Sunday, August 15, 2010

Judaism, 24/7

I had all these plans to blog on political things, like the mosque near Ground Zero or more about Beit Shemesh, but something I heard last week reverberates in my mind.

"My mother is a convert.  She chose Judaism because she felt the need for a religion that controlled all aspects of life, not just a weekly visit to church."

I'm acquainted with the woman and some of her kids.  I would have never guessed that she hadn't been Jewish from birth, not that most converts wear labels on their foreheads or any other obvious signs.  In our conversations it had never  come up, and I don't think she expected that her child was going to mention it.  It's not the conversion revelation which got me thinking.  I have lots of Jewish friends who chose Judaism.  It's that I never thought of Judaism as good, preferable because of its influence on every single aspect of our lives, from morning to night, eating, "eliminating," and birth to death.

Torah observant Jews never ignore our religion.  Everything we eat and the timing must take Jewish Law into consideration.  The same for how we dress, plan our days and act towards our fellow man.  The pragmatic truth is that most of us are far from perfect; we ignore or are lax about certain laws and categories.  But the ideal is clear.  

There's always room for improvement.

We're always supposed to reflect on it.  This process of reflection and improvement, Teshuva, repentance, is an ongoing cycle reaching an annual peak Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.  The build-up is now, the Jewish Month of Elul.  This ongoing dynamic is part of the 24/7 aspect of Judaism, and very different from other religions, we can communicate directly with G-d.  The Hebrew for to pray is להתפלל l'hitpallel, a reflexive verb, meaning we do it to ourselves.  Prayer isn't done for us.

There's a maturity you don't see in other religions concerning man's relationship with G-d.  Even more is the fact that sins between man and fellow man can only be forgiven if we go directly to the very person we sinned against.  That's to remind us that for every word, every action we must be accountable.

Shavua Tov and Gmar Chatima Tovah
Have a Good Week and A Good Final Accounting


rickismom said...

For me, the "constant aspect was NOT a factor. What WAS is the need to make wrongs "right" with the person wronged. Simple. I can't understand how other religions let one get away with less (actually, I do. It is to make it easier to "sell"...LOL)

Batya said...

rickismom, I have no doubt that just like every BT has a different story the same is for converts. There's no "one size fits all" with religion.

Keli Ata said...

True Batya. There is no one size fits all.

For me it was a search for truth and to find the true nature of Hashem. I doubt I could describe in words everything I feel but to know that Hashem has never required a human sacrifice...deepened my love for Him beyond words. I can't describe the love that truth brought to me.

Beyond words.

rutimizrachi said...

I love this timely reminder before the holy chagim. Thank you!

Batya said...

Keli, Ruti, we all have a way to G-d via the Torah. the beauty of Judaism is that it can fit us all, as long as we focus correctly on G-d.

David Tzohar said...

As I responded to your post on MJ about the O-rthodox label I think "Jewish Religion" is a mistaken concept. As you wrote, Torat Hashem is a way of life

Batya said...

David, thanks for the input about it. There's no other religion/nation combination.