Category Archives: Beliefs

Shabbat Jan 18

Shabbat Candles

We have found a way of life that works.
We have 3300 years of testing under every possible social, economic, political and geographical condition to prove that.
Yes, you could do it yourself—test all the possible styles of life, make comparisons and come to your own conclusions. But what a waste of precious time it will be, for yourself and for the world that could be benefiting from you. After all, how much life will you have left after reaching your conclusions? – Chabad

This “Thought for the Day” from Chabad is certainly an interesting way to make the case that deciding to accept a Jewish life will lead to more time to live a fuller life. The same could be said for many other faiths, I know, but I especially liked the point that Judaism has already been tested – for more than 3300 years, no less.

For me, Judaism has proven to be the best vessel for a set of beliefs and practices that resonate with me. I hope whatever journey you are on and whatever faith ultimately resonates with you, you will be equally content.

Oy Vey

UncertaintyOne of my children is being evaluated for a fairly serious medical condition. It’s not fatal. It is treatable. But it is going to cause some changes in how we do things. All in all, it’s something we can handle. The part that’s been difficult is hanging in there while we go through the diagnostic phase.

I’m a person who is not thrilled with unplanned events – unless they are parties. Those are definitely okay with me. So – having a perfectly healthy child suddenly frequenting Children’s Hospital is not something I’m comfortable with – but then, who is? The good news is that the staff and our doctors have been wonderful. They definitely get it that it’s a stressful situation for all involved, and they work to keep it all low key.
Continue reading

Torah Exploration – Va-Yetse’

This Torah portion, Va-Yetse’ [Genesis 28.10 – 28.22] is one that I find intriguing. I hope you will, too. Take some time to consider what you would do differently if you knew the Lord was present in a place. Then ask yourself why you don’t do that any way.

10Jacob left Beer-sheba, and set out for Haran. 11He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of God were going up and down on it. 13And the Lord was standing beside him and He said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. 14Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. 15Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is present in this place, and I did not know it!”17Shaken, he said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the abode of God, and that is the gateway to heaven.” 18Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He named that site Bethel; but previously the name of the city had been Luz.

20Jacob then made a vow, saying, “If God remains with me, if He protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21and if I return safe to my father’s house—the Lord shall be my God. 22And this stone, which I have set up as a pillar, shall be God’s abode; and of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You.”

SOURCE: JPS Tagged Tanakh

Job as Everyman

If it’s possible to have a favorite Biblical entity, mine is definitely Job. To me, Job is a particularly virtuous Everyman. He is living his life, loving G’d, and just a generally happy guy. Next thing he knows, the G’d he loves and trusts enters into a wager with none other than Satan. The wager? That even when Satan torments Job, Job will not renounce the L’rd. Continue reading

Function of Religion: Analysis

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion. Wait! There’s more!

Function of Religion: Adulthood

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion.

So what is the function of Judaism in your life? What are the normal characteristics? What purpose do we expect this religion to have in our lives? Is the function to give us a system of belief? Is it to give us a way to worship? Is it to give us a code of ethics and a philosophy, or a method of giving recognition to a creator, ruler, or Divine Being? For those of you who are not sure, let’s step back in time. Wait! There’s more!

Function of Religion: Teen Years

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion.

So what is the function of Judaism in your life? What are the normal characteristics? What purpose do we expect this religion to have in our lives? Is the function to give us a system of belief? Is it to give us a way to worship? Is it to give us a code of ethics and a philosophy, or a method of giving recognition to a creator, ruler, or Divine Being? For those of you who are not sure, let’s step back in time. Wait! There’s more!

Function of Religion: Early Childhood

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion. Read more

March Discussion: Function of Religion

Each month I’m going to have a discussion topic related to the creation of your own, unique Jewish identity. For some, it will be the process of envisioning who they are as a new-to-Judaism Jew, for some it will be envisioning who they are as they become a more observant Jew, for some it will be envisioning the identity of the children they’re raising in the Jewish faith. Read more