I have received from MiKu the following comment: “So you discard a Talmudic idea because it doesn’t fit your agenda, then you aren’t qualified to invent “Intellectual Judaism””, and I have responded in the following way:
“Michael, I am not discarding anything. I am, in my human duty as a spiritual scientist, trying to find out why the purely Talmudic-based Orthodox Judaism is not attracting anymore the Jewish majority, and the Jews are testing something else such as conservatism, reformism, secularism, etc. You may believe the purely Talmudic-based orthodox rabbis are the guardians of Judaism but what guardianship is this if the Jewish majority do not follow them. So I have decided, after many unsuccessful attempts to discuss it with the purely Talmudic-based orthodox rabbis, to go back to the Torah and figure out what may be done to attract the Jews again to the Torah’s guidance. What spiritual objections do you have against my search?”
This post is a part of my search.
We the Jews are united as Jews, all of us from the Orthodox to the Secular, by our collective faith rooted in the Torah, transferred from generation to generation most probably genetically, and enhanced through Jewish education.
We the Jews, all of us from the Orthodox to the Secular, are disunited almost on everything by our diverse and sometimes conflicting interpretations of the Torah guidance.
Why the same Torah is the source of our unity and disunity?
The Torah comprises of two different universes.
One of them is the so-called God’s universe, where God with His multiple images such as Supreme Power, Adonai, Nature, Big Bang, etc. is the Higher Authority above us the humans. The other one is the Religion’s universe. They are different.
Naturally, God Himself created the God’s universe – in all His multiple images. Our human authoritative leaders called in the Jewish nation the Rabbis created the Religion’s universe.
The God’s universe is presented in the Torah with God’s guidance on how to build a human society where every human individual is acting in all his/her life endeavors in the individually understood “image and likeness” of God. We accepted the guidance of the Higher Authority above us the humans after the failure of numerous humans to play the role of such authority. The most fundamental part of this guidance is the so-called “Free Will” that encourages all human individuals to compete with each other for better designs of various parts of the God’s better world.
Based on the Torah’s guidance, the rabbis created the Religion’s universe with their guidance on how to understood the “image and likeness” of God in terms of human moral behavior. The rabbis’ role as teachers in this Religion’s universe was extremely valuable. However, in the course of religious history, the rabbis began to exercise another role – the role of authoritative rulers, and in this role, the rabbis created disunity. In order to secure his power as an authoritative ruler, a rabbi was declaring that only his guidance was the true God’s guidance, and all others were mistaken. This authoritative-ruler approach obviously breaded disunity.
When the Jews lived in the isolated Jewish communities (shtetls, ghettos), this disunity was hidden – the Jews were not interacting with the real God’s world outside the Jewish communities, knew only their rabbi’s guidance and obeyed him.
However about two centuries ago, things had begun to change – the Jews had begun to be accepted by the gentiles and begun real competitive coexistence in the gentile world. The life conditions for Jewish individuals had become completely different, and the rabbis were not able to adjust their spiritual guidance to specific life conditions of everybody. That was the end of the traditional Orthodox spiritual supremacy in the Jewish nation – not because of somebody’s revolt but rather because of inability of the Orthodox rabbis to adjust the Torah’s teachings to the changing times. The Orthodox rabbis were not prepared to tailor their teachings to the enormous changes in the world created along the lines of God’s laws of nature. The result: the birth of new spiritual Jewish movements – conservatism, reformism and secularism. Those feuding movements are trying to find the God’s guidance in new life circumstances, created in the God’s world by the God’s laws, – the guidance the orthodox rabbis were not able to provide.
The Ten Commandments and the Social Justice are the two systems for redistribution of individually created wealth aimed at making a better world for everybody, or Tikkun Olam in Jewish spiritual terms.
If we have two wealth-redistribution systems suggested for creating a better world for everybody, we have to figure out which system is better. The great majority would agree that a better world for everybody should be a just world. If it is so, the most important is to define what is just and unjust in both systems.
In the Judeo-Christian universe (observant and non-observant), the Ten Commandments and the entire Bible (Old and New Testaments), which is tailoring the Ten Commandments to various life circumstances, define justice and injustice. Those definitions are coming from the Higher Authority above us called God. We may disagree on the image of this Authority (God, Adonai, Supreme Power, Nature, Big Band, etc.) but not with the need for and the importance of such authority. This Authority unites all of us since, as the Bible declares, this Authority creates all of us as equals – in His image and likeness. If we are created as equals, the definition of justice and injustice, which is coming from this Authority, have to be considered just for everybody.
The guidance of this Authority for creating a better world, which is just for everybody, is clear and simple:
- A better world, which is just for everybody, is the world where every individual has the opportunity to be an individual spiritual and material wealth creator in all areas of his/her life – family, community, religious institutions, employment, politics, social development, charity/mitzvah, etc. Moreover, to be personally responsible for the results of individual creative work.
- The purpose of government is to secure the individual opportunities, not to impose on the individuals the government’s own ideas on social justice. The government has to legislate along the lines of the Bible – to strengthen individual families, to provide safety for families and communities, to keep forceful confiscation of wealth to a minimal level just needed to support a minimal government.
- About 10% of the individually created wealth should be used for helping the less fortunate to enhance their individual opportunities through individual charity/mitzvah wealth transfer – not to enslave them in the welfare system forever.
In the secular universe, which might be even artificially observant, an elected or non-elected government defines what is just and what is unjust. Any human government, although necessary at some minimal level, disunites people. Why? Because any human government operates with one important goal in mind – to preserve its power at a next election cycle.
There is an established practice of how to preserve the power in this secular universe:
- A government convinces the society that not all people are created equal, and therefore the role of a government is to be a sort of equalizer. To perform this role, a government finds a small group of wealthy individuals with a lot of individually made wealth but with a negligible voting power, and forcefully confiscates a significant part of their wealth.
- Then, a government redistributes the confiscated wealth to a large group of less wealthy (most of them are not poor in a classical definition of this word) but with a decisive voting power. If the redistribution is correct, the government preserves its power.
- However, such redistribution is unjust for the entire society. The wealthy individuals are unhappy – they think the injustice was committed against them. They believe so not because the money was taken from them – but rather because the money was taken forcefully without their consent on how much to take and how to redistribute. The injustice is committed as well against those who are receiving the redistributed money. It is so since the government decides what is good and what is bad for them – they are deprived the opportunity to make their own choices.