Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A fascinating interview.

Voz iz Neias posted excerpts from an interview with Rabbi David Bar Chaim, a controversial Jerusalem scholar. According to the article, the entire interview is available on YouTube in 12 segments for free internet viewing.

VIN - Jerusalem
The Israeli Controversial 'Gaon' That Is Raising Eyebrows In The Torah World
Exclusive 2 Hour Interview With VIN News
March 12, 2009

What first caught my eye was this statement:

...As a preface, Rabbi Bar Chaim is of the opinion that Eretz Yisroel has a unique Torah heritage called Torath Eretz Yisroel. He distinguishes between this Torah and what he terms “Torat HaGaluth.” How far he takes this notion is where the controversy lies...

As you can tell, this appears to be exactly what I have been thinking all along - the Chereidi phenomenon is entirely a product of the Diaspora, and the desperate wish to be viewed as "authentic" both historically and culturally by people who never set foot in the Holy Land, much less understand the Near Eastern cultural basis of real Judaism. The Chereidi are a product of a scientific European rationalism which is entirely alien to our Hebrew forebears.

...The questioning began. How do you openly disregard the positions and decisions of the Talmud Bavli? He calmly responded that even the Rambam writes that Torah thought is not monolithic and comprises a multiplicity of voices that include the Sifra, Sifri, Mechilta, Yerushalmi and Bavli. He noted that many times the Rambam himself rules like the Yerushalmi instead of the Bavli...

Of course! The Babylonian Talmud is, itself, a product of a Diaspora community - one that had political and social engineering motives above and beyond any sort of theoretical commitment to authentic Hebrew religion.

...Another question. How do you openly disregard the views and conclusions of the Shulchan Aruch? He responded that numerous meforshim will disagree with the Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and it is a misnomer to state that Klal Yisroel took it upon themselves to follow the Shulchan Aruch completely. He claims it never happened and that the often dissenting views of the Shach demonstrate this point....

Naturally. This is just one in a long line of moves made by Diaspora Rabbis to wrest control of Judaism away from the hereditary priesthood and from those who stayed in Eretz Israel. It is no more authentic than saying Moshe and Aharon wore black felt or black fur hats instead of turbans.

...Clearly, the Rabbi is not afraid of extremely controversial views.

Another aspect of Rav Bar Chaim is his vision of developing and spreading a renaissance of religious nationalism in Eretz Yisroel. Although this message would appeal to certain masses of the religiously observant, there is one aspect of his views that will most decidedly not appeal to them. As interesting a person as Rav Bar Chaim is, he does characterize the Talmud Bavli itself as Torath HaGaluth. In the country of Israel this is like attacking motherhood and apple pie.

Does he have Rabbinic backing?


I'm sure he doesn't. They brook no challenge to their authority, as many of us are well aware. But their entrenched power over both Diaspora and Israeli communities makes them neither correct nor authentic.

Real authentic Hebrew faith was never intended to be a giant monolithic one-size-fits-all thing. The original 12 tribes were separate entities with different interpretations, different traditions, different climates in their areas, and even in some cases different dialects of Hebrew language. The original written Torah was designed to be adaptable to any people, land, or time. It does not specify details of observance because it does not need to - each time and place can and should work those out for itself. But the Diaspora bred Rabbis of Catholic Europe imported the love of power and money, the intolerance, and the rigid dogma of Catholicism into Judaism, and created a monster. Chereidi Judaism is not the best of both worlds - it is the worst. And the sooner that Judaism is returned to its real authentic multi-faceted roots and a commitment to honest living and honest labour, the better.

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