As I glanced at their shiny pamphlets and hopeful expressions, a few extremely important thoughts went through my mind. The first was how my mom handled such situations (not pretty). The second was how Jason handles such situations (not pretty). And the third was how I want my kids to remember me handling such situations (Pretty. Obviously pretty).
While I was busy with my internal dialogue, my visitors were on a roll. Finally, painfully, I interrupted them with, “I don’t want to waste your time. We’re Jewish and aren’t interested but I really, really wish you the best of luck.” Is that rude? Maybe don’t tell me if it is. Because to be perfectly honest, I walked away feeling pretty graceful. And proud. Thank you very much.
I also walked away assuming door’s closed, conversation’s closed. Until I (of course) heard a little voice ask, “What did they say mommy?” And not being one to let well enough alone I decided to tell my kids, “Some people believe in their religion so very much that they want everyone to believe with them. So they came to tell us about their religion.”
Kayli, quietly, took it all in while Chloe scrunched up her face in confusion and asked, “During lunch? Really?” Clearly, we take our food seriously in our house.
After some chit chat about our days, Kayli was done contemplating and had plenty to say. She started shooting questions my way. What religion are they? Were they being nice? We believe we’re Jewish in our hearts, too, right? Indeed. And then Chloe, eyes bright and voice LOUD piped up with, “Well then let’s go out and tell everyone! We should do that, too!”
Once again, I wasn’t able to leave well enough alone. Do you wish Jason was home at this point to take over the conversation? Me, too. But he wasn’t. So I responded, “We think religion is something people know in their hearts. And we don’t try to convince anyone to believe with us.”
Oh, how very against-the-grain that must sound. Especially to school age children who are constantly taught, asked, reminded to sit like everyone else. Write their letters like everyone else. Play ball, dress, read like everyone else. If it’s in our hearts, why wouldn’t we shout it from the rooftops?
When I read a good book, I tell someone. If I see a good movie, same thing. But when it comes to religion, for me, it’s just different.
As much as I like to be right and hate to be wrong, I really and truly think that religion is personal and an in-your-heart decision, feeling, knowing. And doesn’t actually have a right-or-wrong to it.
Throughout my life certain friendships changed, some for the better, but most for the worst, when religion became the hot topic. For many of these people religion was such a burn-you-up-inside subject that they had to tell me, had to convince me, of their right-ness. And therefore my wrong-ness. In my heart-of-hearts, I can’t possibly fathom that there’s just one right answer within religion. How could so many people be wrong? And one group be the only one that’s right?
For my kids, for right now, the “in your heart” explanation sounds right. Feels right. Religion is internal, it feels like coming home. My kids’ hearts are full of challah for Shabbat, candles for Chanukah and apples for Rosh HaShannah. All of these “things” (how’s that for eloquent?) are there because Jason and I have carefully placed them in our home. In our habits. In our lives. And in their hearts. All else is a shiny object that’s fun to explore, experience and enjoy. But it’s not coming home. It’s not in their hearts.
We keep building on these memories. These traditions. Big and small. Family time circling around Judaism. It’s who we are as a family.
Jason and I still don’t belong to a synagogue. I bet that’s hard to understand, comprehend and not judge. The best way that I have to describe it is that we haven’t found a place that feels like home. (Yet.) So our Judaism happens mostly in our home.
This past week was Shavuot, honoring the Israelites’ post-Egypt-slavery arrival at Mount Sinai. After a long walk-to-freedom, they were given the Torah. I imagine them being so excited and overjoyed that they stayed up all night studying and learning. Can you think of the last time that you willingly stayed up all night reading? Learning? And not sleeping? Me neither. What an amazing story. An amazing lesson, to share with kids.
To celebrate, we went for a walk, throughout which Chloe kept announcing, “I sure hope the Israelites had their bikes, because my legs are tired!”
We let the kids stay up late and ate cheesecake outside by candle light. We asked the kids what they would be excited to stay up all night learning about. Their answers were, as always, food for thought. “Space, aliens and are they real” for Kayli (discuss) and “how to drive” for Chloe (shudder). And you know what? They asked us the same question right back. Which was…refreshing. While we work hard to make religion for our children, I love that in spite of or because of that, they view religion as something that grown ups “do” as well. Side-by-side. Shoulder-to-shoulder. With them.
