Jewish Journal


September 27, 2012

Live and let live



I have recently encountered several comments condemning and disrespecting some ways of religious beliefs. Some were aimed at me, some aimed at others. Surprisingly enough, in "some ways of religious beliefs" I don't mean other religions, I mean different ways of Judaism. It is something we all do-judge. Judgment is impossible to ignore and does not skip any of us. However, when it comes to a fellow Jew choosing to express his Judaism in a different way than another, judgment should take a step back. I am not a saint, either. In fact, from time to time I used to make remarks on fellow Jews who don't fast on Yom Kippur or mix meat and dairy. This was simply something I did, without even noticing. That is until I heard myself talk.

Right before Yom Kippur, all of the fast/no fast discussions take place. With them, come the Mitzvahs arguments, and with them come condescending comments about those who don't see some of the Mitzvahs as something worth keeping. When I rolled my eyes to a friend after stating she doesn't give a damn about Yom Kippur, it suddenly hit me: why do I do that? Why do I judge somebody else's perspective on Judaism? After all, when religious friends of mine make such comments on my way of Jewish life, I get all Big Hulk on them, firmly saying: "live and let live." If this is how I see my relations with them, the relations between me and the even less religious should not be any different.  Judaism is a wide rainbow, with many paths to choose. There is not one path better than another, and there's not just one path leading to a good and healthy life. "More religious" is not better than "less religious," it's just a different path.

Yom Kippur is, to me, the realization that God respects all beliefs, even of those who don't believe in God. We sometimes tend to forget we are all in the same boat. We are all Jewish, just different types of Jewish. When the gates to heaven open as the sun goes down on Yom Kippur, God doesn't measure our Mitzvahs , so I believe. He measures our obligation to Judaism, all paths considered. But more than that, he measures our behavior as people. He measures our humanity and compassion for each other, the ability to look behind skin color, sexual preferences, or ways of beliefs. Last night, when I looked at the sky that night, after "Kol Nidrei", I knew deep in my heart that what I have to say or ask for is worth just as much as the heart-wishes of an Orthodox person or the ones of my non-fasting friend. You may agree with me, and may completely dismiss my entire statement, and that's okay. But I can only hope every single one of us will remember, especially in this time of the year, that all people are equal, and that none of us is better than the others, or entitled to more rights- in front of God or in front of the people of the world. I would like to use this stage to call you to do your best in thinking twice before passing a judgment on someone else.  I sure will. חתימה טובה וצום קל!

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