Hassidism to Paganism

You are here:
< Back

Dear Rabbi Simon
I am an Orthodox Jew. I was raised in Chabad, I learn frequently, I practice consistently. Yet recently have been curious about Ásatrú (a sect of Norse paganism) and have been dedicated to doing much research on it, slowly developing a connection to it. I am torn on what I should do about it. Do you have any advice?

Hi Mendy
Thank you for your intriguing question.
Old-new religions such as Ásatrú are enjoying a renaissance in modern times, particularly in the western world, as identification with Christianity and Judaism continues to wane. Yet the attraction of religion, in some form, continues to appeal to many. It seems that so-called New Age religions are gaining in popularity, as surveys suggest that the “spiritual but not religious” category is a fast-growing trend in American culture.
Nevertheless, from a Torah standpoint, it is difficult to endorse the kind of engagement and attraction to a pagan, polytheistic religion which you describe. Judaism has stood against paganism from the days of our father Abraham until today. Of course, with the rise of Christianity and then Islam, Judaism has not clashed with classical idolatry in many centuries. (Although Christianity, especially Catholicism, retains elements of idolatry and iconography which are certainly objectionable in Jewish terms.) This has perhaps led to a lessening of our awareness of the perils of paganism. For starters, it is a violation of the 2nd Commandment.
This is not to say that Ásatrú is devoid of worthwhile ideas, rituals, etc., however as a Jewish person, I fully believe that you can find fulfilment and inspiration within the Torah thought and literature. A good place to start is the Aryeh Kaplan Anthology (2 vols). Also, any of the books of Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski. These are both wise, learned, articulate, spiritual, worldly, broad-minded thinkers and educators whose teachings never fail to uplift and edify.
Best wishes
Rabbi Rashi Simon

Next Jewish Achievement
Questions & Answers
this week

Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Quinoa on Pesach
Dear Rabbi Simon,
Where do you stand on quinoa (and the kitniyot ban) for Pesach?
Many thanks,
Dear Tzippy,
In line with other American authorities, I am in favour of quinoa. Although I reject completely the voices (mostly from Israel) seeking to abolish the ban on kitniyot entirely, IMO we do not need to include in the prohibition pseudo-grains that were unknown in the Old World until modern times. Best to buy with a Pesach hechsher though, to be free of any possible wheat contamination.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
Events / Calendar