Thursday, September 16, 2010

Can you really get moral values from the Torah?

Recently I have been thinking about morality and its relationship to the Torah. Now I know there are many people who look at the Torah and say it isn't moral because of various reasons. For example, there are many passages which describe that the Jews are obligated to kill off every person of certain ethnic groups. Today when many frum Jews are confronted with this challenge there is the tendency to rationalize it. To explain that first off there are no Amalekites or Canaanites around anymore so we don't have to kill them off. Secondly they claim the situation was different back then so it was OK to kill innocent civilians, children, infants, etc.

Not only do I currently reject these apologetics, but the whole rationalization process seems nonsensical to me. For those who claim that without a completely good omnipresent being out there to tell us what is absolutely right and wrong there is no morality, in other words there is either absolute unchangeable morality or no morality, why in the world are you trying to apply your weak human reason to rationalize this absolute unchangeable morality in the first place? I thought the point of the Torah was to open it up, it tells you what is moral and what isn't, and you just accept that.

The reason, in my opinion, is that there is no such thing as an objective morality, there is only an internal morality we all develop over the course of our lives and then many try to explain their actions and cultural documents to fit their preexisting morality, sometimes in a very contrived manner. For example, when a person picks up a Torah they don't read it and follow it blindly, they examine it to see if it fits with their worldview. If the literal version doesn't do that they result to apologetics and contrived rationalizations, but if all you are doing is trying to fit this book to support your already existing worldview what point is having the book in the first place?

Comments, objections, corrections are all more than welcome.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Now I know there are many other blogs just like this one, another BT who fell out of love with his new found religion and now is struggling to pick up the pieces. Although this blog isn't very innovative I hope it will help me sort out my issues with Yiddishkeit as well as help others who may be struggling with the same problems. It could also help all sorts of other people as well.

A little about myself. I came from a conservative Jewish background, became introduced to frumkeit early on in college and initially began wearing a yarmulke and tzitzis pretty soon after. In just over a year I was also Shomer Shabbos/Negia (well with one exception, my non Jewish gf, oy!) and Kashrus. I never got into being consistent with davening even after I had been frum for a while since it never really interested me. After college I dedicated myself to the Lubavitch way of life and outlook. My non Jewish gf ultimately converted and we got married. We have a baby son, and I love my wife and son with all of my heart.

Over time I began trying to defend Chabad Judaism online as a sort of kiruv effort, although Chabad doesn't like to call it that. Ultimately in trying to defend my views I began to actually think critically about my faith for the first time. I did this because in order to bring atheist Jews back to Judaism I had to first think like them and then dig up or develop proofs that would convince people with that mindset to do Teshuvah. Over time I realized that there was no rational proof or evidence that would convince atheist Jews to return. I also came across rational arguments that totally tore apart Jewish "rationalizations" that dismissed evolution and the age of the universe. I began to realize that the Rabbis promoting these views were either totally ignorant or actively misleading about the positions and findings of the scientific community. I began to come across evidence that suggests that TMS never happened. And so on. As I began learning and reading I have come to dismantle my former worldview.

Now I am in a sort of limbo. Living as an Orthodox Jew, yet seriously doubting the basis of our faith and practices. I still enjoy some of Jewish practice like Shabbos but I have lost a passion for much of it also, like Torah learning. I also haven't "come out" to my wife yet, but I am sure with time I will. I am eager to learn about secular studies that I have missed out on. I am still find myself doubting my new found skepticism. I have been thinking a lot about my life and its direction.

I hope others will be willing to share their thoughts and experiences here and we can have stimulating conversations throughout my time on the web.