Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Does Judaism Oppose Liberalism

Our friend Heshy posted the following statement:

The greatest threat to Judaism is liberalism. This is why observant JEWS vote conservative in elections.

Let us examine these two statements.
1. The greatest threat to Judaism is liberalism. This can be taken in a purely politcal or a purely religious way. The combining of to produces an incompatable outcome. That really is the problem with the whole of the statement, combining incompatable concepts to produce a logical determination.
Dictionary. com defines liberal as:

a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian
attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

So lets look at this: Is there some political reason that Jews would be opposed to progess, tolerance, open mindedness. How about political reason to belive that they should be free from bigotry, dogmatic responses to the rest of the world, or even limited to traditional or orthodox political answers. I can't think of one. Does this mean that Jews should be liberal religiously? No, and yes. Existing dogma exists from nearly 3300 years of religious experience, but the fact is that every single day something new happens that would make existing dogma a problem simply because it doesn't cover the situation. And open-mindedness and an understanding of the dogma helps resolve these issues.

2. This is why observant JEWS vote conservative in elections. This statement really, as we've been discussing is not really the logical determination that follows the first statement. It is a statement of political preference for ideology. I would also from a personal stand point say that I am not sure that it is necessarily true. I believe there are political ideological problems with both parties in terms of what Jews are generally supposed to believe. So the key is to find the political party that is the most in line with how Jews are supposed to behave and how we are to treat other people. To me the 'liberal' party in this country tends to meet those needs, in it's more mainstream version, than the 'conservative' party does.

Now a separate note. I would go so far as to argue that Jews are come from a liberal religious tradition. We were founded by Avraham who could only be considered a liberal from the above definition. He certainly believed differently than the dogma of the world around him.

I would also argue that our first political leader, Moses, was a political liberal as well. For one thing he went against the established religion and political system of the land in which he was raised, and if the Torah is to be accepted as accurate, then he was also raised in as a member of the political/religious elite prior to incidents that lead to his rebellion and leading our ancestors out of the land of Egypt.

Political Liberal? Killing an Egyptian who hurt Jews, and then hiding the body!?

Sounds like a far right wing conservative to me...(Kach would be proud to call him a member of the JDL)

Would you not agree that a person who is rebelling against the established political system is trying to make a change. That would fall, in my mind, under the first definition sited for liberal.
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