Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Readers of this Website

The results so far of the survey (lower right) are interesting. 129 people generally identify with the approach of this website (although apparently only 22 of these felt that they had benefited sufficiently to make a contribution), and another 38 sometimes identify with it.

What amazes me is that a whopping 83 people voted to say that they do not, and I assume that most of them are from the right (yes, I know that there are also skeptics who reject the very notion of a Creator and revelation). I'm not at all surprised that there are so many of these people who disagree with my approach - there are tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews who disagree with it! But what I do not understand is, what are all these people doing reading my website? Exploring alternate perspectives, because they are think that their existing Torah resources might not have all that there is to offer? Learning about the enemy, to know how to fight him? Or satisfying a secret, subconscious desire for forbidden literature?

Anyway, if your rabbinic authority says that you should stay away from reading material that is harmful to your selected spiritual path in life, I fully agree. Don't visit this website!

18 comments:

  1. You are making an assumption, which, while it may seem reasonable, is not evidence-based. Perhaps some/many of those 83 people are centrist/modern Orthodox and simply do not agree with various assumptions that you make and approaches that you take. (I myself voted "yes" and a good friend of mine, who is modern Orthodox, told me he voted "no" for the very reason I mentioned above). You wouldn't know whether the composition of the 83 are chareidi, modern Orthodox, non-Orthodox, etc., unless you included in the questionnaire a field asking for religious identification, which you didn't. Any interpretation as to the religious identification of the voters may sound good, but is ultimately speculative.

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  2. Well, if you're wondering what kind of people read your website, here's an example: first of all, someone trying to find a copy of your books here in J-m, as Pomeranz downtown says they won't have any till the beginning of May.

    But that doesn't tell you much about why I'm interested in you, your books or your website. Basically, I'm a person who grew up utterly secular but religious minded and became semi-observant as a teen, then fully observant when I got married 7 years ago, but who's never quite felt comfortable with it. I've read allot of the typical BT / rationalist books like Schroeder's stuff, Permission to Believe, Aish's The Eye of a Needle, etc.. I feel myself moving towards being agnostic for any number of reasons, but I'm still looking for things to make me feel comfortable with being observant. I've taken an interest in R. Kappach, and been in contact with people associated with Machon Mamre and just picked up a copy of Maqbili's edition of the MT. So that's the portrait of at least one person who occasionally reads your site.

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  3. "Anyway, if your rabbinic authority says that you should stay away from reading material that is harmful to your selected spiritual path in life, I fully agree. Don't visit this website! "

    I don't think it's only your website; I think most, if not all rabbonim who disagree with your approach would not endorse reading the Charedi websites either, and probably tolerate them only to give people a "kosher alternative" to other news sites.

    What this means I think is, that any Charedi presence on the internet, by defintion, is making a compromise of sorts, and should therefore have a certain degree of tolerance(that's why it was suprising for one website to criticize Jonathan Rosenblum for ignoring opposition to Touro's founding in his article about Dr. Lander z'l ; those who take such a hardline position, shouldn't be online !).

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  4. Does anyone else find the sudden and quick (since this thread was posted) spike in votes on both sides of the issue fascinating?

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  5. Perhaps they are following the injunction to seek truth wherever they find it?

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  6. Follow the truth to where ever it leads.

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  7. "Anyway, if your rabbinic authority says that you should stay away from reading material that is harmful to your selected spiritual path in life, I fully agree. Don't visit this website!"

    All of a sudden we should follow our leaders like sheep?
    Half tongue-in-cheek.

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  8. I read your website because

    1. It's a little narrow minded to only read things that you agree with.

    2.This blog isn't just about new perspectives on the torah. It's about controversy. It's about book banning. It's about an author re-identifying himself. It's about rabbinic authority (I loved the kesav yad from Rav Chaim Kanievsky). These are all topics that I find a lot more interesting than the academic approach to torah study.

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  9. Robert-before you become agnostic try www.machonshilo.org Rav David Bar-Hayim might offer you a halchic approach which can save you from your disillusionment.

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  10. "Anyway, if your rabbinic authority says that you should stay away from reading material that is harmful to your selected spiritual path in life, I fully agree. Don't visit this website!"
    thats the point i disagree on. i'm not too keen on the rabbinic authorities.

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  11. When you originally posted the poll, you asked the following:

    "I am also curious to know how many of my readers share my general approach and how many do not. At the right, a little further down, you will see a poll. Please vote! This is not to prove which approach is correct; it's to see whether I am succeeding in attracting like-minded people."

    As of this writing, the numbers are:

    Generally agree - 49.6%
    Generally disagree - 33.8%
    Sometimes agree (and sometimes disagree) - 16.5%

    Do you this this represents success or not with regard to attracting like-minded people?

    If not, are you planning any substantive changes in terms of improving the rate of attracting like-minded people?

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  12. I am a MO Jewish man in my thirties. I originally started reading your website because the idea of Judaism from a rational perspective intrigued me. I found after a while that your approach was far more "academic" than "rational" and therefore I voted "no." I see the "academic" approach as accepting the consensus of experts in a given field as synonymous with "fact" and I don't think that this acceptance as fact is truly "rational."

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  13. I voted no because I think taking a rationalistic approach to Judaism is apologetic, not because I don't agree in taking a rational approach. I'm an OTDer, a flaming atheist, and about as far to the left of both political and social issues as you can get.

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  14. I think this issue has nothing to do with rationality. It has to do with the fact that nowadays the rabbis are more worried about guarding their kavod and authority than to do siag la torah. So, if the jazon ish was antizionist this can´t change, because obviously he was never wrong (by the way, can anyone recall an event in the last 50 years or so when a gadol has admitted an error?). I think an interesting example was the case of the decision of the gedolim, 200 years ago to suport the zar and nor Napoleon (was this a wise decision in perspective?)

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  15. "Anyway, if your rabbinic authority says that you should stay away from reading material that is harmful to your selected spiritual path in life, I fully agree. Don't visit this website!"

    Based on a number of comments I'm sure that you meant this in a genuine way, but to someone with on incidental contact (or generally antagonistic) this might easily be understood as a flippant dismissal.

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  16. Easy solution to the criticisms: Make a more specific poll. Then we can find out in more detail about who is responding with what and for what reasons.

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  17. What happened to the first 14 comments from this post???

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  18. Just started reading your blog ("The Evolution of Olive" led me to, although I heard from Rav Adlerstein about you before). I fully identify with your approach, enjoy reading you very much!

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