July 19, 2007
Judaism vs. ‘The Secret’
It's a best-selling book and DVD -- but it's not Jewish
(Page 4 - Previous Page)Considering that Jewish leaders have long been asking why Judaism is losing members and how Judaism can engage the next generation, then why aren't they also looking at what this next generation of Jews is attracted to and see what we can learn from it?
Do Jews flock to Buddhism, Taosim, the Kabbalah Centre and the Agape International Spiritual Center just for easy answers or because they simply want religion lite? Have they all been duped into a cult? Why are so many Jews so attracted to the New Age?
Having sampled services at the Agape and Kabbalah centers, I can hazard a guess.
First, these places offer some answers that address everyday life. They offer a way to navigate through the modern world, with all its complexities, worries, anxieties, suffering and pain. These places offer help in the way a therapist or a social worker might offer it -- but within a community of faith. The message of "The Secret" might be materialistic, but therein also lies its appeal: It speaks the modern language. It is practical.
Secondly, it is hopeful (some say "delusional"). The New Age offers a positive view of life -- for attaining love, happiness, riches, health, wealth and well-being.
Judaism offers some of the same things: the right way to live life within a community of faith. But for many people, it doesn't offer enough help navigating through day-to-day life, or when it does, perhaps some feel that it hasn't adapted enough to the modern world.
And for many, Judaism's message is too much about suffering and pain, victimization and helplessness, rather than hope, joy and happiness.
In other words, if you were going to boil each of the two visions down to a one-line philosophy, which would you rather choose: Wolpe's, "Life is no picnic" theory or "The Secret's" "Life can be absolutely phenomenal?"
For more information or to hear Rabbi Wolpe's sermon, visit http://www.sinaitemple.org. For more information on Agape, visit http://www.agapelive.com. To hear Reb Mimi's teachings, visit www.zieglerpodcasts.com.