Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Real Live Heretics

As you may have guessed based on the number of links in recent posts, I've been spending a good deal of time reading blogs. Too much time. I'm sure that most of you have had this experience, moving from one blog to another, link to link to link to link, for hours and hours. Along the way, I discovered something fascinating (okay, fascinating to me): a small network of blogs by Real Jewish Heretics.

I should explain. Most of you know that apikorsus (the name of this blog) is the Ashkenazi version of an Aramaicized Greek noun that, for traditional Jews, means "heresy." (To those who didn't know, sorry -- I didn't get around to it until just now.) I call my blog "heresy" because much of the content is heretical from an Orthodox perspective, and I have always had one foot in the (Modern) Orthodox community. On a certain level, though, the title is a joke. I don't stay awake nights worrying that I'll have no portion in the World to Come, and I haven't, as far as I know, been excommunicated from any religious denomination.

Let's face it: in the modern world, it doesn't take much to be a heretic. Innumerable* bloggers refer to themselves as such, and it doesn't seem to trouble anyone. No wonder: most blogging heretics are quite benign. There's a junk food heretic, a Star Trek heretic, even a knitting heretic. I used to read the blog of an Episcopal seminary student who used her real name and called herself a heretic. (She recently moved, having decided that the description was no longer appropriate.) Non-conformity is the new conformity.

But then, not everyone lives in what I call the "modern world." Certain right-wing Orthodox communities -- no, all right-wing Orthodox communities -- have resisted modernity to a greater or lesser extent. In such communities, non-conformity isn't chic, and it certainly isn't easy. There have always been doubters, but most have kept quiet. Now they have blogs.

Most these blogs are relatively new. There's mis-nagid, a confirmed atheist in a black hat. Then there's the Hedyot, an "ex-yeshiva guy finally speaking up." Most of the names are self-explanatory: A Hasid and a Heretic, OrthoSceptic, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, Chassidus Interruptus. Yitzhak Eyezik has just entered the blogosphere, but he hasn't done come in quietly. There is one female in the bunch, Fluffy Keneidele, who is articulate beyond her years. And there are surely more to come.

These aren't people who are simply frustrated with Jewish law or fed-up with frum society. They have fundamental objections to everything they've been taught to believe. Why don't they leave the world that they in which they were raised? I'm sure there are many reasons (some are discussed in the blogs), but surely this is one of them: most of these guys are married, and they are raising kids. Think about those kids, and tell me that the pressure to marry young is not an evil thing.

I'm going to go now, because I have an exam tomorrow and I've spent a ridiculous amount of time composing this post. Those of you who don't have exams should check out those blogs. There will be a few on the links list soon.

UPDATE: Two more: Mishlei Shlomo and Yoinoson Schreiber. (Btw, am I allowed to use the term "blogroll" even though I don't use Typepad? "Links list" sounds stupid.)

CLARIFICATION: It seems that Yitzhak Eyezik is also DovBear. So he's not so new, really.

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