May 13th, 2011

torah

"Orthoprax"

I first encountered the word "orthoprax" back in high school, as referring to one who observes the commandments but whose beliefs are not orthodox. I liked the word, because it helped me define who I wanted to be, and also how I see Judaism: "Deed, not creed" as they say. The Talmud says in the name of God: "Better that they should forget Me and keep My commandments than the other way around." After all, in Hebrew the expression we use to describe someone is shomer mitzvot, one who observes (or safeguards) the commandments.

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So I reject the idea that orthopraxy is the antithesis of proper Jewish behaviour. I argue that it is, in fact, the only proper standard of halachic Judaism.