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Friday, 22 May 2015

Time to find a different religion?

Daf Yomi Kesubos 109

Much has been written of late about Social Orthodoxy, the adherence to traditional Judaism without really believing it.  Sadly, there are many observant Jews today who are simply going through the motions because that’s what they were brought up with and that’s what they’re comfortable with.  But their heart’s not really in it and much of Judaism seems strange and distant.

If a father pledged a dowry for his daughter and then defaulted between the betrothal and the completion of the wedding, she is stuck (in her situation of inertia) until her hair goes grey. 
Admon says: She can say to her groom, ‘If I had been the one to pledge the money, granted that I should be stuck here until I go grey.  But my father was the one who pledged, so why should I suffer?  Either enter me in or let me go!’

A healthy spirit needs passion.  To go through life in a state of inertia, when one is neither here nor there, is a waste of a life.  If you’re just going through the Orthodox motions but you have no passion, no spirit, no spirituality, no connection to Heaven, why bother?  Either you’re going to let G-d enter your life or let Him go!  You’re not doing him any favours practising a lifeless Judaism.  You’re simply holding him hostage in this meaningless on-paper-alone marriage. 

If traditional Judaism’s not doing it for you, then go and find the ideology and belief system that you can be passionate about!  Go and find some real meaning and purpose for your life!  You know that there must be an ultimate purpose to life, because if life has no meaning, why would you bother making any effort whatsoever?  Isn’t life way too tough to bear without a purpose?

And so if you conclude that there is a purpose in life, that the universe has meaning, that there is a Creator, then you have to conclude that the Creator revealed His purpose to humankind.  We believe that that revelation took place thirty three centuries ago at Mt. Sinai, and even earlier than that to Adam and Eve.

We have good reason to believe what we do, because our parents told them it’s true and their parents told them it’s true.  And amazingly, your parents told you exactly the same story!  Now, could it have been distorted somewhere along the line?  Possibly, but you’d have to prove that.  In the absence of proof that the message was misinterpreted, we assume we are doing what G-d revealed He wanted us to do.

If you’re waiting for absolute proof, you can keep waiting.  Maimonides says that if Aristotle had been at Mt. Sinai, he would have woken up the next morning and offered three hundred proofs that the revelation never occurred!  We live in a world of falsehood – if we would know the definitive truth, it would be game over because there’d be no free choice to make in favour of Torah-from-Sinai (TFS) Judaism.

So either you decide to accept, embrace and become passionate about TFS Judaism or go and find a better option, one that you can be passionate about.  Just don’t use your incomplete belief as an excuse for half-baked Judaism.  If this is your best option, then give it your very best shot!

I’m not suggesting that Judaism’s an all or nothing deal.   Nobody is perfect.  But if you believe that this is the best philosophy of life, then it makes sense to commit to a life of spiritual growth, one step at a time.  A lackadaisical approach to your Judaism just doesn’t make any sense. 

A life without meaning and passion is just not worth it.  Find the closest thing in this world you can to the truth and live it to the max!  May you take the time to grapple with TFS Judaism, discover that it is indeed the emes (truth), and embrace it with all your heart, mind and soul!