Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A reaction to Not the Godol Hador's changing perspective on faith, from yours truly, who doesn't have any faith to speak of

Here's Ten Jew Very Much's 06.06.06 - 10:47 am comment to Not the Godol Hador's Tuesday, June 06, 2006 post, "A Major Evolution For Mirty"

"But short of that, Faith in God, Torah, Midrashim or Gosse all seem pretty much the same to me: Belief in something not supported by evidence in order to support something else of beauty, value or other importance. Nobody thinks like that in other areas of life, but when it comes to religion, society makes an exception.

Gee, didn't Pascal define faith in essentially the same way? It's what has been called a subjective reality--somthing that is real to you though it cannot be proven, measured or demonstrated objectively. Isn't love the same? Your feelings of love for another person (spouse, child, parent, SO) are very real but you cannot prove them to someone else. Nor can you persuade someone to love (or not love) a person.

So what's wrong with faith? It's arational, but not irrational. And it doesn't even have to be in the name of some other good, such as beauty.

You love your family not because it is better than other families, but because it is your family. In fact, even when you know your sibling is being a jerk and you can't change that behavior, the love doesn't disappear. So love/faith need not be consistent with reason."

The money quote: "You love your family not because it is better than other families, but because it is your family."

I expressed this sentiment in a similar fashion in my Sunday, February 27, 2005 post, "In honor of U.S. Presidents' Day (slightly belated)--my "George Washington chopped down the cherry tree" approach to Jewish tradition."

"Every American knows the legend of George Washington and the cherry tree. According to the story, a young George chopped down a cherry tree, but, when confronted with his naughty deed, he 'fessed up (confessed), saying, "I cannot tell a lie."

In my opinion, it's not important whether this event actually took place. What's important is that Americans can learn from this story and teach it to our children. What's important is not that the story is true, but, for Americans, that it's ours.

I approach Judaism the same way. What's important is that we can learn from Jewish tradition and teach it to our children. What's important about Jewish tradition is that it's ours."

For those of you who take Judaism seriously, but not necessarily literally, what keeps you Jewish? What makes it important to you? Why do you want to pass it on?

Here's my own response, originally posted at The Jewish Connection, in response to the question, "Why is Judaism Relevant to You?"

"For me, Judaism is tradition and poetry, a "dance" around the synagogue with a lulav and etrog in my hands. For me, Judaism is beauty, a sukkah open to the sky, reminding us to be grateful for what we have. For me, Judaism is a teaching, from which we learn that it is our obligation to invite all those who are hungry to come and eat, even when we have only unleavened bread to share. For me, Judaism is song, an opportunity to raise our voices in joy. For me, Judaism is blessing, putting our hands on the heads of our children, hoping that they will follow in the ways of our ancestors and inherit all that I have just mentioned.

Once upon a time, I had a friend who was single and childless. She gave a gift of Judaism to her next-door neighbors' children by paying their Hebrew School tuition. All Israel is responsible for one another. And we remember the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. This is the inheritance and the joy that we owe to all Jewish children, and to ourselves."

I'd love to hear from others concerning Jewish tradition for the not-necessarily-"traditional."


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