Religion is in our hearts. In our home. And in our kitchen. So this year for Shavuot we also made blintzes together.
Learning takes practice. The saying is Practicing our religion, right? There has to be a reason for that one. Every time we have a new experience, religious or otherwise, it makes a path in our brains and in our hearts. Eventually those paths cross. Interact. Make meaning. And it either becomes home, or it doesn’t.
For now, our kids know in their hearts that Judaism is coming home. As far as Shavuot goes, they gave it a big thumbs up. And as far as going vegetarian for the night, a big old thumbs down. They are so, so their father’s children.
I really enjoyed this, Galit! I love getting a glimpse into your world and how much we share even though we are of different faiths. I love how you handled the Jehovah’s…I won’t even answer the door when they come because I am so scared of the confrontation.
Oh, clapping! This is an excellent discussion!
I have a few family members who happen to be Jehovah Witnesses and WOW. Very righteous and diligent in spreading the word. The door-to-door is called ‘pioneering’. But, I love them for their fervor, among other things:)
I agree that religion is a very personal thing(eloquent? LOL). I understand that when your heart is full of faith and grace, it’s very difficult to not share with those you treasure. But, doing that with complete strangers is not something I practice. Ever. To each their own and all that jazz.
I agree 100% that there isn’t only one way to arrive at a destination. The roads we take may be completely different, with paths that never cross, and yet we can all end up at DisneyWorld, you know?
Thanks again for the awesomeness of your post:)
Very interesting post.
I don’t know if “in your hearts” is the point. You don’t want your kids to get into discussions with missionaries. Maybe try: “It’s that some people don’t respect others and try to make them leave their religions, which isn’t polite. It shows lack of respect. We’re polite so we just ask them to leave and respect our religion.”
Sometimes you just won’t find your “perfect synagogue match,” but an imperfect is better than none. Community is good for the kids and good for you.
“During lunch?” I love that. Nice post, real and meaningful – a good picture of your life, and more.
I was a young girl in the sixties, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses came often through our mixed-ethnic neighborhood. (and I believe they specifically knocked on the doors of the homes bearing mezuzot!) I remember when I was about 7 years old, I asked one of these women at the front door, carrying a briefcase, “Are you the Avon lady?”
You are right in that whatever you choose to observe in Judaism has to feel right for you, for your family. Sometimes it takes a LONG time to find the right synagogue, the right environment for you. But you’re certainly starting off in the right direction and exposing your kids to fine details of the religion.
I don’t know what the synagogue offerings are like in the Twin Cities area. The international ba’al teshuva movement is so vast and successful, thanks to several organizations and groups…Chabad is virtually in every corner of the world and does tremendous work; Aish HaTorah and Ohr Sameyach are the other two that come to mind. There are smaller religious organizations and centers that work hand in hand with peoples’ needs. No doubt, when the time is right, you’ll find the perfect synagogue or religious center for you.
In the meantime, you’re keepin’ those home fires burning — the cheesecake, candles and jammies helped make for a lovely experience on Shavuot.
I agree with your attitude entirely. I also probably would have answered the Jehovah Witnesses the same way you did, although I don’t ever get the chance, being here in Israel.
I remember back in the days my father would invite these missionaries into our home and engage them in conversations of hours, trying to show them how faulty their theology was. Little did they know what they were getting into when they knocked on our door! I think I inherited from him a love of debate, but, like you, I know where to draw the line. Like you said, sometimes if you delve too deep into religious issues with people who are passionate about their faith, relationships can sour.
We did belong, we don’t belong, & although Judaism isn’t as central to our family’s day to day life (or life, period) & yet I totally understand this. We have a few traditions (& to be fair, neither happened this year): 1) apples & honey & wishes for ourselves & the world in the new year & what we hope to let go of. 2) last seder crumbled when kids revolted & we ended up having a huge discussion about why seder & what the meaning was & the story & you know what? best. seder. ever.
