In what sense is this a religious blog?

In the comments to Yakov Menken’s latest JIB post, Micha wrote:

But in what sense is this a religious blog, rather than a political blog run by religious people?

and Shlomo added:

Let me be more specific, what percentage of your postings would require prior recitation of Birkas HaTorah (had I not already done so) or, had they been printed out, require disposal in a respectful fashion?

My response is that if you want to recite birkas haTorah on what you read, you should not be reading blogs. You should be learning actual Torah instead.

That said — the overlap between Torah and culture/politics/science/current events is considerable. We are working in the arena of hashkafa here. My understanding of Torah Im Derech Eretz is that the Torah has something to say about everything, and that it behooves Jews to act in accord with Torah values at all times. We do not believe in a mental “separation of church and state.”

What area is outside the purview of politics? Women’s issues? Day school tuition? Crime and punishment? Israel? ESPECIALLY nowadays when the government intrudes on EVERYTHING, it is virtually impossible to steer clear of “politics” no matter what issue you want to discuss. But I reject the premise that what we are discussing here is “just politics.” What some casually dismiss as “politics” I think of as “life.”

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9 comments to In what sense is this a religious blog?

  • Ezzie

    That’s why I would think this blog fits more in the “Politics” or “Culture” categories than “Religion” – however, the people nominate, so it’s not really anybody’s fault.

  • Toby Katz

    I say why IMO C-C is a religion blog, and Ezzie says he agrees with me that “it’s a politics blog.” Oh well, I tried.

  • Jewish Observer

    “Ezzie says he agrees with me”

    – where did he say he agrees with you?

  • ja

    “That said—the overlap between Torah and culture/politics/science/current events is considerable. We are working in the arena of hashkafa here. My understanding of Torah Im Derech Eretz is that the Torah has something to say about everything, and that it behooves Jews to act in accord with Torah values at all times. We do not believe in a mental “separation of church and state.””

    The Chazon Ish has an interesting exchange with Reb Elchanan on this topic. R Elchanan was in favor of a particular political approach and tried to prove it from a gemara. The CI argues strongly in response that one can never prove a particular approach is correct from gemara; he says that for every proof R Elchanan provides, he can provide a counterproof that one should act otherwise. He then says that on major communal issues, the talmidei chachomim who influence policy need to decide on an approach on the merits of the particular situation.

    I think one can deduce two things from this:

    1) It is preferable to discuss politics from a torah perspective without needing to make birkas hatorah than when one does need to

    2) There is no one obvious torah position on most political issues. Communal leaders might have siyata d’shmaya, but the rest of us are probably just giving our personal opinions on politics and life.

  • Toby Katz

    That’s how I read Ezzie’s sentence “That’s why….” — “I agree with what you just said, and that is why I think etc”

    not very significant point anyway

  • Gershon Seif

    Ken Zayn that one could, l’chol hapochos, recite birchas haTorah on comment #4

  • Ezzie

    What area is outside the purview of politics? Women’s issues? Day school tuition? Crime and punishment? Israel? ESPECIALLY nowadays when the government intrudes on EVERYTHING, it is virtually impossible to steer clear of “politics” no matter what issue you want to discuss. But I reject the premise that what we are discussing here is “just politics.” What some casually dismiss as “politics” I think of as “life.”

    I was referring to this paragraph. Even if you reject the “just politics” tag, everything you refer to fits under the culture or political categories – not religion.

    Sorry I wasn’t clear, though: I thought Yaakov Menken had written the post, and I had just emailed him about this… it was a pseudo-continuation of what I said in the e-mail. My bad.

  • S.

    I understand the perspective that there is no separation from religion and life in Judaism. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean that when we’re discussing baseball we’re doing religion. Parsha Blog is a Jewish Religion blog. Hirhurim is a Jewish Religion blog. I am sorry, but in my view blogs which are mainly dealing with important issues which are not directly about Torah or Halakha or theology just aren’t religion blogs, even while we recognize that Torah should inform our views and discussions about communal matters.

  • Micha

    I didn’t make my comment disparagingly. However, there are actual Torah blogs. My own Aspaqlaria carries nothing but divrei Torah. Hirhurim is roughly 75% Torah thoughts. Chardal, Torah from a R’ Kook perspective. Parsha. Der Alter. RYGB. Etc… There are many people who use blogging as a means of pushing themselves to write divrei Torah regularly.

    There are also non-Orthodox blogs that discussion their perceptions of Judaism.

    To me, that’s what the “religious” category would mean.

    I didn’t mean to criticize CC when I said it wasn’t really a religion blog. That’s not what Rabbi Menken set out to create. However, it does mean that someone looking for actual religion will not get a useful “Top 10″.