Monday, March 17, 2008

Understanding Judaism – Jews and the World

I was watching a show on You Tube a few weeks ago done by the magician/comedy team of Penn and Teller. They have a show on Showtime, which is titled “Bullshit” where they explore what they perceive to be false, fake, or basically BS things or issues. One of the issues that came up in one episode is the Bible. I didn’t watch all of it, but from the start I already knew what their premise was. That is the same old run for Bible criticism of “Use translations and non-Jewish sources as the proof that the Bible is incorrect and false.” The second point is to blame human suffering on the Bible and religion, as if humans are not responsible for human suffering. Most of the time these shows concentrate on what is termed the Judeo-Christian perspective of the Bible, which really means the Christian and non-Judaic perspectives of the Bible.

Thoughts on Bible Criticism

Personally, I could care less about criticism of the Bible, since I don’t read the Bible (English text), I read and study the Tanakh (Hebrew text). The Hebrew text was the original and was always analyzed by Jews using OUR sources and OUR methods of understandings that were passed down to us for thousands of years. There have been critics of Judaism and the Tanakh for thousands of years, and none of them were able to destroy the Jewish faith or the Jewish people. So the critics are here one day and gone the next and the Tanakh still stands.

It stands for a very important reason. We Jews who lead our lives by the Tanakh do so without caring which direction the winds of the world blows. Those winds blow one direction one day and another direction the next. We also have seen enough evidence to prove the Tanakh to be true from OUR sources, and even from non-Jewish sources. We also don’t have to prove anything to the world, this being the most important factor. It is not up to me to prove out Hashem (The Creator). He created everything, exits outside of human time, is beyond various elements of human interaction and understanding. I on the other hand I am finite, I get sick, I have to eat, and I am only on this earth for an eye blink when compared to universal history. Taking all of that into account why would Hashem need me to prove his existence to the world. Existence by itself proves that something created it, or started the process if you will. Even looking at this in evolutionary terms, whatever force started the process of universal and eventually human development could be called “God” whether you believe it is the big bang or a sentient being.

Banana Nut Bread and Judaism?

It is not the job of the Jew to go out into the world and force the world to accept it. It is like someone who believes that banana nut bread is tasty, why should they have to go out and prove it. He/she may tell people about the bread, they may brag about it, and they may be seen in public eating, but why should they make the world accept that goodness which is banana nut bread. If a person sees the banana nut bread being eaten by someone who loves it, and they have questions about its taste the lover of the bread can explain it to them. He/she can also explain what they know about how it is made. Said outsider may want to also partake in the banana nut bread, but that is his/her fee will choice. Also, imagine if the Banana Nut bread was capable of showing the world that it was the best bread (or cake) in the universe. Which opinion would you go by then? The person who partakes in the banana nut bread or the banana nut bread?

This is somewhat of a rough and silly allusion, but it is just one way of understanding how Truth works. This is how it works for those of us who believe in it believe that Hashem gave our ancestors Truth with a capital T, which was the Torah, the prophets, and the writings of our sages. Yet, it is not our job as Jews to make people believe that is the case. It is our job to live by it and be examples of it.

One day that Truth will reveal itself to all of humanity and whatever incorrect beliefs exist will be corrected by the Truth, and what is correct will be uplifted and available to all of humanity. Only then will humanity find the rest that so many seek, but in order to get there it takes work in the here and now. We as Jews haven’t done everything perfectly, but we also haven’t done everything incorrectly either. Yet, every day and every moment is a chance to be a living and breathing example of Truth. So going back to those who spend their lifetimes trying to prove the Tanakh wrong. When they are dead and gone the Tanakh and the Jewish people will still be here.


shavonne said...

I think the banana nut bread is a great analogy. LOL! Though I prefer oatmeal craisin cookies.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey Shavonne,

Thanks. I have never had oatmeal craison cookies. I will have to check out this truth you speak of. (smile)

Miriam said...

"So going back to those who spend their lifetimes trying to prove the Tanakh wrong. When they are dead and gone the Tanakh and the Jewish people will still be here."