May 28, 2008

In 100 Years...

I'm a pessimist. My wife can totally confirm that. So depending on your POV this post might not be a bad thing at all. Lately, I have been feeling like I am part of a loosing team.  That team being Orthodox Judaism. I've been asking myself whether OJ will even be around in 100 years and  if so, what will it look like. "Orthodox Judaism" changed in the past. It was called the Enlightenment and because of it, certain OJ's responded by hiding, and some responded by meeting it head on. In many instances, "head on" meant reconciliation. How do we reconcile our text with science or even philosophy? Judaism is always at a need to be reconciled with something else. But for how much longer can that be done?
There is this new invention out there called the "Internet," and with this new invention, information is able to cross all boundaries. Now before you say "duh,"  realize the power of the interent is fairly new in the grand scheme of passing on information. And yet, all of us have already see what the internet has done. We have ALL been shown information that we never even dreamed existed, and if it did exist, it would have been almost impossible to access it. But no more. Information is everywhere, and not only that, social networking is immediately accessible for us to ask others what they think of this new information. So its not just information, but its the ability to cross check this information with everyone all over the world.
If this is the case, if this is obviously the state of the world, and its only going to spread, how on earth can OJ survive? Everyone all around is able to read about the ancient near east and compare it to Judaism. Everyone will be able to participate in debates and have their most cherished beliefs pulled apart. And it doesn't even need to be something so large as TMS. How many people out there were shocked to learn about the real meaning of Chanukah? How many people were suprised when you found out what really happened to the students of R' Akiva? Now, sure, you can say those aren't core to Judaism, but the fact is, they ARE part of OJ and how it is passed down from generation to generation. And when one card starts wobbling, they soon discover some more evidence of more hardcore issues and the whole thing starts collapsing.  I guess the real question is, is OJ only sustainable through ignorance? And since ignorance is ever at a loosing battle (at least with religion) in our age, what will happen to OJ in the future? I guess charedim will be around still since people will always be drawn to fundamentalism, but is charediism really an accomplishment we can be proud of? How will MO look like? Since its so open to the outside culture, there is no way to shield its adherents from the available information. So I am not saying Judaism will disapear in 100 years, only that it will most likely not be anything like it is today. What do you think?

OK, I vented a bit. Now I feel a bit better.