28 June 2006

A J-Blogger Icon: Why Not Something Simple

Over at the Jblogosphere blog (yes, it's a J-blog dedicated to J-blogging (against which Michael ranted), a recent post suggests a couple of icons for placement onto blogs. I think why I reject them (at least for myself - I'm not morally opposed to them, though) is that Judaism is important to me, though the land of Israel, while significant to Judaism, is not a significant part of my Judaism (in my living of it - that isn't to say that I don't care about it (speaking of which, tonight I just booked tickets to go to Israel for nearly two weeks during my winter vacation (man, am I "homesick" for Israel...I haven't been in two years, now))). So, when they justify the icons with the following
Those of us, who live in Israel are not isolated from the rest of the Jewish world. We in Diaspora, do care, and do think of Israel, and Israelis, as a nation (not just the Land, but the nation!) all the time. And for those of us, who live in Israel, we should not fall victims to illusion that once you become an Israeli, you forget about being a Jew.
I don't think of the land or those living there all of the time - living a Jewish lifestyle and trying to have a God-consciousness are prime desiderata, not the land.
Anyways, feel free to use the icon in this posting (as long as you link back to this posting), though I would suggest something more jazzy.
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11 comments:

amechad said...

Drew, Drew, Drew.... you are falling into a common trap.

You say "living a Jewish lifestyle" is important and obviously you believe this but it is impossible to live a fully Jewish lifestyle in someone else's land (and any land that is not Israel is not the land of your nation). Only in Israel does one have the ability to live a fully Jewish lifestyle. Only in Israel is it easier to keep kosher, only in Israel are the national holidays Jewish holidays, only in Israel is the national goal the furthering of the Jewish people.

Remember the Gemerra that says that it is better to live among idoloters in Israel than pious people in Galut. (Sorry, don't remember the cite off the top of my head).

Also, remember, we pray 3x/day for the return to our Homeland. But yet today, this is possible and feasible after 2000 years of exile. So today, it is only national hypocracy (unless there are serious parnassa difficulties) that keeps most American Jews (frum American Jews that actually pray and theoretically believe in the mitzvah yishuv b'Aretz) from aliya.

saus said...

On judaism & lifestyle.
I disagree respectfully with you Drew. I'm not overly religious, I'm observant, but I have observed as Judaism has evolved a distancing from its core.

The essence of Judaism, is the Covenant between Gd & Man. The land is the symbol of Gd's gift to honour our covenant with him.

The essential laws are part of that, everything else since has been commentary. There's nothing wrong with that, but in my opinion if the commentary has overshadowed the covenant which is common in our modern era, it is not a good thing.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Only in Israel does one have the ability to live a fully Jewish lifestyle. - Could you please explain? I would imagine a statement such as this one should be followed by attempts at justification (unless you call what followed that with justifications (which I do not)).
As far as the anonymous beraisa (quoted on Kesubos 110b) goes, someone (I think it was R' Josh) mentioned to me that all of the pro-Israel stuff at the end of Kesubos are voiced by Palestinian sages (versus that of Babylonian sages), though I'm interested to know how it really goes down.
Yes, we do yearn to live in the land that is our ancestral heritage (including myself), but there are other factors that go into such decisions. As opposed to A.B. Yeshoshua's contention that he doesn't feel Jewish outside of the land (which caused such a furor at the AJC meeting several weeks back), it is important for Jews living outside of the land to continue to live Jewish lives and not say, "It's either Israel or no Judaism."
The consciousness with which one leads one life would maintain a Jewish one, though not every one around them would necessarily be so.

amechad said...

I don't have the time to respond more fully (papers! oy!) but I do agree with you that A.B. Yehoshua and the classical Labor Zionist view of "secular Israel vs. no Judaism." For sure a Jew can (and should) do mitzvot when living outside (and, of course, also in) of our home, for sure there is Judaism in the Diaspora. However, it is incomplete. For example, only in Israel can one do all the mitzvot (that are possible in our day). Only in Israel can one tithe, observe shmita, and follow the agricultural laws. It is only in the Jewish polity that the Jewish nation can exert political independence. It is only in Israel that the highways are empty on Yom Kippur (even in Tel Aviv). It is only in Israel that Yom HaAtzmaut can be fully observed. It is only in Israel that the agricultural festivals "make sense" (i.e. with the seasons and the weather). It is Israel that the festival of Sukkot makes sense. It is Israel that Passover makes sense because Passover is about returning to Israel because it is only in Israel that a Jew is truly "herut" (free). Outside of Israel, no matter how nice, now matter how comfortable, is still Exile.

Jews are a nation -- we have a religious

Talk to your Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Avi Weiss about this.

עם ישראל בארץ ישראל עם תורת ישראל

amechad said...

You are of course right that it is important for a Jew outside of Israel to live a Jewish life -- but it must be recognized that it is incomplete (incomplete isn't אפס[zero]) and not the ideal situation. The ideal situation has always been for the Jewish people to live in Israel but that wasn't realistic until the mid-20th century. Today, while not realistic for every single Jew, Israel is now the largest Jewish community in the world, and western aliya is possible (see Nefesh b'Nefesh, Ami [in France], etc.). Of course there are plenty of problems in Israel (I am about to finish my MA in Israeli Society & Politics, I certainly can not deny the problems in Israel -- that's what my masters is in!) but it is up to us to fix it but one must come to Israel first (don't get me started on so-called American Jewish philanthropy)

~ Sarah ~ said...