I think “in your heart” is so where to put core beliefs. And that’s really what you are describing.
And we met through another friend who knows all this: Amy Meltzer, who homeshuls!
thank you so much for the comments! as always, i treasure your thoughts and opinions!
lisa– i *know!* i’m always struck by the ying-and-yang of our differences and similarities! love that! i was thinking of the lady that was harassing you on the phone that you “talked down.” *that* took guts! no more hiding for you!! 🙂
christine– thanks so much for the note! as always, your writing makes me *smile!.* thanks for the “pioneering” vocab. where does that come from? and, can i just say, i love (adore! am clapping for!) the path-to-disney world visual. awesome. pure awesome. 🙂
batya– thanks so much for your comment! i think my mom and jason are with you on that one. i like to believe (almost have to believe?) that people are coming from the right place and that’s what i want my kids to see, feel, etc. and the shul thing, *sigh* you’re right. 100% right. we need to commit, and we will! 🙂
neil– thank you! a picture of our love for food if nothing else, right?! 🙂 thanks for the comment. as always, it’s great to hear from you!
pearl– as always your comment is so thoughtful. i love your description of the avon moment! too funny! thank you also for the support and resources. we *do* need to move our decision process along as the kids are only getting older. *sigh* i love the “home fires burnin”– that’s lovely, just lovely. i hope that your shavuot was was cheesecake-full as well! 🙂
shira– thanks for the comment. you have such an interesting perspective from here and there! i love the image of your father inviting people in for a good old debate! that’s priceless. *sometimes* that can lead to learning. almost always debate is good and i’m glad our parents taught us how to engage! 🙂
thanks for the note sarah! i think we all get wanting to believe what we believe peacefully; regardless of what that belief may be. and i’m glad that you put that out there. i really love the what-to-let-go-of tradition. what an amazing thing (there’s that darn eloquence again!) to model and do.
Nice post! What a cute response: “Well then let’s go out and tell everyone! We should do that, too!”
On the topic of “proselytizing”, although in the western world today it’s generally frowned upon, it should be noted that according to the Torah, it is encouraged. Rambam, in Sefer HaMitzvos, positive Mitzvah 3, this is actually proper and praiseworthy. He writes: “You shall love the L–rd your G–d” (Deuteronomy 6:5) … This commandment includes [the obligation] that we call out to all people to worship G–d and believe in Him—just as when one truly loves someone, he will tell that person’s praises, and elaborate upon them, and he will call upon people to love that person … like Abraham.”
Now, obviously this doesn’t mean to be rude, G-d forbid, because “Its [the Torah’s] ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17). However, pleasantly teaching and sharing the truth of Torah and encouraging non-Jews to adopt the laws Torah mandates for them, the Noahide laws, is commendable.
We get Jehovah witnesses here and my answer is pretty much similar to yours. I like how it made you and your kids ponder about your own meaning of religion.
Thanks for your frequent visits to my blog and your kind comments.
“Can you think of the last time that you willingly stayed up all night reading? Learning? And not sleeping?”
Sure – when the last couple of Harry Potter books came out! 🙂
Great response to the missionaries, and I LOVE Chloe’s take on it. (After all, what is so important it would interrupt a meal?)
rabbi oliver, excellent to hear from you and thanks for the input. i don’t usually think of judaism as a religion that proselytizes; it’s always good to learn more!
i-d, right back at ya’ lady! 🙂
& tzipporah, well, hp books are a given, aren’t they?! jason and i used to read those books out loud to each other (before kids). and, indeed, you can always count on chloe to tell it how it is. great to hear from you! 🙂
I think you said the perfect thing to the people who came to your door—and it wasn’t rude, at all! AND, I think you said the perfect thing to your kids, as well. Religion IS in the heart and a very personal thing. I don’t think you have to belomg to a place in order to worship. In fact, I love that the reason you haven’t joined a synagogue is that you all haven’t found one that feels like home. All this feels very connected to me. And I say BRAVA!
ol of the h, thanks so, so much for the support and kindness. both mean so very much to me! and i think “connected” is a lovely word word choice, indeed! it’s wonderful to hear from you! 🙂
I love this post. Too often I find that religion serves to divide people, instead of uniting them – especially here in Israel. What is the saying – divided by a common language? Many people seem to be divided by a common religion. It’s such a shame, because we really have so much to learn from one another!
