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On the Contrary Blog: Ironic Orthodoxy
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The Ironic Orthodox generation does not buy into the apologetics: not about the status of women, not about the integrity of the transmission of the Oral Law, not about the "timelessness" of obviously time-bound religious laws, customs, and ideas, etc. This generation is hard to inspire; its demeanor is skeptical and ironic, somewhat aloof and dispassionate. Their irony is not a dramatic irony - like Statler and Waldorf observing the and criticizing the show yet remaining very much a part of it - but a jocular or sarcastic attitude or perhaps even a post-irony that simultaneously adheres to and mocks traditional religious structures. Yet it's not a bitter or angry mocking. It seems to be more of a taking-for-granted of life's absurdities and of the failure of ideology to explain or animate the full gamut of practice. It does not necessarily advocate or seek change.



The acclaimed Israeli TV show "Srugim" is an example of Ironic Orthodoxy - from the camera lens's perspective, even if it does not necessarily describe any character in particular. The lens captures both the familiarity and the absurdity of contemporary Orthodox living. In an odd way, despite the fact that, as Shai points out, the only "normal" character in the show is hiloni, its portrait of contemporary Orthodox life is far from unsympathetic. Blogs, especially those that combine deep literacy, adherence, and irreverence - are examples as well.

Another, lesser known example might be the new Orthodox reality show "In Over Our Heads." It's too early to tell where this is going to go, but it seems to take Ironic Orthodoxy as a starting point. Its second episode is most poignant in this regard: a woman who had never really practiced taharat ha-mishpacha learns about the laws and also gets a dose of ideology to boot. The ideology is ridiculed throughout, as are some of the practices - particularly harchakot - yet when it comes time for the actual dunking to take place, it turns out to be much more meaningful than the woman had anticipated.

I do not have an explanation or justification for this, though I tend to regard it as a generally positive phenomenon. When it devolves into anger and bitterness, it can get ugly. Moreover, I'm skeptical of attempts - Yoav Sorek and Elchanan Shilo come to mind - of attempts to turn this post-ideological phenomenon into a new ideology. I have some additional thoughts along these lines, but wish to restrict myself to observations at this point.