Never Forget
Blowing my own horn

Ways of walking

I've been thinking lately about how I do, and don't, celebrate Shabbat and festivals. Many Jewish bloggers don't post on Shabbat, for instance; obviously I do. (Shabbat shalom, gang.) Well, to clarify: I post here, though I don't post to Kesher Talk, because that would offend other members of that community. To their minds, it's a violation of halakhah. I'm happy to respect that, in their space.

But I like posting to my own blog on Shabbat, because this is, well, fun. Playing with words and communicating with people are two of my favorite things. Giving up my computer on Shabbat would feel like sacrifice, and in turn would make me resentful of (and reluctant to observe) the holiday. So I don't abstain from computer usage. (Nor from other kinds of "work" which bring me pleasure: writing, gardening, cooking, puttering around my house.) Does that make me non-observant? Depends on how you define the term.

The phrase "observant Jew" generally means a person who observes the laws and rituals of Jewish tradition according to a standard set of interpretations. Lately, though, I've been wanting to use the words differently. I want to be an observant Jew--someone whose eyes are open. I want to interact with my tradition with clear vision. I want to really see Judaism, from the inside, and find joy and meaning there.

Rav Soloveichik, z"l, would probably argue that the joy and meaning would arise in time out of practice. That the point of halakhah is that we follow it; that "finding personal meaning" is a sentimental concept at best. (At least, that's how I remember the gist of Halakhic Man. I would re-read it this weekend, but can't seem to find my copy...) I respect his emphasis on praxis, but I'm attached to the notion that it's my responsibility to engage with the tradition in my own way. (This may be thanks to the Reform part of my upbringing.) The root of halakahah is the verb "to walk." I see no reason why different Jews' paths can't be different, as long as we're aiming in the same direction.

And speaking of people on parallel paths: to those of my readers observing Good Friday, may your vigil be fruitful, and may your celebrations on Sunday bring you joy.