I do understand the people who feel it “burning inside” and so they HAVE to “correct” others. Still, there’s a smart, kind, tactful way to share your beliefs without shoving them in someone’s face.
My husband and I are sensitive to this, since we both were raised in Hasidic homes, but we are barely traditional today. We seem to be surrounded by people who “know better.” (Want to know how many times I’ve said “Been there, done that, no thanks”? heh). Living in Israel helps- tradition is a big part of the culture here, it’s really a blessing. Anyway, I appreciated your insight on a “burning” issue! 🙂
I want to comment regarding proselytizing.
(I will give some explanations of Hebrew words since not everyone reading knows Hebrew.)
An analagoy: If you saw a person from the goyim walk toward a steep cliff; would you warn him or not? You warning him could save his life. Just because he may hate your warning is not a valid excuse of not warning him. Ha-Sheim (the Creator of the universe) also loves the goyim (those whom are not Jews or geirim (the meaning is not “convert”; see definition in the below Netzarim-website)). He hates their aveirot (transgressions of Torah), but he wants them to start relating to Him.
If you were that person walking toward the steep cliff I am sure you would like somebody to help you out!!
The person who researches Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) after all instances of the word goyim finds that ha-Sheim will punish them (read for example Yeshayahu (“Isaiah” 66). The teaching that goyim are only obligated to keep seven mitzwot has no foundation whatsoever in Tan’’kh. For more information read http://www.netzarim.co.il ; History Museum (left menu); Benei Noakh (top menu).
It is a mitzwah (directive or military-style order) to be a light for the goyim.
The remaining question is of how to be a light for the goyim. That differs based on whom one is speaking to.
To Christians I always recommend the website http://www.netzarim.co.il
A logical analysis (found in that website (Netzarim.co.il is the website of the only legitimate Netzarim-group)) (including the logical implications of the research by Ben-Gurion Univ. Prof. of Linguistics Elisha Qimron of Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT) of all extant source documents of “the gospel of Matthew” and archeology proves that the historical first century Ribi Yehosuha ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth and his talmidim (apprentice-students), called the Netzarim, taught and lived Torah all of their lives; and that Netzarim and Christianity were always antithetical. If Christians want to follow the historical Ribi Yehoshua, which many of them think they are doing, the must change lifestyle to a Torah-lifestyle and change their religion to Judaism.
“And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:8 (37a) )
Anders, why don’t you be straight with us–you are a Christian. As such what you say reflects perhaps on Christianity, but not on Judaism, a religion to which you don’t subscribe. I agree with your analogy of warning someone about to walk off a cliff, though.
What a great post! But I’ve had the Witnesses come to my door and I can’t but engage them. As a student of religion (MAR, Claremont, 2008)I’m fascinated by what believe. I SO love your point that “…religion doesn’t really have a right or wrong to it.” I couldn’t have said it better!!
Mr. Branderud – Attempting to use Hebrew and quoting from the Talmud doesn’t hide the fact that you are a Christian. Your implication that someone needs “saving” is proof enough for me. Incidentially, you may want to check your sources re: the Dead Sea Scrolls – they were Jewish documents, not Christian documents and therefore the “gospel” of Matthew isn’t referenced. In addition, check your spelling of the “Hebrew” words you used. I speak, read, and write Hebrew and your spelling and translations are off.
“religion doesn’t really have a right or wrong to it.”
Sara: Logically, two contradictory beliefs cannot be true. Thus, they cannot be all absolutely true. Only one can be absolutely true. If someone believes something false, then that is wrong. If he believes in truth, that is right. Or do you believe that truth and falsehood have no connection to right and wrong?
hi folks! so glad you’re all here! i love a healthy debate, but let’s keep it that way: healthy and friendly!
i *think* anders is filling me in on the proselytizing-thing since i admittedly, don’t know much about it. thanks for that! i’m always open to new info!
