Episode 3: Exodus - Benay Lappe

Our guest on this episode is Rabbi Benay Lappe, Founder and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA: A Traditionally Radical Yeshiva. She walks us through her "Crash" Theory, along with some key ways that it is relevant to 21st Century American Judaism. Dan and Lex add some of their own thoughts regarding "Option 1," "Option 2," and "Option 3" Jews. Give this a listen, and feel free to comment on our facebook page with your take on the issues we discuss!

A visual representation of Rabbi Lappe's Options 1, 2, and 3.

A visual representation of Rabbi Lappe's Options 1, 2, and 3.

Rabbi Lappe's "Crash" Theory (0:01 - 15:44): To begin this week's exploration, our guest, Rabbi Benay Lappe, lays out her "Crash" Theory [1]. She then outlines its application to the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E (one example of many "crashes" in Jewish history that led to important Jewish shifts). She explains that there are three ways to respond to crashes like this. "Option 1" is a form of denial that pretends that the old framework hasn't crashed at all. "Option 2" is characterized by simply leaving the old framework behind and entering into a new framework. "Option 3" is the invention of new forms of connection to elements of the old frameworks, while mixing them together with more resonant material from outside the original system. 

Applying Crash Theory to 21st Century Judaism (15:45 - 27:20): We consider a variety of applications of Lappe's Crash Theory to the contemporary Jewish landscape, including ways in which the theory may connect to Maslow's "Hierarchy of Needs."  [2]

Plusses and Minuses of "Option 3" Judaism (27:21 - 38:41): Rabbi Lappe explains that "Option 3" Judaism -- a Judaism where individuals try to re-imagine and rebuild Judaism with the understanding that it will have to fundamentally shift in response to a crash -- is inherently difficult. She articulates why shaping new forms of Judaism is exciting but also can include a real sense of loss. [3]

Credit: Study.com

Credit: Study.com

An Unrecognizable Jewish Future (38:42 - 48:10): After looking at the ancient past and the present, we look to the future. Rabbi Lappe summarizes beautifully by stating simply that "Judaism in 100 years will be unrecognizable to us. But that doesn't scare me."

[1] If you're curious to hear more from Rabbi Lappe regarding her Crash Theory and its "Options 1, 2, and 3," check out the videos of her ELI Talk and her TED Talk at the bottom of the page.

[2] Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is an influential theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation." It became popular over the coming decades and is widely cited by contemporary psychologists, sociologists, and educators.

[3] Rabbi Lappe mentions The Kitchen, a religious community in San Francisco that's grounded in Jewish tradition, text, and ritual. They avoid calling themselves a "Jewish community." Their "Hello Mazel" project recently doubled the previously-most-funded Jewish project in the history of Kickstarter. Visit their website www.thekitchensf.org to learn more.