Thursday, 14 October 2010

What I Want

I like Judaism I just don't like it interfering with intellectual activities.

As a truth system, a means of salvation, or a worldview Judaism (and all religions) fail terribly. They just aren't true from a logical standpoint. If you have faith then good for you but unfortunately (or fortunately) for me when it comes to Judaism I have lost my faith. I no longer believe in the Jewish God or the divinity of his Torah.

Nevertheless I like Judaism in an emotional sense. I cannot, nor would I want to, escape the emotional hold Judaism has on my life. The rituals speak to me in a "national" sense, practices and prayers which are part of my heritage continue to give me emotional satisfaction. On Yom Kippur I get goosebumps during Netane Tokef when we cry about our unstable and transient existences, on Pesach I get shivers during the Kos Eliyahu when we incant "Pour out your wrath on the nations ... because they have consumed Yaakov" and think about the Jews who were (and still are) killed for being Jewish. Even the meaningless rituals like the shofar and the lulav somehow make me feel connected to my people who were, are and will be. I want to get out on the streets and scream with pride " I am a Jew!" but how can I shout that out sincerely if I don't maintain a cursory respect for the traditions which have so deeply affected and shaped the Jewish people.

But I want choice. I want to choose to keep Shabbat. I want to choose to light candles on Chanukkah to commemorate a thousand year old victory and a mythical but beautiful miracle. I don't want a God or a community to demand observance I want to have freedom to be a Jew as I see fit.

I don't want people to take the rituals too seriously. I don't want people expending hundreds of dollars on a "mehudar" etrog when a much cheaper one will do. I don't want people starving themselves because they forgot to do havdala or because they have not yet said Shacharit. I want Jewish observance in the same way Americans observe Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. You keep the "holy days" and "rituals" (hotdogs, fireworks, turkey) but you don't kill yourself to make sacrifices if things aren't working out.

I want the good without the bad the beauty and depth of keeping age old practices, without the self-sacrifice and terrible inconvenience mandated by a dogmatic religion.


Gamzoo said...

interesting post:

Tova said...

Bravo. I differ with you somewhat on the 'liking' Judaism bit, but this is a sound post.

E-Man said...

Yeah, everything you say sounds like conservative Judaism or Egalitarian Judaism (I think this is Rabbi Avi Weiss' shul). Why don;t you try one of those?

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