Al Ha VeDa על הא ודא

Whatever I feel like

Saturday, November 09, 2002

One man's dignity is another man's heresy

I wish I knew more about the current controversy surrounding British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks than I can learn from reading articles in the “Guardian”, “Jewish Chronicle” and “Jerusalem Post”. As reported, it makes very little sense. If it is unacceptable to say “In heaven there is truth; on earth there are truths”, will it be kosher to say “on earth there are multiple perspectives on truth&rdquo? Those objecting to Rabbi Sacks’ book are the same people who have fits at the idea of Jews with different values from their own even having the right to study Torah, let alone have a perspective on truth, and non-Jews? Don’t make me laugh. I have written about this before, and even been published.

Rabbi Sacks, who I knew quite well many years ago when he was a pulpit rabbi and on the faculty at Jews’ College, and I was a post-graduate student there, is unusual among religious establishment figures. He has a doctorate in philosophy (Kant, if I remember correctly) and is passionately concerned with spiritual and human issues. Call me cynical, but I think most high-ranking clergy are less involved in religion than in job security.

Nietzsche puts it like this in Daybreak:

Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be a sin. One is supposed to be cast into belief without reason, by a miracle, and from then on to swim in it as in the brightest and least ambiguous of elements: even a glance towards land, even the thought that one perhaps exists for something else as well as swimming, even the slightest impulse of our amphibious nature — is sin! And notice that all this means that the foundation of belief and all reflection on its origin is likewise excluded as sinful. What is wanted are blindness and intoxication and an eternal song over the waves in which reason has drowned!
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