& frances, sara is referring to what i wrote in my article. and indeed, i *do* think that with religion different people have their own truths that resonate for them personally.
debbie, your journey sounds *fascinating* as always. and i think that you’re right, so often we fight (rather than unite) with people who are within our faith, but “do” it differently. excellent to hear from you!
& sara, hello! thanks for the note. i can only imagine what the convo ends up being like at your doorstep! lots-of-learning to be had, for sure! 🙂
Hi Galit; I would like to hear an explanation of your reasoning for this statement, because it seems to me that this idea of regarding truth as a matter of personal taste is not logical. Some people like ice cream, others don’t. That’s fine, because taste is inherently subjective. But when dealing with matters of objective reality, what matters is not personal taste, but truth. And since the different religions disagree on core issues, only one of them can be true. E.g., either God is one (as we Jews believe) or He is three (as Christians believe). He cannot be both or either, depending on my preference and what “resonates” with me.
In fact, since I may be very lacking as a person, who says that what “resonates” with me has any correlation with truth? Perhaps the truth is to be found in the place that doesn’t resonate with me?
MM – You are so right! The man that lives across the street from me hosts Mormon missionaries and on occasion they’ve come to my door. I always tell them I’m Jewish but that I admire their committment to their faith. BTW-I love the photos of your family! 🙂
sara, hi! thanks so much– they *are* cuties! i love the respect between you and your neighbor. we’re all here together, we might as well dwell peacefully, right?! 🙂
and frances, hello again! i think that’s an excellent question to put on the table. i am no where near as well read as some (all?!) of you on religious texts, so i can only speak to what religion is for me.
i think it’s all about one’s approach and search within religion. some people look for a groupthink mentality where there is one truth and one right. and you’re right, in this case there would be many, many who are in turn wrong.
for me, it’s between me and whatever power i believe in. it’s what’s inside my heart, rather than anyone else’s beliefs. ie: what others believe doesn’t change or affect my religion. it doesn’t make me any more or less right because it has to do with what’s within me; it’s personal.
do i expect everyone to believe the same way that i do? not at all. but my belief is what i was trying to express in this article.
Frances, I disagree with you.
And I think Galit is right in her pluralism.
Even if religion were a matter of objective truth, it is not the kind of truth that can be proven to the satisfaction of anyone who does not already hold a particular belief. The existence of deities (nevermind their number) can no more be proven than dis-proven. It is not about knowledge, but faith. And faith is necessarily personal.
But, anyway, I think that in Judaism the divinity is only a part of the whole faith. The Torah overwhelmingly is set not in a divine world but in our earthly world. And for most practicing Jews (as far as I can tell) what matters more in their daily life is not the exact nature of God, but halacha — the code for our earthly behavior.
Even positing that halacha is of divine origin, it’s hard to disagree with the reality that for centuries upon centuries it’s been interpreted and elaborated by quite-human rabbis. Multiple rabbis. Who disagree quite a bit. And, since Jews have no single authority such as a Roman Catholic pope, each view is equally legitimate.
And if a rabbi’s interpretation of a point of Judaism is legitimate, so is Galit’s. Maybe it’s not authoritative for as many people as that of a Vilna Gaon, but for Galit it is. It’s her faith.
Well said M.M. & Mike!
M.M. – Beautifully put about your “truth” being about you and whatever power you believe in. And I don’t believe one needs to be knowledgeable in religious texts to understand how/what one feels. What matters is in one’s heart – and that’s why respect for all faith traditions is absolutely essential. Like you said – my way isn’t necessarily right for everyone, but it’s right for me. I think if more people understood that faith is a very personal issue and took “truth” and “right & wrong” off the table, we would all learn from one another because our minds would be open to that kind of lerning.
