Thursday, September 4, 2008

Of late it may have been noticed...

...that it my commentaries in other blogs' replies, I am much less reticent to be critical of some of the problems in Judaism today. Why? It occurred to me that joining a religion is a bit like getting married. You make a pledge to honor that which you've joined. To cherish that institution and the other party. In sickness and in health, for better or for worse.

In my marriage I've stuck to that more or less consistently and without fail in the end. It has been a rough marriage at time. Temptation was provided that was easy to go for and quite attractive given the troubles in our relationship. I didn't fall and when my wife tripped, I didn't walk away, didn't divorce her.

I am not telling you this to brag. I am not telling you this to say "look what a good person I am". I am telling you this to say that you can do this too. It is as simple as choosing something and standing by it. I had no proof things would ever go better in the future. I had every bit of evidence against that. That wasn't the point. I made a choice to make a pledge to G-d.

As we are made in G-d's image, so too then are we making a pledge to ourselves and all mankind in that moment. If we cannot even trust ourselves, who can we trust?

To give meaning to my choices, to give value and weight to them, I have to do it. I have to give that meaning. I have to give that value.

A marriage with difficulties is no different from finding disillusionment with G-d. You made a choice to believe He was and when that belief seemed challenged, you must realize that the only thing that can make it a meaningless choice, a worthless choice, a false choice, is if you abandon it.

Give worth to your choices, give worth to yourself, give yourself a chance. Though born of an eminently fallible species, you are potentially capable of so much and all any of it requires is simply making a choice. Simply pick something. It's as simple and easy as that.

I made my choice to become a Jew. That wasn't just for the food, the camaraderie, the fellowship, or just any good parts leaving the bad. It was for better or worse. If you choose to believe in something, choose to love something, choose to love people, it must be for a reason even if you are not sure what it was.

For G-d's sake, have faith in yourself that your choice had meaning and reason. Your choice to believe in G-d had reason. Your choice to practice Judaism had reason. Reason not given by others who can make mistakes and betray or disappoint you, but reason given by your own mind and heart. Reason you chose.

My reasoning is this. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing it well. If something is worth loving, it is worth standing by. If something is worth having, it is worth defending. I may see Judaism imperfect and as filled with imperfect people, but I see that religion as worth doing, I see those people as worth loving, I see that community as worth having. They are worth doing well by, worth standing by, worth defending.

What makes a Jew or anything else is choice and for a choice to have meaning, I have to give it that meaning. I must not be only a Jew when things go well and a timid gentile when other Jews discuss the problems they see. I have to discuss them too. To join in the ongoing perfection, to join in Tikkun Olam, to participate in Judaism not only when it is easy or fulfilling or uplifting but also when it is painful. Not to always agree and never disagree but express my own opinion and reason out of heartfelt love and caring for that which I prize.

So I won't be doing anything but saying the way I see it. I may not be right but to only speak when assured of being right is to not do right.