Why do I hate the word “Orthodox” so much? Somebody asked me about this at supper tonight and I couldn't believe anyone was still asking, because I feel like I've said it all before... but maybe I haven't.
Off the top of my head:
- Not a movement. Unlike Reform, which was a movement founded by founders intending to create a movement, and unlike Conservative, which was a movement founded by founders intending to create a movement, "Orthodox" was never an intentional Jewish movement and lacks the unifying umbrella organization or statement of principles that link these, Reconstructionist, and a couple of other organized movements of Judaism. Buying into the terminology buys into the perception of Orthodoxy as a monolithic unified body. It’s not.
- It’s Arrogant. As I've said many, many times, ORTHO does not just mean "right angle." (Abigail, who was not the original inquirer, helpfully pointed out, "if it's not a RIGHT angle, it's a WRONG angle") It means “correct” and DOX means “thought” and as I've said so often before, that comes across almost as arrogantly as atheism, which equals me – me, me! It’s all about ME! – standing on a mountain declaring that I am the pinnacle, the purpose, for which the universe was created. See this lengthy dvar Torah on last week’s parsha to find out how I feel about that.
And, kinda unspoken, but deeply felt.
- It’s a Box. I don’t want to live my Jewish life in a box. Don’t assume; ask, or just sit around and find out by watching how we live. Judaism is important to me. VERY important. Maybe the most important thing, so of course I act it out in my daily life, as much as I can at any given time. I’m proud to be defined by Torah and do my best to live up to its high standards. But not proud to be defined by a shortcut; somebody’s easy idea of a stereotype. I’m not here to make your life easy, but to make my life meaningful. So stick around and watch and see, and I’ll happily answer any and all questions.
Here are some past posts that kind of deal with this topic.
- Cookin' the Orthoprax Soup
- Living Jewish: Negotiation vs Assumption
- Maybe More, Less, Different, BETTER?
- And kind of Pick your school, pick your Israel.
There are a bunch. Just search in the box at the top left for "orthodox" or "frum" or… just start reading anywhere. Like with this recipe for Emergency Fudge.