Mike – Love the point about the Rabbis that disagreed – this, I believe is the beauty of Torah and Torah study. The Torah speaks to each one of us in ways that we need to hear it, just as it spoke to our Sages in the same way. Although the Torah remains the same we change and because no two people are alike, no two people that read the same parasha in Torah will see it exactly the same. G-d approached each one of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs differently because each one understood G-d differently. And yet, we believe that the ONE G-d approached them all.
What a cool conversation! I knew I would like blogging once I tried it! 🙂
PS M.M. Too bad you don’t live in Southern California – you would be a good fit at my shul (and we have a great program for couples with young children … I don’t have any children myself, but the Rabbi that usually runs the activities has 3 small children, too and I hear good things!) 🙂
Really, I fail to understand. If you don’t believe that the belief system you’re subscribing to is really true, and you believe that others’ religions are equally true, only yours tickles your fancy and gets your goat, why would you want to follow it altogether?
In a certain sense you’re right, at least about my beliefs.
Yes, I think that in many (if not all) matters of Judaism, “truth” is entirely beside the point.
For instance, is it “true” that Saturday is a day of rest? The truth of this statement is determined entirely by what multiple Jewish people and Jewish communities actually do during Shabbat. “Rest” for some takes one form, and for others that looks like work (e.g., gardening).
Take even entire communities in which practice is (hypothetically, for the sake of the example) unvaried. In 19th century shtetl, Jews were “observant,” and would have abstained from many kinds of work. But those who had cows still had to milk them. Is that work? Yes. Is it allowed on the Sabbath? Definitely (can’t let the animals suffer). But take a hypothetical community of Jews in Hawaii, who could all drive (classically “forbidden”) to the beach, and relax there all day.
So who is working and who is resting? Is there a truth here? I think not. I think it’s about what works for whom.
Why do I do it? Because it works for me.
Mike: Well, then what you’re describing is a cultural preference, not religion, and you’re saying that you don’t think that religion is true, but it’s still nice culturally. I thought we were talking about religion. In Judaism, we keep Shabbat because the Torah teaches that the world was created in 6 days, and the Creator rested on the 7th. This IS a matter of truth, not culture.
I think the tension between the “cultural” and the “religious” is more present in Judaism than in other faiths. Judaism is not like some strains of Protestant Christianity in which all you have to do is accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and your personal savior and you are “saved” (apologies to Christians if I’ve over-simpliefied). Judaism is not only beliefs, but also a set of practices. Practices that have for a very long time varied somewhat from Jew to Jew and community to community.
Ever seen a Sephardic Torah? It looks different. Is it any less or any more “true” than the Ashkenazic? Of course not.
So, about the Creator resting on the seventh day of creation. If there was an “objective truth” there, how would we ever know it? How could it ever be proven? And, more to the point, the “truth” of it doesn’t help to determine _how_ to rest if I do choose to rest every seventh day. That’s up to us. And I don’t see how one’s way could be more “true” than another’s. It could only be more restful — for that person.
I wish to interject into this fascinating conversation with some factual points concerning Judaism.
-The disagreements between the various sages are about fine points of practice, not about the core beliefs of Judaism.
-It is not true that all opinions have equal validity according to Judaism. Multiple Rabbinic opinions that spring forth from rigorous application of the rules of interpretation handed down orally ever since the divine revelation at Sinai are all considered equally valid and part of Torah. However, for an individual to come along and contradict everything that came before is not considered valid.
-Indeed, Judaism does not suffice with belief, but it demands practice–observance of Shabbos, the laws of kosher, a woman going to mikveh, and so on. However, it is incorrect to view these practices as “culture,” for they are divine commandments.
-In terms of the Mitzvos themselves, Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and so on, have always agreed that they are required by the Torah, and that it is forbidden to “add or subtract” from them.
-Jewish customs such as the different presentation of the Torah scroll between Sephardim and Ashkenazim are not cultural, but they are themselves part of Torah and the Jewish faith, for the sages teach that “a Jewish custom is also Torah.”
