Thursday, August 2, 2007

More on Noah Feldman, Child Professor

The Forward has an interesting piece here about Dr. Feldman comparing himself to the apostate to end all apostates Baruch Spinoza. Evidently when Spinoza gave religion the finger, didn't bitch and moan when he wasn’t included on Judaism's New Year’s card list. Surprising? No – Spinoza was a brilliant man, and helped usher in an intellectual revolution unmatched until Kentucky Fried Movie introduced the world to wacky random humor.

/ Digression – I did, in fact, just compare Baruch Spinoza to Samuel L. Bronkowitz. Cream in your jeans, indeed. /end digression

So it's not like Spinoza didn't know what he was getting himself into. Not to say that Prof. Feldman isn’t intelligent – he’s only a kid, and he’s teaching at Harvard Law! – but the Forward gives way too much weight to his article. Great dissenter? Let us quickly compare some highlights from the lives of the respective men.

Spinoza – engaged in a reverse-Abrahamic analysis of G-d, associating Him with all nature, which evidently ticked off the frum powers that were, and he was excommunicated (put in charem, for the Hebraicallly advantaged). Published just once during his lifetime, never married, and died ignominiously at the age of 45. His legacy and posthumous publications helped generate the fervor and rebellion that lead to the Enlightenment (thanks, Wikipedia).

Feldman – has examined the collision of church and state through books on democracy and Islam, both in the abstract and in Iraq, and on the Establishment Clause. His rebellion against traditional Judaism consisted of marrying a Korean woman. His writing has so far led to stereotypical Jewish self-flagellation, and immature insults on the level of “if you whine like a child, we’ll treat you like a child.”

Obviously Spinoza gets the nod in head-to-head heresy. We don’t know whether Dr. Feldman considered the intellectual or spiritual foundations of his secularization, or even if he has in fact turned away from all religious practice. We do know, that all he chose to write about was his high school’s decision not to keep other alumni apprised of his life-cycle events and personal successes. As though there weren’t enough Maimonides graduates on the Harvard alumni lists who could get that info through the Crimson Legacy, or whatever the Harvard alumni newsletter is called. So now we can move on from Dr. Feldman’s solipsism.

Anyone know why they keep calling Maimo a yeshiva?

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