My last post closed with the question of 'what is the essence of Judaism in regard to how and what it can absorb from other cultures?' Perhaps the better question in light of my thorny issue would be 1) what is Judaism to me, 2) why am I a Jew and 3) how exclusive is one required to be to be Jewish?
The answer to #3 is fairly simple - it depends on who you ask. There is one end of the spectrum, the end that has laid claim to Jewish Tradition, which would claim that one must not know what the world outside Judaism is like lest it corrupt you and draw you away from the the Chosen path and they have utilized and enhanced halachah to enforce this. They have also attempted to make others feel guilty for taking a different view. There is the other end of the spectrum, where, frankly, I'm more comfortable, that sees Judaism as one of the great mystery religions holding some of the pieces of the puzzle of the universe and the Source and if we do not share with and learn from others humanity will never reach it's potential and that if Judaism or individual Jews change from what has been the Jewish path that is all right.
I see Judaism as a special and unique path; one which has been chosen by the Almighty for a certain people but which already contains many of those universal elements. One of the most important things about Judaism for me is that it does not claim to be the *one way* to the Source - even stringent Orthodoxy doesn't claim that, just that it's way of being Jewish is the only way to be Jewish; an idea I don't accept. History has shown that even Orthodoxy has changed it's way to fit the needs of the people. It may be hubris to put myself alongside the great Rabbis especially as I can't hold a candle to their wisdom or knowledge of halachah or Torah but to paraphrase Harry in 'Order of the Phoenix', if they can do it for the needs of their community, why can't I? Especially since the community I'm deciding for is the very small one of me, myself and I. ITA with Myfanwy that one's spiritual path is something each person must find for themselves and maybe the most help we can give each other is not saying that this, that or the other is or is not the way to reach the Divine Source but helping and encouraging each other to examine one's spiritual needs, the nature of the Source in as much as collective humanity can comprehend the Source, and what is the best route for any person to get there. Can you tell I'm not a dogmatist?