From The Arty Semite Blog at The Jewish Daily Forward
Ex-Haredi Artists Grapple With Their Pasts
Shulem Dean, April 27, 2011
...The woman in the photo is ex-Hasidic, as is the artist who took it. Both hail from a culture in which the act is still shocking and offensive: a woman entering a man’s domain in search of spiritual fulfillment. The portrait, of course, is powerful both for its rejection of traditional values and the re-appropriation of its ritual objects — especially given its personal context. But it’s the playful, slightly mischievous smile that is most captivating. It is as if both subject and artist, still, after many years, delight in the act of ritual subversion....
I definitely appreciate where many of these artists are coming from.
My father, the artist, left frumkeit, probably for similar reasons. I'll never know because he has never wanted to discuss it, and have to respect that.
When Jews are told to daven every word in the siddur or you're yotzei, you have to stay in schul for 6 hours on Rosh haShannah, and at the Seder Pesah you have to starve and be bored, and then gulp down food at 12:30 at night quickly, is it any wonder that Jews are turned off by Judaism?
Then they're told that the only alternative is to throw away Torah sheb'al Peh (Reform), distort it through unbelievable pil pul (Conservative), or pick and choose (Reconstructionist). After all, God is in all of us, so daven to the God within the person on your left (so called Renewal)....
You get the point.
But, Judaism is just so much easier than that. It is so much easier that it calls into question the motivations behind these "Jewish leaders" Are they really trying to make Judaism easier, more accessible, and/or more meaningful?
I believe that is what these leaders' minyons believe. But, the truth behind the leadership within so-called "liberal" or "progressive" Judaism is a lot more nefarious; it is nothing less that a battle against the Torah itself. The Tzadoqim (Sadducees) and the early Christians tried the same strategy of targeting Torah sheb'al Peh (Oral Torah) first. But, only the early Christians experienced any "success" with this, but only after they started targeting non-Jews, who are inherently disconnected from Torah sheb'al Peh.
Also, please, be wary of these organizations "supporting" those of you making the exodus from Borough Park, Williamsburg, and Kiryas Yoel, and the like. Many of them have an aggressively anti-Torah agenda, and take advantage of your vulnerability.
I highly recommend going out to learn what the various halakhoth actually are, and don't let any "rabbi" (or more likely his shamash or gabbaim) stand in your way!
When you ask a rabbi a question, and he responds with "Da'as Torah," press him to provide you with at least one source, just one source. But that that should include the citation of a specific section and paragraph.
If you are feeling really gutsy, you can ask him where all of the humroth came from which look nothing like the Shulhan Arukh,...which so many Jews claim to holds by. Ask him what the Beth Yosef meant in his introduction to the Shulhan Arukh. Did he really intend for it to be a codification of Jewish Law?
If you speak with a Litvish rabbi, you can ask him why Ashkenazi Jews are required to hold by the Mishnah Brurah. And, if that is truly case, then why is it that Ashkenazi Jews, who say that they do hold by the Mishnah Brurah, do actually hold by it,...except for when they don't.
Confused? You should be confused, because it does not make any sense. The above only expresses some examples the irrationality of galuth (exile) Judaism, which can be found all around the world, including Israel.
You would also probably be surprised at what authentic Judaism actually looks like.
You won't see any Borsolino black hats, because they are not Jewish; they are Italian. And ties? Nope. I would bet you thought they were French, but they are actually Croatian in origin. Still, they are not Jewish.
You won't see most of the countless humroth (stringencies) developed while in galuth (exile). But, you might see one or two you would not expect to see. No doubt, you will be enlightened to find that many of those things which were implied, if not actually told, to you were halakhoth, turn out to be humroth, or minhagim (customs), and that quite a few of those minhagim turn out to be,...well as nonsensical as most of the humroth.
By now, you can tell that I am not just speaking to the ex-Satmar, and the other "ex's" out there, but also to those Jews who do not know the Alef-Bet, and to every Jew in between.
You certainly won't find permission to perform every kind of performance art piece you'd like to within Judaism. But, artistic expression and Torah observance are most certainly compatible! we here on this earth to do whatever we want? If so, then order me a sausage pizza!
We are actually not here on this earth to do whatever we want. If we were, then order me a sausage pizza!
We are here on this earth to do what God wants to make Torah the reality in this world.
But, how do we know what that is, and how to implement it?
You will find the answers in authentic halakha.