Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Handling The Difficult Questions - A Comment On Parshas Mishpatim

This week's Torah reading, Mishpatim, has a lot the reader may find troubling. "How can the Torah say such a thing?" is a natural response. But there is a difference between asking in anger and asking in faith. The truth is that there is always a good answer to your question, and it is the greatest pleasure to find it.
The joy of a real Torah insight can't be beat by anything.
Which brings me to Point 2. I am not fully observant, i.e. I use the iPhone on Shabbos as in right now, from an Orthodox point of view, what right do I have to speak about anything related to Torah?
My feeling is that too many people feel this way. Remember that just because some people observe some mitzvos like Shabbos to the full letter of the law, that doesn't mean they observe all the commandments. No human being can make that claim.
Renee Garfinkel my wonderful wise aunt brought me back from the brink of abandoning Judaism altogether. It was 2009 and we were taking a walk in D.C.
Renee said, "Dossy, don't give up your heritage. It is for you to claim and explore. That is your right as a Jew."
How many Jews feel they cannot speak up about anything Jewish because they aren't qualified? Well I'm calling b.s. on that.
The important distinction for me is not justifying what I don't do. Meaning, I accept the halachic definition and approach to observance as religiously correct. I do not say that the Torah is obsolete or has to be altered.
What's nice to see, in modern halachic discourse, is a growing emphasis on confronting difficult issues in a way that makes modern life livable, integrated with the secular world and pleasurable.
It is possible to live joyously in faith despite admitting imperfection. And despite the fact that the Torah will always say things we do not understand.