Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Praxy vs. Doxy

Someone recently mentioned that Judaism seems to lack a focus, or emphasis on the spiritual side of religion. Not only do I think that converts should already have enough "spiritual feeling" before they begin, but I also think that a desire to have spirituality, or theology, taught is a remnant of Christian influence. I also wrote this:

I am in a community that is full of outreach to non-religious Jews. Much of my first experiences were through these groups. When I received my syllabus for conversion from my Rabbi, I was confused by the lack of books on "spiritual" matters. Over time, I have come to love the difference and embrace it. This is how I have come to understand it:

Orthodoxy: Correct thinking
Orthopraxy: Correct practices

I used to be a Southern Baptist, and in lessons, I was always taught to be loving and kind and respectful, etc. However, there were no clear guidelines or indications to what this meant. It was pretty subjective, and when I would ask for clarity, I would get none. When I was realizing that I needed to convert, I asked one of my Minister friends whether one should try to follow the "old testament laws." He told me that a person could do what they wished and what made them feel closer to God, but should not feel chained to the law. I found this too vague and in clear opposition of the spirit in which the laws were given.

As I became more informed about Judaism, as things began "fitting," I realized that the rules and laws in Judaism are spiritual and far more spiritual than what I had ever experienced. Why? Well, by acting in the manner Hashem has prescribed, one can understand Him so much better. If His laws are flexible and you only follow what sounds good and what makes you "feel" closer, are you really learning about Him or getting any closer? I have heard many times that one should practice mitzvahs first, and understand the reasons why later. It's not because the reasons aren't important, but it's because the reasons are much clearer once the actions have been done.

In conclusion, I think one reason Christianity fails is because one cannot have Orthodoxy (which is Christianity's focus) without first having Orthopraxy (which is Judaism's focus).

No comments: