Andrew Hahn: Judaism Unbound Episode 134 - God on a Desert Island

Continuing our exploration of a variety of views of God that might resonate with today's Jews, Andrew Hahn, known as The Kirtan Rabbi, joins Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg in a conversation that introduces and explores the idea of Non-Dualism, the history of Judaism importing ideas and practices from other traditions, and hypothesizes about what Jewish theology and practice might look like outside the context of community, such as if a person were isolated on a desert island. [1]

Image Credit: Broekman Communications

Image Credit: Broekman Communications

(0:01 - 16:04): To begin the episode, Hahn provides an overview of the concept of non-dualism, along with how entering into a conception of God that is non-dualist could affect the way that individuals operate in the world. [2] He argues that these conceptions connect to the idea that the self, and separateness, are illusions. [3] In other words, he argues that non-dualism relates to a belief that all beings on the planet (and beyond it) are actually one unified whole. Hahn converses with Dan about whether, if "Everything is God," it is also the case that "Nothing is God." [4]

(16:05 - 29:19): Hahn explores the tension between finding precedents from the Jewish past for novel Jewish ideas and, on the other hand, accepting that Judaism in the present and future may need to pioneer new ideas that were unknown to past Judaisms. He then boldly proposes that, if he were on a desert island, he might not retain all -- or even most -- elements of Jewish ritual and practice. He, and the two co-hosts, explore how, and why, Judaism has typically applied more easily forms of communal practice than individual practices of meaning-making. They also ask whether that could, should, or will continue to be the case in the future. In doing so, Hahn argues that there has never been a "pure" Judaism -- that Jewish ideas and practices have constantly been altered, affected, and even supplanted by rituals from other traditions. 

(29:20 - 42:39): Making a key point that people today are looking for experiences of direct connection to God, Hahn outlines his practice of Hebrew Kirtan, an avenue that, for him, achieves that sense of direct connection. He contrasts the uncontrolled, open practice of Kirtan, with ways in which Jewish prayer leaders often try too hard to steer the experience towards a particular destination. To close the episode, Hahn calls on Jews both to work for positive changes to Judaism and, simultaneously, to learn from the other religious traditions that are part of a shared, "global village." [5]

Purchase  Achat Sha'alti (One Thing I Seek)    here  .

Purchase Achat Sha'alti (One Thing I Seek) here.

[1] Access a full bio of Andrew Hahn by clicking here.

[2] Learn more about non-dualism by checking out "Dualism vs. Non-Dualism," published by The Yoke.

[3] Hahn notes Freud's idea of "oceanic feeling" in his analysis. Learn more about this concept by clicking here.

[4] Hahn cites Jay Michaelson's book, Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism, as a work that influenced him profoundly. Purchase it by clicking here, and hear from Michaelson on a past Judaism Unbound episode by listening to Episode 38: Judaism and Evolving Dharma - Jay Michaelson.

[5] Andrew Hahn has produced two CDs -- Achat Sha'alti (One Thing I Seek), Kirtan Rabbi Live, and Nondual — as well as a single, Shiviti. You can purchase them by clicking here.