Thursday, June 25, 2009

Torah for the People

I just wrote this to the uber-mentionable Yonah Lavery, creator of Talmud Comics (who, btw, just inked a deal with the also-awesome Ben Yehuda Press). We were discussing our love of Torah and our mutual wavery position in the Torah world:

i used to have a terrible phobia of haredim. i think i still do, and yet i seem to have become one of them. albeit an obama-votin', peta-flag-wavin' haredi. i think g-dcast really encapsulates what i am: people learning torah is good. people living torah is good. and people being creative with torah is good....until they get to be either fascists or hippies. then they just give me a headache with their hating and/or vibing.

i'm not sure if i stand by that since i'm half asleep, but it might just be my mission statement.


Yonah Lavery said...


I love your statement. We seriously need to find a way to declare vibing assur.

At the same time, your hilarious illustration of hippies and fascists can't help but remind, on a more serious note, of the old self-parodic saying - "Everyone less observant than me is a heretic/am haaretz, everyone more observant than me is a fanatic." It's a sentiment that, if I were in the business of rating sentiments, would not be number one in awesomeness, although we're all guilty of it.

At the same time, though, we live at a time when some people do in fact play folk guitar and sing queasy homemade chansons on Saturday morning; on the other side of the spectrum, one need only look to certain chareidim's uprooting of hilchot giyur in favour of "purity" to be reminded a bit of fascism.

So maybe we do need a little militant moderation, who knows?

matthue said...

Militant moderation! Loves it. I know, it's part of the reason I'm all pro-MyJewishLearning and everything -- there are all types of Jews in the world, and it's awesome that they're doing something Jewy in the first place.

But at the same time, we're only human -- and, as artists, we're total divas -- and we think that *our* way of doing things is the best way. Just like I don't think people who listen to Britney are going to hell, but I don't think they're getting quality musical product...well, that's kind of the way I feel about a lot of modern Jewish "interpretations" about observance.

PunkTorah said...

My new motto is "Judaism: A Tradition of Innovation". That was the end of a d'var Torah my rabbi did not too long ago and I think it fits perfectly.

Also, and I think I'm not alone on this...hippies suck. And Jewish gotta watch out. Because they're cool as shit, but then they turn into total ass bags. It's like they started reading the Zohar and it gave them an acid trip...that they never returned from.

matthue said...

I'm totally with you re. the drugged-out hippies (and I'm not a fan of hippy music)...but they've got as much right to spread the good word as anyone. Jerusalem Camp at Rainbow Gathering, specifically -- I haven't seen a punk alive who's ever complained about a week of free food. Kosher and vegan, no less.

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