Wednesday, March 29, 2006

being in the middle

Stepima had a similar post today, but only about religion. No politics involved.

Yesterday I wrote about being in the middle and as I talk to more and more people, they identify with the right wing and not with the center. I've heard people disparage the center and say they would never go there. This made me think of an example where every religious Jew thinks they are the center. Orthodox Judaism.

No matter what you do or how you practice you feel that you are only doing what is absolutely required. People who don't follow exactly what you follow are "not as religious," people who do more then you do are "crazy fanatics." As does everyone else, I only do what is in the shulchan aruch. Nobody feels that they are being needlessly machmir. If someone is extra machmir (stringent) in a certain thing it is because it needs it and anyone who is not machmir on that specific thing obviously doesn't understand. Anyone who is more maikal (lenient) then you is obviously missing the spirit of Judaism. "Who cares if they got a psak to swim on shabbos, it just isn't done by normal Orthodox Jews." This is necessary for religion because we don't want to think we are doing things that God doesn't care about, otherwise why inconvenience ourselves. Also if we are doing something to inconvenience ourselves, it better be something that God cares about. That makes everyone else who is not following exactly what your following not as practically Orthodox as you are.

The same should be true politically. We should be looking at ourselves as the center, that we are no more nationalistic that requires. We are no less nationalistic then requires. That puts us squarely in the center. In your religious observance you don't associate yourself by other people's standards. Nobody thinks, "He's Normal Orthodox and he doesn't play ball on shabbat, so if I play ball, I must be left wing." They think, "He's frummer then you need to be. My rabbi told me exactly how to do it without breaking shabbos."

We should be defining ourselves as middle of the road. No matter where we are on the political spectrum. In our own minds the spectrum should rotate around us.


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Reminds me of 2 different rabbanim:

On Hesder yeshivot, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein quoted his father in law, RYBS, that when it says, "vYaakov Halach lDarko" -- that means not to the right or to the left.

On the other hand, I heard (forget which European Godol it was) that "...On a street, people only walk on the sidewalks -- on the right and the left. It's the horses who walk in the middle".

Anonymous said...

it was the Rebbe of Kotzk

rockofgalilee said...

not to belittle gedolim, but the people who quote them, he probably said it in yiddish when travelling between kirkutsk and liblusk, a journey of 3 days which he did in half an hour because of kfitzas haderech.

Robyn said...

and yet... you still identify yourself as "fringe right" on your about me section. there has to be either an explanation or a contradiction somewhere here, no?

rockofgalilee said...

I knew someone would catch that.

I strongly feel that the mainstream religious political faction should identify themselves as middle of the road.

I'm not ready to move my own belief system to the middle of the road yet. They aren't ready for it.

2R said...

It may just be realism that causes one to say they are on the right or the left of the political or religious spectrum. I think the more people move to (lets say) the right, the more center the right will be...which is the goal of those campaining "on the right".

rockofgalilee said...

yes, but there's a bigger draw to people if you define yourself as a center group.

The center changed drastically to the left when Kadima said they were a centrist party even though they have a real leftist agenda. If they defined themselves as a leftist party they would lose half of their support.