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July 13, 1979 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-07-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, July 13, 1919 21

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

'Godwrestling': Relating Contemporary Life to Judaism

By DR. MILTON
STEINHARDT

"Godwrestling" (Judaikn
in Contemporary Life), pub-
lished by Schocken, deals
with a huge range of topics
in 180 pages.
Though the author, Ar-
thur I. Waskow, focuses his
attention on Judaism, he is
sensitive to the com-
plexities of our contempor-
ary life pressures.
The 180 pages of "God-
wrestling" defy classifica-
tion. •
Not only is the subject
ultifaceted, but the pre-
ntation is also unique. It
is reminiscent of the
technique employed in
psychotherapy in various
"encounter groups" where
the participants "unburden
their souls."
This is what the author
emphasizes when he-relates
his experiences with the
Washington Group called
"Fabrangen," a Jewish reli-
gious, free wheeling, forth-
right, modern-yet-
traditional - community
dedicated to finding new
meaning in Jewish life and
Torah. This group met
weekends amid natural
environment, men and
women, single and married,
expressing themselves in-
tellectually, spiritually,
physically and sexually.
The author speaks of the
"joyful love affairs" of the
"Fabrangen" single mem-
bers of the havura, and dis-
cusses freely the role of
marriage, divorce and social
pressures of extra-marital
sex.
This is reminiscent of the
Companionate Marriage
Movement of Lindsay and
Bertrand Russell 50 years
ago. Whether the author
finds pre-marital sex com-
patible with "Halakha"
(religious doctrine) or is
merely rationalizing that
'behavior is an open ques-
tion. -
The title "Godwrestling"
is more profound than ap-
pears on the surface. Who=
_ever wrestles with God and
wins (even partially)? The
author undoubtedly is re-
ferring to the psychological

m

.

DR. MILTON
STEINHARDT

struggle, to the ambivalent
nature of man, or, in reli-
gious terms to the struggle
between the good and evil
angels for our soul . . . or in
psychological terms be-
tween the Super Ego and
the Id.
In this respect, the author
highlights ' a basic
psychological principle that
real life is not purely good or
evil, but that there is a bit of
both i9. all of us. To "wres-
tle" also means to question,
to, doubt, and trying to re-
solve conflicting tendencies.
The other aspect to
wrestling, unlike quarrel-
ing, is the fusion with
lovemaking (compatible
with previously expressed
views).
In general, Waskow's ap-
proach is similar to Freud's
"free association."it is as if,
on the couch, he freely ex-
presses himself on various
subjects: -socio-economic
justice, equality of,
sexes, the Holocaust, at
ad
and the state of Israel,
childbearing, marriage, di-
vorce, etc.:-
Perhaps the surest way to
present the flavor as well as
the content is by illustra-
tion: Does the "Song of
Songs" represent the love of
God and Israel, or is it an
expression of sexuality and
human freedom? Unlike
tradition the author es-
pouses the feminist cause,
and he is certain that por-
tion- of the Bible was written
by a woman.
Mother love should not be
turned into destruction —
accounting for the prohibi-
tion of boiling milk with
meat.
The first reference to

-

Settlement Construction Continues
Following Clash With Villagers

TEL AVIV (JTA)— Work vately owned land was
continued without incident touched .An agreement
Wednesday on an -access had been signed with the
road to a new settlement in local council and village
Galilee after clashes with elders to permit the work
l ocal Arab villagers on to proceed without
uesdayAn which .10 people harassment. -
But, when the bull-dozers
ere inrured and 38 ar-
rested for questioning and arrived, villagers began to
possible arraignment on demonstrate. They blocked
the road with piles of burn-
charges of stoning police
The clashes involved in- ing tires and stoned the JNF
habitant's of the Arab vil- drivers.
Police summoned to the
lage of Mailia who protested
the road being built by the scene were also stoned. Re-
Jewish National Fund on inforcements were called for
state-owned land where the and finally sprayed the
new settlement, Mitzpeh demonstrators with tear
(look-out) is located. gas. The injured included
According to senior police tractor drivers, police and
officers, the disturbances some local residents.
Five "look-out" settle-
were the result of political
incitement by the Rakah ments are scheduled to be
Communist Party and sup- built in that hilly region of
porters of the Palestine Lib- Galilee in the near future.
eration Organization. The The JNF said that the work
JNF insisted that no pri- will continue.

W

wrestling with God is that of
Jacob. Other wrestlings in
the psychological sense in-
clude Rachel and Leah (be-
cause of Rachel's childless-
ness), Jacob and Essatt,_and
the conflicts expressed by
Moses in Egypt and in the
desert.
The author refers to Tisha
b'Av and the Holocaust,
asking the oft-repeated
question: How. could the
omnipotent God permit the
extermination of innocent
men, women and children?
Only one of God's supposed
replies persists in the mind
of the reviewer: "If you want
me to prevent evil, then you
will not be free to choose."
The author comments
that the hreaking of a glass--
at a wedding not only sig-
nifies the destruction of the

Temple, but also the idea
that in every constructive
action there is the inherent
potential of undoing and re-
pair.
In the final chapters,
Waskow urges religious
content in addition to secu-
lar Zionism, but he prefers
"Godwrestling" to the old
traditions. He wants to re-
late Torah to current life
and suggests a revision of
"Halakha" suitable to our
times.
This latter idea of bring-
ing Judaism into our daily
life (minus strictures and
dogma) could revitalize
Judaism and infuse new
energy and life into our
youth now seduced,by ag-
gressive- cults.
To the extent that the

REMEMBER

author- applied biblical con-
cepts to current problems he
succeeded in becoming re-
levant, contemporary and
meaningful.
This book represents the
credo of a liberal of Mandan
religious man with a Jewish
identity, psychologically
liberated, attempting to
reconcile the conflicts and
contradictions in contem-
porary Jewish life. It is in-
deed a worthy effort.

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