Monday, July 1, 2013

A Matter of Faith...

Top of the day to all...

It is possible I may have been insulted a couple of weeks ago.  We had a discussion on a piece of text that I was not comfortable interpreting literally (gasp!).  It was a good discussion.  Afterwards, one of the women who frequents the shul walked up to me.  She grasped my arm.  This alone was odd, as her understanding of Jewish practice is that men and women should not touch.  She then something like 'may your faith be as pure as mine.'

I did not realize that my faith was lacking.

To the immediate point, whether or not the Torah is literal, literal at all times, poetic, or both simultaneously is a question above my pay grade.  It is, however, simply incorrect to state that taking one position or the other smacks of a lack of faith.  I would even add that holding to a documentary hypothesis as opposed to divine writ is also not a lack of faith, though that is beyond the scope of this blog entry.  As well, it is the ultimate in human arrogance to assume your own understanding is the correct understanding.

Now that I am thinking about it further, it is also heresy to say that the Torah is never poetic.  Why is it that God who creates or inspires poets cannot create or inspire poetry?

With that prelude, a note about faith is in order.  For some people, faith is unquestionable, perhaps pure and innocent.  On the one hand, those people can go through their lives with comfort and ease, secure in the knowledge that creation, the Torah, and their lives, are happily constant.  I suppose that it yields a serenity that lowers blood pressure.  It also leads to people blowing up buses and airplanes in the name of such faith.

On the other hand, others of us ask questions.  Why do I believe what I believe?  What happens if a variable is introduced into the equation?  Does it still stand the test of logic?  Less serenity is present, for certain.  At the same time, it is, at least in my mind, a way to make sure that our brains are actively engaged on a constant basis.  The struggle is also much more consistent with the flow of Jewish history.

To the woman who shook my hand, I return with the same wish for her.  May your faith be as pure as mine.

Enjoy the afternoon.


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