Friday, July 31, 2009

Tisha B'Av conflict & the Beit Hamikdash

I fasted yesterday, as most Orthodox Jews do, to commemorate the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. Honestly, I find it tough to fast when I don't really care about the fact that we no longer have the Temple. I do not have a yearning for public sacrifices and private ones meant for forgiveness/repentance. Nor do I yearn for the days when a Sanhedrin (Jewish court) rules the country.

I was thinking about something that related to this. There is a concept in Judaism called "Ein somchin al haneis - Don't depend on miracles". Basically, it is used to tell us to take that first step & make the effort and then God will help out to go to the next level. In general, it is a nice concept and I think it is also apropos for parenting.

So why don't more right wing OJ/chareidim apply this to the State of Israel? While they obviously want a "Torah true" government run according to halacha (which we clearly do not have now), isn't what we have better than having no country at all? Let them view this as the beginning of something that can bring us to the point were God can take over? If we as Jews are supposedly mourning for the destruction of the Temple and the loss of Jewish sovereignty I would think they would recognize this step.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What brought you to (or back to) Orthodox Judaism?

Unlike many people who have gone OTD, I didn't have a bad experience with OJ overall. There isn't a single event or group of events that pushed me out and made me seek an alternative. Rather, it all began with an overall disinterest in OJ in specific and Judaism in general. I felt that the minutiae of halacha was a huge pain and that following all these rules just didn't give me spiritual upliftment or any real meaning in life.

Over the years, my wife recognized this ambivalence towards OJ and told me to go seek out the answers I was looking for. Honestly, I wasn't really seeking answers because I just didn't care. Some people feel a spiritual void and need to look for meaning and God in their daily lives. Not me. I was happy going on living each day to its fullest, having fun with the family, succeeding at work, enjoying hanging out & doing stuff with my friends, and generally enjoying life.

Did God create the world or did it happen by chance? Did God create the world in a literal 6 days or did He set evolution in motion? Is the Torah literal? Does God care about my daily actions? What happens when we die?

Questions along these line are often the major questions that get people all revved up about God (or turned away when the answers are not sufficient). Yet, not a single one of them ever bothered me. I just didn't care. I always dealt with the facts on the ground that I am here now and I make the best of it. Does it really matter how the world started or where I go when I die? It wasn't until my wife pushed me to seek answers that I really began to think more about OJ theology, God, messianic redemption, Jewish law etc.

Given my situation, it can be very frustrating to be forced to lead a somewhat OJ life when I don't believe in it. Periodically, I have tried to speak to educational, rabbinic, and generally knowledgeable people about my issues with OJ. If someone could light that spark and make it meaningful, I am not opposed to getting back into it. If someone had plausible answers I could overlook some issues and make that leap of faith, but it just hasn't happened.

So i'd like to hear from any of my readers who where never religious & became OJ or perhaps from converts to OJ or people who were OJ then left and returned. Why, did you choose this life? Who or what made you look towards OJ as the answer to your life's void?