Monday, October 16, 2017

Creational Thinking

I wrote in my book that I wanted to insert an autobiography chapter to provide more personal background about it. After I wrote the chapter, I realized that it was too long and distracting to be published in full but the book would lack some depth if I totally left it out. I “compromised” by choosing some excerpts that were the most significant and printing them in an Appendix at the back of the book.

In one of these excerpts (Excerpt 4 page 276) I related that the local Jewish day school that I attended in my early years was more of a Modern Orthodox, Religious Zionist type. It did not begin to teach Chumash until third grade and when it did, it only began teaching from Parshat Lech Lecha and skipped the previous two Parshas. I am not sure why, but I remember being told that this is when Avrohom Avinu and the promise of Eretz Yisroel come on to the scene, so that’s where they want to start.

As a result, I passed through third grade being totally clueless about our tradition of Creation!

To make things worse, I wrote that by that point, I had already been fully indoctrinated to the concept of evolution from the numerous magazines, TV shows, museums or what have you. Thus, when a year or so later, my father finally sat me down to fill in the blanks and teach me Parshat Breishis, I was intellectually (not emotionally) traumatized.

Here is what I wrote in the concluding lines of that excerpt:

The trauma of the event was not that I will have to shift gears, but rather, this is what initiated me to the fact that there are more than one set of gears to shift to. To this point I was not aware that religious people and irreligious people do not share beliefs on fundamental issues.

Religious people think very differently than irreligious ones and conservative people think very differently than liberal ones. It doesn’t stop there. I have observed that there are even liberal thinking religious people and conservative thinking religious people – and they think very differently.

Likewise it seems to be an established fact that males think very differently than females.

As for me, aside from being religious, conservative, and a male, I also happen to be left-handed. I am of the opinion that left-handed people think very differently than right handed people.

Left-handed people are vastly outnumbered. We are forced to live in a right-handed world. This gives us a bit of an advantage because we can see the world from the perspective of the righties and work with right-handed devices (except for those @#$%^& can openers), because we are forced to, as well as from our own perspective. Since righties are the overwhelming majority, it is very hard for them to understand how lefties see things. As such, it is hard for them to even acknowledge that there is another way to see things.

Let’s carry this up to the other discrepancies. In the Western world, secular people vastly outnumber religious ones and liberals outnumber conservatives. (Let’s keep males and females at even odds and disregard this factor.)

If we follow our trend, the minority group is certainly aware of the majority opinion. They understand there is more than one style of thinking. They are also aware that the way they think is the less popular style. In the face of all this, they consciously choose the one that makes most sense to them. There is a distinct aspect of conviction in the perspective of the minority.

As for the majority (secular, liberal) group, there is no dispute that they are also thinking in the way that makes most sense to them. The question is: is this likewise a matter of conviction or is it a matter of expediency? More accurately, have they chosen this way of thinking out of a group of alternative options or are they unaware that there even are any alternatives?

It’s very hard to tell.

When I wrote the excerpt in my autobiography chapter, the message I was trying to send is that it took me until I was about ten years old to realize that there are different tracks of thinking on fundamental issues. I was being a bit apologetic. I thought I was a late bloomer. But after ten years in the blogosphere, I learned otherwise. Not only was I a bit advanced to make this observation and to “get there” ahead of the competition, but a good portion of the competition still hasn’t gotten there even now!

The liberal thinkers just cannot understand that there is another way to look at things. And so, anyone who doesn’t think like them is not merely a minority opinion, he is totally wacko. He can’t be rational. He must be meshugga, insane.

As I have written repeatedly in the past posts, this is most of the feedback that I receive from the outside world. "Moron. Retard. Idiot. Twisted." "How can any rational person even consider that Chazal’s 'solutions' can solve today’s problems???" This is how a popular “Rabbi” originally from New Zealand can call me a “lunatic”. (This was on Facebook but has since been removed).

A lunatic is somebody who is out of touch with reality.

The most recent example appears in the comments section of a recent Emes V’Emunah post.  Rabbi Maryles seemed to feel there is a toelles to laud the words of some anonymous “chareidi” who thinks that the Jews of the Yeshivish/Chareidi sector are not truly genuine. In other words, this “chareidi” feels that everyone is just like him.

