Monday, March 10, 2014

What "Converted" this Reform Rabbi?

A successful commercial once had as its main line, "Try it, you'll like it!"

This is the precise formula by which to understand Judaism. This formula launched, and therefore characterizes, the Jewish nation. The Jews, emancipated from Egyptian diaspora in 2448, became a nation by defining their existence based on this principle. When asked whether they could commit to G-d's demands, Jews exclaimed (Ex.24:7),
"We will do and we will understand!" "נעשה ונשמע"
The Jews determined steadfastly, first of all, to accept G-d's Torah blindly! They will unquestioningly take it upon themselves to do as it prescribes. Then, and only then, will they also seek to understand. This conditional statement demonstrated their full trust in G-d.

One might argue that the discovery of a hidden benefit can first be investigated before committing oneself to certain conduct. Maybe one can first try to understand Torah, and then, based on a new understanding, commit to it.

Not with Judaism! The life of an observant Jew cannot be appreciated or understood WITHOUT relevant activities to serve as pre-requisites. Behavioral "input" of Mitzvot offers the mind a new dimension by which to appreciate and comprehend Jewish tradition. The key is doing first, and then grasping its value. Not the other way around. There are some things that you can never like unless you first try them!

Need proof of this Jewish phenomenon? Look about you and see how orthodoxy and "ultra" orthodoxy thrives among Jews. What these Jews believe in outsiders may well consider patently absurd - like Jews wearing strings on a 4-cornered cloth, praying with boxes on their arm and forehead, fasting 24 hours twice a year, believing a Messiah will "redeem" them, always covering their heads with caps, eliminating all form of work one day a week, considering some foods or combination of foods forbidden, and many other "weird" behaviors and beliefs.

Yet, many such "lunatics" abound. Even among people who are generally considered by the world to be rather smart!

How could such absurdity prevail when it makes more common sense to throw off all shackles, to abandon what appears to be ancient practices and blend in with "modern" society!

The answer is simple. Torah truth can be appreciated only when actualized in practice!

This reform rabbi's story is a case in point (LINK). Hear him explain his "conversion" to orthodoxy and you will note he cannot really pinpoint what actually changed him or what had been missing in earlier years. I'm pretty certain he himself hasn't yet discovered that what really changed him was his "Let me try it" attitude. And then, of course, after he tried it, he liked it, in characteristic, authentic Jewish fashion.

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