conclusion in her “Half-Judaism” post is that both parties are
half-right. And half-wrong. They have each only acknowledged half of
think Ruchi is spot-on. Being an active, thinking Jew is more than
just being a good person, and it’s more than just keeping kosher. There
is a phrase from our tefillah [prayer], “The World stands on three things: Torah, Worship, and Acts of Loving-kindness.”
Not just one of these things, but all three.
Torah (Written – 5 Books of Moses; Oral – Mishnah/Talmud): The Jewish
Way as we know it. Kosher, Shabbat, marriage, birth, death, business
ethics, etc. It’s all in there. How each person interprets it . . .
well, that’s a whole other post! But we must acknowledge its place in
our DNA, and find ways to incorporate its spirit, if not always its
letter, into our lives. However, it can’t be our ONLY thing.
Worship: Fairly obvious. Except, it’s not. Many of us think of prayer
as something we do a couple of times a year in a big room filled with
lots of people and questionable art. Or maybe a Shabbat service here
and there. And for many people, “prayer” hangs over them as a
prescribed thing that is in a relatively foreign language and said to a
deity in which one may or may not believe.
I’m here to say that, at
least for me, “prayer” = the hopes that I have, the dreams that I have,
the gratitude that I have, and how I express all of that and acknowledge
the Divine presence in my life. It’s rarely in the form of what is in
our prayer-books. It is, however, a part of my daily life. I think
it’s integral to being a conscious Jew – being conscious others and of
the world around you. Like #1, it can’t be the only thing you do.
Being pious in prayer alone does NOT = good Jew.
#3: Acts of
Loving-kindness: “good deeds”. Chesed. Charity. Being a good person.
We all strive for this! But it has to go hand-in-hand with #1 &
1+2+3 = 1. A whole Jew. How we incorporate these things into
our lives is as unique as our fingerprints, but we can’t go “halfsies”
on this. This is our challenge: be a full Jew.