Skip to main content

Cookin’ the “Orthoprax” soup

Ortho = correct

Dox = thought

Prax = actions

Orthodox Jews = those whose every thought is correct.  Ha ha ha.

And then, there are the “Orthoprax,” people accused of just going through the motions without necessarily meaning it.  This is the “religious but not spiritual” (RBNS) counterpart to the SBNR epidemic (one in five Americans, apparently).

But while SBNR is seen as thrilling and new-age and laudable, for some mysterious reason RBNS is seen as slimy, lying and/or just plain hypocritical.  Why?  We say “going through the motions” like it’s a bad thing.

I see two categories of SBNR folks.  One, like Orthoprax Rabbi, doesn’t believe at all:  the atheist – in his case, doing it for a paycheque, others, for family or community pressure.  Second, like Modern Orthoprax, admits to some degree of theism, or at least agnosticism, and affirms the value of some religious practice and ritual.

To be honest, I can’t relate much to the first group; the second feels closer to home.  I claimed agnosticism for most of my life simply because it seemed arrogant to deny God altogether.  And, frankly, I haven’t shifted that much towards actual, concrete faith.  I am extremely uncomfortable declaring things about God as actual, literal fact.  To me, that seems almost as arrogant as declaring that He doesn’t exist. 

Maybe my tiny brain simply cannot encompass God’s reality – and who’d want a God that we are capable of understanding, anyway?  The folks who stand up and announce that God told them to do something?  Those are the ones to keep your eye on.

(Previous related posts:  Thoughts on atheism, and More on atheism, which gives a bit of background as to where I’m coming from, religiously.)

Does that make me RBNS?  Maybe.  Sometimes.  I do stuff and sometimes I don’t know why or even if I do know why, it feels weird and awkward and frankly, like I’m making it up or even – gasp – just “going through the motions.”

Does that make me a hypocrite?

What it does make me of is leery of any term with the word “ortho” in it.  I take more exception to that than the “dox” or “prax” put together.  Because as Garnel Ironheart so lucidly points out, the word “ortho” – correct! – reflects nothing more than an extremely poor understanding of the halachic process, which is so rarely black-and-white.

If halacha itself isn’t ORTHO-anything, how the heck can I be?

Manis Friedman has used the term "arguing over how He likes His soup." 

Har Sinai was a marriage.  Hashem was the groom; b’nei Yisrael the bride, and the Bais HaMikdash was the honeymoon.  Then, the groom goes away.  For thousands of years.  He’s gone, and we have no clue where he’s gone, and we’re still bound to a man who has vanished off the face of the earth.  We despair.  We barely remember Him.

Then one day, the groom comes back, and he’s standing outside the door.  He’s listening.  And what does he hear?  He hears his wife making soup, debating, arguing with herself:  “No, he likes it with carrots.”  “No, he prefers potatoes.”  “Add a bit more pepper.”

Is he going to be angry that we’re not cooking it right?  That we’re arguing?  That we’re uncertain?  Or will his heart melt with love that we’re still cooking his soup after all these years? 

It’s a simple mashal, and I heard it from a Chabadnik, but I’m a sucker for a simple mashal and truth (Truth) can come from anywhere and everywhere. 

The minimalistic God I believe in will simply be full of love that we're still here after thousands of years, with so little true guidance, hanging in here, figuring out how to please Him.  Even if you don’t mention His name, or don’t say it often enough, does that mean it’s not ultimately all about Him?

That’s where I see orthopraxy.  That’s why I don’t condemn it; that’s why it feels a bit like home.  Because, for all its flaws, is the essential debate over how God likes His soup – or, if you will, side-stepping the debate altogether and just making soup, dammit.

Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Ancient Auction Secret: If Chinese auctions are racist, why do Jews love them so much?

Ah, Jews, Jews, Jews, Jews.  You sure do love your Chinese auctions, don’t you? It seems that even in an era of political correctness, within certain circles, this term just will not die . And frankly, I’m mortified. I’m not Chinese, but I have family who is Chinese.  Some are Korean, as well.  I guess this makes us more ethnically diverse than many Jews, but I suspect most Jewish families are moving in this direction.  Still.  Even if we don’t know a single Chinese person, we should still stop calling it that. First of all… is it actually racist to call it a Chinese auction? I figured I’d let Chinese people decide.  But when I turned to Google to find out how Chinese people feel about Chinese auctions, what I found was mostly… nothing.  Silence.  I did find some debate (presumably among non-Chinese people) over whether it was too far in the direction of political correctness to refer to these as a “silent auction” or (as in some parts of the States) a “tricky tray.”  (Ok

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po