Intellectual Judaism is not against the intellectual rabbinical authority as the prime source for tailoring the Torah guidance to the unique life circumstances of individual Jews – rather, Intellectual Judaism advocates the equal opportunities for all Jews, not only for the rabbinical authority, to understand the Torah guidance.
Intellectual Judaism is an intellectual quest for discovering the Jewish Torah-guided mission of the Jews as the Chosen - the Chosen not to be isolated and be above the others but to work with the others – performing the unique mission of the Chosen - for making a better world for everybody.
The following is just an illustration of the essence of the Intellectual Judaism’s quest.
Two most common discussion topics among the Jews are the assimilation – why it is so and how to stop it, and anti-Semitism – why it is on the rise and how to reduce it. And Intellectual Judaism – not as one more spiritual stream in Judaism but rather as Jewish Torah-based way of reasoning – is in a search on what can be done to deal with these challenges.
Assimilation – why it is so and how to stop it
The Jews begin assimilating when they stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism.
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the rabbis assert that God’s guidance in the Torah could be understood only by them. For many Jews it sounds like God created in His image and likeness only the rabbis. Many Jews see this as the rabbis treat them as spiritual pupils unable to study the Torah by themselves and unable to tailor it to their own unique life circumstances. The very idea of God (in any His possible images) is rooted in the belief of equal opportunities for everybody to communicate with God. The rabbinical profession is needed for preserving and advancing Jewish communities – not to be intermediaries between God and Jews.
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the rabbis are unable to instill the feeling of proudness for being the Jews the Chosen for the mission to make our world a better place for everybody, Jews and non-Jews. Many rabbis prefer to limit this concept only to prayers and rituals.
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the rabbis are unwilling to explore a mutual spiritual foundation with the Christians on which a better world for everybody should be built. The Jews, working together with the Christians in various areas of public life where a better world for everybody is being built, intuitively feel the existence of such mutual spiritual foundation – many rabbis do not.
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the rabbis stop being teachers helping the Jews understand how to tailor the Torah guidance to unique Jewish individual lives, and begin acting as promoters and enforcers of a set of rituals established by their rabbinical communities (Haredim, Orthodox, Reform, Mizrahi, Renewal …)
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the rabbis confine the Jewish world only to the confines of synagogue, family and Torah study leaving the rest of Jewish life to be shaped by non-Jewish spiritual, political and social forces.
The Jews stop seeing the spiritual beauty and practical usefulness of Judaism and quit their synagogues and rabbis when the Jewish education is not connected to public-school education and is not exploring the same topics from scientific and spiritual points of view.
When the Jews realize all that, many of them begin seeing their Jewishness only through the lens of history and tradition – not through the lens of their unique individual lives in all their social, political, professional and community involvements. And that is the beginning of assimilation.
Let’s hope that the rabbis themselves take the lead in addressing all these challenges by organizing a non-denominational group of rabbis with the goal of finding the unifying fundamentals of Jewish morality for all Jews and for the entire Judeo-Christian civilization while preserving the fundamental need for various Jewish competing spiritual streams. And that is what Intellectual Judaism is trying to explore.
Anti-Semitism – why it is on the rise and how to stop it
In the countries of Judeo-Christian Western civilization, anti-Semitism is on the rise when Jewish leaders encourage, support or promote the government actions which are contrary to the Christian beliefs of the Christian majority. And some Jewish leaders are “guilty” of that. Below are just a few examples.
Many Jewish leaders are supporting the removal of Christian symbols at public places, even the Ten Commandments which are the very essence of the Torah’s morality … because it may hurt the feelings of the non-Christians. Don’t those Jewish leaders understand that America is founded on the American version of Judeo-Christian Torah/Bible-based morality and the nation is prosperous only when this morality guides the nation?
Many Jewish leaders are promoting abortion on demand to be paid by those Christian (and Jewish) taxpayers who believe in the sanctity of life … because it may violate some “women rights”. Don’t those Jewish leaders understand that Judeo-Christian America is morally guided by the Torah/Bible and if they want to play with the concept of human-women rights, those rights should be Torah/Bible-defined?
Many Jewish leaders are advocating the spiritual equality of traditional and homosexual marriages well knowing that is against the Judeo-Christian morality … because of the proclaimed need to provide a pair of two gays living together with a legal family-type protection. Don’t those Jewish leaders understand that Judeo-Christian America cherishes the Bible-guided family, and the legal protection of a gay couple could be provided without calling it a family?
Many Jewish leaders are supporting a wrong interpretation of the US Constitution on the separation of Religion and Government … while the Constitution prevents any religious stream from becoming a ruling one in a government, the Constitution does not separate the Judeo-Christian morality as a guiding light from the legislative work. Don’t those Jewish leaders understand that Judeo-Christian America expects the American legislature be guided by the Judeo-Christian principles?
Of course, the Christian majority is unhappy and expresses its unhappiness in various forms which we the Jews label as anti-Semitism. There are many anti-Semites in this world who hate the Jews a sort of religiously – they are looking for somebody whom to blame for their own life failures, and the Jews for them are a perfect blame object. However, the majority among those whom we are labeling as anti-Semites are decent people who just do not understand why many Jewish leaders are supporting the actions which are harmful to the Christian beliefs while the Christian majority considers their beliefs to be rooted in the Old Testament, the Torah.
Let’s hope that our Jewish leaders would understand all that and would work with the Christian leaders to repair all that and to make the anti-Semitism in the Judeo-Christian Western world diminishing. And that is what Intellectual Judaism is trying to explore.
Vladimir Minkov is exploring various challenges of the contemporary Jewish life in the modern Judeo-Christian world in the books and publications on “Intellectual Judaism” at