Monday, December 2, 2013

How Does TIDE Differ From Other Derachim and What Do We Do About It?

God gave the Torah at Har Sinai and in the Midbar. This much we believe. It tells us our purpose in life and what to do with our lives. But it's a big book and hard to understand completely. It contains commandments, many types of them. We do our best to understand them and to pursue them. This much we know for sure.

Within that, different schools of thought have developed. In a way, they are all throwaway. We are Jews. We try to keep the Torah. The different paths are all means to that end. That's why we need to love people from all camps and not get too worked up about our particular camp or else we are missing the whole point.

If you are Haredi, wonderful. Be a good Haredi Jew. If you are Modern, wonderful. Be a good MO Jew. If you are TIDE, wonderful. Be a good TIDE Jew. But be a Jew first and last. You want to fight with people. Fight with people. But make up. Be friends in the end.

The different derachim differ of course and they overlap. Take Rabbi Miller. His philosophy is not TIDE because he advocates staying away from gentile society as much as possible. He'll tell you to go to work but only to earn money and to perfect your middos. Dealing with a difficult boss refines the character he'll say. TIDE will say going to work allows you to contribute to your host society as well. It allows you to be part of humanity. Rabbi Miller doesn't mention those points. He might acknowledge them. He might scoff at them. I don't know. But his approach might work well for a guy from Brooklyn. That in the end, is who Rabbi Miller is speaking to. It won't work well for a guy from the Midwest who comes quite frankly from a much more civilized place than Brooklyn, which is a tough place. So one derech for the Brooklyn guy. One derech for the guy from Illinois where strangers say hello to each other on the street. It's all Torah. Different paths for people in different situations. On this blog, when R' Miller offers a TIDE thought we share it. Same with Rav Kook. He was huge Zionist of course. TIDE is suspicious of that philosophy. A religious Zionist might tell you that you must move to Eretz Israel. TIDE believes you can practice Judaism wherever you are. (R' Soloveitchik concurs). But when R' Kook shares a TIDE thought we share it on this blog. He was a tzadick and a great scholar. We don't have to deliver only the Torah of R' Hirsch here even though his derech was TIDE through and through. 

R' Hirsch is our master guide. If he argues with another gadol, I go with him. But if they agree, why not cite that other gadol who may explain an idea well even though they disagree elsewhere?

Haredism and TIDE overlap. Hareidsm and MO overlap.  TIDE likely overlaps with those two more than they overlap with each other. Whatever. 

They all come from the same source so like brothers and sisters they will resemble their parents. 

The musician Bruce Springsteen once said about music rock n' roll music that you have to approach it like it's the most serious thing in the world and at the same time remember that it's only rock n'roll.

Same here. We take our derech seriously. And then we remember that it's throwaway. It's a means. It's not the end. 

This is very hard for Orthodox Jews to do. If ever I met a group of people that take themselves too seriously, this is the group! And who, by their recognition of a supreme being and of eternity should take themselves less seriously? Maybe we aren't thinking enough about that supreme being.

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