It’s time to wrap up our recent conversation on Post Rabbinic Judaism. I think we’ve gone as far as we can for the moment.
Many agree that today’s forms of Liberal Judaism are increasingly moving away from traditional expressions of Rabbinic Judaism. This has prompted our recent discussion on what does a Post-Rabbinic Judaism look like? Where is Liberal Judaism heading?
I think the honest answer is, that despite being able to see the trends, no one really knows.
Things are in flux, there isn’t a dominant trend in Liberal Jewish theology, and time will tell what emerges.
A continual tension will be how to define and maintain a Jewish identity if we continually move the parameters of such. Without parameters, Judaism quickly loses meaning. Yet parameters too strictly enforced can prevent necessary change and stifle growth and spiritual life.
Without binding central authorities, Judaism evolves through the efforts of those who engage it. Many congregations are being transformed through interfaith couples and converts. And many Jews are exploring ways to make their Judaism real and meaningful, navigating between tradition and daily life.
Still, I think we’ve identified in our past few posts what constitutes the foundations of a Post Rabbinic Judaism:(1) A liberal , nuanced reading of Torah. A reading of Torah that employs critical scholarship and avoids literalism through metaphor, allegory, and myth.
(2) A selective or critical observance of halakhah – Shabbat, holidays, study, life cycle events, and the general ethical norms outlined in Torah (such things help define Judaism.) Yet Torah’s ethical vision need be in ongoing dialog with today’s understanding of goodness, justice, and the human condition, with neither “trumping” the other. The tension is necessary and unavoidable. Further conversation over the nature of halakhah needs to be had – should halakhah be reformed? Ignored? Replaced?
(3) Adherence to a genuine moral worldview that emphasizes justice, love, and care for the needy, and affirmation of human dignity. In this sense, forming a genuine Jewish worldview – rooted in Jewish tradition, informed by Jewish values.
(4) Self-identification with the Jewish people and Jewish tradition, along with basic commitments to work for the good of all Jews (and all people.)
We’ll certainly post on these issues again, but for now, I think our conversation on Post Rabbinic Judaism deserves a break.
As always, I welcome your input and insights.