Drew, you are right. It's not something simple. We understand that, it may not be for everyone but it's there for those who want to use it, for them to show support and convey a greater sense of unity.

Personally though, I agree with you that living a Jewish lifestyle and trying to have a G-dconsciousness are important priorities but the land of Israel is undeniably part of that covenant. Am Yisrael V'Eretz Yisrael Al Pi Torat Yisrael.

Drew_Kaplan said...

Saus,
The essential laws are part of that, everything else since has been commentary? There is a problem, however, with your idea: that is, (at least for Orthodox belief) that the "commentary" of which you speak is part and parcel of Judaism, part of halakhah. So, while I will agree with you that the "essence of Judaism is the Covenant between God & Man", there has been more added (it's called the rabbinic system - there's more to Judaism than the Bible). Yes, I will also agree with you that "the land is the symbol of God's gift to honour our covenant with" God, but our tradition has been able to accomodate even for life not in the Land.

saus said...

Drew, that's all fine, I'm not ignorant on halacha by any means.

My point is very simply, that we can no longer as Jews peretend that that gola is an eternally acceptable alternative to Israel.

It is now 58 years, and that's ample time for the generations to have made the effort, preparations & the move.

That Orthodox tradition developed because there was no homeland, to tide us over until there would be one again and allowed Judaism to thrive & survive. But it is not the ends, it is merely a means, and it is an evolution of Judaism, and Judaism must now again evolve because a great circumstance has changed.

My point remains that to deny this is convenience of man, not connectionm with Gd! I'm sure great Rabbis will debate it, those with Gd truly deep in their hearts already know the answer, whether they acknowledge it or not is an entirely different matter.

You hit it on the head Drew "accomodate", I guess the essence of the debate is whether we can accomodate Gd and his law, or Gd must accomodate us and our convenience! Maybe Amechad did a better job of explaining the notion than I.

regards

amechad said...

Yes, I will also agree with you that "the land is the symbol of God's gift to honour our covenant with" God, but our tradition has been able to accomodate even for life not in the Land.

As Saus said (although halakha in Israel is also very important and it's not one or the other) "accomodate" -- yes, we have been able to adapt to 2000 years of exile but perhaps too much because THE EXILE IS OVER. It's a choice today to live in exile or not and it wasn't such a choice even 60 years ago. Again, 3x/day in the Amidah we pray for the ingathering of the exiles ... and yes, that means even American Jews. Today we can have that which every element of Jewish ritual is infused with (consciousness of Eretz Yisrael). In Birkat HaMazon we thank Hashem for "Eretz Chemda u'Tovah" - not the US, not the agriculture of any other country but only Israel. At weddings we break the glass to remember the destruction of the Temple but today we have sovereignty over the Temple Mount and in a few decades over 50% of the Jewish population will live in Israel.

Living a Torah life, which includes social and political contributions and being a part of society, in the Jewish polity -- Medinat Yisrael -- is the ideal of Judaism and something we have prayed for and yearned for for over 2000 years. In our miraculous times, this is possible. Anything less is less-than-ideal. Obviously something is better than nothing but today we have miraculous choices that our ancestors yearned for.

Ezzie said...

Should have commented a few days ago, but... I think you somewhat missed the point of the post by focusing on the single aspect. The point of the icons is simply to unite the JBlogosphere, regardless of their political or religious approaches to Judaism or Israel. We simply took the most general connection we could, that of the Jewish nation and our desire to be in Eretz Yisrael. This should be true of all Jews, even if there are reasons to currently not be there.

I think the main points of the post were scattered throughout:

Wherever we are, we are one nation.

We have been separated through history, and wound up living in different parts of the world - but all those factors have not succeeded in breaking us, nor taking away our common identity.

J-blogosphere may be small, but it's a growing success, helping us bring together Jews from all over the world, helping us communicate, introduce our individual views, and overcome those differences that have once appeared to be insurmontable challenges.

Whatever may be the outcome of our debate, if nothing else, it reminds us of our common identity, and common purpose - and that's what counts.

These icons are apolitical, and are meant to bring us all together rather than create divisions and pointless arguments.

Drew_Kaplan said...

I think you somewhat missed the point of the post by focusing on the single aspect.
I don't think I did - I think I got it quite clearly.

The point of the icons is simply to unite the JBlogosphere, regardless of their political or religious approaches to Judaism or Israel. We simply took the most general connection we could, that of the Jewish nation and our desire to be in Eretz Yisrael.
I think that the most general connection is that of the Jewish nation. Another one could be doing good deeds. Another one could be trying to imitate God. Then there's also the desire to be in Erez Yisrael, but I don't think that that is sooooo common. But, then again, maybe that's just my perspective - people may talk about Israel, but not usually with such a longing for it (but, then again, it depends upon in which circles one is), but rather as a religious concept.
To iterate, I did get the message, but I disagreed with it.