I am a Torah geek. There, the secret is out.
I like to study. I like to think about Torah and why we do things one way in one situation, but differently in another situation. I like to endlessly discuss these things with fellow Torah geeks, when I can find them. This is probably why I'm comfortable in a Reconstructionist setting - respect for law and tradition is combined with an intellectual curiosity that for me is just FUN. Unfortunately, most of my Torah geek friends are engaged in rabbinic or community-service activities that eat up so much time they have little left for free-geeking.
In the interest of generating discussion, and further oversimplifying and stereotyping people, here's what I've noticed about the way other Jews relate to Torah questions during online exchanges:
- Torah geeks, like me - who are interested in the discussion as much as (or more than) the final decision.
- Rule followers - whose response to almost ANY question is "Ask your rabbi." Possibly a subset of People followers, below, with the exception that they care deeply about "getting it right."
- Law seekers - unlike rule followers, they will try to do some serious study and analysis themselves, but only in order to find an answer and implement it; the discussion is only a means to an end.
- People followers - who are content to follow the example of someone they trust to know "the rules" better than they do. These folks generally know little halacha and are content never to learn, so long as they aren't seen publicly to be doing something "wrong."
- Occasionally interested - are happy to keep doing what they've always done, and will be drawn into Torah discussion only when something challenges a deeply-held assumption or touches on something they personally care about.
- Uninterested - whose feeling about Torah is that it's something taken care of by "other Jews" who are more observant, and doesn't really concern them.