Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Question to my Readers

When I started this blog I had two goals in mind, one selfish and the other altruistic. The selfish one was to force myself to work through a subject to the point that I could share it with others publicly. I am also interested in the feedback that stimulates my thinking further and are many times a source of interesting insights. I think that the blog is serving this purpose well. So I thank all of you for reading faithfully and commenting periodically.

The altruistic goal was to help those who like me, are not satisfied with the conventional theology that is contemporary mainstream Jewish Orthodox religion. I have struggled with it since my teen years and it is only in the past ten to fifteen years that I have slowly come to really appreciate and understand what Torah and the way of life it promulgates is all about. I was pained for a very long time before I started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and if I can help others in similar situations, I feel that I contribute somewhat to the community.

That brings me to my question. Am I being too technical lately? Am I becoming too self involved and thinking about things that are too esoteric to interest others? Am I still addressing the second stated goal, the altruistic one?

I need a dose of reality every so often and would appreciate getting some feedback.


  1. I think you are doing important work and would encourage more of the same. If you bring it down a notch or two you have to be prepared to engage all sorts of people who have very diverse views and sharp tongues.(See for example the exchange on theurgy on Hirhurim 10/1 towards the end of the comments.)

    Frankly I am not really knowledgeable in the intricacies of the topic you are writing about.Sometimes I have difficulty 'getting into' issues like predestination and active intellect, though I would like to learn more. If you do take up what you call the altruistic goal of talking directly to a non philosophical audience then I would think you would have to find a way of writing in non technical terms, as you did so effectively the other day at GGG's blog.

    One final point which I think you might appreciate. You write in your bio that you were in Slabodka and Beth Medrosh Elyon in the sixties. You are in a unique position to represent a type of intellectual yiddishkeit that is under-represented on the Jewish internet. The particular combination of lumdus and chassidus, musar and rationalism (shemoneh perakim, choveth haslevavot), Ramban and Mahral that flowed so easily one into the other is unheard of here on this internet. Frankly there is too much of RYBS and too little of everyone else.And you ,unlike so many others were in a position to see very strong examples of charedi personalities.I truly hope you would find some way of bringing this world to a wider public.

  2. Most orthodox people who are prducts of the yeshiva system are happy with conventional theology and that is fine. There are though many of us seeking a better understanding of some fundamental issues where traditional explanations don't sometimes satisfy or the questions are not widely discussed. For me your blog deals with these issues within an orthodox framework so I am a fan.

    Clearly, the more esoteric articles will be of interest to a smaller audience so perhaps a combination of intellectual/ more simple posts to keep everybody interested and happy.

  3. Nativ Winiarsky10/10/2007 9:52 AM

    Leave things exactly as they are. It is perfect.

  4. I'd like to know what YOU think as a person, not just what you think Rambam thinks, and I'd like to see you compare and contrast what you think and what Rambam thinks with what is commonly accepted as "Yiddishkeit".

  5. > Am I being too technical lately? Am I becoming too self involved and thinking about things that are too esoteric to interest others? Am I still addressing the second stated goal, the altruistic one?

    No, you're too circular. :)

  6. EJ thank you for your comment.I will try to be clearer. It is very hard especially with the topics I deal with, but if one cannot make himself clear it may indicate that he is fooling himself. The real difficulty is that we have to translate ideas that are based on the medieval Greek universe into contemporary understanding of the world.

    Nativ and Ergo thnk you for your words of encouragement.

    anonymous, rambam gives us a roadmap which when travelled allows for a lot of personal adaptation. it is like a tree with many branches all the way to twigs where all come from the same root and trunk but each has its own individual shape. So what I write is my own take on what I understand Rambam is teaching. Re Iddishkeit today, who are you referring to? I know orthodox intelligent people who struggle with their avodat hashem in depth and seriously as should be. I also know many more who are afraid to think, are very self satisfied and bark a lot! Unfortunately that is how the world is. We have to do what is incumbent on us and follow where the truth leads us - as long as it is done in good faith.I have no worries that an intelligent well informed person who is really honest with himself will stray away from torah. Torah does not have inferiority complexes.

    Which brings me to my friend XGH - You know the Dervish who spins has vertigo and thinks everything he sees is spinning. Think about that!

  7. Please keep up your good work.
    Your work is important to me in encouraging me to look into ideas of Rishonim, especially the Rambam and attempting to see how those ideas underlie later debates in Jewish intellectual history. If I don't understand something I can always look it up.

  8. David,
    Please keep up your posting. I check your blog regularly and gratly enjoy reading your insights.

  9. David,

    Great blog!
    Please keep writing your posts!
    The most important think to remember is that most people like me enjoy reading your posts, but don't bother commenting. On some posts you might have zero comments, but there are still many people reading it and growing from it, we just don't bother commenting.
    Keep up the good work!

    Kol Tuv,


  10. Yes, please continue writing your posts! I indeed do not comment often but read your blog and grow from it. I think your commentaries are absolutely exceptional. Although I am no expert, there are still very few people whose reading of Rambam I would take as seriously as your own to be the Rambam's true intention.

    Most posts are also an enjoyable read.

    BTW, have you ever read Levinas? I would enjoy a topic comparing his thought with Rambam's. Just a personal wish.

    Thanks again for all your posts, please write more!