Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Am A Fundamentalist

I am a fundamentalist, but not according to the usual definition of the word. I am a fundamentalist in that I believe that in any endeavour it is important to master and understand the fundamentals. I once read that the great basketball player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, credited his success to his high school coach who taught him "the fundamentals." What is true for basketball, I believe, is true for any and every human enterprise. If the fundamentals have been properly learned and mastered, the chances of succeeding are greatly increased.

As a Ba'al Teshuvah, I believe that success in Judaism is also based on knowing "the fundamentals." Many people have strayed from the path because of their lack of understanding with regards to the basics of Judaism. This is usually not their fault, but rather the fault of their parents or the institutions in which they were educated. Why waste time with basic issues when we can debate "what's bothering Rashi" or "how can we reconcile the Rambam with what is written in the Gemara?" In the end, after many years of learning, a Jew can be a "migdal pore'ach ba'avir", a tower suspended in midair, without proper foundations, because he never learned the fundamentals.

Similarly, our problems in relation to the land of Israel start with a misunderstanding of who we are, what the land of Israel is, what Torah is, what prophecy is, and what G-d wants from us. These misunderstandings are what is causing the "sin of the spies" in our generation as well us other negative trends among the Jews today.

That's just my humble opinion.


yaak said...

That's my humble opinion too.

Daniel Greenfield said...

it's a very good point too

people get so obsessed with the upper stories they forget every building has to have a foundation

we spend a lot of time emphasizing elaborations and not enough time making sure that a lot of people's basic understandings are correct

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