By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
What a week! Last Shabbat was the first one in our new space. This week we began to remodel our old space. Many changes! Yet, there are only two constants in my belief, God and change. For many people, this is problematic. Since none of us can fully know God and many have a definition of God as a reward/punishment entity, there seems to be nothing we can "count" on. This is why fundamentalism is so alluring. It is why people get caught up in needing to be sure and needing to blame, I think.
Each day, I rail against this attitude. I understand Judaism as a way of living that embraces change and embraces God as the source of life and living well. I am not labeling any one sect in its entirety as fundamentalist, it is only people who are. These are not bad people; they are, in my opinion, afraid of the unknown. I see this most often when talking about death with people. "Will I see my loved one when I die?" "Will I be reunited with them?" These are normal questions and, to me, point out our need to deal with the unknown. I don't have any good answers for these questions as I don't know. Saying "I don't know" to people causes problems for me and them. The problem for me is that I know I am not giving someone the comfort that they are seeking from me. The problem for others is, at times of great distress and anxiety, they don't get the surety they are seeking. This is true in questions of life and death as well as any other questions about living.
I am writing about this today because I am bewildered by the events in Arizona and other States. Religious Freedom cannot deny rights, courtesies and recognition of others who are different from us! I don't read Scriptures the same as others. I don't believe that Torah and Bible are excluding any one person or group of people. Torah and Judaism welcomes the stranger, rails against prejudices, gives paths to redemption when errors are made and is interpreted 70 different ways! Living a Jewish life means catering to the widow, poor, stranger, etc. It means that every one of us are created in the Image of God and have Holy Souls. Living a Jewish life entails doing T’Shuvah each day, it causes us to face our own imperfections, fears and to constantly change. Living a Jewish life gives us the opportunity to grow in relationship to/with others, ourselves and God. Living a Jewish life forces us to embrace learning new and relearning old ideas, thoughts and ways.
Fundamental thinking and acting denies the cornerstone of my faith: Redemption. None of us know everything. What we all need to engage in, in my opinion, is being Addicted to Redeeming Love, Truth, Kindness, Justice and Compassion.