-The proof for the truth of Torah is from the fact that the entire Jewish people witnessed the Revelation of G-d at Sinai, at which He told us the Ten Commandments and authorized Moshe Rabeinu (Moses) to reveal His laws to us. For more info, see here: http://www.aish.com/jl/h/cc/48932202.html
Yehoishophot Oliver, With all due respect Rabbinic Judaism has added considerably to the Torah. Every time you pray washing your hands or light Sabbath candles you are adding to the Torah, since those actions are not mitzvot of the Torah but of the Rabbis. Of course you would define Torah as Written, Oral, and possibly even mystical.
The Talmud and the codes explain that the prohibition of adding is violated by claiming that the the details of the 613 Mitzvos revealed by Moshe Rabenu have changed, e.g., five parshiyos for Tefillin, putting Tzitzis on a garment of five corners, and the like. Rabbinic enactments are as old as the time of the Tanach, and they are fully authorized by the words of Chumash, where Hashem tells us via Moshe Rabenu “do not stray to the right or to the left of what they will tell you” (Devarim 5:32).
Yehoishophot Oliver :
No, I am not a Christian. I practise Orthodox Judaism through the Jewish group Netzarim (www.netzarim.co.il). What I write does not reflect Christianity.
Sara, No, I am not a Christian.
I know Dead Sea Scrolls are Jewish documents. I know also that not any “gospels” (which are inherently anti-Torah) are mentioned. I did not claim that. My transliterations are correct. I write the words as they are pronounced. I also speak, read and write Hebrew. My translations are according to etymology. (I recommend Etymological Dictionary of Biblical Hebrew By Matityahu Clark.)
Slandering me of being a Christian is leshon hara (slanderous lies are included in leshon hara). Netzarim is an Orthodox Jewish group led by the Orthodox Jew Paqid Yirmeyahu Ben Dawid.
”Paqid Yirmeyahu’s and Karen’s conversions are thoroughly and indisputably documented by impeccable Orthodox rabbis and Orthodox batei-din. Yi•rәmәyâh′ u’s first book, Who Are the Netzarim? Live-Link (WAN Live-Link), includes a photocopy of this letter from then-Chief Rabbi Mordәkhai Eliyâhu extending his blessings to Yi•rәmәyâh′ u.
Today, Paqid Yirmeyahu and Karen—and their Israeli-born, native Hebrew-speaking Jewess daughterYaeil—are in good standing where they have attended the Teimâni Orthodox Beit-ha-Kәnësët Morëshët Âvot– Yad Nâ•âmi, in Ra•ananah (pop. Ra’anana), Israel—and Pâqid Yirmәyâhu, ha-Tzadiq is a member of theamutâh (board)—since 1998.”
Furthermore the accusations of me being a Christian is mo•tzi′ sheim râ (definition: actively defame or slander, disclosing defamation of character or slander to others (lit. “Issuing a bad name”).
Torah requires teshuvah of your aveirah of committing leshon hara – which includes you asking of my foregiveness – of you in order for you to obtain kipur from ha-Sheim.
Netzarim in Ra’anana in Israel (the only legitimate Netzarim; all other “Netzarim are charlatans) reject all Christian doctrines (including the “gospels” and Yesh’’u). People whom are claiming something else have no proofs whatsoever!!
Galit wrote: “i *think* anders is filling me in on the proselytizing-thing since i admittedly, don’t know much about it. thanks for that! i’m always open to new info!”
Great! You’re welcome!
Mike wrote: “Even if religion were a matter of objective truth, it is not the kind of truth that can be proven to the satisfaction of anyone who does not already hold a particular belief. The existence of deities (nevermind their number) can no more be proven than dis-proven. It is not about knowledge, but faith. And faith is necessarily personal.”
It is an assumption of yours that the existence of a Creator cannot be proven and that one cannot deduce which religion that reflects the will of the Creator.
I recommend you to read an article in my blog (http://bloganders.blogspot.com/2009/08/proof-of-existence-of-intelligent-and.html). It contains a formal logical proof, based on scientific premises (not pseudo-science), that proves the existence of an Intelligent and Perfect Creator of this universe (i.e. the Prime Cause of this universe (the cause of Big Bang)); and it also proves that His instructions are found in Torah, and that His purpose of humankind is for us to practise those Instructions in Torah.
