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Ookla the Hyperpotamian


Hello! Welcome again to my blog. I'm still Trutharchivist - that's not changing until Ookla season comes by, or until I find a better name (unlikely). I'm sorry to tell you, though, this isn't the expected essay about Modern-Orthodox Judaism, neither it is one about Conservative Judaism. Rather, it's an elaboration on why I chose this period, what you might expect from future posts here, what periods I won't be talking about and why. I'm writing this because I've just watched a video that explained in a neat chart the different denominations - or streams, as it called them - of Judaism, and some of the things that were said there deeply irritated me.

So, why am I writing about the Age of Enlightenment? Mostly because it was a huge upheaval for Ashkenazi Jews. Duing this time - from about the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th - major changes were made to the European world, and Judaism was deeply affected by them. Those effects are still seen today, in many different reactions to secular studies, to change and to the rise of ideologies like nationalism and socialism - in addition to different approaches to mysticism. All those things are still affecting the Jewish world in various ways, and understanding it will be helpful to stop generalizing too much about Jews - that most of them don't believe in G-d, that they strictly adhere to the letter of the Law, that  "true" Judaism is anti-Zionist, that they're all rationalists - all misconceptions when generalized, some of which I've actually seen in the past and some of which I'm more vaguely assuming might exist. I may well be wrong.

Another part of it is the vague suspicion people assume Jewish Reform had to do with the same things Martin Luther's focused on. I personally think the two came from very different places and should be acknowledged as such - but I'm biased, since I'm Orthodox (and I find that I agree with some of the things Luther said. Except the parts about Jews, those are just regular ol' antisemitism). Those are my reasons for focusing on this period so far, at least.

So, the next question I should answer is: are there other time periods I might cover here? Or am I content to stick to those three centuries? Even if I leave this period, are there periods in the History of Judaism I wouldn't talk about at all?

The answer, simply put, is: I might explore some other periods, depending on the level of interst by my audience and how I feel about it. However, there are periods I don't want to cover - namely, the Biblical period, the time of what you call the Old Testment. You see, the thing is this period is detailed in the Bible, but somewhat less existent in History books, which tend to not consider the Bible as a viable source and thus don't have much outside of archeological findings to go on. And, since I'm religious, and since those scholarly views tend to assume that there is no G-d and that the Bible is merely a fictional book I find it hard to talk about it. I might feel free to talk about Biblical stories and paragraphs from plenty of angles, but the historical one won't be one of them, I'm afraid.

I would like to add that I'm actually planning to go as far back as the 17th century after I go over Modern Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, as a background to the next portion on the series - about Ḥassidut, Mussar and the Lithuanian Yeshivot, I think it's going to be necessary. Besides that, I don't think I'll go over many other periods, though the beginning of Karaite Judaism and Muslim Spain are two possible topics after I finish with the Age of Enlightenment part - as well as the Tosafot era in France, which is much more of an inner-Judaism thing.

Now, the reason I went to this length to explain myself is that the video I mentioned basically said Judaism is a branch of the Canaanite polytheistic faith that became Monotheistic in exile. This, along with saying things like "Ashtoret is the Jewish G-d's spouse" tend to infuriate me to no end, since it starts out from the assumption that Judaism is and always has been lying about itself and its history. I realize that historical research arrived at those conclusions, but I daresay that it's probably not all that one-sided and that it's not an impossible outlook, to believe that when Elijah told the Israelites on the Carmel to stop hopping between to faiths and to decide between G-d and the Ba'al - he actually had basis to what he said in the Jewish faith that existed previously.

Anyway, this has just been my latest rant on this here. I hope you've enjoyed it and that my sleep deprivation didn't affect it too much. Your irregularly scheduled actual update will happen sometime in the future, please be patient.

Thank you for reading, and have a good day!


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