I proclaimed otherwise. We do not impoverish ourselves in schar limud for our children and more mehudar hechsheirim to impress anybody. And kollel people do not stay in kollel to impress anybody.

In the course of this give and take a commenter broke in to contribute nothing except a reference to the controversy over my writings on the Malka Leifer episode. His reference revolved around the Judging the Judges Part II post. He did not link to it, so I did. He promptly volleyed (emphasis mine):

I doubt many sane people will have a higher opinion of you after reading that.

I promptly responded:

Depends on how you define a "sane person".
I highly suspect that you use the conventional "rosh kattan" definition of a "sane" person: "one who thinks just like you do".

There are people who like what I write. Not that many, but they are there. And there are people who do not like what I write (a much larger number). Those who like what I write will (and do) continue to respect me after reading posts like that. Those who do not like what I write will not change their minds from such a post.  That is, unless they are willing to change the way they think - which is why I wrote the post.

That would be a tall order and too much to expect from the average reader. They cannot handle the intellectual trauma.

I don’t think like this commenter and he doesn’t think like me. This much is clear. But, it’s not just that he doesn’t think like me. He is certain that no sane person would think like me. Anybody who thinks like me must be insane.

When I was a teenager there was a television series called Masterpiece Theater and my mother wouldn’t miss it. One series, titled I Claudius, was about the reign of the deranged Roman Emperor, Caligula – the ultra-perverted madman who fancied himself a god. In one bit of dialog, Caligula asks his uncle Claudius, “People, say that I am mad. Am I truly mad?

The wise Claudius, one of the few insiders who actually stayed alive long enough to outlive Caligula, discretely answered, “Oh no, Caesar, that is not possible. You set the standards for sanity!

So this commenter lives in a liberal, secular-minded world and, for him, his peers set the standards for sanity.

People like me, have a different set of standards for sanity. We define sanity as one who thinks like HKBH wants us to. In more practical terms, one who thinks how the Torah and Chazal instruct us to. This is why I wrote the post about Thinking Like a Jew before I wrote any of the Malka Leifer posts.  In order to understand how I think, take a look at how Chazal think. It’s really the same.

Of course, some misguided Australian “rabbanim” can call this list of marei makomos “fundamentally flawed” though, thus far, none has been able to reveal any of the fundamental flaws. The one who called me a lunatic on Facebook may be way more in touch with “reality” than I am, but he is hardly as in touch with Shas and Poskim.

I am a religious, conservative-minded, (left-handed) male thinker. I am a very small minority. But only religious, conservative-minded people think like Chazal (even if they are not left-handed).

Truth is not in the majority.

The whole world believed in self-gratification and gay rights for ten generations. Only Noach thought differently (was he left-handed?). Everybody thought he was insane. Building a big boat in the middle of the inland for 120 years! Nuts!

But he thought differently. He thought like Mesushelach taught him to think. Everybody knew Mesushelach, but nobody emulated him. He was an old fogey. Of course, he was the only one in town who personally learned at the feet of Adam HaRishon, but he wasn’t up to date. A bit senile by now, don’t you think? Insane.

Only Noach withstood the test of time (and of the Tahom Rabba).

After the flood, the masses were a tad better behaved in the debauchery department. But they were big on paganism and idolatry and human sciences. We can hold up the sky and control world events. A New World Order!

After another ten generations, only one person thought differently. He stood on the opposite side against all popular opinion. Avram the Ivri!

Nobody thought like him. He must have been insane (or, at least, fundamentally flawed). “We can’t let some unseen G-d or some ‘Torah’ tell us what to do. It’s way too imposing on our personal agendas. Let’s see how much heat this fellow can handle…”

להודיע...שכל הדורות היו מכעיסין ובאין עד שבא אברהם אבינו וקבל שכר כולם!

This tells us that all of the generations were [increasingly] angering HKBH until Avraham Avinu came and received the [potential] reward of them all.

There is power in numbers. But truth, and sanity, is with the few and the brave. Noach and Avrohom Avinu were not trying to win any popularity contests. They won much better things.

Likewise, I do not write my posts to win any popularity contests.

There are better things to win.

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