And it is also possible to deduce with logic that the only way to get to the Creator when one dies, is if one does his/her utmost to keep the Creator’s instructions in Torah.
The way I see it, no religion has a monopoly on the truth. Any religion that brings a person closer to God and helps them to fulfill their God-given potential in this world is a good thing.
I was born with a Jewish soul that was present at Mt. Sinai, and therefore I am Jewish. Practicing Judaism brings me closer to God; it works for me, but no one way of doing things works for everyone.
Anyone who isn’t Jewish is not responsible for following all the laws of the Torah, because they are not descendants of those who agreed to follow them. As a result, they are only responsible for following the covenant God made with Noah (the Noahide laws). So as long as they follow those laws, that’s a good thing and they will have a place in the world-to-come. Thus there is no need for us to try to convert them to Judaism.
Saying someone is a Christian is neither a slander nor an insult. It may or may not be true, but there is certainly nothing defamatory about it.
I have to say that religion brings up a lot of different emotions for different people and different times in their lives.
I am religious, consider myself modern orthodox and live in Israel for the past 20 years. My grandparents and uncles are Satmar Chassidim.
My most religious sister married out of the faith and the way I personally and my family dealt with that made me over the years search for a lot of answers. My blog was actually started as a by product because years later I believe that what I learnt with dealing with the situation with my sister made me a better parent to my older children and kept me from pushing them away and putting their backs against the walls trying to force my beliefs on them. It made me realize that we learn something new from every day and we need to stay open minded.
What I have personally learned:
*Judaism is first and foremost about love and accepting people for what they are. If you forgot the love, you are in my opinion missing what is important about religion.
*Forcing your opinion on others means that even if they do what you want them to do, their opinion is still the same as it was when they weren’t doing what you wanted. You have gained nothing.
That does not mean you can’t have meaningful discussions with people and tell them what you think the beauty is in your religion and the things you love. It also does not mean that you can’t point out in a loving way if you think someone is doing something they shouldn’t be and may not be aware of it. There are ways to talk about it.
*You bring more people closer to your ideals by living by your life as a good example than by preaching to them or arguing with them. If you have great joy for your religion and joy in general, people will be attracted to you, want to be around you and will want to hear your secret to how you got that way. Focus on your life and not on others.
*Everyone has a connection to G-d. You can speak with him directly anytime of the day.
*Rabbis in all their greatness, are human.
A book that may be interesting to some of you because there is a part that deals with religion is The Evolution Angel by Dr. Todd Michael.
The most important point is to remember that all people are born equal, but not everyone’s accomplishments in life will be equal. I think if you remember that the core of every religion especially Judaism is love, you will be a person whose accomplishments in life are truly meaningful.
thank you so, so much for these thoughtful responses. we, for sure, can see how emotional and personal this topic is! i think that spirituality and religiosity are sometimes confused (by me) as one and the same. right or wrong, i wonder if it’s easier to discuss them separately? i really appreciate the focus on love and on people’s journeys. i think both are meant to be one. again, everyone’s thoughts, words are very much appreciated.
“If it’s in our hearts, why wouldn’t we shout it from the rooftops?”
In my heart and soul, I do just that. I had the good fortune to tell my Rabbi before he passed away that he brought me to my Judaism in such joy that I wanted to shout from the highest mountaintop, “I *LOVE* being Jewish”! I am not “religious” yet Judaism pulses through my veins and is at the core of my being. It always has been but the Judaism of my youth was more a struggle, mentally and emotionally, than it was fulfilling. I cringed whenever I heard the words “chosen people”. But the Rabbi of my adulthood brought a new perspective saying, “Chosen for what?”. I guess that’s what we all have to figure out. G*d for me is not the man in the throne in the sky as the images of my childhood suggested. G*d is the weed in the garden on Shabbat that you instinctively reach down to pull but then remember that all is perfect as is, if only we would leave it be.
t, you’re a beautiful writer. your words are…awe-inspiring. it warms my heart to know that you were able to tell your rav what you learned and felt at his inspiration. i’m honored that you’re sharing your thoughts right here! thank you! 🙂