their heads covered, but hair out. I also know Shomrei Shabbat who do not cover their hair at all. Some keep their arms covered to their wrists, others to their elbows and others just above the elbow. Also, there is a wide range in observance of Kashrut. Some orthodox religious Jews would eat a lemon off my lemon tree, and others wouldn't.

I guess I am trying to figure out the guiding principle for where people draw their own personal line when it comes to observing the mitzvot. I realise this might not be a rational experience for many people. And there no doubt is not a tidy answer.
I have 2 bookcases full of hebrew books detailing what halacha is and the sources. I also see what those around me do. Community norms (minhag hamakom) impact halacha as well as what the sages said. There is a whole part of women's halacha called "daat yehudit" which is things that women decided for themselves throughout history.





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I think another central part of my questions stems from "Who is a religious Jew?" Can you only be considered a religious practising Jew if you keep the Sabbath? And what does that mean? Preparing your babies diapers to be in accordance with keeping the Sabbath, not driving, not cooking, no media, prayer, family meals, family time, blessing the food, blessing the day? How do you define what it is to observe the Sabbath?
If I need to define who observes shabbos for halachik reasons it goes by if the person calls themselves shomer shabbat and if they are actually seen in public as being shabbos observant (halachik principle called shomer/ michalel shabbos bifarhesya).



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Anyway, just ramblings here on my part. Again, I do not hope to find a 'true' Judaism. I know that does not exist.
If you mean one that is exactly like it was practiced 3000 years ago, of course not, the world has changed. It changes all the time. I'll give you a recent example from my own life.
This past shabbos I dropped a whole pitcher of water on the kitchen floor. So, I sponjaed it out the door. And a guest says to dh "is that really allowed?" Then started a 2 hour discussion of whether the "sponja" part of the stick was a "sponge" which would be problematic. Then whether you can wash a floor on shabos..... many books were pulled out. One book said there is a gezeira not to wash a tiled floors on shabbos as a safeguard not to come to clean a dirt floor on shabbos. Noone in the discussion had ever even seen a dirt floor, and more importantly, how does one wash a dirt floor?
So, after shabbos we called our rav. He said the way they washed a dirt floor was to wet it so they could smooth it out. Which is actually a big shabbos observance issue because smoothing the ground is how you prepare it to plant, which is actually one of the main 39 malochos of shabbos. Our rabbi said that gezaira is only binding where there are a majority of dirt floors. And anyway i wasn't washing the floor, I was cleaning up a spill (which was my first answer). So, no, our judaism is not exactly the same as the judaism of the dirt floors, but i don't believe being "the same" is the point. Its observing the torah and in my belief that takes study and understanding.

Mom of 5 boys- 13, 10, 8, 2 : and newbie Aug. 24th, '09 . babywearing advocate . Cook, baker, homemaker, wife to a man with another woman's kidney (live altruistic, unknown donor).
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#14 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 06:56 AM
 
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I know that the requirement for separate tablescloths for meat and milk is a relatively 'new' arrival to the observance of Kashrut.
I believe a seperatiomn between those eating milk and meat on the same table goes back to the mishna.
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I think another central part of my questions stems from "Who is a religious Jew?" Can you only be considered a religious practising Jew if you keep the Sabbath?
That is the main deciding factor for halachik desicions where that is relevant.

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And what does that mean? Preparing your babies diapers to be in accordance with keeping the Sabbath, not driving, not cooking, no media, prayer, family meals, family time, blessing the food, blessing the day? How do you define what it is to observe the Sabbath?
In general it means not doing any of the 39 melachos delineated in the mishna or their derivations. The 39 malachos are derived from the 39 types of work that went into building the mishkan.

Mom of 5 boys- 13, 10, 8, 2 : and newbie Aug. 24th, '09 . babywearing advocate . Cook, baker, homemaker, wife to a man with another woman's kidney (live altruistic, unknown donor).
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#15 of 19 Old 04-22-2010, 09:33 AM
 
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BirthisAwesome -- the Talmud is written in Aramaic, not Hebrew. You won't be able to understand the Gemara (Mishna and Talmud) with just Hebrew skills.

BB, I understand what you are saying about DL and Haredi differences. What I am saying in response to EA is that both DL and Haredi -- when grouped under the "Orthodox" umbrella (which we understand not to be at all monolithic)-- remain committed to the idea that halacha is binding and Divine; that Torah is immutable and eternal; and that halacha is not something to be picked and chosen according to individual will but rather in concert with rabbinic guidance and community norms. (And that said, there is of course wide variation even among DL, and among Haredi, about what is 'essential' and 'proper'. Even when it comes to politics/religion -- witness the Chared'al).

 "Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible." (William Shakespeare -- Julius Caesar)

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#16 of 19 Old 04-25-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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I have nothing real to add after those incredible responses; however, I wanted to clarify what to me is a difference between religious and observant.

A religious Jew could be someone who is reform, conservative, whathaveyou.... and be very religious - very spiritually in touch, but still might not be observant (as in keeping the mitzvos). And an observant Jew could possibly be not religious - follows halacha to the letter, but doesn't feel that spiritual pull to their neshama.

Rivka, mommy to 3 big boys and a set of b/g twins
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#17 of 19 Old 04-25-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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I think I agree more with Tikva's definition of religious vs. observant.

Caroline, partner to J, post partum doula, kitchen manager, aspiring midwife, soon to be nursing student, mama to my furbaby, someday a mama to not so furry munchkins, G-d willing
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#18 of 19 Old 04-26-2010, 05:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by tikva18 View Post

A religious Jew could be someone who is reform, conservative, whathaveyou.... and be very religious - very spiritually in touch, but still might not be observant (as in keeping the mitzvos). And an observant Jew could possibly be not religious - follows halacha to the letter, but doesn't feel that spiritual pull to their neshama.


Yeah, that. Entirely.
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#19 of 19 Old 04-28-2010, 10:55 PM
 
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transtichel.gifMom of three - (2.5 yrs, 7yrs, and 11yrs). Birthing Doula, editor, and wife to my soulmate. I've had a c/s, hospital VBAC, UC and not yet decided what I'll do about this next little one

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